Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Primary 1 Written Expression

In line with MOE recommendations of no exams for our 1st Graders (Primary One students)... other forms of assessments are implemented in some schools. While some schools may have started much earlier... the idea of alternative assessments, is catching on with the rest of the schools that have yet embarked on it. This further amplifies the phrase... "honeymooning period" in Primary school. Hehee..

The Alternative Assessments programme complements in the now widely known; Teach Less Learn More approach. Many parents do not know that this programme requires greater curriculum customization as it needs respective teacher to come up with school-based curriculum to best cater to the needs of the students' abilities. To add to that requirement, teachers are also responsible to chart up the scoring rubrics for the students' evaluation report. The variety of alternative assessments on the different subjects may constitute to a certain percentage of the overall performance for the year.

One such alternative assessment is the recent Show & Tell article i have shared. While it is understood that the exam setting will not be as per what our P3 students onwards are doing, the need for pen and paper test will still be necessary for a holistic evaluation of students. They may come as short pen and paper tests, like topical tests, listening comprehension tests and a little bit of testing on writing skills; which is termed as the Written Expression.

Written Expression requires each student to come up with at least a minimum of 5 sentences under a selected title / topic. It could be titles like :-

1. My Favourite Food

2. The Holiday I Enjoyed Most

3. My Family

4. My School

5. My Best Friend (etc)

So for SA1 this year, my DD2 has to go through a detailed list of various alternative assessments which i find is a good way and a formative way in assessing the students' learning journey. I mean in Singapore, it is very difficult to separate parents and that paper evidence / paper chase... much to our denial that is... we are indeed kiasu parents lor..

As my continued support to this addictive KiasuParents forum, here are some suggestions of how parents can prep children for the Written Expression day. While i may have posted a little late (post-session) for the Show & Tell article, i do hope this one would come in earlier for some of you out there so that fun preparation work can be done with your children. It should be fun lah, since it IS honeymooning period... hehee..

DD2 was given the title My Favourite Sandwich to work with and was given (if i recall correctly), 2 weeks prior to the actual day. Parents were informed much earlier about it, (again if i remember correctly) almost the same time as all other alternative assessments that were detailed out in the circular. The title was given 2 weeks before the official writing day. For some schools, children were given a picture to write about. So, the format varies between schools & the formative structures they implement.

As many of you already know, i am pro-hands-on kinda momma. I prefer for children especially the younger ones, to learn by experimenting, by touching, by smelling, by tasting.... in short; by doing. Engage children in their 5 senses and the experience of that session will allow for creative ideas in those little minds of theirs by three-fold if not more. :)

Here's sharing what we did together. (DD2 and I)... yes... amidst preparing DD1 for her semestral exams! Guess this hands-on session came as a de-stress factor for me.. Hah!

I asked DD2 what her favourite sandwich was... Blaaah... As usual, she gave me TOO MANY! She talked me through a couple and said they were all too simple... like just dip the knife in the jar and spread. Just like plain bread, she thought it was too bland. Eventually, she decided on something more challenging to write about :- Omelette Sandwich. She repeatedly reminded me that her teacher encouraged all the students in the class to write "more"..... She loves her teacher to bits and find her an ultimate inspiration, so this work by her is also to inspire her teacher..... through her writing.

We began on our journey by getting all the ingredients laid out on the kitchen cabinet one morning.. We've done it together many times before but i did more of the work, so this time i made sure she did most of it! DD2 ran through the items in her mind and went ahead to get all the stuff.. She said, "Mom, we need bread... eggs... butter and for the cutlery and stuff we need a bowl, a butter knife.... for now, i think." She even went to the extent of reminding me that it is imperative we check the expiry date stated on the bread clip. She said, "Phew, safe. Still got 3 more days.."

DD2 used the butter knife to cut the two slices of bread in half. I assisted her a bit so that the bread pieces do not become soggy pratas instead...:P

Next is the tough part, cracking the egg. D'ya know that young children find cracking eggs very amusing? The 1st time i allowed her to crack it, the poor egg was crushed into so many pieces and the egg cud not be saved as it was flowing all over the kitchen cabinet... into the drawers... onto the floor! Everywhere!

This time i held her fingers and assisted her with the pressure. Thank goodness. No major disaster entailed from the egg cracking experience this time. Phew!

She managed whisking the egg with the fork just fine..

I heated up a small frying pan and again held her hand to pour in the whisked egg once the oil was nicely heated up. We waited for a few seconds and i showed her how to check if that side was done. Following that, how to do the flip... to the other side.

When we flipped, it was light brown and suddenly DD2 quipped, "Mommy, the omelette is breathing!" (Copied phrase from the Enchanted movie).

I cut the fried omelette into two pieces to fit the slices of bread that had been cut. DD2 spread some butter on one side of every slice of bread. Together, we placed the warm fried omelette in between two slices of bread.

And our favourite omelette sandwich was finally ready to be eaten!

DD2 had her sketch book and writing materials in the kitchen.

She immediately recorded the process down each time she finished doing a step, so she will not forget the details. Finally, after she ate the sandwiches for her light lunch that day... we went through the writing together once again to vet. Next, she was to close the sketch book and try to write as many sentences as possible, that she recalled from the short preparation of the sandwiches.

She practiced everyday before she went to school and also after dinner... she was that diligent. She said she was afraid she may not remember the contents for her written expression test. I advised her to just do a short write-up on a peanut butter sandwich instead but she refused... again reminding me, "Teacher said better to write more..." So we told her, "Up to you... YOU are gonna do the writing on that day, so you better know what to write girl!" Frankly, hubs was against her doing the long one... but oh heck, we're talking about my little... well... you know what...

Here is her final product.

After the project was completed DD2 said to me, "Thanks for helping me mommy. Learning with you is so much fun! I hope we can do this again next time... and i also hope i will do well for my writing test."

Well, as much as i know that she will not be able to remember nor write that many sentences on the actual Written Expression day (especially with time constraints and what nots), i too hope she is able to do well enough....... to pass lah.. Good luck, DD2!

Love Mummy...

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