Archive : June 2018

Reading and learning

Mr Khemistry

Reading and Learning

Recently i had a revelation on why students struggled with paper 3 i.e. free response questions, as compared with structured questions in paper 2.

It has to do with the ability to read and glean useful information from words. This problem is especially stark for science students, because they tend to fall back on formulas and calculations, that when they are asked to READ, they flounder.

In fact, collectively, teachers notice a decreasing trend in the students’ capabilities to read critically. Their language ability seemed to have deteriorated quite significantly through the years. Certainly we’ve postulated several theories on why this has happened but since it does us no good to spend too much time speculating on the cause of this decline in reading ability, we shall instead turn our focus to how we can guide our students to read effectively.

How to read and glean important information from questions

  1. Get a teacher or someone who’s an expert on the subject matter to listen to how you interpret free response questions. Read aloud and write down any information you can extract from the question context. Proceed to write down your answer in response to the question.
  2. Likewise, ask the teacher to pen down his/her response to the question.
  3. Compare what is the difference and what is missing from your answer. Critically think about why these interpretations are missing from your answer and how you can implement this “disciplinary reading culture” into your future question analysis.
  4. It is important to recognize that every discipline has their own “reading culture” which allows for the experienced practitioner to derive richer contextual meaning (compared to a lay-person) from the materials given.

Try out the above exercise and let me know if it’s useful to you 🙂

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Meta Learning Part 2

Mr Khemistry

Meta Learning Part 2

This post is a follow-up to Meta Learning post.

Recently one of my students did not complete her homework, citing “no stamina”. I told her most likely it is due to mental fatigue, as she is using a lot of her mental energy to do the organic questions. This is commonly why some students do very well at the start of the paper but flounder towards the end. To maximize mental energy, i advised her to delegate her daily schedule to a predictable routine. 

Why is it important to plan out your schedule during holidays? The main reason is because your daily routines are disrupted and precious mental energy is used for mundane decisions. Like what to study/revise, what to eat, what to wear etc. If you planned your holiday schedule and keep to a daily routine, you would save mental energy for the time that you are actually revising and clarifying concepts.

Next is to optimize the time that you spent studying. Have you observed whether you learn faster very early in the morning or late in the evening? When you learn is just as important as how you learn. 

The two most important commodities in studying is time and mental energy. Spending lots of time staring at your notes isn’t going to help if you are not focused. If you are not mentally sharp while revising, what you learnt today will be easily forgotten tomorrow. “Strike while the iron is hot” can be translated to “Study while you are alert”. 

Take a step back and study your own physiology and psychology. It might be the secret to a much improved performance 🙂

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Book published!

Mr Khemistry

H2 Chemistry Practical Guide book

 

This is one item on my bucket list i thought wouldn’t be fulfilled so soon. Hopefully this book will be of help to private candidates as they prepare for their practical paper.

Current students might also like to get a copy to get more practices of the various topics.

Please share if you know of anyone who might benefit from this book, thanks in advance!

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