Category Archives: Education

My take on the different aspects within education which relates to ongoing societal concerns.

Bridging the Gap- Moving from Lower to Upper Primary( Part 1)

Moving from Lower Primary to Upper Primary
Moving from Lower Primary to Upper Primary

It has been nearly a year since my last post in this series.  Last year was a busy year for me as there were many changes in my life coupled with preparing Monkey boy for the PSLE. Now that he is settling into Secondary One I can have a breather and restart this series with a post on how it is moving from Lower Primary to Upper Primary.

A quick update on the kids 

My 3 kids
My 3 kids

This year (2017) Tiger girl has joined her elder brothers in entering formal education. She is now in Primary 1 and getting use to being in the “big kids” school.

Doggie boy is currently in Primary 5 and adjusting being the among the older kids in school.  He has the added responsibiity of taking care of his younger sister who now goes to school together with him.

Moving from Primary 4 to Primary 5 he will be facing the challenges which his elder brother faced two years ago.  I’m sure this 2nd time around I’m more equipped to help him along with the changes he may be facing.

Lower Primary Vs Upper Primary
Lower Primary Vs Upper Primary

*Note for P6- 100% of the assessment weightage would be based on the Prelim exams ( For school records/ Initital DSA entry ) and 100% based on the PSLE results obtained for Secondary school admission.

When the boys were in lower primary they were having tests and different kinds of assessments almost on a weekly basis. It was really exhausting trying to keep up with their schedules and getting them ready for the various assessments.

In the end I took the middle path with regular revision for each subject. This way the kids were not caught up by the stresses of  continual assessment and had sufficient preperation in each subject.

I strongly beileve that education should be an enjoyable process for a child and not one which only focuses on academic results.  Through education the child will be able to cultivate the skills and values that will see them throughout their lives.

In the Lower Primary years there is more emphasis on buidling up the foundation in language through teacher student modelling. The is evident in the teaching of Languages.

English in Lower Primary 

 Studying English
Studying English

During English periods the pupils engage in shared reading and writing experiences using the STELLAR method.

There are 3 key strategies used in  Lower Primary STELLAR

  1. SBA (Shared Book Approach )
    The teacherintroduces and shares a Big Book(Story) with the pupils. In the second part, the teacher teaches language items, structures and skills explicitly, including concepts of print, phonics and grammar.There will be follow up activities ranging from drama to arts to re-inforce the vocabulary and grammar learned.
  2. MLEA(Modified Language Experience Approach)
    There is a shared experience that is linked to the Big Book that has been read during Shared Reading. The shared experience provides the context and content for the children to think and talk about, using the target language structures and vocabulary they have been exposed to in SBA.  This is normally in the form of unit based worksheets which the teachers have compiled as a level.
  3. LC (Learning Centres)These are stations where activities are planned and differentiated for the pupils. They consist of a  Reading Centre, the Word Study Centre and the Listening Centre.  At these stations pupils have the opportunity to re-learn, revisit or extend what they have learnt at their own pace and in differentiated ability groups.

Maths in Lower Primary

Studying Maths
Studying Maths

Teaching of Mathematics  is done through the Concrete Pictorial Abstract Approach.   There is extensive use of mathematical aids (manipulatives) like unit cubes, charts and  fraction bars to develop the various concepts and skills in this subject in relations to the 4 operations,  the topics on length, fractions, money mass and picture graphs.

The modern Maths classroom aims to use a variety of learning experiences to help students develop  a deep understanding of mathematical concepts such as through the use of manipulatives (concrete materials), practical work and use of technological aids.

In the next post (part 2) I will be examining how Chinese Language is being taught in lower primary and give a breakdown on how different the assessment is from Primary  2 to Primary 3 for the different subjects.

 

Bridging the GAP
Bridging the GAP

1) Bridging the Gap- An Introduction

2) Bridging the Gap-  Identifying the Gap in Chinese Language ( P4 to P5 )

3) Bridging the Gap- Reinforcing the Learning of Chinese

4)Bridging the Gap- Identifying the Gap between P4 and P5 English.

5)Bridging the Gap- Learning of English in Upper Primary

6) Bridging the Gap- Identifying the Gap between P4 and P5 Maths

7) Bridging the Gap –  Modelling and Methods  in Maths (Part 1) 

8) Bridging the Gap- Modelling and Methods in Maths ( Part 2)

9) Bridging the Gap- Upper and Lower Primary Science

10) Bridging the Gap-  Moving from Lower and Upper Primary
( Part 1)

 

 

Bridging the GAP- Upper and Lower Primary Science

Themes in Science
Themes in Science that are taught at the different levels.

 

Science is a subject which is introduced in Primary 3.  In the Singapore syllabus it is broken up into the Upper Block( Primary 5 and 6)  and  the Lower Block ( Primary 3 and 4) Many kids are fascinated and eager to learn about science as it gives them a change to conduct many hands on experiments.

The way that Science is taught differs from English and Chinese. There is a lot of focus on facts and being able to describe each item accurately and in detail. Basic facts in Biology, Chemistry and Physics are introduced to the students at this age to ease them into studying these subjects when they enter their secondary school years.

Difference between P3 and P4 Science assessments

Difference between P3 and P4 Science assessments is that the paper gets significantly longer come SA2 with an additional  10 Multiple Choice Questions  and 3 Open Ended Questions. There is also an additional 45 mins allocated for the exam.  The number of questions tested is further increased in P4 where the student is given 5 more  Multiple Choice Questions and  2 more Open Ended Questions  to complete within the extra 15 mins given.

( Note that for the  P3 SA2 they are given 1hr 30 mins while in P4 it has been extended to 1hr 45 min. )

As you can see from the chart above the quantity of questions been asked in an assessment increases quite significantly from SA1 to SA2 in Pr 3. The student must be able to time manage efficiently to be able to complete the extra questions given as he progresses from one assessment to another.

The mode of assessment doesn’t different much from P4 to P5 and even P6  as each Science assessment is 100 marks.

There has been some changes to the Primary School Science syllabus lately and the 2014 P3 cohort will be the first one to sit for their PSLE under the new format.   This changes will affect Doggie boy as he is currently in Primary 4. Monkey boy is unaffected as he will be tested based on the old format this year for PSLE.

What are the changes?

The topics tests remain the same however the expectation of how the questions are to be answered is different. There is a greater emphasis on how a students words his answer to the question given.

The focus has shifted to the teaching of more in depth  knowledge of each topic that is taught.

For example in the topic on Diversity it is now required for the child to understand the essential takeaways besides the key inquiry  questions.

Essential Takeaways 

  • There is a great variety of living and non-living things around us.
  •  Man can classify living and nonliving things based on their similarities and differences to better understand them.
  •  Maintaining the diversity of living things around us ensures their continual survival.

Key Questions

  •  What can we find around us?
  •  How can we classify the great variety of living and non-living things?
  •  Why is it important to maintain diversity?

Previously there was only focus on  just the key inquiry questions in the old syllabus. Now the kids have to show how  much they understand from each topic and apply their knowledge adequately to the questions asked.

This can be rather difficult for kids who are poor in the language skill and/or have difficulty expressing themselves using the correct terminology.

How to tackle the new format exam then?

There isn’t any short cut to this. The student would need regular and constant revision to fully understand what has been taught during the science lessons.

He has to engage the following skills while doing taking an assessment.

For the Multiple Choice Section

  • Identify the topic
  • Eliminate all the possible wrong answers
  • Show his thought process leading to choosing the “right” answer.

For the Open- Ended Questions

  • Identify the topic
  • Highlight the Key information/ words
  • Show the thought process

During the 4 years of learning science a student is expected to cultivate the  following process skills

  • Comparing
  • Interpreting
  • Inferring
  • Applying
  • Analysing
  • Creating
  • Synthesizing
  • Generalizing
  • Evaluating

My thoughts

The current MY Pals science textbooks and workbooks do not give adequate practice nor information regarding the various themes.   In fact I find the text book very skimpy and one would have to supplement with other external information to give the student a  detailed/complete understanding of the theme taught.

The 3 periods dedicated to teaching of Science is also grossly inadequate as sufficient time to carry out all the experiments that they require to do within the syllabus  and go through all the factual information associated with it. A lot of reading up  and practice is required outside the classroom to ensure that concepts taught register with the child.

What are you doing currently to bridge the gap in  Science with  your child?

In the next installment in the series I will be reviewing what I had done last year when Doggie boy moved from  primary 2 to primary 3.

Bridging the GAP
Bridging the GAP

1) Bridging the Gap- An Introduction

2) Bridging the Gap-  Identifying the Gap in Chinese Language ( P4 to P5 )

3) Bridging the Gap- Reinforcing the Learning of Chinese

4)Bridging the Gap- Identifying the Gap between P4 and P5 English.

5)Bridging the Gap- Learning of English in Upper Primary

6) Bridging the Gap- Identifying the Gap between P4 and P5 Maths

7) Bridging the Gap –  Modelling and Methods  in Maths (Part 1) 

8) Bridging the Gap- Modelling and Methods in Maths ( Part 2)

9) Bridging the Gap- Upper and Lower Primary Science

10) Bridging the Gap- Moving from Lower to Upper Primary ( Part 1)