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Performance Pay Proves Challenging - Education Week

Education Week - Teachers - 23 September 2014
School districts faced some early challenges in carrying out a federal program that awards performance bonuses to educators, according to a one-year evaluation.
Topic: Teachers

Teaching - Education Week

Education Week - Teachers - 23 September 2014
Half of teachers leaving the profession report better working conditions in their new jobs, according to a new federal study of teacher retention and mobility.
Topic: Teachers

Will Common-Core Testing Platforms Impede Math Tasks? - Education Week

Some mathematics experts worry the computer-based testing platforms will hamper a key element of the exams: open-ended math-performance tasks that test students' ability to apply their knowledge.

Ex-Governors in S.C. Join Push for Civic Education - Education Week

Three former South Carolina governors are pushing for high school students to take the test immigrants must pass to become U.S. citizens.

Texas Limiting Influence of AP History Course - Education Week

Amid an uproar in conservative circles about perceived anti-American bias in the new Advanced Placement U.S. History course and exam, Texas moved last week to require its high school students to learn only state-mandated curriculum.

L.A. District Finds Use of iPad Curriculum Limited - Education Week

In the first formal evaluation of the troubled iPads-for-all project in Los Angeles schools, only one teacher out of 245 classrooms visited was using the costly online curriculum.

Federal Agency Urges Halt to Methanol Use for Science - Education Week

A federal agency last week urged museums and schools to stop using flammable chemicals in their fire-based science demonstrations after a flash fire injured 13 people at a museum in Reno, Nev.

College Aid - Education Week

A new report shows many colleges are using Pell Grants to replace their own institutional grants and often not providing enough support to make attending college affordable for many disadvantaged students.

Harvard-MIT Partnership Opens MOOCs for High Schoolers - Education Week

Students looking to prepare for Advanced Placement exams, or simply expand their academic knowledge, now have free access to an array of classes.

Mass. Technical Schools Turning Students Away - Education Week

A study has found that many vocational and technical high schools in Massachusetts have long waiting lists for students seeking admission.

Nurturing Early Learners Framework for Mother Tongue Languages - Chinese, Malay and Tamil Versions Now Available

Ministry Of Education Feed - 20 September 2014

The Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) Framework for Mother Tongue Languages (MTLs) is now available in Chinese, Malay and Tamil. This was announced by Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Education, Ms Indranee Rajah, at the Early Childhood Conference 2014 on 20 September 2014.

With the Framework available in Chinese, Malay and Tamil, MTL early childhood educators are able to better access, relate and use the Framework as core reference when reviewing, planning and implementing their MTL curriculum. These versions contain the same information as the English version which was launched in 2013.

More about the NEL Framework for MTLs

The NEL Curriculum provides a comprehensive tool kit of kindergarten curriculum resources for use by early childhood educators in Singapore.

The NEL Framework for MTLs is part of this curriculum. It serves as a guide to the teaching and learning of the three official MTLs in Singapore, articulating a broad set of vision, objectives, learning goals and guiding principles for MTL teaching and learning.

The guiding principles help early childhood educators translate the Framework into practice, providing support in their planning and implementation of their MTL curriculum, and in their observation and evaluation of their students’ MTL learning progress. For example, the Framework sets out MTL learning goals that every child should achieve by the end of Kindergarten 2 when they participate in a pre-school MTL programme.

Supporting MTL Early Childhood Educators

To complement and encourage adoption of the NEL Framework for MTLs, MOE is developing Educators’ Guides for each of the MTLs. We are also working with ECDA to organise training to help MTL early childhood educators apply the Framework. Training will start with principals, supervisors and senior teachers from end 2014, moving on to courses for MTL educators subsequently.

The NEL Framework for MTLs in all four languages can be accessed at http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/preschool/.

Speech by Ms Indranee Rajah at the Early Childhood Development Agency’s Early Childhood Conference 2014

Ministry Of Education Feed - 20 September 2014
Introduction

Good morning. I am pleased to join you here on the second day of the Early Childhood Conference. I am glad to see so many early childhood professionals and parents coming together to learn and network with one another.

As the theme for our conference this year goes: ”The Incredible Early Years: Supporting Young Children’s Development„, We share a common goal in bringing out the best in every child. With ECDA, early childhood professionals, and parents working closely together, we can create the right environment for our children to thrive and learn.

Yesterday, Minister Chan Chun Sing outlined various initiatives to develop and recognise early childhood professionals at each stage of their careers. In particular, he announced that ECDA will work with industry partners over the next year to further develop structured pathways for professionals in the sector. As the ASPIRE Chairperson, I see this as a very positive development. By obtaining the right skills and experience, educators can look forward to multiple pathways to progress on the job.

ECDA’s role in Supporting Professionals and Parents

Early childhood is a key period for learning and development. Young children learn best when they are given the time and space to play, explore and ask questions. Nurturing a love for learning and supporting their holistic development is key. Learning should be age appropriate and fun. It is important to allow children to develop at their own pace.

Parents and educators play a crucial role through their many interactions with children throughout their development. In particular, studies show that the more parents and educators share information about their child’s learning, the better children do, as parents can support their children at home in ways that complement what they learn in pre-school.1

Today, allow me to share how we will provide more support to both educators in their professional development and parents in their parenting journey. I will touch on 4 key ways we will be doing this:

  • First, Hands-On, Interactive Parental Workshops
  • Second, More Online Parenting Resources
  • Third, More Curriculum Resources for mother tongue pre-school teachers
  • Fourth, Better Information for Parents in selection of pre-schools through a new SPARK Category.

Many of us own at least one electronic device and we have more knowledge at our fingertips than ever before. The flood of different messages can be daunting. Which is credible? What research should we trust? Both pre-school and home environments are crucial and as parents and educators, the line between what is and isn’t developmentally appropriate sometimes becomes blurred.

National Early Childhood Parenting Study

As such, over the past year, ECDA, in collaboration with SIM University, conducted the first national early childhood parenting study. Some of you here today may be among the 3,800 parents who took part. Overall, the findings were positive. Allow me to share some of them with you.

Parents in Singapore are knowledgeable about child development. 90% indicated that they consider all developmental domains, from the physical to social and moral, important for their children’s development. It is also heartening that parents value their children’s happiness and character development over material achievements such as academic success. For their top two choices, almost all parents said that they want their children to be gracious and caring to others whereas only seven out of ten parents said that they want their children to excel academically.

We are also glad that most parents felt that they can trust and rely on educators as important sources of information. ECDA has organised professional development workshops to help educators develop the skill sets needed to effectively engage parents. Likewise, parents can also exchange ideas and techniques with educators, and partner them to better support the diverse needs of their children.

Hands-On, Interactive Parental Workshops

In view of these findings, I am pleased to announce that ECDA will encourage more of such collaboration by working with centres to roll out hands-on, interactive workshops for parents. These workshops will cover topics where parents feel they need more help. For example, more than a third surveyed in the Parenting Study said that they needed help coping more specifically with their children’s temper tantrums. Through these workshops, educators could share proper techniques to manage children’s behaviour.

These workshops will add to existing platforms for parents and educators to collaborate. There are already good efforts by our pre-schools. For example, PCF Choa Chu Kang (Blk 786), a winner of this year’s ECDA Innovation Award for their project ”Kindergarten Classroom Visit„, invites parents and caregivers every term to view their children’s work and meaningfully engage with teachers to better understand their children’s progress and development.

More Online Parenting Resources

Second, ECDA will develop more online resources, such as videos, on useful topics set within Singapore’s context. For example, the Parenting Study revealed that parents could use more ideas on how to support their children’s social and emotional development. To address this, the online resources could share activities parents could do with their children and other creative family bonding ideas.

These resources will complement the suite of print, mobile and web-based resources launched at last year’s Early Childhood Parenting Conference. One of the resources launched last year was the quarterly Beanstalk Magazine. We have since produced 4 issues, shown in the slide here, and more than 170,000 copies have been distributed to parents. I believe many of you would have received it from your child’s kindergarten or child care centre.

We also launched our mobile app, APParent in SG. This app shares useful tips each week such as bonding activities for parents and children. It has received more than 4,500 downloads to date. In addition, the Grow@Beanstalk portal serves as a one-stop portal with ready-to-use ideas, such as how to strengthen parent-child communication.

Community partnerships to support parents and educators

In addition to parent-specific resources, we also want to create more common spaces that can be used by both parents and educators. The Singapore Science Centre has created KidsStop, a dedicated new space for children to engage in hands-on experimentation. The National Museum of Singapore has also created Play@National Museum of Singapore for children to explore our heritage and culture.

ECDA has collaborated with community partners in the development and implementation of unique programmes for children and educators. For example, ECDA’s Guidance Project, ”The Electric Corner„, by the Singapore Science Centre, teaches children the fundamentals of scientific inquiry through the topic of electricity. Yet another project, ”Singapore’s Little Treasures„, by the National Heritage Board involves the creation of a discovery bag of specially curated artefacts for pre-schoolers, which developed children’s awareness and knowledge of Singapore’s rich history and multi-cultural heritage. We would like to thank the Singapore Science Centre and National Heritage Board for working in partnership with ECDA and look forward to your continuing support!

Curriculum Resources for Mother-tongue pre-school teachers

Third, I am also happy to announce we will continue to enhance our curriculum resources for mother-tougue pre-school teachers. Last year, I launched the Nurturing Early Learners Framework for Mother Tongue Languages at this conference, and I am pleased to know that it is now translated into the Chinese, Malay and Tamil Languages.. The Framework, accompanied by an Educators’ Guide and teaching and learning resources, form a complete tool kit of kindergarten curriculum resources for mother-tongue pre-school teachers. Educators will be able to use these resources to build children’s foundational language skills and nurture their holistic development. ECDA will work closely with MOE to provide training for the use of this Framework in 2015.

Better Information for Parents in Selection of Pre-schools

Beyond providing specific resources to parents and educators, ECDA strives to enhance the quality, affordability and accessibility of early childhood services across the board. I am glad to note that there has been much progress.

  • Two weeks ago, ECDA launched the new child care Registration Management System to bring greater convenience to parents and operators.
  • 16 more child care centres will be developed in the coming months by ECDA-appointed anchor operators.
  • More lower- and middle-income families will also be able to benefit from the enhanced Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme, or KiFAS, from January next year.

Fourth, I am pleased to announce today that ECDA will introduce a new Commendation Category for SPARK-certification to provide parents with better information in the selection of pre-schools. The Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework, or SPARK, is a voluntary accreditation framework that provides pre-schools with quality benchmarks and guides their improvement efforts. We expect around 380 pre-schools to be SPARK-certified by the end of the year. In fact, some just received their SPARK certification yesterday.

The Commendation Category for SPARK-Certification will recognise centres with strong teaching and learning practices. This will help parents more easily identify which pre-schools have key traits that stimulate children’s development. These include, for example, a well-designed and integrated curriculum, strong teaching pedagogies, and a conducive learning environment.

Conclusion

Allow me to conclude. ECDA will continue to enhance our parenting resources to keep them relevant and meaningful. We are committed to design better platforms for educators and parents to exchange knowledge and skills. We will continue to support educators to do their jobs well. Together, let us enjoy the incredible early years of our children.

With this, I wish all of you a fruitful and engaging conference. Thank you.

Footnote
  1. Sylva, Melhuish, Sammons, Siraj-Blatchford, Taggard, Elliot (2003). ”The Effective Provision of Pre-school Education (EPPE) Project: Findings from the Pre-school Period„. http://www.ioe.ac.uk/RB_summary_findings_from_pre-school(1).pdf

534 Students Awarded the National Schools Colours Award for Outstanding Sporting Achievements

Ministry Of Education Feed - 19 September 2014

A total of 534 students from 70 schools were presented the National Schools Colours Award at the 44th Singapore Schools Sports Council (SSSC) National Colours Award Presentation and National School Games Closing Ceremony today. Another 1187 students were presented the Zone Colours Award.

The National and Zone Schools Colours Awards recognise students for their contributions in representing the Singapore Schools Team, and achievements in sports and games within the SSSC Sporting Calendar, at various levels.

SSSC Overall Best School Boy and Overall Best School Girl Award

This year, the SSSC Overall Best School Boy Award was awarded to Quah Zheng Wen from Anglo Chinese School (Independent) for Swimming. Quah Zheng Wen was one of our top medallists at the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar. In addition, he re-wrote his own national record for 50m and 100m backstroke this year. The SSSC Overall Best School Girl Award was awarded to Martina Lindsay Pelonio Veloso from Singapore Sports School for Shooting. In June this year, she was crowned champion in the ISSF World Cup at Munich, Germany.

The Overall Best School Boy and Overall Best School Girl award recipients were selected from the Best School Boy awardees in 17 Sports, and the Best School Girl awardees in 14 sports. These student athletes had attained exceptional sporting achievements, and demonstrated exemplary conduct on and off the field. The list of Best School Boy/Girl award recipients are listed in Annex A.

SSSC Best Team Award

The SSSC Best Team Award was awarded to the Boys Sailing Team for emerging as the World Champion in the 2014 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship (420 Class). The team comprises two sailors - Loh Jia Yi and Jonathan Yeo from Raffles Institution.

National School Games

The 2014 National School Games (NSG) was declared opened by the Minister for Education on 6 February at ITE College Central. The NSG had reached out to over 50,000 students which encompassed 28 sports for SSSC and 21 sports for SPSSC 1. In conjunction with the National Colours Award presentation, the 2014 NSG was brought to a close.

Footnote
  1. Singapore Primary Schools Sports Council

Launch of C-Quest - A Mobile App Game to Promote Conversations About Cyber Wellness Between Parents and Children

Ministry Of Education Feed - 18 September 2014

Parents can now download a new mobile game app, C-Quest, and have conversations on cyber wellness with their children. Developed by the Ministry of Education and targeted at parents with children aged 10 to 14, C-Quest is specially designed to facilitate meaningful parent-child conversations on their online experiences. Through the game, students will also learn to be safe, respectful, and responsible users of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Players can begin the game by choosing one of the three Cyber Navigators for their C-Quest to explore the cyber seas. The three Cyber Navigators are:

  • Master over Technology - to be captains of their own lives and not to be enslaved to technology and mobile gadgets;

  • Protector - to watch out for one another, as protectors, and be safe online; and

  • Relationship-Builder - to build positive relationships online, to avoid sparking unnecessary conflicts which would end up hurting others and one self.

To complete the cyber quest, children will converse with their parents and answer questions related to cyber wellness to earn stars and collect accessories and equipment for their Cyber Navigators. Where opinions differ, the game provides opportunities for the players to talk about their differences and understand how others may feel or think. The game also provides useful tips to the players to manage their online activities. (Please refer to Annex A for examples of questions and useful tips in the game)

Deputy Director-General of Education (Curriculum), Mr Wong Siew Hoong said, “Parents play a critical role in shaping their children’s values, as well as in guiding their online behavior, and monitoring their computer use. Through playing the game with their children, MOE hopes that the app will serve as a tool to encourage conversations between parents and their children on cyber wellness.”

C-Quest, in facilitating conversation between parents and their children, complements the Cyber Wellness curriculum in schools, where cyber wellness based on the principles of “Respect for Self and Others” and “Safe and Responsible Use” of technology are taught through Citizenship and Character Education (CCE) to reinforce the positive values and social emotional competencies needed for our students to navigate the cyber space skilfully and safely.

‘C-Quest’ is available for download from today on the android platform, Google Play. The iOS version will be ready by 1 Nov 2014. Parents can also look out for cyber wellness tips posted on MOE’s Cyber Wellness Portal and the MOE Parents in Education portal.

Speech by Ms Sim Ann at the Launch of the Very Special Arts Singapore (VSA) "Close to My Heart" Children Art Exhibition 2014, on Friday, 12 September 2014t

Ministry Of Education Feed - 18 September 2014

A very good evening to all of you. I am very honoured to be here to join you at the launch of “Close To My Heart” - Children Art Exhibition. As Mr Christopher Yeow has shared with you, our children and youth with special needs were invited to do a very special art piece to express what it means to be with the people who are closest to their hearts. Not surprisingly, parents and family members feature very prominently in this collection of excellent art pieces. At the same time, there are also teachers and friends. Indeed, the support of those who are nearest and dearest to our children and youth with special needs is integral to helping them not only learn better, express themselves artistically, and also in reaching out to society at large, in helping members of society understand our special needs sector a lot better.

In this respect, I would like to take this opportunity to pay special tribute to Very Special Arts Singapore (VSA), for labouring over many years precisely to do this, to build a platform so that our children and youth with special needs are able to showcase their talents in very many different ways, and being able to develop their strengths and interests in areas such as art and music. This is something very commendable so let’s give Very Special Arts Singapore a warm round of applause for the good work they have done.

I am also very happy to know that 12 of the 20 SPED schools run by Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) have taken part in this competition and exhibition, and I would like to call upon more of our schools to work closely with Very Special Arts Singapore because I think the effectiveness of their programmes speak for themselves.

Over the years, we have made strides in raising the quality, accessibility as well as affordability of our Special Education through strengthening the curriculum framework, through putting in the resources to enable our students, amongst other ways, to access learning via IT and many more. Partnerships with organisations such as Very Special Arts Singapore really help to round out our vision for holistic education for all the children and I hope this partnership will continue for a long time to come.

There remains much to be done for Special Education. My colleagues in the Ministry and I have more plans ahead. It will be a long journey, but I think it will be a journey that will be made a lot more effective with the help and support of our parents and families of students with special needs, as well as dedicated and staunch partners and supporters such as Very Special Arts Singapore.

I wish all competitors and participants the very best as you embark on your journey in exploring the world of the arts and also to wish everyone present a very pleasant weekend ahead. Thank you very much.

Getting my head around cPanel

Authentic Learning - 16 September 2014
So I sat through a recording of the second ‘call-in show’ for Connected Courses last night. This was the one I was waiting for to be honest. I am a fairly proficient WordPress user (albeit a dotcommer rather than a…Read more ›

Startup Founders Apply Education Experience - Education Week

Former educators with technology interests are increasingly making their way from classrooms into the startup world as they try to use their school expertise to create ed-tech products.

Lawsuit Says Teacher Contracts Violate Wisconsin Policy - Education Week

Education Week - Teachers - 16 September 2014
Madison County, Wis., school officials face allegations that two recent contracts violate the state's controversial law that restricts public employees' bargaining rights.
Topic: Teachers
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