A sign of things to come. The Primary Levels

by Wong Kin Leong

This is the new website of eduKate, revamped and all out to improve students. But before we start the next season, we shall wrap up this year with this article.

2014 is coming, and we will have some changes to our classes. This is in relation to the outcome of the classes that we had in 2013. The most important change will be to organize our  classes to fit the characters of the students. Amongst the changes, we will also be improving and implementing new techniques in our teaching. For English, prototype learning from tablets, increased exposure (reading more books, acquiring more knowledge) to classical writing with emphasis on literature structural fundamentals and application to creative writing. For Mathematics, heuristic applications for word problems will be taught with the use of logical deduction. Speed training when attempting sums with the use of stop watches. For Science, there are no changes except for a higher usage of videos to show experiments and application of knowledge gained.

Lessons learnt from 2013:

Primary 1-3 levels

The lower primary levels are consistently scoring in the 80-90++ bracket for their classes. Their classes are based on 5 pillars of fundamental education.

  1. learning
  2. repeating
  3. memorizing
  4. categorizing
  5. and finally, an evaluation of these skills in the next lesson.

In 2013, the biggest problem was to make the students memorize their lessons. No surprise as the 21st century is inundated with new technology that distracts children. Playstation, xbox, internet, iPhone and all the new apps that makes games easily accessible robs studying time from students. The concentration levels are lower now then the last decade in children between the age of 7-11, with so much things to distract them and children now are more social than before.

How do we counter that? We use the same technology that gets them distracted to become tools of learning. We have iPads, iPhones, kindle, AppleTV, computers and full internet connectivity incorporated into our teaching.

But of course, once we have their attention, nothing beats the age old ways of learning. Teaching from fundamentals, full use of assessment books, and when exam time approaches, judicious use of past year exam papers.

Primary 4 levels.

Our primary 4 class did very well this year. Their median score are within the 78-82 range for English, 80-85 for Math, and 79-82 for Science. This result comes from two reasons that we strove very hard to incorporate right from the start of the year.

reason 1:

The classes were tailored to the nature of the students. They were grouped into two main groups. First group are predominantly made up of students that are constantly participating in class activities. The second group are made up of students that are quiet but worked hard when we give them their tasks. The first group would prefer learning by talking with the tutors. The second preferred learning from doing more sums. This we tailored our classes to and the results were astounding. New comers at June 2013 had their results from a score of 60-65 jump to a score of 80-85. What to learn from here? Not every student responses the same way to one way of education. That does not mean they aren’t any good, it just means that there are classes that we need to tune to make them perform. custom classes are the way to go for 2014.

reason 2:

As the school term is getting shorter and exams are happening earlier, we changed our strategy from 2012 to 2013. We got the students to learn their syllabus faster and earlier in the year. We also changed how our information is delivered. Instead of just getting the students to do more sums and more homework, we made them strategize their thought process into two main processes. 1) the reason they are learning that skill, and 2) remembering what they learnt so they don’t have to revise it again and waste time relearning. this is inline with the curriculum of the ministry, based on the premise of learning it once, and moving onto harder, more proficient skills next.

Grouping these classes to suit students’ personalities created a group camaraderie. Meeting up for lessons week after week fostered bonds between students and we encouraged the brighter students to help out, and the weaker students to ask. We always found that the first (most important) thing to do in any class, is to ask. Once students gets past the fear of raising their hands, they will improve tremendously. Clearing doubts and gaining confidence are right up the tree of learning.

At Primary 4, students are caught between gaining confidence and also being socially accepted by their peers. That’s two opposing problems that any child can have. Without confidence, they might end up being an outcast with their peers. This age are critical ages where students feels aware of their surroundings. Capable of having great friends and socializing. They are like mini adults, a bit insecure of what next and hoping what they do will be acceptable to everyone.

Primary 5 levels

The Penultimate year. And the lead up to their first biggest obstacle. Primary 5 levels has always been the year where students start developing problems in their studies. There are a few reasons for this. Foremost being the jump in curriculum requirements, being the preceding year to PSLE. It has to naturally be harder than Primary 4, and a need to shift the gears to get ship shape in preparation for Primary 6 and the forthcoming PSLE. It is also the year that students have to start maturing and getting their focus on the essentials. But on the other hand, the distractions comes in thick and fast. Their CCA’s will take up a bigger chunk of their activities, a wider social network, more distractions and the mentality that this is the last year before they have to sit down and study hard for PSLE.

So how do we tackle these problems next year?

The first biggest change will be to make sure that our students feels that Primary 5 is definitely harder than the previous year. They have to feel that their stresses are building up and suddenly, have to wake up and not take things for granted. Introduction to harder sums and harder concepts immediately will set off that tone. The game is on.

Our students are divided into two distinct groups. The first are our senior students that have been with us longer than 1 year. The second are the new students that joined in within the last 6 months. The senior students will always get a pep talk before Primary 5 starts, of what to expect, of the differences between Primary 4 and their need to up their game for Primary 5. These students would be quite tuned to our ways and being on the same frequency, they will be able to get a foothold on the new requirements.

The second group, the new students, are the ones that will take a longer time to get up to the higher speed. Mainly because they are still not fully prepared for the change, plus not familiar with our methods of teaching. Of these students, we identify again two main types of students. Those that have a firm grasp of the fundamentals, and those that lack it. The latter being the ones that will find it an uphill battle throughout Primary 5 if not dealt with properly. So again, we have to tackle this group with a custom way of teaching them. We always identify this group very on in their lessons with us. Once identified, they are required to stay longer hours than the norm. They are also given extra classes, with the tutors’ priority of getting their problems resolved, instilling fundamentals that they lacked from previous years and the third most important resolution, being taught in front of their class.

Primary 6 levels.

The senior year. And PSLE. This is where our hard work with the Primary 5 students pays off. Our senior students are the examples for newcomers and set the tone for hardwork, total concentration, and hours behind the books to achieve their grades.

This year’s Primary 6 have taken up the above and did their utmost. They started the year off with extra lessons. Within a short span of 3 months, their lessons went from 1.5 hours to 4 hours of constant lesson time. They went from learning new topics to doing the complex problem sums from those topics. The newer students felt the heat from the senior students and upped their game, and most importantly, put in the effort to sit themselves down and stretched their brains. They were given assessments, then on to time trials and finally, full exam papers. Way before any real exams even began in school. To be ahead of the curve is the aim.

So what new things do we do for the new Primary 6?

Next year, there will not be much changes for both Mathematics and Science. Our programmes are pretty solid for these two subjects at Primary 6 level.

However, for English, we will be aiming to improve one aspect that we have not been happy with this year. The knowledge that we could impart to the students can be improved. For example, our lessons are now based on four main components of grammer, vocabulary, creative writing and comprehension and a smaller component of knowledge. We have always wanted to cultivate knowledge in our students. Reason? Because English is a communication device. It is not useful until it becomes a tool for communicating. But one cannot communicate when one does not have knowledge. A sentence is useless if it does not contain information.

The more knowledge acquired, the more can be communicated. With this, we would like to improve the general knowledge of students, and with the knowledge, appreciate the use of English to tell their peers what they have learnt. With communication and constant socializing, their English will improve.

Wong Kin Leong

eduKateSG Tuition Centre

Tampines St73

The Sail Marina Bay

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