Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘review

This week I read a good critique of the way some science teachers in Singapore design test questions and grade them. The issues were a misplaced emphasis on rote learning (instead of inquiry) and the poor use of language (English and scientific) in setting test questions.

A parent wrote in to the ST Forum with a suggestion:

There seems to be something inherently wrong with how science is taught in primary schools today. Perhaps the time is ripe for a systemic review of the curriculum to address all these concerns.

This suggestion will not work alone. Curricular reviews and revisions tend to focus on content. That is only one piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

To see the whole picture, one needs to also factor in how teachers teach an academic subject (which is a function of pedagogy), and how they unlearn old habits in favour of learning new ones (professional development, leadership, incentives, and more).

A seemingly superficial or simple problem like stupid test questions or stubborn teacher behaviour has complex roots. The layperson does not dig as far and is not expected to. The real problem is when some schools, their leaders, and/or their teachers are not aware that they need to dig deep too.

Is there a social or “new” media platform that does not offer year-end reviews?

YouTube has its now traditional rewind video.

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I avoid Facebook but another YouTube video informed me of personalized 2014 reviews there that did not fare too well.

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Google+ Photos autoselected photos that were supposed to represent my year in a slideshow. The algorithm seemed to select only photos with people and were the least representative in my opinion. They can cite data all they want; they do not represent emotion.

Not to be outdone, WordPress informed me that I missed just three days this year in reflections. I was very ill for a period in August.

My five most read entries for the year were a mix of old and new:

The top five referral sites to my blog were Twitter,, Facebook, Google+, and NIE.

My blog attracted readers from 145 countries with the top three being Singapore, the USA, and Australia.

So now what?

I started this blog in 2008 and grew to blog daily whether or not anyone was reading. I developed this habit when I blogged on behalf of my then unborn son in 2003.

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I plan on keeping that habit up just like the way the guy in the video took a photo of himself every day for 12 years.

I wonder if I can replicate that stare in writing…


According to a WordPress 2013 report of my blog, these were the five most viewed entries:

Interestingly, only the one on SoL was written in 2013. The other high hits in 2013 were:

The report only indicated the first item. But I have noticed that entries the day or two before (and even after) can actually draw eyeballs because some visitors click around.

Most of the visitors found this blog via Twitter and then Facebook. The latter result was surprising since I stopped auto-posting to FB in March 2013 in a personal experiment.

The visitors tended to come from Singapore (duh!), the US, and the UK. How very united. Those were the three of the 135 countries represented by all visitors to my dot in the blogosphere.

According to the report, I missed just four out of the 365 days last year. I am going to keep reflecting openly in 2014. This means dishing out more drivel. But there might be a delicious drumstick or delightful diamond every now and then.

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This is YouTube’s video review of the most popular Google searches in 2013.

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And this is YouTube’s 2013 rewind.

How informed online were you in 2013?

If most or all the video segments were familiar, you know your answer. If not, make a resolution in 2014 for some self-directed, more connected, and current learning.

Mies-ian: Less is more... more or less by janmikeuy, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  janmikeuy 

I concluded my series of reflections in 2012 with 360 work reviews at CeL.

Why bother to do more work when the minimum is all that is required?

In our 360 work review process, there is the extra Google Form, individual e-portfolios, a team review after individual reviews, as well as the extra collective time and effort to do all this.

At this point, I should add that I try to meet my staff in their teams for informal lunch meetings. I meet a different team each work day as part of my socializing, monitoring, and review processes.

Our HR department does not require us to submit the form they prepared. The process is not part of my staff’s annual appraisal nor is it tied to promotion or salary increments.

Why do more when less is required?

Asking why I would rather put in effort in the seemingly informal work reviews is like asking why one should do frequent formative assessment in the face of summative assessment.

The analogy is apt because the processes are more transparent in the regular work reviews and formative assessment. The purpose for these is timely feedback.

The processes in appraisals and summative assessment are much less transparent. The purpose for these is often sorting.

One process builds trust and actually improves performance. The other can create distrust and unhealthy competition. No prizes for guessing which does what and why I do more when less is required.

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The YouTube year in review in its own irreverent style.

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Another review on YouTube but not by YouTube.

Have you reviewed your own year in your own way yet?

We at CeL have done so at individual and team levels via 360 work reviews.

This was our second year of using this approach. Other than the standard HR form, CeL staff maintain e-portfolios and have a Google Form to complete for individual and team reviews.

Last year teams only reviewed team mates. This year I opted to include project members in the review. I also shared the actual comments via printouts instead of summarizing them verbally. This year I included one assistant head in the process of meeting, chatting, and listening to the teams.

I wonder if we can try department level reviews next year…

Before leaving on my vacation, I used Google Calendar to schedule mid-term work reviews with CeL staff. I learnt how to do this thanks to this handy guide.

It worked out well. Previously we used a spreadsheet or document for folks to indicate their appointment slots. But this required all of us to manually update our calendars. The appointment feature removed this step.

But while I was away, I learnt that Google will be taking this appointment feature away! The appointment feature is something that works well, improves work flow, and is easy to use. I daresay that it is a basic calendar feature!

I wonder what we might use next.

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