M13U3A2 – Support for Student Cultures in School

Earlier in this module, I had discussed my cultural identity and discovered how I am transcultural as I had blended and synthesized the cultures of my parents along with the dominant culture of where I lived in England.   During my time in Thailand, I feel I have also adapted to the culture and I find myself performing certain characteristics which have become intrinsic to my everyday life.  Such as bowing/wai (the Thai form greeting/respect and other Thai gestures or mannerisms) and speaking Thai.  These became more apparent when I went back home to visit my family in England.

Although I am aware how there are differences between Thai and English culture,  if I react or respond a certain way, then I can adjust myself and respond accordingly.  For example, I’ve gotten used to responding in Thai such as “Kub Khun Krab” and I would bow my head when I receive something.  I remember doing this once in England recently in a supermarket after receiving the bags from the counter and I quickly adjusted by saying “uh…thank you”.

This experience helps me reflect and put into perspective what my students might be going through and any English/behavioural mistakes they may make in the classroom or in their everyday lives.  Some students might be bicultural, multicultural or a third culture child.  As a result of understanding this, it encouraged me to find different strategies to help develop my students improve and become globally/culturally competent in my ELL Science classes.

Earlier in my TEACH-NOW course, I have learned about the student demographics for my Private Government Thai Bilingual School.  Consequently, this research allowed me to dive into the diversity of my students within my school which encouraged myself to adjust and create (unknowingly at the time) a culturally relevant pedagogy. Many times I have heard other teachers/colleagues have stated in the past “the students will learn this way because this is how I was taught in England/USA and this is how they should learn now.  If they don’t get it then they fail!”  This is a result of the fixed mindset, lack of cultural awareness and competency.  I believe in order to be culturally competent and aware, one would have to have an open mindset.

In reference to the video above, Cooks (2015) asks what is holding teachers back from being culturally competent? “What are the barriers?” In response to her own question, she argues ableism, sexism, ageism, ethnocentrism, and racism are factors to take into consideration.  As she suggests how a “big part of prejudice is fear…if something is alien to you, it’s easy to dehumanize it because you can’t relate to it…it’s more safe” (DeAngela Cooks, 2015).
What can teachers do to support this?  In an article by Goodman & Hooks (2016) it describes some strategies to consider for supporting emerging bilingual students could support them, such as;

Dual language documents
Heritage texts
Translation tools
Student authored texts
Talk
Code-switching
Read alouds or family book clubs
Teachers’ language learning
Teacher study groups

By using these strategies, it helps teachers “to provide children and their families’ meaningful contexts for learning” (Goodman & Hooks, 2016).

For further reading on the strategies please use this link
Goodman, K., & Hooks, L. (2016). Encouraging Family Involvement through Culturally.

Irvine (2010) states how culturally relevant pedagogy is about teachers taking “students everyday lived cultural experiences and [making] appropriate linkages between what the students know, do and understand”.

I feel I always aim to relate the content to the students, and involve different culture experiences by sharing mine.  Thus, creating opportunities for students to share their experiences in relation to the class topic.  In doing so, I hope I made any “verbal comments or behaviours that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a marginalized individual or group” (DeAngela Cooks, 2015).  As Cooks described how this can happen quite often unconsciously.
However, Florido (n.d) concludes, “the beauty of learning from each country’s efforts to educate your minds and form young hearts in different methods from different cultural backgrounds…helps us to realize that education is fundamental and essential to every person and every nation”.  In order to become culturally competent, it would not only have to be practiced in school but also within our everyday lives, “because what you do in private is going to come out in public anyways” (DeAnegla Cooks, 2015).

 

Bibliography

 

DeAngela Cooks. (2015, July 17th). Cultural Competence in the classroom. Retrieved from youtube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEQMCODGavM

 

Gollnick, D. M., & Chinn, P. (2013). Foundations of Multicultural Education.
Multicultural Education in a Pluralistic Society, Ninth Edition (pp. 29-32). New York City: Pearson.

Goodman, K., & Hooks, L. (2016). Encouraging Family Involvement through Culturally. Retrieved from http://www.srate.org/JournalEditions/Volume25-2/Goodman.pdf

Florido, A. M. (n.d). Educational Profile of the Philippines and the best practices in Filipino Schools and Classrooms. Retrieved from nuffic.nl: https://www.nuffic.nl/en/publications/find-a…/education-system-philippines.pdf

Inquiry to Action Group: Social Justice Educators on a Path to Cultural Relevancy. (2014, March/April ). Training Module:  Developing Cultural Competency Among School Staff . Retrieved from Tagphilly: http://tagphilly.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Developing-Cultural-Competency-Among-School-Staff.pdf

Teaching Tolerance. (2010, June 17th). Introduction to Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. Retrieved from youtube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGTVjJuRaZ8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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M13U3A1 – National and International Identities

 


My Cultural Identity

I was born in London, England after my parents moved to the UK from their home country Guyana in 1986.  Both my parents were born in Guyana, however, my mother grew up mostly in England attending English schools whereas my father grew up in his home country.

I find it difficult to specify my ethnical origin as it’s a fair mix.  My father mentioned how there are parts of his family from Pakistan on his side of the family.  My mother mentioned how on her side of the family there’s a mix of Chinese.    Nevertheless, the main ethnical background part of which is the same on both sides of the family is Indian.  However, my parents class themselves culturally different from Indian.
I remember when I first applied for a job and I had to fill the part about my ethnic origin.  My instincts were to tick the English box as I was born and raised in England, but in doing my father quickly stopped me and explained how ticking this box would set expectations of me being a “white” male.  In confusion, I asked my father for advice on how to fill this section.  He replied with, tick the “other” box and write Indo-Caribbean on the dotted line.  To explain this, “the Indo-Caribbean are Caribbean nationals with East Indian ancestry” (Jaikaran, 2015).

My father is a Muslim, but he never forced me to follow this belief and my mother believes in Hinduism from her father along with Christianity from her mother.  I believe I would describe my mother as transcultural, as she had “fuse[d] aspects of two or more cultures” (Suarez-Orozco, 2003) from her parents and from where she had grown up in England.  I would argue she had even applied this to religions too by following parental/religious traditions, the traditions of her culture and where she was living.

Although I’ve always known I was physically different, I became more aware of my culture difference as I got older.  Suarez-Orozco (2003), based on my dilemma in my youth, may describe my experience as Ethnic Flight, “the children of immigrants who shed their cultures structure…their identities strongly around the dominant, mainstream culture”.  At first, I didn’t feel I had a connection to my Indo-Caribbean Guyanese culture my father described.  The times I had visited the country, I was too young to even remember the experience.  All I knew was the way my parents spoke to relatives in their native Caribbean slang version of English on the phone, listening to Soca/Reggae music or the food my parents made which my English friends had never heard of such as Pepperpot, Casavapone, Dahl and Roti, Salara etc.


Soca music of my childhood

Due to growing up mostly in England, attending an English Private School, then to Government schools, I had somewhat synthesised my parents’ culture and the dominant English culture I was growing up and living in.  I would argue, I too like my mother had “creatively fused aspects of two or more cultures” (Suarez-Orozco, 2003).  As I got older, I had managed to “develop an identity that incorporates traits of [my parents] cultures all while fusing additive elements” (Falicov, 2002).  Therefore, like my mother, I too had become transcultural in creating an identity which involves the traits of my family and where I had grown up in England.

Bibliography

Jaikaran, E. (2015, December 1st). The Indo-Caribbean Experience: Now and Then. Retrieved from browngirlmagazine.com: http://www.browngirlmagazine.com/2015/12/the-indo-caribbean-experience-now-and-then/

Suárez-Orozco, C. (2003). Formulating Identity in a Globalized World. In C. Suárez-Orozco, Globalization: Culture & Education in the New Millennium (p. 25). California: University of California Press & Ross Institute.

 
Cross-cultural concepts Infographic
m13u3a1-nationa_23601863_0a0fcbfa6b351595fd556c652fcf45a0202f8df1

Reflection based on Garcia’s (2014) the “Outsider/Insider” article.

This section involves a side by side reflection on a situation or time in my life when I felt I was the outsider and on when I felt like one of the insiders joining the group.  

Outsider
Moving to Thailand to start teaching English in 2012 was a big step.  Just like Jordan in Garcia’s (2014) article, “I was really afraid of doing something completely wrong and as a result being criticized or even ostracized by the group I was trying to fit in with”.   In the area I am currently living in Thailand, it’s not often to see foreigners walking around.  Most of them tend to be in cities such as Bangkok/Pattaya etc.  Therefore I could relate to the Korean-American student in Garcia’s (2014) article about “differences in race or ethnicity sometimes make it impossible to blend in”.  There have been times in my local area when I’ve walked into a shop and the Thai citizens would stare as I walked around. The Greek-American student in Garcia’s (2014) article summed up my feelings, like her I “stuck out like a sore thumb” due to my dress and behaviour.

English is also my first and only language.  I didn’t know how to speak or read in Thai, which further made me an outsider in the beginning.  The most recent memory in my life of when I felt like an outsider was when I was asked by my students where I’m from.  Even though I had introduced and explained how I’m from England at the start of the year, they still don’t believe it.  I don’t blame them as their exposure and expectations of what an English person looks like are Mr Bean, David Beckham or James Bond.

Unfortunately for them, I look like neither.  Based on the children’s experiences of the limited diverse cultures at my school, “it became very clear to me that now, I was the tourist, the outsider, the odd-man out” (Garcia, 2014).  They had other expectations as they believe I was from the Philippines or India based on my features etc.  

As an international/global teacher, I believe “I had to adapt to not only a new country, but also to a completely different academic system” (Garcia, 2014).  I felt, when I started my current teaching position in 2013, I started off as an outsider but then became an insider.

Insider
“Being accepted into the group of employees as an equal enabled [me] to learn about how their social class position was different from [mine] and led to a different attitude toward their jobs” (Garcia, 2014).  Like with any job, it becomes “easier as I was able to settle into a routine that allowed me to excel at my position” (Garcia, 2014).  I remember when we had a staff meeting about explaining the job roles of teachers from KG to grade 7.  I recall a Filipino teacher raising her hand to question what her expectations were as a teacher in Nursery.  My partner was beside me in this meeting, she too was a KG-2 teacher there at the time.   The Filipino teacher asked more or less assertively, yet sarcastically to confront and bring awareness to her issue, “so we are not teachers really, we are babysitters right?”

By this time I had already been teaching in Thailand as an ELL teacher for middle school and my partner had experienced 2 years in Kindergarten in Thai Government schools.  If anyone was an insider in terms of Thai culture, it was definitely her.  In immediate reaction to this, she muttered under her breath quietly “you’re in Nursery, what do you expect?”

Based on this experience and my partner’s reaction, I had already pre-judged some of the Filipino staff at my school.  As it appeared they believed themselves to be “‘above’ assisting a kid and that’s why they avoided helping me” (Garcia, 2014) teaching Basketball at school club.  At least, this is how I felt and believed at the time.  However, “as an insider, I was able to see that their problems were far superior to my own” (Garcia, 2014).  Many of the Filipino employees are vastly underpaid in comparison to the Native foreign staff’s salary and yet they are asked to perform more tasks along with other responsibilities.  In many instances, they are not paid extra for the overtime they put in either.  At our school in general, most Native foreign teachers tend to perform the minimum required.  As a result, a negative label is placed upon us and the expectations of the Native foreign staff became low.

As a result of my hard work ethic, dedication to volunteered extra-curricular activities such as the basketball/football clubs, music band, spelling bee team, Science shows, English Camps etc.  I feel I had earned the respect from the Thai and Filipino staff in comparison to other Native foreign teachers.  I had transitioned to becoming an insider and thus, “my perception about the employees changed drastically” (Garcia, 2014).  Although I was an outsider at first, it helped me understand and be aware of the “social class differences and their impact[s]” (Garcia, 2014) in my school.

In the future, I can now assist in inducting new Native foreign staff to encourage a more “positive attitude along with strong work ethic” for our staff within our school.

References

Garcia, A. C. (2014). The “Outsider/Insider” Assignment: A Pedagogical Innovation for Teaching Cross-Cultural Understanding. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in
Higher Education, Volume 26, Number 3, 453-462.

 

 

M13U2A1 – Identifying a Research question

Originally, when I started teaching at my Thai Private Government School in 2013, the subjects were initially taught in Thai first, then the same subject matter would be reviewed in English with the Native foreign teacher.  In other words, the class subject matter is learnt first in their native language first (Thai) and then it would be reviewed and applied again in their second language in English.
I felt this encouraged the Thai and foreign staff to work collaborate together in planning and preparation for the classes ahead.  The foreign Native teachers and the Thai staff would agree on the vocabulary which would be used to benefit the children’s learning.  In my case, I teach ELL Science.  Therefore, I was collaborating with the Thai Science teacher to plan for future classes, projects and experiments. From 2013 – 2015 this was practised at our school and based on the student’s feedback, they felt this worked as they believed they had a better understanding of the topics and were better equipped to contribute in my English classes because they understood the material in Thai before hand.

However, since 2015 to current, the school’s pedagogy had been changed.  Currently,  all subjects will cover different topics and in some cases, they may cross-over but mostly independent.  As a result of this, I felt the change made comprehension of the topics in English harder to obtain in comparison to the methods used before.  Students have also given feedback over claiming it’s harder for them to comprehend.  Nevertheless, the school do not want to change the teaching practice.
Bearing in mind, my school is a private government school.  The students’ proficiency in English varies from the age groups.  Also, some students will have change from standard government schools to this school with little to no experience in learning English.  However, the school will not offer a beginner’s class/extra support classes for these new students as they feel it will single the student out and cause attention in labelling them low achieving etc.
For me specifically in Middle School Science, I believe it can be difficult to attain a valid assessment of content knowledge if they are unable to apply their understanding to real world problems because some terms were lost in their understanding and translation.

Thus based on my experiences, I wondered what is the best instructional method this school can use to try and improve the teaching of Science academic language for these students, in terms of time and efficiency? Or more specifically, what is the most effective instructional approach to assist ELL students to acquire the academic language and content knowledge necessary to succeed in Science for Grades 7, 8 and 9 classrooms in my Private Government Bilingual school, in particular assessing investigation and application of content?

I think it would be interesting and helpful to see what are the best practices which can be put in place to help maximise the learning experience of all the ELL students in their subjects for proficiency in English and Science.  I’m not sure what grade to target as of yet as I teach middle school. My research question may concern 7th, 8th or 9th grade ELL students and how best to learn and teach academic language and content knowledge.
I suppose specifically my research question could be;

What is the most effective instructional approach to assist ELL students to acquire the proficiency in the academic language and content knowledge necessary to succeed in my Private Bilingual Government School in Thailand?

 

M13U1A1 – Cross Cultural Terminology

Introduction
Here are the key terminologies which will be addressed in this article.

Intercultural Literacy (IL) – This is defined “as including competencies, attitudes and identities in addition to understanding and suggests a literacy that crosses cultural boundaries” (Heyward, 2002).  Heyward (2002) continues to describe how an IL person has the ability to “read” a second culture, “to interpret its symbols and negotiate its meanings in a practical day –to-day context.”

International Mindedness (IM) – Sriprakash (2014) describes this as an individual having the ability to be open and respectful towards others, their ideas, cultures and languages.  Key characteristics involve being able to problem solve, have good communication skills, to be reflective, adaptable and flexible.

Global Competence (GC) – Mansilla & Jackson (2011) explains how they are; “individuals [who] are aware, curious, and interested in learning about the world and how it works.”  They continue to describe how once they develop their skills, the individuals will be able to apply them in “recognizing multiple perspectives, communicating their views effectively, and taking action to improve conditions” (Mansilla & Jackson, 2011).

2

What are the benefits, pitfalls, and arguments against education with an international focus?
It would make sense why education is heading towards more of an international focus, due to the different ethnic backgrounds and cultures being mixed and learned.
Kahn (2003) states how;

“Children are now growing up in more multicultural societies in comparison to societies in the past.  As the children grow, they will be working, networking, loving, and living with people from different nationalities, who speak different languages, have different religions, ethnicity and backgrounds”.

As a result of this, more programs like the IB (International Baccalaureate) became available to help provide a framework for international learning.  To encourage students to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers.
However, Fox (1985) claimed, “despite best intentions, the IB curriculum was prone to perpetuating cultural imperialism”.  Drake (2015) responds by acknowledging how Asia, Africa and South America are very different culturally.  I have observed this for myself also, with comparisons to my own education in England to teaching in Thailand.  In “western” cultures, students are encouraged to “challenge received wisdom” (Drake, 2015).  Whereas in Thailand, I’ve observed how the students are “passive” learners.  Knowledge is imparted on to them by the teacher.  Therefore, these students will find it difficult to “distinguish appropriate critical analysis at school…producing an inevitable cultural dissonance” (Drake, 2015).  Walker and Dimmock (2002) further described how these imperialized sets of skills may cause “tensions with certain traditional cultural attributes”.  Consequently, this can cause high-power distance relationships.

Another observation I’ve made is how in the West, we encourage a more student centred approach in international education as we consider rote learning to be “no more than surface learning” (Watkins and Biggs, 1996).  However, in contrast to this Watkins and Biggs (1996) argues there is “evidence collected from Hong Kong students shows that rote learning is a necessary part of memorization, which in turn is linked to deeper understanding.”
Although international educational programs like the IB has been successful in globalising education and providing opportunities and skills to help develop students to participate in the 21st Century with the necessary skills. Drake (2015) acknowledges how even with careful, mindful adjustments in developing education with an international focus will help develop a global competent learner.   He concludes how, the introduction of these programs “to regions such as China, Africa and South America will inevitably produce dissonance and cultural tension.”

What are reasons why you as an educator may support ideas against international-mindedness (IM), intercultural literacy (IL), and/or global competence (GC)?
As an educator, I like many aspects about IM, IL and GC.  However, I believe what may support my ideas against these ideas are how it’s similar to a communist and imperialistic ideal in certain aspects.  It comes from the idea how all students are equal and the constant sharing of education.  Although I agree how collaboration and sharing when applied well can provide exceptional results, it is not always great in implementation. I would argue how many of the best ideas from the 21st Century have actually come from competition between individuals, such as Bill Gates (Chairman of Microsoft) or Mark Zuckerberg (C.E.O of Facebook). I believe students need to be challenged to do better than others.  However, I am not proposing we should encourage them to ridicule or overly belittle their classmates. Competition like in sports drives us to do better.  It isn’t necessarily a negative, and I feel this can assist in preparing students to participate in the 21st Century.  Nevertheless, some cultures aren’t compatible with this notion of “competition” within education and it could lead to “dissonance and cultural tension” (Drake, 2015).  Oord (2007), argues how educational programs such as the IB are largely monoculture;

“it would be better to describe the Diploma Programme as a western-liberal curriculum for internationally-minded students than as an international education…then the IBO could indeed play a modest role in the perpetuation of western domination by westernizing the youth of non-western traditions.”

Therefore, this leads to what international education programs are still tackling to this day, how do we develop an international curriculum which doesn’t westernize learning?

What are reasons why you as an educator would support the integration of international mindedness (IM), intercultural literacy (IL), and global competence (GC) into curricula?

International parents and students choose international schools as it provides more opportunities for higher education in the West.  A Japanese parent, Mitsuko Sakakibara stated, “I would like my son to have an international environment education to build his mind as a global citizen from a young age” (Weschler, 2017). As she didn’t believe her son would receive this in a Japanese national school.  Another parent says, “I wanted my kids to be Chinese, to know who they are, but to learn with a global perspective and to be fully prepared for western university” (Weschler, 2017).  

Although I acknowledge the criticisms of IM, IL and GC, I generally support these ideas because they focus on understanding and cooperation between others.  It also assists in providing students to develop the necessary skills to participate in the future. Through skill-sets, students can have potential to become better global students and workers. Sriprakash (2014) pronounces “a continued dialogue that values epistemic reflexivity, intellectual equality and ethical engagement enriches future understandings and transformations of international mindedness for the twenty-first century.”  These characteristics demonstrate the ideas for what students will hopefully develop into and create a better world as a result.  If these behaviours are facilitated.
As a Science teacher, I am encouraging students to think about how something works and why.  To apply this mind-set on a global scale as well as challenging other certain topics, will optimistically create students investigating why, rather than just possessing blind acceptance and memorization.

References

Drake, B. (2015). International education and IB programmes Worldwide expansion and potential cultural dissonance. JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION , Vol 3.

Heyward, M. (2002). From International to Intercultural: Redefining the International School for a Globalized world. Journal of Research in International Education.

IB (2017). Programmes. Retrieved June 2017, from http://www.ibo.org/programmes/diploma-programme/assessment-and-exams/sample-exam-papers/

Khan, M. (2003, August 23rd ). Teaching Globalization . Retrieved from Gobal Policy Forum : https://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/162/27666.html

Mansilla , V. B., & Jackson, A. (2011). Educating for Global Competence: Preparing our Youth to Engage the World. Retrieved from Asia Society: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzLwFwwvm0oNUndIWkxKb2NMV3c/view

Oord, L. v. (2007). To westernize the nations? An analysis of the International Baccalaureates philosophy of education. Cambridge Journal of Education , 375 – 390 .

Sriprakash , D., Singh, M., & Jing, Q. (2014, July ). A comparative study of international mindedness in the IB Diploma Programme in Australia, China and India.

Weschler, A. (2017, June 5th). The International-School Surge. Retrieved July 2017, from theatlantic.com: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/06/the-international-school-surge/528792/

 

M12U4A3 – Planning for the Final Project

 

My understanding of the requirements for the final project
For this article, I will be looking into developing an Action Research Project.  What is an Action Research?  At first, I didn’t fully understand what an Action Research exactly entails or its purpose.  Through my reading, I was required to explore what it involves.  Richard Sagor (2000) describes this as “a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action. The primary reason for engaging in action research is to assist the “actor” in improving and/or refining his or her actions”.  In a presentation by Rigsby (2005), he cites four individuals for how an Action Research has been defined an adapted over the years in relation to education.   Carl Glickman (1992) defines Action Research as “a study conducted by colleagues in a school setting of the results of their activities to improve their instruction” (Rigsby, 2005). I particularly enjoyed his citation of Emily Calhoun (1994), as she simplifies the term as “a fancy way of saying let’s study what’s happening at our school and decide how to make it a better place” (Rigsby, 2005).
Based on the definitions given, I find it interesting on what an Action Research involves.  In relation to education, an “Action Research (AR) attempts to provide some insight into how students learn. AR encourages faculty members and professionals to use their classrooms, offices and libraries as laboratories for the study of learning” (Valencia College, 2016).

I am interested in observing what this project can influence in the future of my schooling.  I hope to deepen my understanding of students in Middle School which will in allow myself to apply the skills and knowledge acquired in my future instruction.

Summarising Action Research
Sagor (2000) states how this research is “engaged in by a single teacher, by a group of colleagues who share an interest in a common problem, or by the entire faculty of a school.”  He mentions how there are seven steps in the “endless cycle for the inquiring teacher” (Sagor, 2000).  They include;

  1. Selecting a focus
  2. Clarifying Theories
  3. Identifying research questions
  4. Collecting data
  5. Analyzing data
  6. Reporting results
  7. Taking informed action

Ideas for an Action Research proposal
The demographic for Thailand is growing, advancing and changing.  With more official and unofficial international schools being established, Thailand is aiming to accommodate and give opportunities for all diverse students.  However, if the parents or the child desires to be global or international, they will seek accreditation such as the IB (International Baccalaureate) or the CIE (Cambridge International Examination) etc.  I currently teach ELL Science in a Private Government Bilingual School where it does not offer either of the international accreditations.  As a result, the tuition fees are less in comparison.  A majority of our students enrol their child at an early age into our school so they can develop their comprehension in Thai and English.  However, their attainment of the language is heavily based on rote learning (based on memory and repeating).  Although most students can remember the English vocabulary very well, they don’t comprehend them or know how to apply them.  As a result, once the “High Stakes” tests are complete, the contents of what the students have learnt are easily forgotten.

As educators, I believe we need to ensure all of our students are keeping up with the national standards as well as the standards which have been set by other leading countries.  I’ve noticed how being in the 21st Century when someone has a lack of knowledge of something they seek it via digitally.  Such as “googling” it or searching on YouTube etc.  I have faith on how this will be a good foundation for inquiry-based education in Science.

The students in my Private Government Bilingual have not made these connections yet.  As I’ve mentioned before, it’s very traditional style of learning.

Inquiry-based learning is not just about asking the student wants to know, it’s about engaging their interest in curiosity.   Wolpert-Gawron (2016) states, it’s about “activating a student’s curiosity, [and] I would argue, a far more important and complex goal than the objective of mere information delivery.”

The study of science, after all is based on the concept of asking questions and understanding why it works or doesn’t work.  Therefore, I have faith on how this will lead to a student centred classroom and the students will be able to apply their English language skills in a better practical setting.  As a result, I hope to improve their use of English as well as other 21st Century skills such as, problem-solving, critical thinking and collaborating.  As an effect of this, these skills can be applied in other classes to benefit the students learning experience.

Along with the TEACH-NOW masters course which I am currently undergoing, they gave some expectations for what can be included in my project report.

  1. Introduction and Statement of Problem or Question
  2. Literature Review
  3. Proposed Methodology
  4. Analysis of Results
  5. Summary and Consideration of Next Steps (Action Plan)
  6. References
  7. Appendices, if Needed


Requirements and Challenges
Wolpert-Gawron (2016) explains how there are 4 steps required for inquiry-based learning;

  1. Students develop questions that they are hungry to answer.
  2. Research the topic using time in class.
  3. Have students present what they’ve learned.
  4. Ask students to reflect on what worked about the process and what didn’t.

One of the challenges will be to engage the student’s curiosity, “to bring that love of “whaaa?!” into your own classroom” (Wolpert-Gawron, 2016).  In school, there is also limited access to computers and the internet.  In the past for some classes, I was able to request permission from the school to permit the students to use their mobile phones as a digital tool in the classroom.  I would have to take the time to set up the procedures, however, another obstacle is not all students have mobile data to access the internet.  Therefore, the challenges will be for students to research at home.  Ideally, the research should be done in the class where the teacher is available to guide and mentor the students.  I’m not sure as of yet what modifications I could apply to facilitate the research step.

The students are used to presenting in my class through various differentiated methods, whether they create a video presentation, PowerPoint slides, feature board, skit etc.

Here are some past examples;
Grade 8 ELL Science 2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lT_aeu5xBCI&t=1s

Grade 9 ELL Science 2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIr-TI2jDa4&feature=youtu.be

 

Overall, I think this is a great opportunity also for the students to improve their English writing/speaking for their reflection.   The students are not used to self-reflecting in the classroom.  Thus, sometimes they may find this it difficult to do so even in in their second language (English).   As all my students are ELL students, they face language difficulties in every subject.  Wolpert-Gawron (2016) says one would have to get the students “Thinking about how they learned not just what they learned.”

Another concern I have is being able to find suitable literature which will fit the project I am researching.  I often feel there is a vast amount of data or information readily available but it’s a challenge to sieve through what is necessary.  Time management for reading the literature will also be a challenge among the other duties I will have to uphold while teaching.  Although I am very excited about the opportunity to conduct such a project and to be included in something which can benefit my students learning, I am wary of the obstacles and challenges which lie ahead.

Bibliography

Padak, N. P. (2017, June 19th). Research to Practice: Guidelines for Planning Action Research Projects. Retrieved July 2017, from Ohio Literacy Resource Center: http://literacy.kent.edu/Oasis/Pubs/0200-08.htm

Rigsby, L. (2005, March). Action Research: How is it defined? Retrieved July 2017, from gmu.edu: http://gse.gmu.edu/assets/media/tr/ARRigsbyppt.htm

Sagor, R. (2000, May). Guiding School Improvement with Action Research. Retrieved July 2017, from Chapter 1. What Is Action Research?: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/100047/chapters/What-Is-Action-Research%C2%A2.aspx

TEACH-NOW. (2017). Guidelines and Rubric: Final Project. Retrieved July 2017, from TEACH-NOW portal: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HENDXgi7azEuAJiwYTWzdhE07p9jRnYHL6nDwg5N_Oo/edit

Valencia College. (2016, August 16th). The purpose of Action Research Action Research: A Definition. Retrieved July 2017, from https://valenciacollege.edu/faculty/development/tla/actionResearch/ARP_softchalk/

Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2016, August 11th). What the Heck Is Inquiry-Based Learning? Retrieved July 2017, from edutopia.org: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/what-heck-inquiry-based-learning-heather-wolpert-gawron

 

M12U2A1 – International Schools

 What is an International School?
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare)

Shakespeare reminds us how a name by itself can mean nothing.  This means it achieves meaning from what’s behind the name. Therefore, does having the word international in a school’s name make it international? What is an international school, and what, exactly, makes it international?

I am currently teaching in Thailand since 2012 as an ELL Science teacher for a Thai Private Government Bilingual school for grades 6 – 7.  Throughout my experience here in Thailand, international schools come in many different shapes and sizes and the term in itself evokes a specific reaction amongst the population in Thailand.  A majority of schools in Thailand are Government schools for primary and secondary students.  The next largest which are highly sort after by Thai parents are the private government schools.  These schools have the labels such as “international school” or “bilingual international school” etc.  At first, I felt an international school was international based on the diversity and demographic of the students along with the diverse educators who teach at the school.  I believed a school be to international due to the majority of the students which would have to be from a foreign background over their host nations.  For example, 60% of the school student demographic is from Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan, England USA etc. while 40% of the student demographic are from Thailand.

However, Hill (1994) would argue how these private schools are merely just national schools using the label of international.  Hill (1994) defines national schools as “one whose students and staff are predominantly from one country, where the curriculum and examinations of that country only are offered”.  My current school may gain certain appeal and reputation with the labelling of it being a “bilingual international school”, with the staff being diverse and from different cultures including teachers from its host country Thailand.  However, a majority of the students are Thai and the only examinations offered are the national requirements from the Ministry of Education Thailand.

Hill (1994) maintains how an international school is distinctly different from a national school.  An international school “are those whose students and staff are representative of a number of cultural and ethnic origins, where the IB [International Baccalaureate] and/or a number of different national courses and examinations are offered and where the ethos is one of internationalism” (Hill, 1994).  International Schools Consultancy (ISC) confirms this and states their definition of an international school by declaring they are “English-medium schools that deliver their curriculum wholly or partly in English outside an English-speaking country” (Hill, 2015).

Foundation and history of international schools designed for expatriate students of all backgrounds.

Hayden and Thompson (1995) list factors such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) program which is recognised by both them and Hill’s (2015) articles for its pioneering in the international curriculum area.  I believe international schools and international education is a relatively recent one in formal terms with a rapid growth and globalization in the past 50 years, “‘global citizenship – education for international understanding-  world-mindedness’ came from a growing concern evident in the years since the WWII with the development of international cooperation as a means of avoiding further large-scale” ( J.,  Hayden, & Thompson, 1995).  Therefore, during this time, the demand and growth in international schools around the globe was seen in 1964;

“only politicians, diplomats, missionaries and volunteers with social welfare organisations really lived overseas for any period of time, and proposing in one of its final chapters ‘the existence of a new concept–international schools founded with the specific purpose of furthering international education’ (Bereday & Lauwerys, quoted in Jonietz & Harris, 1991, p. ix).

Kurt Hahn (1936), was a key figure in the development of international education, “it is our duty to equip this growing generation, irrespective of class, with willing bodies”.  Fast forward to the present, and now many international schools currently provide education for expatriate students of all backgrounds living abroad.  Thailand begins in 1951 with the International School Bangkok (ISB).  Six years later, in 1957, Raum Rudee International School (RIS) and Bangkok Pattana School (BPS) were established, “These three prestigious schools (The Big Three) held an exclusive monopoly on international education for the next thirty-five years’ (Wanchupela, 2007). As of 2015, according to Gaskell (2015) at ISC, there are now 176 international schools in Thailand.

m12u2a1-interna_23128318_7c5325481504cec443fa19749925a4cbb996581a.jpeg
Anticipated growth? 

Bangkok currently dominates the international schools market in Thailand with 106 schools. Most of Thailand’s major cities have one or two international school options, whereas Phuket has 12.  “The English-medium international schools market in Thailand looks set to grow in conjunction with the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community” (Gaskell, 2015).  There is a large demand from expatriates living in Thailand, with many local wealthy parties whom of which are largely dissatisfied with Thailand’s national education system.
Gaskel (2015) the Director for International Schools at ISC Research further states;

“Almost 50% of Thailand’s international schools follow (all or in part) the National Curriculum of England and 30% deliver a US style curriculum. 14% deliver one or more of the International Baccalaureate programmes (the IB Primary Years Programme, the IB Middle Years Programme, and the IB Diploma Programme)”.

Along with the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community, Gaskell (2015) expects there to be a growth in Thailand’s international schools alongside other countries within Southeast Asia.

I imagine cities or more urban places such as Bangkok, Phuket or similar have been and will continue to grow and develop at a faster pace in comparison to other rural areas in Thailand (or other similar countries across the world).  This is because these cities have become internationalised through tourism and working expatriates where the demand is high to support their children whom of which are expatriate students.  Calderon (2016), interviews Lauren Carey, a franchise-development manager for real-estate firm Coldwell Banker.

She says how “in Bangkok, the cost of living is lower and the quality of life is much higher than in Boston, her previous home”.  Calderon (2016) further claims how Thailand “is more affordable and it is easy for expats to set up and find accommodation”.

 

Why is Alliance for International Education (AIE) important for international educators?

As a result of globalization, there will be a growth of international schools around the world.  Organisations such as the AIE are developed to “brings together those who are committed to advancing international education and intercultural understanding to develop ideas and practices through sharing and exploring their similarities and differences” (AIE, 2017).  They embody and personify globalization and promote the skills necessary for students to become global competent learners within the 21st Century.  The AIE was created as an organisation for international schools to communicate globally, to collaborate and share ideas with each other along with the aim of improving international education.  Including multiple objectives to benefit the global students of tomorrow.
With the increasing amount of schools becoming more globally aware, the international school community will continue to grow and improve.

“The Alliance for International Education thus exists primarily to assist you in carrying out your own projects and activities as successfully as possible through increased knowledge and understanding arising from participation with others pursuing common goals.  The more diverse your interests, the more likely are the prospects that others can benefit from learning about them. Consequently, those who ultimately benefit will be those who matter most – the young people who will forge the societies of the future” (AIE,2017).
References

Calderon, J. (2016, April 27th). Bangkok shouldn’t be good for expats – but it is. Retrieved June 21st, 2017, from bbc.com: http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20160426-bangkok-shouldnt-be-good-for-expats-but-it-is

Gaskell, R. (2015, October 25th). International schools market in Thailand predicted to strengthen. Retrieved June 21st, 2017, from linkedin.com: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/international-schools-market-thailand-predicted-richard-gaskell

Hahn, K. (1936). Education and Peace: The Foundations of Modern Society. The Inverness Courier.

Hahn, K. (2017, June 20). There is more than you think. Retrieved June 21st, 2017, from: http://www.kurthahn.org/

Hayden, M. C., & Thompson , J. J. (1995). INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS AND INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION: A RELATIONSHIP REVIEWED. Oxford Review of Education, Volume 21.

ISC. (2017, June 20). About ISC. Retrieved June 21st, 2017, from ISC research: https://www.iscresearch.com/

Hill, I. (2015). What is an ‘international schools’?. International Schools Journal, Vol XXXV No.1.

Nick Brummitt, ISC Group
. (2014, February 21st). Retrieved from The PIE News: https://thepienews.com/pie-chat/nick-brummitt-isc-group-uk/

Wanchupela, R. M. (2007). A History of International Schools in Thailand. Retrieved June 21st, 2017, from amchamthailand.com: https://www.amchamthailand.com/asp/view_doc.asp?DocCID=1513

AIE. (2017, June 21st). Welcome to the Alliance for International Education. Retrieved June 21st, 2017, from Alliance for International Education: http://www.intedalliance.org/about-aie/welcome-to-the-alliance-for-inte/

Teacher Evaluations

Teacher Evaluations are essentials tool to support, develop and retain effective educators.  Great teachers develop their skills not by chance but from well-developed systems that measure current abilities and promote growth through professional development, self-reflection, measurable goals and constructive feedback. Therefore, teachers who are given the opportunity to strengthen their knowledge and skill set are most likely to promote student growth and learning.  Nevertheless, many educators, especially in my school in Thailand, often believe the current evaluation systems are inconsistent and unbalanced.  While some teachers are rewarded, others face harsh consequences. According to the National Education Association, the current systems serve three main functions;

1 )measure teacher effectiveness
2) categorize and rank teachers
3) reward effectiveness
4) fire those at the bottom
However, this approach does not acknowledge the challenges faced by teachers and schools.  Instead, I feel teachers are often at the mercy of the school leaders. In order to determine the impact of teacher evaluation systems, it is important to analyse the various systems that are currently implemented in my school in Thailand.

At my current school, the Thai Admin conducts a formal teacher evaluation once a semester. They would come into my class and inform me on how they will be observing my class.  They would watch the whole lesson and makes their evaluations based on a school rubric provided by the private school, similar to this part-3-2-hod-teachers-yearly-evaluation.
There are five categories in which I am evaluated as a teacher. The first one is Planning, Preparation, Communication, Instruction, and Classroom Management.  The Thai Admin completes the evaluations using a scale from 1-5 along with additional comments to be made by the observer for each section. This evaluation is conducted by any member of the Thai Admin and then is given to the teacher in a private meeting with the observer to reflect on the observation and any feedback they wish to give.  The teacher can read the document and then sign at the end to say they have seen observed.  This document is then given to the principal to review and keep, we do not get an extra copy of this document.

My partner is currently working in an international school and is currently evaluated a little differently than my private school in Thailand.  She was given the opportunity to self-evaluate using a school rubric teacher-rubric. The rubric included five teacher standards;

1. The teacher cultivates a positive relationship with students.
2. The teacher uses effective instructional strategies that promote learning.
3. The teacher uses effective assessment strategies and data to monitor and improve student learning.
4. The teacher collaborates and interacts professionally with members of the school community.
5. The teacher engages in professional development opportunity.

My partner informed me on how the principal also filled out the same evaluation on her. A meeting would then be conducted between herself and the principal where they would discuss and compare their reflection and evaluations. After comparing their evaluations and reflections on what could be improved/developed, the principal and the teacher would then reach an agreement for a future plan.  A teacher’s plan will then be made showing her plan and the steps necessary to complete and reach her goals as a teacher.

Although both evaluation rubrics involve similar elements for teachers, I felt the first rubric was more specific than the second rubric from my partner’s school. In my opinion, I feel both rubrics have important elements for evaluating teachers. However, I like how the second teacher evaluation was conducted and described.  I feel like self-reflection and having an evaluation for self-development is very important.  I feel it makes the teacher feel more valued rather than being inspected for what’s good or bad. Having the teacher and principal generate a goal plan together is I feel is vital for teachers to work on their performance and hone their skills and consider how to grow and self-develop.

Overall, teacher evaluation is important since it holds school, districts and teachers accountable. I sense schools in Thailand should implement an evaluation system that is researched based in order to provide valid and reliable outcomes. These outcomes include more effective and self-reflective teachers, like the evaluation within my partner’s school.  Above all, we need to place the focus back on developing students who can problem-solve, persevere, think critically, collaborate and treat others with respect. As any improvements made can only help benefit our students for the 21st Century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-Assessment for Differentiation

As a teacher, we are aware of the importance of monitoring you students and checking the concepts they understand along with filling the gaps of what they don’t understand.  In this current module, I have been researching about pre-assessments and creating pre-assessments for differentiation.  

Pre-assessments
These are all part of the education process.  These assessments will test the prior knowledge of the subject lesson.  As a result, the teacher will be able to create strategies to guide the students for topics or content they are not sure about such as grouping students with limited or no prior knowledge with those with a good amount of prior knowledge.  Here is a screenshot of an example of a pre-assessment I’ve created on Kahoot.

screen-shot-2017-02-03-at-20-33-51

Differentiation following Pre-assessments
In the flow chart below, I have demonstrated strategies for different prior knowledge students nased on the outcomes of the pre-assessment. 

differentiation-following-pre-assessment

5 students who answered most, including the most difficult, of the pre-assessment questions correctly:

This group of students have shown mastery on the pre-assessment and has demonstrated a solid background of their understanding of the Solar System and science vocabulary.  I will aim to encourage these students to push their thinking during the introduction lesson by using the website from NASA science. Students will break into smaller groups and use the laptops to look through a collection of interactive information they can research to prepare some facts about the planets and objects in our Solar System.

Following this activity, these students will complete an exit ticket that asks them to write a paragraph on what is unique about Earth when compared to other planets in our Solar System.

12 students who have some knowledge about the topic as shown in their score, but need to develop higher order thinking skills:

This group is perhaps secure in the content but may need a little more practice in higher order thinking skills. These students will break into groups of 3 and can read a one-page summary about the planets in our Solar System.  On the back of the summary, they will match and label facts stated in the summary to match with the planets and other objects in our Solar System. For groups that need more of an academic challenge, students will be asked to explore the interactive game of the Solar System on the NASA website.

Following the activity, these students will complete an exit ticket that asks them to write about what are the differences between Earth and other planets in the Solar System.

5 students who appear to have limited knowledge about the topic:

This group has displayed how they have limited knowledge about the Solar System and the vocabulary in English. They will benefit from an introduction to the Solar System and the science vocabulary. With all my students being ELL students, it’s also possible they understand the Thai vocabulary for the Solar System but not in English.  Students will first watch a 5-minute movie that introduces the Solar System with little facts about each planet etc. They will work together to write a list of vocabulary words they heard or saw and match it to the Thai word they know already.  The Thai Science teacher can also assist in verifying the vocabulary.

Following this activity, these students will complete an exit ticket that asks them to identify 3 new things they learned about the Solar System and 1 question about what they didn’t understand.

 

Objectives
Throughout the unit, I will monitor student pro
gress to make sure the differentiation is effective and personalised for the student’s needs.  When the students have completed this unit, they should be able to recognise the science terminology in English in relation to the Schools standards.  These standards are based on the Basic Core Education of Thailand along with SMART goals and key competencies.

Strand 7: Astronomy and Space
Standard Sc7.1: Understanding of evolution of the solar system.

The students will be able to search for relevant information and explain relationships between the Sun, Earth, the moon and other planets, and the effects on the environment and living things on Earth.

I will pre-assess through exit slips written in their notebooks, turn and talks, informal checks for understanding, and Do Now activities.   I will also encourage students to take part in Flipped classrooms by observing videos or exploring websites given on the school Science Facebook page.  They can then take part in their multiple choice review on a google form.  The results are checked and sent to my e-mail and I can check which student may need additional support.

If I feel student growth is not evident, then I will reteach, offer supplemental worksheets, or try a new different approach.  I will ensure on how students will opportunities to gain the skills necessary for the unit and to create an on-going list of discoveries and learnings in their notebooks. This will be helpful for students in all 3 categories to document their growth.

References

Carnegie Mellon University. (2015). Assessing Prior Knowledge. Retrieved from http://www.cmu.edu: https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/teach/priorknowledge.html

Kahoot. (2017, January). Kahoot. Retrieved from https://getkahoot.com/

Pendergrass, E. (2014, January). Differentiation: It Starts with Pre-Assessment. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/dec13/vol71/num04/Differentiation@_It_Starts_with_Pre-Assessment.aspx.

SAS. (n.d). Differentiation & LR Information for SAS Teachers. Retrieved from 5. Pre-assessment Ideas: https://sites.google.com/site/lrtsas/differentiation/5-preassessment-ideas

WKU. (2017). RTWS Exemplars. Retrieved from http://www.wku.edu/rtwsc/exemplars.php

High Stakes Assessments

In this module, I have been researching into students learning assessments and how it is often measured by tests. More specifically “High Stakes Assessments” such as standardised international, national, or state tests.

  • Currently, in my private school in Thailand, we are expected to be accountable for student lea68mju466rning that is most often measured by standardised international, national, or state tests. These tests are used to co5i8mpare the quality of education country by country, state by state, and school by school. Parents use the results on standardised tests to determine where t7ii56hey should live to ensure their children attend the best schools. In an International school, they adhere to a different set of standards such as ISE (International School Eastern-Seaboard).

There are many examples of school’s assessments, and in this module, I created a map that shows the various types of assessments of what teachers use to determine learning during the school year.

Student Assessments-page-001.jpg

Some examples of High Stakes Assessments for myself would include taking the Praxis Exams. These exams determine whether or not I am qualified to become a teacher and teach in my given domain. For foreign teachers in Thailand however, these usually range between, Bachelor/Masters Degrees, TEFL to TOEFL/TOEIC and IELTS (different certifications of the English language) for adults looking for overseas opportunity.  Examples of these kinds of assessments in my school are the ONET (Thailand’s national tests) which are taken by grade 6 to enter middle school and grade 9 for high school, along with the school’s end of term tests. For ISE, they have MAP tests (Measure of Academic Performance) and the IB exams (International Baccalaureate).

In Thailand, for the two public/private Thai schools I’ve observed have a very heavy emphasis on High Stakes Assessments. These types of assessments are given with the knowledge that important decisions or consequences are riding on the result. “This means they are related to funding, placement, graduation and employment” (Falchikov, N. 2001). Whereas in an International setting like ISE, the main focus appears to be preparing the students for their MAP tests and the IB in their later years. In this blog, I will aim to answer some questions in relation to schools in Thailand and their use of High Stakes Assessments.

1. How much time is spent in testing?
In Thailand, there are four tests included in the ONET tests and in my private school, they take up half the day. These assessments include subjects such as Math, Thai language, Science, Social studies and Foreign Languages (English/Chinese). Each test consists of 1 hour and 30 minutes and they are taken within two school days.
For the end of year tests, for the Thai subjects, the students are tested on Mathematics, Thai Language, Science, Social Studies, Health Education, English Language, Chinese Language and Thai History. Each again, being 1 hour and 30 minutes per test and they are taken within 3 school days (2 full school days and 1 half of school day to be specific).
For the Foreign (English) tests, the students are tested in four subjects including Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and English Language. Each test comprising again of 1 hour and 30 minutes. Like the other tests, they are taken in 2 school days but only half of each day. Generally, so far these tests have been taken from 8:30 am till 12.30pm.
In ISE, the MAP tests are not something students can specifically study for as each concept increases in difficulty as the more the students get correct answers. The test is designed for kindergarten through 12th-grade students, and it assesses reading, language usage, math, and, for some grades, general sciences. The test is typically not timed for this but on average a student completes this in 60 minutes. IB exams, on the other hand, are generally between 2-3 hours depending on the subject (IB, 2017).

2. Are teachers teaching to the test?
ONET tests are Thailand’s national test for Grade 6 and 9 students. The Thai teachers teach each subject on average around 2/3 times every week, comprising of around 50 minutes per class. They follow the standards provided by the Ministry of Education in Thailand. However, Thai teachers have stated in the past, it is hard to prepare students for the ONET test as the Basic Core of Education Thailand standards does not prepare students for what kind of questions they will have to answer. Also, the tests are mainly multiple choice items based on reading, comprehension along with a short section for writing.
For the end of term tests, however, these tests are created by each individual subject teacher, Thai and Foreign. Each test must contain a multiple choice section, reading a section, with questions checking for comprehension and a writing section.
The foreign teachers, teach each subject for around 2 times per week, again comprising of around 50 minutes per class.
Since I am the person creating the test for my students, I tend to practice the backwards mapping strategy. By having a test already pre-made and approved by the Foreign and Thai director based on the standards and goals stipulated by the school. I then plan my classes for students to be prepared on not only the topics covered but also the English test language used within the assessment.
In the MAP tests, there is no specific way to prepare for this. As far as I m aware, the teachers teach the American standards and the students participate to show their progression. Whereas in the IB, the style of learning and taking examinations helps prepare students for university. In other words, students in the IB have more free time during the school week, but this time is generally used for researching, studying and creating/experimenting depending on the topics chosen by the student.

3. Are rewards or bonuses given to teachers whose students score high?
Due to the private school’s focus on business, teachers are rewarded by the end of the year with small additions to the salary for good attendances, participation in extracurricular school activities and good student grades. In other government schools, if the students perform well on the test, they do attribute the success to the teacher but in most cases, their continued business is the teacher’s reward.
ISE also is a small private International school, and I believe the teachers don’t get given bonuses if the students score high. However, they may receive bonuses upon self-development, accreditations and additional qualifications.

4. Are students required to pass the test to move to the next grade or graduate?
Schools attached to universities tend to be the most sought after, and students are required to sit for competitive “High Stakes” entrance examinations, is also the case with prestigious private schools like my school and ISE. Admission to most public government schools tends to be open (Clark, 2013).
In Thailand, there is also a “No Fail” policy given out of by the Ministry of Education in Thailand. For more information on policies and regulations of Thai schools, you can view this video on YouTube.

 

The policy states how’s “all learners must pass all the criteria prescribed by the educational institutions” (M.O.E. 2008). In summary, if a student fails a school test, procedures are put in place such as attending summer school or retesting. Therefore, there are many opportunities given to the students to pass before the end of the year, by either being re-tested, be re-assessed/evaluated or by performing other various tasks and assessments. In the end, the student will move on to the next grade after meeting the requirements. Only in rare, special cases, will the student be held back to repeat the year, but generally, when that happens the parents tend to move the child to either another school or a public government school. As for ISE, the school year is running like an American school. Therefore in order for the student to be prepared for their end of year tests etc. it might be possible for the student to be put in the grade before in comparison to a Thai school to only match their knowledge and proficiency level in English reading, writing and speaking.

5. How are students handling increasing pressures to perform?
The Thai students here, don’t necessarily know any different really. They are accustomed to taking rigorous entrance exams for schools along with the end of term tests and test-based progression of learning.  In my private school, they even test as young as Kindergarten 2 although I don’t believe they necessarily feel any “High Stakes” pressure to perform well. However, for Grade 8 and 9 students, there might be some pressure as they get the chance to major in the desired subject depending on their end of year scores.
From a private student I teach from ISE, he’s not necessarily pressured in taking MAP tests but from older students who are participating in the IB, tends to feel a certain amount of pressure to perform as the scores they get matters greatly. Attaining a high score gains better security to the student’s desired university, whether it be in Thailand or abroad.

6. Are test scores used for teacher evaluations?
The Foreign teachers make a note of it but do not base their evaluations on it. However, the Thai teachers and administrators do takes the score results seriously. For example, if a particular student continues to underperform, then procedures are put in place to intervene and monitor the student with the benefit to provide support and improve the student’s performance. There is also more focus and attention to the test scores of an overachieving student. There tends to be more expectation in their test scores to be higher than the average student.

What are the Implications of High Stakes Assessments?
The term “high-stakes” is used to describe tests that create a high pressured atmosphere for each individual students, including school entrance exams, grade promotion or a standard high school diploma (Habeshaw, 1993). Therefore, high-stakes testing is designed to hold individual students accountable for their own test performance (Biggs J 2002).

Some of the advantages of High Stakes Assessment tests are:

The tests ensure inclusive and standardised content that is relevant for all students.
Standardised tests are fair, reliable and objective measure of student ability and achievement (Atkins, et al. (1993).

Thai schools believe that teaching the test can be beneficial as it focuses on essential content.

Standardised testing is necessary in order to benchmark a certain performance and achievement standard set forth by the state (Biggs J 2002).

The data from these tests are often made public to the parents. Therefore, it allows parents to see how well or how poor the school district is performing. It also helps the students get used to working under pressure, building their confidence up for when it comes to other high stakes situations such as a job interview or other tests they will need to take in the future.

Some of the disadvantages are:

It is an unreliable measure of student performance as students can get lucky on a multiple choice exam and fail to reflect that knowledge in real life (Boud, D 1991).

Some of these tests, such as the ONET exams are unfair and discriminatory against non- English speakers and students with special needs. For example, many Thai students who aspire to attend universities or other schools in foreign countries such England or the United States will most likely fail certain sections of the test due to the difficulty of the English language. It is a test designed for native English speakers.
Standardised testing does not measure creativity, critical thinking and other vital skills needed to excel in the workplace. (Bracey G.W. 2000)

Teaching to the test is stifling teacher creativity and its more in favour of rote memorization learning that is done solely for the purposes of passing the test (Race, Phil. 2001).

High stakes testing in some cases causes great anxiety and undue stress on students.
Rigorous testing may teach children to be good at taking tests but does not prepare them for the realities of adult lives (Brown, G, (2001).

Some students are not test takers and as a result, they do not work well under pressure. This means that some students could get scores which don’t truly reflect their understanding or what they are fully capable of.

Conclusion
Although the use of High Stakes Assessments is highly important in Thailand, they are questionable. It’s implementation and usage in public/private school systems is a subject of continuous debate. In my particular private school setting, I believe both Thai and Foreign teachers do their best to help students prepare for the High Stakes Assessment tests that specifically benchmarks English language proficiency and the same sentiment goes towards to the teachers at ISE school.
While most of the foreign teachers and International school teachers might disagree with the practicality of High Stakes Assessments for students, we all conform to the testing norm as best as we can and ensure students are satisfied with the help they receive. As a result, students and parents recommend our schools to others in order to develop its reputation, grow and expand the business.
While I may not agree with the style of the assessments, I conform and comply with the rules and regulations of the Thai education established by the Ministry of Education of Thailand. Even as I help students prepare for their “High-Stakes” tests, I myself will soon have to endure a series of Praxis exams for my teaching license. In my opinion, I believe these tests do not reflect my ability to teach or demonstrate my expertise in the content area of licensure. However, I do believe like many other of my fellow candidates, we are just following standard protocols to obtaining a teaching license. Very much like a driving’s license, where the outcome of the test permits me to drive and a driving license to prove my validity in driving. Thus, students are only having to follow protocols too.

I do sincerely hope to witness a reform in educational testing requirements in the future of Thailand but by acknowledging that these High Stakes Assessments are not the true measurement of one’s ability, I personally think is a good start. I’m not proposing to banish High Stakes Assessments, but given the many various styles of assessments, there are certainly other ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and understanding. As the other assessments are more relatable to their future lifestyle and possible careers.  After all, we are all teachers, passionate about benefiting our students to take part in the 21st Century and in the learning world of tomorrow.

References

Atkins, M., Beattie, J. and Dockrell, B. (1993) Assessment Issues in Higher Education.
Sheffield: Employment Department.

Biggs J (2002) “Aligning teaching and assessment to curriculum objectives”.
http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id477_aligning_teaching_for_constructing_learning.pdf (accessed March 2009)

Boud, D (1991) Implementing student assessment. Higher Education Research and
Development of Association of Australasia, Sydney

Brown, G, (2001), “Assessment: A Guide for Lecturers”,
http://www.palatine.ac.uk/files/980.pdf (accessed March 2009)

Bracey, G. W. (2000). Thinking about Tests and Testing: A Short Primer in” Assessment Literacy.”.
Habeshaw, S, et al, (1993), 52 interesting ways to assess your students, Bristol: Tes.

Clark, N. (2013, March 3rd). Education in Thailand. Retrieved January 25th, 2017, from WENR: http://wenr.wes.org/2014/03/education-in-thailand

Falchikov, N. (2001) Peer assessment and peer tutoring. Buckingham: Open University Press
LSTN Generic Centre, “Guide for Busy Academics: Using Learning Outcomes to Design a
Course and Assess Learning”, http://www.palatine.ac.uk/files/1013.pdf (accessed March 2009)

IB. (2017). Assessment and Exams. Retrieved January 26th, 2017, from http://www.ibo.org/programmes/diploma-programme/assessment-and-exams/

ICEF Monitor. (2015, January 20). Retrieved August 23, 2016, fromhttp://monitor.icef.com/2015/01/political-uncertainty-thailand-slows-planned-education-reforms/

ISE. (2017). ISE International School. Retrieved January 25th, 2017, from ISE International School: http://ise.ac.th/

Ministry Of Education. (1992, June 28th). Retrieved from moe.gov.np:http://www.moe.gov.np/assets/uploads/files/2049_English.pdf

Ministry of Education. (2008). The Basic Education Core Curriculum B.E. 2551 (A.D. 2008). Retrieved December 5th, 2016, from act.ac.th:http://www.act.ac.th/document/1741.pdf

Race, Phil. (2001) “A Briefing on Self, Peer and Group Assessment”,
http://www.palatine.ac.uk/files/970.pdf (accessed March 2009)

Planning Assessments

In my private school in Thailand, I am encouraged to plan and do many mini formative assessments during the school year such as multiple choice questions and short written assessments/worksheets.  At the end of the unit the students usually finished taking part in a written and practical assessments.  However, assessments are much more than paper tests and final “no more chances” tests.
I believe teachers should have a wide variety of assessment techniques and use those to evaluate the students’ learning. Therefore, the mini assessments I do in class are important because it allows me to create differentiated tasks and to evaluate the students’ needs.  As a result, I will be able to discover if some students may need more practice or time than others to master knowledge or skills.  Every student is different and unique, either introverts or extroverts.  In other words, some students might be better at speaking/doing, some are better at listening, while others are simply better at seeing/reading.  In my case especially, the students are learning a second language as the demographic is mostly Thai.  Teachers should always be aware of differences along with all the students’ abilities and skill level.  In the future, this will help me plan for students and how I can get students to meet their learning outcomes by being flexible and differentiating their task set related to the learning target to improve and hone their skills.

In this article, I will be sharing some of my mini formative assessments in class based on the Basic Core Education of Thailand standard 7.7.1 – “Search for relevant information and explain relationships between the Sun, Earth, the Moon and other planets, and the effects on the environment and living things on Earth”.
Therefore, by using this standard the objective in this class is for students to apply their research, to explain their comprehension on the relationships between the Sun, Earth, the Moon and other planets.

  1. “DO’S and DON’Ts”

In this mini formative assessment, I generally make the list for my grade 7 and 8 but my grade 9 is proficient in making the list themselves.  In grade 7-8, I use do’s and don’ts in the “Gradual Release Method”.  I would have this prepared listed in a checklist worksheet for students to see visibly.  I would do an example first in the “I do it” part and then I would check their understanding in the “we do it together”.
With Grade 9, the students would list 3 Dos and 3 Don’ts when using, applying, relating to the content based on the standard 7.1.1 (e.g. 3 Dos and Don’ts for behaviours of planets).

An example from a Grade 9 student:

Planets DO orbit around a star.  They DON’T orbit around another planet.

Rationale
For Grades 7 and 8, I believe it outlines the student’s expectations.  As a result, the students will be more likely to participate in the “we do it together” part of the method because they can see the do’s and don’ts on their worksheet, and they had seen an example shown previously of how to do the activity on the worksheet in the “I do it” part.  Based on Bloom’s taxonomy, this gives the students the opportunity to use what they understand and apply their comprehension by spotting the mistakes the teacher makes in the second example (e.g. I would purposefully make mistakes for students to correct by using the DO’s and DONT’S listed in their checklist worksheet). The teacher still leads the example but it requires student’s participation to complete it.

With Grade 9, the students would research and investigate based on guided questions to find the differences between planets and the Sun in the Solar System along with assembling evidence of their findings.  As a result, by doing the “DO’S and DON’TS” assessment, (based on Bloom’s taxonomy) it gives me an insight on what they have researched and it gives the students the opportunity to use this.  Along with the guided questions, such as how do planets move? Why? Does the Sun move? Why? Etc.  The students will be able to describe and explain what they comprehend on the relationships between planets and the Sun in the Solar System.  By the end of the assessment, this will allow me to provide valuable feedback on the students’ comprehension and as a result, I will be able to help encourage any improvements for the future.

  1. “Draw it”

Here is another mini assessment on how I would evaluate and determine whether the students have met the stated learning outcomes.  I would ask the students to draw what they understand.  I generally use this for all my middle school classes (from Grade 7-9).  As I have mentioned before, students may find it hard to communicate their thoughts or explain what they have learnt in a second language.  By differentiating and allowing the chance for students to draw what they understand gives students another manner to show their understanding.

An example of a “Draw it” activity for a Grade 9 student: Based on what you have found, draw how planets move in the Solar System.

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Rationale
With the Grade 9 example given above, the students are drawing their understanding and are demonstrating it based on what they have found in their research.  Based on Bloom’s taxonomy, the students are demonstrating skills such as remembering, understanding and applying.  As a result, through this medium, I can observe how they communicate their understanding of the relationships between the Sun, Earth, the Moon and other planets which are the objectives based on the Basic Core Education standard 7.1.1. Therefore, by drawing the relationship of the planets and the Sun, the students are creating a visual display to demonstrate how the Sun is in a fixed position and the planet’s orbit around the Sun.

3. “Yes/No chart”

In this mini assessment, I am able to ask students to list what they do and don’t understand about a given topic. They would create a table in their notebooks for what they do on the left side and what they don’t on the right. I would inform the students of my expectations by requesting them to be specific, overly-vague responses don’t count. Students have to be specific because specificity matters!

Here are some examples from the students in Grade 9.

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Rationale
This helps me to understand and evaluate based the Basic Core Education standards 7.1.1 and on Bloom’s order of thinking.  It helps me identify what knowledge they have learnt, analyse and justify what they comprehend, along with what they don’t understand, and it gives the students the opportunity to self-evaluate their understanding by writing it in an organised list form. As a result, the students actively participate and the teacher gets an insight on the student’s comprehension of the relationship between the Sun, Earth, the Moon and other planets.  Therefore, through this method of assessment, the teacher can plan and adapt for future lessons by combining the national standards with the students’ knowledge.

Overall, there are several other formative assessments to help identify what students can do with guidance and what they can do by themselves.  The 3 examples I gave earlier are just some of the ways on how I implement formative assessments.  I do like to involve students in active learning and focus them on their learning goals and objectives.  I also believe formative assessments that involve peer evaluation or self-evaluation, helps students with the social construction of knowledge.  Therefore, formative assessments should really provide feedback on precisely what they need to improve on.  As a result, the teacher will be able to help the students advance and gain the skills necessary to be able to meet their goals and the school standards.

References

Anderson, L.W., Krathwohl, D.R., Airasian, P.W., Cruikshank, K.A., Mayer, R.E., Pintrich, P.R., Raths, J., Wittrock, M.C. (2001). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Pearson, Allyn & Bacon.

Bloom, B.S. (Ed.). Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill, W.H., Krathwohl, D.R. (1956).Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.

Clark, R., Chopeta, L. (2004). Graphics for Learning : Proven Guidelines for Planning, Designing, and Evaluating Visuals in Training Materials . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

Clark, D. (1999, June 5th). Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains. Retrieved 12 14th, 2016, from nwlink.com: http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html

Hougan, D. (n.d). Teacher Interview Question: Describe How You Plan your Lessons. Retrieved December 15th, 2016, from roadtoteaching.com: https://roadtoteaching.com/teacher-interview-question-describe-how-you-plan-your-lessons/

Teach Thought. (2013, March 14). 10 Assessments You Can Perform In 90 Seconds. Retrieved December 14th, 2016, from teachtought.com: http://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/assessment/10-assessments-you-can-perform-in-90-seconds/