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News

Tenn. Lawmakers Pass Free College Tuition Plan - Education Week

Gov.Bill Haslam's signature proposal to create a program that would cover tuition at two-year colleges for any high school graduate is headed to his desk after passing the House on Tuesday.

Four Steps for Jumpstarting Global-Collaboration Projects - Education Week Teacher

Education Week - Technology - 15 April 2014
A globally connected workplace will be the norm for this generation of students, writes instructional coach Ben Curran, requiring a unique and deep skill-set that teachers must help students develop.
Topic: Technology

Teacher Turnover - Education Week

Education Week - Teachers - 15 April 2014
Teachers hired during the Great Recession may be sticking around longer than those hired a few years before the downturn,according to new data.
Topic: Teachers

Are Contracts to Blame for Teacher-Quality Gaps? - Education Week

Education Week - Teachers - 15 April 2014
Researchers are examining whether language in teacher contracts could be contributing to the teacher-quality gap between high-and low-minority schools.
Topic: Teachers

L.A. Pact on Teacher Layoffs Ducks Seniority Issues - Education Week

Education Week - Teachers - 15 April 2014
Plaintiffs and the local teachers'union reached an agreement last week designed to prevent 37 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District from getting hit by layoffs.
Topic: Teachers

Ind. Board Members Say Teacher Ratings Unfair - Education Week

Education Week - Teachers - 15 April 2014
Members of the Indiana board of education say a new performance-evaluation system failed parents,students,and teachers when results released last week found only 2 percent of educators in need of improvement.
Topic: Teachers

Sacramento District, Union Bail on NCLB Flexibility - Education Week

The Sacramento,Calif.,school district and its teachers'union announced last week they are withdrawing from a first-of-its-kind No Child Left Behind Act waiver the U.S.Department of Education granted last year.

U.S. Students Score Above Average on New Problem-Solving Test - Education Week

American 15-year-olds scored above average among the 44 nations taking part in a new test designed to measure creative problem-solving skills.

States' Rollout of Common Core Goes Under the Microscope - Education Week

A variety of nonpartisan groups and government officials alike scope out states'strengths and challenges in the early stages of common-core implementation.

Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat at the MOE ExCEL Parent Support Group Conference 2014

Ministry Of Education Feed - 12 April 2014

I am delighted to be here this morning This is a very special conference. It is by parents, with parents, for parents. Congratulations on this inaugural Parent Support Group (PSG) conference.

PSG Conference

In 1998, when the National Advisory Council COMPASS (COMmunity and PArents in Support of Schools) was set up, there were 60 PSGs or Parent-Teacher Associations in our schools. This was about 17% of our schools then. I was in a PSG helping the school to improve road safety in the neighbourhood. It was wonderful working with other parents to do something for the school.

In 2011, MOE set up the Partnerships in Education Office (PEO) to support our schools in parent and community engagement efforts. Today, I am proud to say that majority of our schools, more than 95%, have a formalised PSG/PTA set up. I am told that every one of our 369 schools, as well as MOE Kindergartens and SPED school community, are represented here today - welcome to the PSG family!

This first ever PSG Conference is a significant marker in the history of PSGs. We are having our ExCEL Fest which celebrates innovations in our schools every year. PSG Conference is part of ExCEL Fest because the Conference - indeed PSGs themselves - are a breakthrough. Most importantly, by parents, with parents, for parents. Twenty PSG parents from across different schools - primary, secondary, JCs - partnered MOE to organise this. It shows a great ownership by PSG volunteers. Our volunteers play primary roles - as speakers, panellists, facilitators, ushers, and emcees.

The lovely PSG logo, unveiled today, was also designed by a parent volunteer, Ms Siow Pit Har, with input from other PSG members. I am happy to see that it shows three smiling faces, representing parents and teachers working in partnership for the good of our children. This logo is particularly meaningful in that the child is at the centre of this partnership. I applaud all the parents who have contributed to this PSG conference.

Every Parent a Supportive Partner

MOE shares the same hopes and dreams of every parent. Like every parent and every teacher, I want every child to succeed. All of us at MOE and in our schools are dedicated to bringing out the best in every child. MOE wants to bring out the best in every child, in every domain of learning, in every school, at every stage of the learning journey, whatever the starting point so that we can create a better future together.

Today, I want to emphasise the word “together” - We look forward to doing this with the active partnership of parents who care about the future of our children. Parents are important because you are your child’s first and most important teacher in life.

I would like to share four ways for every parent to be a supportive partner to bring out the best in every child.

  • Support your child to reach his or her best.
  • Support your child’s teachers to bring out the best in your child.
  • Support your child’s school to bring out the best in all its children.
  • Support one another to bring out the best in your children.

This is not a prescription. Parents are already doing this and we very much appreciate it.

Support Your Child

First, support your child to be his or her best by enriching the learning experiences. This is not just about guiding children in homework. Parents can play a larger role to help their child enjoy the process of learning. If they enjoy the process of learning, they will be more motivated to learn. One important way that parents can do that is to relate what they learn in school to their lives and inspire the children to see that learning is not confined to the school, but that it can take place anytime and anywhere, in everyday life experiences too. I invite you to share your expertise to enrich the programmes in schools and provide moral support, assurance, and social-emotional guidance especially in times of ‘struggle’ and achievement.

I would like to share the story of Madam Lathifa Bte Othman in East Coast Primary School. Madam Lathifa enjoys baking and often shares her home-baked goodies with others. Since 2010, she started working with the school to design lessons and recipes for the Modular CCA Programme ‘I Can Cook’, for P3 to P6 students. Madam Lathifa advises the school on the recipes to be introduced and the appropriate ingredients to be used, according to the level of the students. She also shares her expertise with other PSG members and encourages them to help out in the weekly programme. With their guidance through the process of baking, students learn the importance of patience, accuracy and teamwork in a fun and interesting way.

At Woodgrove Secondary, the PSG provides moral support to students during examination periods with “Pancake Day” - making and serving pancakes to the students as encouragement. Students love it. It lets them know that their parents know what they are going through, and that they are supported and cared for. They then feel encouraged to do their best. The impact for the students is much greater when it is the parents.

Support Your Child’s Teachers

The second point is to support your child’s teachers by working with them to bring out the best in your child. Trust that our teachers also want to bring out the best in your child. Share what you know with the teachers about what helps your child to learn. Our teachers play multiple roles and work hard. They cannot and should not be surrogate parents, and their mission is to help every child achieve his best. So from time to time, do encourage our teachers too.

I would like to thank the many parents who write to MOE daily to tell us how much you appreciate your child’s teachers and principals. So work with your teachers to support your child. Indeed, many schools’ PSGs are involved in Teachers’ Day Concerts to show their appreciation to the teachers.

Even in our post-secondary institutions, parents have encouraged teachers in other ways. For example, in Pioneer Junior College, the parents gave every teacher and staff a special gift for Teachers’ Day last year to thank them.

Support Your Child’s School

Third, support your child’s school to bring out the best in your children. You can offer your time and support in programmes and initiatives organised by the school, help the school to reach out to other parents who are not in the PSG, to communicate important messages or to encourage them to participate in school-based activities.

In Naval Base Primary School, the PSGhas come forward to act as ambassadors for the school, promoting the school to parents whose children are about to enter primary school. They share their experiences, and highlight features of the school that have benefitted their children. Other parents find the parent ambassadors’ views useful as they give the parent’s perspective on the school.

Support One Another

Finally, support one another in bringing out the best in your children. Parenting is a learning journey for parents too. It is not easy, but the rewards are worth it. No parent need go through it alone, or just with his/her spouse. PSG leaders and members can help point other parents towards resources and communities that can help them be supportive partners. Bringing out the best in our children is a cause that all parents can rally around. When parents support one another, and when we do so in a total environment together with schools, teachers, and the community, it can lead to great things.

At Eunos Primary School, the PSG calls themselves SPICES@Eunos (Supportive Parents in Community Engagement at Eunos Primary). They distribute a Parent-to-Parent newsletter to all parents every term. Articles are fully contributed and edited by the parents, and include updates on school events and even parenting tips. Parents shared an article with tips on helping their children embark on a healthier lifestyle - such as encouraging children to eat more vegetables by dipping them in chocolate pudding or yoghurt. They even had a coffee talk with a PSG member who is a doctor, Dr Lili Dogarel.

MOE Supports Every Parent to be a Supportive Partner

There are many more stories like the ones I have shared. There are as many possibilities as there are loving parents who also want to bring out the best in the child. So in the same way, in MOE, I want to support you to be loving, engaged, supportive parents, to bring out the best in your children.

To encourage schools to continue to use the PSG Fund to enable our supportive parents’ great work, we introduced PSG Fund in 2012 to further boost PSG efforts in parent engagement. This year, we extended the PSG Fund from a seed funding to an annual top up of up to $2,500. I hope you find this funding useful. We will be happy to support a wider range of efforts - whether organising activities to promote parent-child bonding, funding parent outreach programmes, or organising workshops to enhance PSGs.

Today, we celebrate the good work of 15 schools that got the PARTNERS (Merit) Award last year. My heartiest congratulations to the winners of the PARTNERS Award. It is in recognition of the strong collaboration with parents and community to support and enhance our children’s learning experiences. In fact, good collaboration is not limited to these 15 schools. Over 100 schools have received PARTNERS outstanding or merit awards since the start of the awards in 2002. Two of the award recipients, Rivervale Primary and Pasir Ris Secondary, together with their Parent Support Groups, will be sharing their experiences on school-home partnerships at their exhibition booth today.

Some of you may have also seen the TV Series, “Small Steps, Big Future” Recently. We are very proud to showcase the good work of our parents. MOE worked with Mediacorp on a 4-part TV special to show how our schools provide a happy learning environment and opportunities for every child to be the best he can be, with the support of parents.

Schools like MacPherson Primary have Values-in-Action projects that build children’s character and values. In the ‘Put myself in their shoes’ project, upper primary students put themselves in the shoes of the canteen vendors and cleaners by taking turns to clean the canteen and toilets. Some parents may feel that the children are treated as menial labour, but the children are actually learning important values, such as empathy and responsibility, which will see them through their lives.

I personally think that it makes for a better society when children grow up respecting everyone, whatever their job, whether they are doing blue collar or white collar work. We must show respect and appreciation for every job and every profession. It takes everyone to build a good Singapore. I hope we have many stories to tell in the coming years. I hope to encourage everyone to work closely with schools to support our children’s learning, and help them to grow into confident and responsible individuals.

We also set up the Parents in Education website in 2012. It has learning resources and useful tips for every stage of a child’s education journey. Parents can learn more about cyberwellness and learn useful tips on setting parental controls on various electronic devices, including internet browsers, iPads, and even video game consoles such as Playstation.

We have also soft-launched a mobile app of the Parents in Education Website in December 2012. The Parents in Education mobile application has been enhanced to better support parents. We consulted PSG leaders last year. Some enhancements are a result of their suggestions. Parents can now input their children’s level of study, and receive updates customised to their profile. There is a new poll feature which provides improved interactivity. There is also a new calendar function gives a quick overview of school holidays and various education-related events such as MOE’s seminars on Preparing Your Child for Primary School. I hope this will serve parents as a good way to interact with each other.

Conclusion

Let us hear the thoughts of our students on how parent and teacher can mould and bring out the best in a child. The video shows students from different schools reciting a poem.

As the students say, “For behind the parent stood (stands) the school; And behind the teacher stood (stands) the home.” We need this to bring out the best in every child. Behind or beside each other, MOE, schools and parents stand on the same side. We share the same dreams and hope - to bring out the best in every child. Let’s work together to support Every Student to be an Engaged Learner. Let’s give them the knowledge, skills and values that will help them succeed in life and be good people.

It is my great pleasure to declare the inaugural PSG Conference open. I hope that this conference will be fruitful for you and help us all to bring out the best in every child, together.

Thank you.

Museums Step Up as Resource for New Science Standards - Education Week

Education Week - Teachers - 11 April 2014
Science centers and museums are looking to help educators adapt to the vision for instruction reflected by the Next Generation Science Standards.
Topic: Teachers

Museums Step Up as Resource for New Science Standards - Education Week

Science centers and museums are looking to help educators adapt to the vision for instruction reflected by the Next Generation Science Standards.

Speech by Mr Hawazi Daipi at the Caring Teacher Awards 2014 Presentation Ceremony

Ministry Of Education Feed - 10 April 2014

Much attention has been placed on developing a dynamic and resilient education system in Singapore. Our success is recognised internationally, as can be seen in the recent release of the findings of the PISA study on our students’ problem-solving skills. The PISA results show that our students are innovative and can come up with alternative solutions to real-life problems. The findings reflect our increasing emphasis on learner-centered strategies and our efforts on activities which nurture our students’ critical and inventive thinking skills. Credit must go to our teachers, who, through their care and commitment have ensured that our education system brings out the best in every child.

And that is why I am pleased to be here today at the presentation ceremony of the Tenth Caring Teacher Awards. The Caring Teacher Awards recognise teachers who have demonstrated the ability to transmit a range of core values that enrich the individual’s life, and, above all, have shown care and concern for their students, and for all around them.

I was privileged to read the awardees’ reflections on being nominated for the award. They said that they were honoured by it and yet humbled as they saw themselves as representing all the caring teachers out there. And, I am sure it is no surprise to the teaching fraternity that these awardees became teachers because a teacher in their lives had inspired them by their very own act of care and respect.

When asked how they built rapport with their students, all the awardees said they achieved it by showing respect, and, seeking to understand their students. When their students observed that these teachers were there for them and believed in them, it was a turning point for both teachers and students. The students were motivated to put in effort in their studies and, for many of them, learnt to believe in themselves and to cope with the personal challenges they faced at home.

I am encouraged by the anecdotes the awardees shared. They show me our teachers are conscious of the difference they make in their students’ lives. These teachers helped their students to overcome personal difficulties and led by example. I am glad that we have such exemplary teachers. I am glad, too, that our students are in good hands.

I commend, too, those teachers who were also recognised as Caring Teachers by their schools. Your students and peers recognise the role you play in helping your students achieve their best. May your example continue to spur both students and colleagues to accomplish well what they set out to do.

I thank Exxon Mobil Asia Pacific for their continuing support of the Caring Teacher Awards. You have helped to make possible a very meaningful award.

I wish all of you every success in continuing the good work.

Many States Left Key NCLB Flexibility on the Table - Education Week

Just 18 of the 42 states with No Child Left Behind Act waivers seized the opportunity to use a wider array of measures to track how well schools are doing.

Texas Board Ducks Mexican-American Studies Vote - Education Week

Bypassing a vote on a controversial proposal for a Mexican-American studies course,the state board of education instead asked publishers to submit textbooks for ethnic studies topics.

Speech by Mr Hawazi Daipi at the Heartware-CCE Leadership Programme Finale Ceremony

Ministry Of Education Feed - 09 April 2014

I am glad to join you at the finale ceremony of the Heartware CCE Leadership Programme today. Our students go to school to learn many things - to converse in different languages, to solve mathematical problems and understand more about the world through sciences and the humanities.

Education is about developing the whole person, so while we train our students’ minds, we also want to nurture their hearts. We want them to know more about themselves and learn how they should interact with the world. Efforts by organisations like Heartware Network can complement schools’ efforts in supporting students’ character development.

The Heartware CCE Leadership Programme is designed to help Normal stream students become confident and resilient leaders. One of the highlights of the Heartware CCE Leadership Programme is the Values in Action community project, where students have the opportunity to plan projects that will solve problems within their school or in the surrounding community. This allows students to take on responsibility, practise problem-solving skills in the real world and pick up important life values. I am delighted to hear feedback that the students have become more confident and learnt the importance of giving back to the community.

Jonina Wang from Mayflower Secondary School is one of the participants from the pilot batch in 2011. Last year, Jonina was appointed a leader in her CCA, and she credits the Heartware CCE Leadership Programme for bringing out the leadership potential in her. Jonina has plans to bring her CCA to greater heights and she also wants to pass on what she has learnt from the Programme to her juniors.

Another student, Tomy Ang from Christ Church Secondary School, gained confidence and grew in maturity since participating in the Programme. For example, he no longer teases people because the Programme has taught him how to put himself in other’s shoes and empathise with others.

I am sure that there are many more inspiring stories amongst the participants seated here. Heartware CCE Leadership Programme not only brings out the leader in a student, but also imparts valuable life lessons, to mould them to be useful members of the community.

I would like to congratulate all participants of the Heartware CCE Programme in 2013 for having embarked on this year-long journey, and successfully completing this programme.

I would also like to congratulate Heartware Network for their good work, and thank Maybank Foundation for their generosity in supporting this programme. This is indeed a meaningful project and we hope you will continue to touch the hearts and lives of many more youths in the years ahead.

Thank you.

Opening Address by Mr Heng Swee Keat at the International Conference of Teaching and Learning with Technology (iCTLT)

Ministry Of Education Feed - 09 April 2014
Introduction

I am pleased to be with you for the 4th International Conference for Teaching and Learning with Technology, jointly organised by the Ministry of Education and the Academy of Principals, Singapore. A warm welcome to foreign delegates from 23 different countries. I hope your stay in Singapore is a pleasant one.

As you have seen in the opening video, Singapore embarked on our journey to leverage technology for teaching and learning more than a decade ago. In our first ICT Masterplan, or mp1, we laid a firm foundation for schools to integrate technology into the curriculum.

We provided schools with the physical and ICT infrastructure to enable networked and connected learning. We trained teachers to use basic ICT tools, and provided educational software and resources. At the end of mp1, there was a widespread acceptance of ICT as a useful tool for teaching and learning.

With this foundation, we seeded innovation across our schools in mp2. It focused on:

  • establishing baseline ICT standards for students;
  • supporting schools in achieving higher levels of ICT use; and
  • strengthening the integration of ICT into the curriculum.

We also experimented with new approaches such as the FutureSchools to generate more innovative practices for the system, and many schools also took their initiative to innovate. At the end of mp2, Singapore schools were well-resourced; school leaders showed strong support for the use of ICT; and most importantly, teachers and students had core ICT skills and were frequently using ICT for teaching and learning.

Building on the good work done, mp3 focused on enriching and transforming the learning experiences of our students with ICT. Our aim is simple. It is to equip our students with the critical competencies and dispositions to succeed in a knowledge economy. Specifically, the goal for our students was to develop self-directed and collaborative learning through the effective use of ICT, as well as become discerning and responsible ICT users.

As mp3 draws to a close, we see some of our efforts coming into fruition. ICT is more extensively integrated into the curriculum and pedagogy. There is greater alignment of students’ learning outcomes to 21st century skills, competencies and dispositions. I want to thank our educators and specialists for your hard work and pioneering spirit. Your enthusiasm to try, to learn, to break new ground was what brought us to this stage.

We are now preparing for mp4, so we should look back to distil the lessons we have learnt and build on the foundation. At the same time, we should look forward, stay open and curious, imagine new possibilities and imagine what technology can open up.

Our Changing World

In the last decade, technological innovations are reshaping the way we live and work at such an alarming rate, that the only constant is change itself. We must stay curious, to anticipate what is around the next bend, and to imagine the possibilities that technology can offer in order to future proof our children.

According to Erik Brynjolfsson from MIT, we have entered The Second Machine Age. It is an age where machines and computers can perform complex and “intelligent” tasks that were once considered uniquely human. From self-driving cars to new technologies that can diagnose illnesses, these innovations challenge us to rethink our roles in the workplace. In this digital age, existing jobs are being redefined and new jobs created.

The implications of these changes are profound but one thing is clear - education must equip our students with the necessary competencies to race with and not race against technology.

How then shall we respond to the changing world? I would like to share with you 4 key principles that will guide us in future.

STAY FOCUSED

The first principle is to stay focused. The goal of our ministry is to bring out the best in every child. We are committed to a student-centric and values-driven education and ICT can help us do this better.

For a start, we need digital literacy. In the IT age, digital literacy serves the same function as basic literacy that is allowing our students to learn better, to be ready for the exciting future, which they will live and work in.

Being digitally literate is not just being equipped with technical skills; it is about being equipped with the 21st century competencies to collaborate with others, engage in lifelong learning through technology, and make the space they live in a better one. We will provide a student-centric and values-driven education in every school, at every stage, whatever the starting point.

Student-centric Education

By staying focused on our goal to bring out the best in every child, we will use technology to transform learning in every school and every student, enabling them to develop strong fundamentals for life-long learning.

You would have heard that our students have done well in the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment or PISA computer-based assessment for Problem Solving. It is encouraging as the results indicate that our students have the ability to think flexibly and creatively to solve complex and unfamiliar problems. What is particularly heartening is not so much the positioning, but the trend data for Science, Math and Reading that shows that we have out-performed ourselves.

Some of you have also gone for school visits organised by the conference team. You would have seen how our schools are tapping on various technologies to enhance pedagogy and develop 21st century competencies in our students. Let’s see how they do it in Gan Eng Seng School [video].

We will continue to support schools and ensure all students, regardless of background, have an equal opportunity to learn with ICT. In fact, all our students have access to ICT learning and ICT resources. Our teachers will leverage a wider range of ICT-enabled pedagogies so that every child will succeed.

Currently, the Ministry is developing an online Student Learning Space (SLS) to provide all students access to quality digital teaching and learning resources.

The resources are aligned to the national curriculum, and students will have opportunity to collaborate within and across schools. With the SLS, we aim to achieve consistently high quality teaching and learning across all schools, as part of our Every School a Good School movement.

Values-driven education

We cannot assume that just because our children can handle technology, they know how to use technology responsibly. There is no roadmap for the digital world. We need to give every student a compass and to help them develop navigation skills.

Cyber Wellness education is critical. We have positioned it as part of our system-wide Character and Citizenship Education. As of last year, all schools have set aside curriculum time for cyber wellness education.

Students are guided to think deeply about online disclosure, netiquette and digital footprint through hands-on activities. They discuss authentic case studies to understand the importance of managing their digital reputation and online presence.

We have trained more than 2,200 cyber wellness student ambassadors. These ambassadors use the power of positive peer influence to spread good cyber wellness practices. With the support and guidance from teachers, these ambassadors implement school-wide cyber wellness programmes for their peers.

Some student ambassadors create YouTube videos to offer cyber wellness tips for their peers, while others give assembly talks. Let’s watch how student ambassadors of Anglo Chinese School (Barker Road) reach out to younger pupils in other schools and help spread the message of cyber safety.

This year students of Innova Junior College and School of Science and Technology planned and organised the Cyber Wellness Student Ambassador Conference. Eight hundred primary and secondary students participated in this for-students-by-students conference.

Students watched their peers role model the true meaning of active citizenry, moving beyond self to benefit the community. These 800 students later returned to their schools to inspire others to shape the online space they play and learn in, and to make it a safer place for all [video].

Our cyber wellness education must also involve parents. They play a vital role in developing strong positive values in our children. Our schools reach out to parents to help them guide their children to understand the importance of online safety in school and at home, and to use ICT responsibly. Through MOE’s Parents-in-Education website, we also provide useful digital parenting tips.

Moving forward, we will continue to partner parents to develop in every child a moral and digital compass that will guide them in the digital world. The values-driven education must extend to cyberspace.

STAY CURIOUS

The second principle is to stay curious and be open to new possibilities. In a race between humans and machines, humans must not do what machines can do better.

We must learn to work with technology and not against it. We must stay curious and have the courage to imagine new possibilities and experiment with innovative practices. Technology is rapidly evolving and always present fresh opportunities for teaching and learning.

Since mp2, we have been working hard to identify possibilities with emerging technology for teaching and learning. For example, one of our Future Schools, Nan Chiau Primary, experimented with mobile technologies-enhanced pedagogies.

Students engage in scientific investigation and move seamlessly from classroom learning to the collection of real-world data, and then back into the classroom to construct new knowledge. This way of learning science within and beyond the classroom is made possible through a suite of mobile apps co-developed with industry partners. The data capturing and analysis capability of these tools help students to become better observers, and develop a more analytical mind as they learn about Science in their everyday lives.

The technology, together with a well-thought through pedagogy, encourages students to act and think like scientists.

Beyond more interactive lessons within and beyond the classroom, let’s push the envelope further to see how ICT can personalise learning. This is an important aspect of our student-centric education. The ultimate goal is customised learning and differentiated teaching for every child. With technology, it enables us now to bring a new level of differentiated teaching and personalised learning.

Assessment for learning, for example, is one area that we are looking at. There are emerging technologies that can diagnose students’ mastery of concepts, or recommend the most useful digital resources. We can better cater to individual students’ learning style, pace and interest. ICT can enable teachers to improve teaching and learning, and we can help every child to succeed.

Our schools are experimenting with all sorts of interesting ideas, such as flipped classrooms, team-based and collaborative learning. In many cases, students themselves are initiating their own learning and sharing resources with peers. I am happy to see so many of such self-directed and self-initiated learning, and so many innovative practices in our schools. We will help our students to become independent learners, and we must provide the space for them.

STAY GROUNDED

The third principle is to stay grounded on pedagogical content knowledge. Technology is the tool but the teacher must be the master. A good technological tool placed in the hands of a skilful teacher can breathe life into lessons, and lessons into life. Our teachers must be grounded in strong pedagogy and have the knowledge to use ICT meaningfully and appropriately. Whatever the technological advances, a caring and skilful teacher must remain at the heart of a good education system. But the roles and skills of a teacher will change. To be masters of technology, our teachers must adapt and learn - learn new skills and new ways of teaching and learning; learn how the young today are using technology. And remember, do not work against technology, but work with technology and be the master of technology. Don’t forget the goal, which is to be always centred on the student as this is what a student-centric education means. Earlier in a video, we saw one of the teacher say that we need “21st century teachers”. I would encourage all our teachers to think about what this means.

In mp3, we trained about 1,400 ICT mentors. They play the crucial role of inspiring and multiplying ground-up initiatives across the system. Ms Pamela Seet, an ICT mentor from Pei Hwa Secondary, works alongside peers to design and implement ICT-enriched programmes and lead professional learning sessions. Her mentees, Ms Wong Wei Nee and Mr Song Hoo Khim, are now more confident in designing ICT-enriched lessons.

They have gone on to design several lessons for their students and did not just stop there. They posted their lesson plans on The ICT Connection - an online platform where teachers share good practices. To date, the school has contributed more than 70 lessons to the teaching community. Indeed, the catalytic influence of these ICT mentors is far-reaching.

MOE recognises the impact of ICT mentors in the system. We have put in place various subject-based networked learning communities to grow and sustain the mentorship programme. Today, our programme focuses on engaging teachers in reflective practice. In our learning communities, teachers collaborate to improve the learning processes and engage in professional discourse to discuss how best to improve teaching and learning.

We have created opportunities for professional development and exchange of ideas across schools. But many educators who have gone beyond that; they are plugged into various online international learning communities via social media. They keep abreast of the latest developments in the education scene. They learn of interesting lessons that are happening in other parts of the world and adapt them for local use.

Whether local or overseas, many school leaders and teachers are establishing their professional online presence. As 21st Century educators, they are harnessing technology for professional learning and constantly refining their craft and art as skilful teachers.

STAY TOGETHER

The fourth principle is to stay together. From parents to industry partners, we need to involve the wider community. Together, we can play an active role to bring out the best in each child in every school, at every stage, whatever their starting point.

So, in the planning of our next ICT masterplan in education, we have had engagement sessions with school leaders, teachers, students and parents to seek their views [video].

A consistent feedback surfaced from the various engagement exercises is the need to bridge students’ digital interests to the way they learn in school.

Students tell us that they engage in a variety of digital past-times such as writing blogs, contributing to online forums, designing games and creating videos. Don Tapscott in his book, ‘Grown up Digital’ calls these young people prosumers , who are not passive consumers of information, but active producers of information.

When I see the blogs, videos and even games or apps created by some of our young people, I am truly impressed. Many of them display such creativity, resourcefulness and collaborative effort.

There is a 17-year-old boy, Jurvis Tan, who graduated from the School of Science and Technology last year. Jurvis’ aspiration is to be a computer programmer who makes a difference.

Right now, he is doing an internship in a local mobile app development company. Since young, Jurvis loves technology and his teachers recognised it. They gave him curriculum space to pursue his interest in coding, and guided him in understanding how he could use the skill to benefit the community.

Last year, he won an app design competition. The winning app was inspired by the idea of a torch relay. He hopes to connect people through digital chain storytelling and believes this idea has the potential to go viral and travel out of Singapore.

There is a growing number of students who, like Jurvis, displays keen interest in deepening their knowledge and know-how of technology-related activities. We must continue to create pathways to encourage this. Let us tap on the energy and creativity of our young people, as we do our best to support them.

Some schools have developed excellent ICT-related Applied Learning Programmes to support our students.

For example, in Rulang Primary School, students’ computational thinking is nurtured through a school-wide robotics programme. All students have a chance to learn to build and programme robots.

Over the years, students have become so good that they have clinched many awards at various international platforms , such as the International Robot Olympiad and VEX Robotics World Championship. I understand that they have also built a robot for this conference and I can’t wait to see their creation.

As we move forward, we seek to carve out more opportunities to stretch our students who have an aptitude for different areas. We will help them regardless of their starting point. And we will help them go as far as they can.

Our work in MOE stretches across the entire system. We are committed to support preschools to put in place age-appropriate ICT for learning and will work closely with Institutes of Higher Learning and industry partners. Under the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE review or ASPIRE, we will examine ways to match students’ aspiration and career choices.

For example, students who are passionate about digital media production work can go to Nanyang Polytechnic. The polytechnic works with LucasFilm Singapore to co-design their programme and students may also intern in this world-renowned company.

A number of their alumni are already working there and some of them were part of the successful team that worked on Rango, the animation that won the Oscar for the Best Animated Feature Film at the Academy Awards in 2012.

Conclusion

We have laid a strong foundation in our three ICT masterplans. As we move into the next masterplan, we will build upon what we have established and position ourselves to help every student succeed in this changing world.

As a system, we will continue to strive towards the vision of “Every School a Good School”. A good school is one that cares for its students and motivates them to learn and grow. It is one that has teachers who encourage acquisition of strong fundamentals and provides opportunities to all students, regardless of their family circumstances to become confident and lifelong learners.

To support schools in their effort, we are committed to providing all students with access to quality ICT infrastructure, learning resources, and ensure our educators are well-connected and supported by the fraternity.

We want to develop 21st Century Competencies in our students. It is meaningful that these competencies are also exactly the very attributes that we, as educators, need to display, as we approach mp4.

We must continue to have a strong sense of purpose, and be guided by sound values. We must have the rigour and analytical depth to use and integrate technology sensibly, and not be distracted by gadgets and tools. This is done by staying grounded in sound pedagogy.

We must remain open and have the courage, inventive thinking, and creativity to innovate with ICT. And we must collaborate with one another, locally and internationally, to solve problems that technology now enables and demands.

I must reiterate the point that technology is a tool. It is you, the educators, who make the difference. And I know that all of you have what it takes to make that difference for our students.

In conclusion, stay focused on our goal, stay curious and open to new possibilities, and stay grounded in good pedagogy. At the same time, tap on the creativity and energy of our youth. The digital natives have much to offer us. Finally, stay connected and stay together with one another. This is an exciting journey, which undertaken together, will yield us more productive results and more joy.

On this note, I wish you an enriching conference and all the best in your endeavour to enhance Pedagogy, engage Learners, enable Action, and empower Your learning (PLAY) through technology. It is now my pleasure to declare iCTLT 2014 open.

Thank you.

International Conference on Teaching and Learning with Technology (iCTLT 2014)

Ministry Of Education Feed - 09 April 2014

The International Conference on Teaching and Learning with Technology (iCTLT) 2014 is jointly organised by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Academy of Principals, Singapore (APS). It is held from 7 to 10 April at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education, is the guest of honour for the Opening Ceremony on 9 April.

The theme for iCTLT 2014 is, “Enhance Pedagogy, Engage Learners, Enable Action and Empower You”. Conference delegates will be engaged in discussion on different aspects of the conference theme.

More than 1,500 local and overseas delegates are expected at the conference. Participants include school leaders, educators, academics, researchers and classroom practitioners, as well as industry leaders. iCTLT 2014 serves to connect educators from various countries as they collaborate and explore possibilities in the use of ICT to create an engaging and effective education for our 21st century students.

Programme Highlights

Renowned speakers — including Dr Yong Zhao, an internationally known scholar and author, and Mr Aaron Sams, the co-author of Flip Your Classroom — Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day and a founding member of the Flipped Learning Network — as well as a diverse group of academics, school leaders, teachers and industry partners will share their insights and knowledge on the use of technology in education. Presentations include pedagogies for the 21st century student; innovative and emerging technology learning environments for teaching and learning; and ICT leadership to bring about pedagogical changes in schools.

The School Leaders’ Track and UpClose sessions with keynote speakers are two special platforms to empower the education fraternity. Another highlight is a student-led panel discussion, Students’ Voice — Hear IT from Our Students. Participants can engage students from three Singapore schools, Fuhua Primary School, Ping Yi Secondary School and Innova Junior College. Together with an Australian school, Parramatta Marist High School, students will share their views on the pervasive presence of technology in school and in their lives.

EdTech SparkPlug is the newest platform in the iCTLT resource exhibition for educators to learn how the latest educational technology can enhance teaching and learning. Featuring an exciting line-up of innovative educational technologies, presenters will bring participants the brightest spark that will help make a difference to maximise every student’s learning.

In addition to the main conference, participants, presenters and speakers can interact and exchange ideas, resources and strategies for effective ICT implementation through online learning communities, against a backdrop of emerging trends of educational technology.

iCTLT 2014 is supported by Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, National Institute of Education, Singapore Tourism Board, and the Singapore Exhibition and Convention Bureau.

For more information on iCTLT 2014, please visit the conference website.

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