Does your child hate reading?

The simple reason why children hate reading is usually because they are weak at reading.

Children are just like us – we tend to avoid tasks that we are weak in. For example, if we find exercising a chore, it is usually because we are unfit in the first place. Conversely, people tend to do what they do best. For example, when people choose what courses to enrol in for higher education, they tend to choose the subjects they scored the highest grade in.

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Selecting A Secondary School

Unlike my time, students nowadays have two clear advantages – they know their PSLE grades and secondary schools also publish their historical cut-off mark. At least students know if they have a chance of getting accepted.

I remember when I had to choose my secondary school more than 20 years ago. I did not know my Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results before I submitted the form. My school teachers were also not very helpful in guiding me. All I remember was that since I studied in a primary school that was affiliated with a secondary school, I put it as the first choice. I had absolutely no idea if I was able to get in. I breathed a sigh of relief when I was successful.

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Depth of Knowledge

In RG Channel Future School, we believe that curriculum should be practical and systematic.

What do we mean by being practical? Being practical means using strategies and tools that are designed to be effective and efficient in real life. Seeing a student’s English results improve gives us both joy and pride. Being systematic means that we believe that there is a framework that guides us to progressively scaffold our children so that they develop. And that is where our CAL2 system comes in.

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Changes in MOE schools

MOE Workplan Seminar 2013

The MOE Workplan Seminar 2013 just ended a week ago. Some interesting new programmes were announced. Let us do a quick recap of the initiatives announced.

Applied Learning Programme

The Applied Learning Programme connects academic knowledge and skills with real-world thinking skills. It spans many different disciplines, and stretches the imagination of the student in applying knowledge in authentic settings.

Learning for Life Programme

The Learning for Life programme is designed to give students with real-life experiential learning to develop their character, values, and people skills. According to MOE, this will be the approach of Character and Citizenship Education (CCE).

Integrated Online Learning Space

An online resource library will be made available for both teachers and students. This library will consist of materials specially chosen by experienced educators. The student can refer to the library to understand concepts they did not understand in school. The teacher can also use this as an additional way to teach the students.

Student development teams

Student development teams will be formed in schools to better oversee and support students’ learning and character development. Year Heads will be appointed to oversee the Form Teachers, and together, they will plan, monitor and assess the effectiveness of the various programmes in schools.

Conclusion

Overall, MOE has launched quite a few interesting programmes. What we like was their attempt to put in real-world learning into schools. As Minister for Education, Heng Swee Keat emphasised, the 21st century environment will be ‘volatile, uncertain, complex and ambigious (VUCA)’. This is precisely what RG Channel Future School is all about. We have always tried to teach English in a way that relates and will help students in the future. An example of this is our Problem-Based Strategic Thinking Concepts programme.

The online learning space is also something that we have already implemented in our school. All our students are able to see the resources that we teach in school, as well as other supplementary reading material. We are sure MOE’s online resource library will prove to be as useful to students as ours have been to our own students.

Problem Based Strategic Thinking Concepts

The Strategic Thinking workshop equips today’s young people with both the vision and skills needed to anticipate, comprehend and solve the problems of today and to build better tomorrows.

Why did we design this course?

This course came about as a result wanting to create a programme that helps students to learn critical and creative thinking, problem solving and decision making.

We wanted a ‘real-world solution’, one that students might be able to benefit when they reach tertiary education or when they are working. Using my experience when I was working in the ministries as well as my partner’s experience as a consultant, we developed a programme that merged Problem-based Learning and scenario planning into what we call the Problem Based Strategic Thinking Concepts programme.

The goals of this programme is

  •  enhance the development of student leadership skills. At the same time, the programme is designed to improve the cognitive level of its participants through scaffolded but rigorous activities.
  • think more strategically by becoming involved in activities to increase the flexibility, fluency, originality and elaboration of their thinking;
  • develop research skills needed for the collection of data;
  • relate effectively with others as members of a small, cohesive team; and
  • improve oral and written communication skills for the better understanding of their ideas by others.

Cognitive Rigour

One feature that we always have in our programmes is the development of cognitive rigour. We believe that it is really important for our students to be challenged and stretched because that really engages and develops them. Our programme has a six step problem solving model that progressively challenges the student as it gives the them increasing complex tasks.

The six steps and cognitive rigour is summarised in the table below:

Progression Graph

1. Identify Challenges

Understand 2: Understand and explain concepts and challenges.

2. Select an Underlying Problem

Analyse 2: Deconstruct and select relevant problem.

3. Produce Solution Ideas

Create 2: Generate hypothesis based on prior knowledge.

4. Generate and Select Criteria

Analyse 3: Analyse and use understanding of information to create criteria.

5. Apply Criteria to Solution Ideas

Evaluate 3: Compare and contrast solutions and justify choice.

6. Develop an Action Plan

Create 3: Synthesis information and develop alternate solutions.

Bloom’s Taxonomy – A better way to learn

Our CAL2 methodology is based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. We believe that the success of a student’s learning is reflective of the quality of the teacher, as well as a effective teaching pedagogy and that’s why we use it. Interestingly, the Dean of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore mentions that Duke-NUS uses Bloom’s Taxonomy in their teaching as well. Read More…

What is CAL?

Our school’s name can sometimes be confusing to people who are not familiar with us, especially with the word ‘cal’ highlighted. People have walked into the school inquiring about our Mathematics or Science courses!

We want to set the record straight – CAL actually stands for CAL2. It is our unique framework for English mastery and success.

What does CAL2 stand for? It basically consists of two groups of components, CAL Objectives and CAL Complexities –

a) Content Objectives, Assessment Objectives and Learning Objectives, AND
b) Content Learning, Active Thinking and Leadership Skills.

The two CAL together constitute of CAL2: CAL X CAL = CAL2

Content Objectives, Assessment Objectives and Learning Objectives (CAL Objectives)

CAL Objectives help in ensuring that our students achieve the outcomes necessary for academic excellence and success outside school.

The following diagram should explain it better:

Content Objectives Assessment Objectives Learning Objectives
Mastery in subject content in order to build a broad base of English vocabulary and thematic knowledge. Understand and meet MOE and SEAB’s assessment objectives Mastery in CAL and English Language skills

Content Learning, Active Thinking and Leadership Skills (CAL Complexities)

CAL Complexities on the other hand measures and assess our students’ cognitive and holistic development. It also ensures that we challenge our students with activities and assessments that are rigorous cognitively.

The attached diagram explains what we intend to achieve:

Content Learning Active Thinking Leadership Skills
Assess student’s ability to understand and apply skills and knowledge Asses student’s ability to evaluate, synthesise and create information Assess student’s ability to collaborate and lead

Our framework is modelled after the work of prominent educational psychologist and educators such as Dr Benjamin Bloom. We have improved it by building onto it, our own understanding of real world skills. We believe that this is very unique as there are not many schools which feature founders that include people with experience in the private and public sectors.

Together, CALprovides a powerful framework for learning English as well as creating a solid academic foundation for great results, both in school and outside school.

We do not just narrowly focus on just improving examination results, but we focus on providing quality and holistic education for our students – yet at the same time ensuring our students get great results. That is the power of CAL2.

To know more about our framework and our courses, feel free to call, email or just walk in to talk to us. We will be happy to provide more information.

Gifted Tutor?

Recently, a tutor from a tuition school was told to stop advertising himself as a student of the Gifted Education Programme (GEP). MOE ran some checks in response to complaints from parents and discovered that he was neither a student nor a teacher in the GEP programme. Now, he claims to be a relief teacher who helped out in the GEP programme. But no teacher that taught in the GEP recalled such a relief teacher. I wonder how many people were fooled by him and paid top money to learn about strategies to enter the GEP.

I think the most important lesson that we can take away from this is to check the credibility of the tutors that you employ or the tuition centres that you enrol your child in. I mean, just because somebody is able to rent a place doesn’t make him automatically qualified to teach.

I always have copies of my academic certificates (my BA, MA and PDGE) at hand. And any teacher employed by RG Channel will also have copies of their certificates on , But so far, nobody who has enrolled in RG Channel or made enquiries ever asked me to produce my certificates. This makes me wonder how many children out there are taught by unqualified and unprofessional tutors.

In RG Channel, we believe that having qualified teachers is not enough. We want qualified and well-trained teachers who are also ahead of others in pedagogy knowledge. Other than planning my lessons, teaching and other business-related work, I spent a large part of my time doing research on pedagogy, consulting with my ex-colleagues, who have provided a lot of useful information so that I can continue to improve. At RG Channel, we believe that our teaching methods must always be the most effective and the most efficient.