Secondary School

Turning the Tables on History Education in Singapore: The Flipped Classroom Experience in NUS High School of Math and Science

"This paper looks at how a flipped classroom model was implemented for 75 Integrated Humanities students in the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science in 2012 and highlights the advantages and limitations of this pedagogy. The flipped classroom model requires students to watch a recorded lecture before coming to class. After gaining content knowledge prior to class time, students are then required to apply it at a higher level of learning. Keywords: Flipped Classroom , History, Integrated Humanities, Specific strands: Pedagogy, Innovative ideas & approaches "

The New Inquiry-based Approach: What It Means for the Teaching and Learning of History in Singapore Schools

"Secondary Humanities teachers in Singapore are well-acquainted with recent developments and changes that accompanied the launch of the new history syllabus in October 2012. A most notable development was the adoption of inquiry-based learning as the recommended pedagogy for instruction. What was the logic for this change? Why was there a need to pursue inquiry-based learning for school history? What was the spirit behind the change? What did the curriculum developers hope to achieve by pushing for an inquiry approach to history learning? Some of these answers can be obtained from the Singapore Ministry of Education syllabus documents, the Teaching and Learning Guides (TLGs), and other related documents. In this commentary, I offer some of my personal thoughts on the matter and I focus on some issues that require addressing if we are serious about proposing an instructional approach that aims to develop students’ disciplinary thinking in history."

A Space for Social Justice in Geography Education?

"The push for more attention on social justice in geography education has gained a stronger sense of urgency and greater coherence in recent decades. This has occurred in tandem with increasing attention paid by geographers to what this discipline, perceived by some as inherently concerned with injustice and disparity (Smith, 1994; Merrett, 2000), can do to contribute to a more equitable world. This push for what Kirman (2003) termed as “transformative geography” (p. 93) in education calls for teachers to introduce students to the geographical aspects of social justice and focus on how these issues are located at a number of interconnected geographic scales (local, regional, state and international). This will allow students to practice the “discipline of geography for the well-being of people and the environment in order to improve the world” (p. 93). "

How to Help All Students with Evidence-based Reading and Writing During an Inquiry Activity

"In this article, I describe an instructional process to help students be successful when they read online sources in order to investigate and answer inquiry questions. The focus question used here, How can social harmony be best achieved in online spaces in Singapore?, frames a learning activity designed for the Singapore Upper Secondary Social Studies curriculum. There are four online sources for this activity. The sources represent different perspectives and solutions to achieve social harmony in online spaces in Singapore. The instructional process for this activity has six key components: 1. Establish a clear inquiry purpose; 2. Introduce learning activity; 3. Activate prior knowledge; 4. Select engaging sources; 5. Design learning scaffolds; 6. Guide synthesis and writing. "

Advancing a Framework for Climate Change Education in Singapore Through Teacher Professional Development

"Cities like Singapore have implemented numerous planning norms and policies that are aimed at addressing rapid urbanization. These efforts, however, have largely been state-driven and state-led. In other words, important behavioral norms such as the reduction of consumption of materials and energy have not necessarily been inculcated or accepted (Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Singapore, 2008). For instance, while there have been many public events and campaigns through mass media aimed at raising awareness, such campaigns only galvanize a small portion of the population to change their behavior in order to mitigate climate change. Schools, however, provide a favorable environment whereby environmental measures such as recycling activities can be put in place to promote positive attitudes and behaviors toward climate change. Formal lessons, in addition, can help to reinforce the concept of climate change and this in turn may influence students’ knowledge, attitude, and behavior towards climate change. "

Deepening Secondary Students’ Understanding of Coastal Management at Labrador Park through Fieldwork

"The impetus for action research on experiential learning of geography stems from a desire to introduce a more “engaged” form of geography, whereby students move beyond the academic study of geography in the classroom to making sense of geography in relation to their reality (Morgan, 2012). Through an environmental scan of the inclusion of fieldwork into the new Geography syllabus commencing 2013, we sought to find out how fieldwork is integral to the study of geography in Singapore schools. The choice of coastal geography as a topic for inquiry was strategically aligned to its inclusion in the new syllabus and its relevance to Singapore’s geography as an island. The feedback obtained from teachers participating in Professional Learning Circles (PLCs) also suggested that students found it challenging to understand abstract geography concepts, in particular, physical geography processes and how they take place in real world contexts. As such, a “disconnect” or a learning gap has been created between geography presented to the students in the textbook to that of their real world contexts. "

Magic Words: Writing as a Tool for Learning in the Humanities

"Writing can be a powerful tool for learning in the Humanities. When used well, it helps students clarify their thoughts in a quick, simple way, and it provides teachers with ready insight into how students are making sense of content. Writing is also a natural way to engage students who have a wide range of achievement levels, for it allows different students to participate in the same activity in different ways. Perhaps most importantly, it places control of learning in the hands of students themselves, so that they have a chance to construct their own ideas instead of simply reproducing what they encounter from teachers, texts, or other sources. When used this way, most students write easily and naturally. "

Geography Fieldwork is Not Mission Impossible

"Geography teachers face numerous difficulties in conducting fieldwork for their students. While the national curriculum is shifting towards a field inquiry approach, some pre-existing problems remain, such as the issues of large class sizes, the lack of suitable sites due to our highly urbanised landscape, and teachers who do not have an understanding of the role fieldwork plays in constructing meaning in Geography. Having an understanding of how geographical knowledge has evolved will allow teachers to adopt meaningful strategies in the field in order to maximise the construction of geographical concepts and learning of geographical skills. In this paper, I propose a simple matrix that identifies purpose and strategies as two key goals that can help teachers work towards the implementation of a meaningful fieldwork programme for students. "

Research into Practice: Understanding the Vietnam War from the Communists' Perspective

"Most of us are familiar with the narrative of the Vietnam War as it is commonly told in history textbooks: (1) the United States got involved because they were afraid of the possibility of a domino effect of Southeast Asian countries falling to communism; (2) there was a huge public outcry back in the United States as American casualties increased dramatically and the horrors of war were shown in every home; (3) the US eventually withdrew its troops; and (4) North and South Vietnam were reunited. But in this unjustifiably sketchy summary of the typical portrayal of the Vietnam War, it is evident that most students of history only look at materials that, ironically, the losers of this war provide. American versions of these historical events often point to the failings of the South Vietnamese regime (the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem), the failed US containment policy or domestic opposition as the reasons behind the fall of Vietnam. "

Research into Practice: Tuning in to the “Chorus of History” Through the Use of Oral History in the Classroom

"Using oral histories in history and social studies classrooms can highlight the fact that historical sources are authored and contain particular assumptions, biases, and perspectives about the world. They require critical evaluation to understand why people might have said what they said, why they might view particular events or issues in certain ways, the kinds of insights, emotions, and attitudes they have about what happened in the past, and the reasons they give for acting in the ways they did. Because oral histories have become more widely available and utilized due to electronic and digital means of preservation and access, they can be easily used with students of all ages. To learn more about the use of oral history in the classroom and consider how students can work with oral sources, I reviewed the work and ideas of Associate Professor Kevin Blackburn, a proponent of using oral histories in classrooms."

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An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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