Another blog by another teacher

Creative ≠ being different for the sake of wanted to be different May 12, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — shirleytan @ 8:36 am

The last lecture by Dr Kamisah dealt with creative thinking skills. It leads me to reflect on the creative persons that I have heard or met before.


Ever heard of the song “Vincent” a.k.a. “Starry Starry Night by Don Mc Lean? My father introduced the song to me. At first, I thought it was a love song. But when I found the lyrics, I realized I was wrong. It’s actually about the life of a genius painter- Vincent Van Gogh – a creative figure who was recognized after his death. Intially, he worked with somber coulours only. Later, he incorporated brighter colours and style of painting into a uniquely recognizable style. He produced more than 2,000 works, including around 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches, during the last ten years of his life. Most of his best-known works were produced in the final two years of his life, during which time he cut off part of his left ear following a breakdown in his friendship with Paul Gauguin. After this he suffered recurrent bouts of mental illness, which led to his suicide.


Though being marginalized by the society around him, he never thought of giving up his dreams, his love for painting. In his endeavor of becoming a painter, I see the determination that a creative person must possess. Too often, we see creative people are labeled with names. Some of them are even discriminated by the society as they claim that they society do not understand them. Thus, I think in order to be a successful creative person, persistence and courage are definitely important.


So, next time before we judge a person by its appearance or his surface personality, think twice. He might be the next Vincent Van Gogh, Thomas Edison or Tony Buzan!

A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.

–Mahatma Gandhi–






Integrating thinking skills into Literature

Filed under: Uncategorized — shirleytan @ 8:34 am

In  the past,

Literature = Shakespeare?



Literature= Shakespeare + thinking skills?


Previously, for me, literature is merely about poems, novels, short stories and plays. And therefore, the most important thing in doing well in literature is to MEMORIZE. As long as I could memorize it, I will do fine. That was the past…


Nevertheless, for now, I think literature as well requires thinking skills, in fact higher order thinking skills. There is no single object in the world that can be done without thinking skills. However, this semester’s literature course really makes me think a lot (as the lecturer has high expectations on us and the assignments are heavy L ). The first critical essay (as the name suggests) made me think critically. We were required to distinguish the relevant information from the irrelevant information, analyze the unstated assumptions as well as to determine the strength of the claim found in the poem. Surprisingly, what I have learned in my Thinking Skills class can be utilized in my literature assignment.


There is more to come… the second assignment of my literature subject- poster presentation. If you were in the literature class, you may think that you have entered the wrong class as the poster that were required to do was quite demanding. It has to be abstract, conceptual yet creative. Needless to say, creative thinking skills are very crucial in completing this assignment. In a group of 3, we identified the main theme of the short story, then transferred the theme into a visual form- poster. Though not easy, we managed to sharpen our creative skills via this task.


After this experience of integrating thinking skills into literature, I shall never dare to say that, thinking skills are meant to be stand on its own.


Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it

–Ralph Waldo Emerson- American poet–





sharing and integrating April 4, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — shirleytan @ 3:34 am

As promised in the previous blog, in this coming blog, I’ll be sharing with you about the learning experience that I gained from the teaching lessons presented by my friends during tutorial. English is a fun subject to learn, if the teachers are fun to be with. This notion is very well illustrated by my course mates. Their ways of teaching were really amazing and creative. Some of them brought sticks, pictures, tidbits (the part I enjoyed the most^^) and even stones! Then only I realized that the integration of English and thinking skills can be so interesting! In the past, thinking skills are meant for higher level students and always require us to squeeze our brains. But, it is a totally different story now. Teaching of thinking skills can be made into a simpler and more accessible way. A simple activity of deciding which product to buy can trigger our minds to consider all the factors involved in making decision. A story that needed students to make inferences can also lead student s to think critically. These uncomplicated yet consequential tasks  can be easily integrated as part of the lesson in schools because they do not require complex procedures. At the same time, students would not feel burdened, thus enable them to learn better, in a more relaxing way.


Put thinking into actions April 1, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — shirleytan @ 5:31 pm

On the 4th of March, my group consisting of Haneitha, Lee Min and I were to do a team teaching on thinking skills in our tutorial. Being the first group to present always equals to anxiety, uncertainties and nervousness. It was a forty minute lesson and our target students were Form 4 students of average proficiency in English.

Briefly, below is the flow of the lesson:

1)Shows students pictures of different facial expressions, and asks them which depicts their mood the best and why. (compare and contrast)
2)Shows 2 pictures (sad and happy situation) along with background music and asks them what moods/events that lead to these situations. (making inferences)

3)Students transfer the main ideas of the poem (There’s Been a Death in the Opposite House) into mindmaps, the later present it in a role-play form. (identifying main ideas/ transferring information)

4) Students summarize the lesson by reflecting on what they have learnt.

When I was conducting the lesson, I could see that the students were really engaged in the thinking process. For instance, they utilized the skill of mindmapping along with the critical thinking skill (identifying ideas) in order to present the gist of the poem in the simplest yet most precise way. Then, before they performed the role-play, there were a lot of questions being posed to my colleagues and I. They asked questions such as “Is there any tools provided?” and ” How long should the role-play be?”. From these questions, I could detect the thinking processes that were taking place in their minds. In fact, they used the tool Consider All Factors (CAF) in order to make a conscious decision on how the role-play should be. (perhaps, without them realizing it!). Other than that, the sense of creativity in these students was really impressing! They were able to present themselves as a creative person by portraying traits such as humour, playfulness, willingness to try and openness.

Generally, i think both sides (the teachers and the students) enjoyed the lesson, gained some new experience and input. Nonetheless, there were some flaws in during this team teaching. The most obvious flaw, according to my tutor, the thinking skills that we were trying to highlight were not explicit enough. The approach that we used was more towards the “micro teaching” rather than focusing on the thinking skills. This aspect needed extra attention and I agreed with her very much.

Looking back at this team teaching, i think i have learnt a lot, formally or informally. In the coming blog, i will share my experiences of looking at my colleagues’ teaching from my perspective- to elevate or to denigrate?? Will be revealed soon…

“– When everybody thinks alike, nobody thinks–Bill Walton


when blogging comes to the mind…

Filed under: Uncategorized — shirleytan @ 3:26 pm

As usual,afternoon air was filled with the sleepy bugs..But on the 26th of February, the sleepy bugs was chased away by the presence of an unseen lady- Pn Rosseni in the lecture hall. She introduced us to a website that I have never been exposed to before this- WordPress, as we were required to do a  blog on the subject of thinking starting this week. this news was indeed pretty unpleasant for me, as there were stacks and piles of work/assignments to be completed.

However, I took up the challenge and started to work on the blog. First of all, I used one of the thinking tools- Consider All Factors (CAF). There were few factors in blogging that I need to bear in mind. At the first place, I considered the criteria that are evaluated in this task. Hence, I weighed the prominence of each criterion, and took appropriate actions in order to fulfill the requirements of this assignment.

Secondly, I utilized the tool of First Important Priorities (FIP) to carry on with my assignment. After weighing the importance of each criterion, I ranked them based on their priorities. For example, I think the primary step to do blogging is definitely to register an blog in WordPress,  therefore I ranked it as the top priority. Then, in my opinion, writing a page about myself would be very useful as a green blogger in this website because this would give others an opportunity to know me better, have a basic idea of who I am. Thus, my next step was to write a short paragraph about myself. Moving on, I progressed to the gist of this blog, that is to write a self-reflection related to the subject of thinking. And here I am!  In the coming days, i will be equipping my blog with other additional widgets such as Calendar, Video Box and  Chat Box. Hopefully it can be done smoothly, without lacking the component of FUN in it^^

–Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny.–  Tyron Edwards