Category : Teaching and learning

Tuition Industry Evolution in Singapore Post-COVID-19

Mr Khemistry

Singapore’s tuition industry has long been a prominent feature of the education landscape, catering to the needs of students striving for academic excellence. However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about significant disruptions, forcing the industry to adapt rapidly. In this article, we explore how the tuition industry in Singapore has evolved in the aftermath of the pandemic, transforming teaching methods, embracing technology, and addressing the changing needs of students.

Shift to Online Learning

One of the most noticeable changes in the tuition industry post-COVID-19 has been the rapid adoption of online learning platforms. With the closure of physical tuition centers during lockdowns, educators swiftly transitioned to virtual classrooms to ensure continuity in education. Online platforms and video conferencing tools became the new norm, allowing tutors to deliver lessons remotely while ensuring the safety of students.

Tuition - Online student portal

Screenshot of Mr Khemistry’s online student portal                                                                                                       

However, during the transition, tutors faced several challenges that required them to adapt quickly to the new teaching environment. Some of these challenges include:

  1. Technical Difficulties: Tutors had to navigate through technical issues such as unstable internet connections, audio or video disruptions, and software compatibility problems. These technical difficulties could disrupt the flow of the lesson and hinder effective communication between the tutor and the students.
  2. Limited Non-verbal Cues: In a physical classroom, tutors rely on non-verbal cues like facial expressions and body language to gauge student understanding and engagement. However, these cues may be limited or difficult to interpret in an online setting. This makes it challenging for tutors to gauge the students’ level of comprehension or address any confusion immediately. Establishing a rapport and connection with students is crucial for effective teaching and learning. Tutors faced the challenge of building and maintaining meaningful relationships with their students in an online setting. The absence of face-to-face interactions made it more challenging to establish a personal connection and create a supportive learning environment.
  3. Adaptation of Teaching Methods: Tutors accustomed to traditional teaching methods had to quickly adapt their pedagogical approaches to suit the online environment. They had to explore new strategies to deliver content effectively through digital platforms.

Online learning can present distractions and reduced attention spans for students. Tutors had to find innovative ways to keep students engaged throughout the lesson, as the lack of physical presence and potential distractions at home could impact their focus and participation. Tutors have employed various innovative strategies to keep students engaged during online lessons.

Innovative strategies

  1. Interactive Presentations: Tutors have utilized dynamic and interactive presentations using multimedia tools, such as videos, animations, and interactive quizzes. These engaging elements help capture students’ attention and make the learning experience more enjoyable and interactive. They have used educational games, quizzes, and competitions to motivate students and foster healthy competition while reinforcing learning objectives. One example is Kahoot! MCQ quizzes which helps to engage the online students and assess their understanding in a fun and casual manner.
  2. Real-life Applications: Tutors have made efforts to relate the content to real-life applications and examples, making the lessons more relevant and relatable to students. By demonstrating how the concepts they are learning can be applied in practical situations, tutors enhance student engagement and understanding. One recent example we used was a demonstration of the solubility of salts, students were excited to see real-life application of what they have just learnt in theory.
  3. Virtual Whiteboards and Annotation Tools
    We have utilized virtual whiteboards and annotation tools during Zoom online lessons to facilitate real-time explanations and demonstrations. These tools allow tutors to write, draw, and highlight important points, enabling students to follow along and actively participate in the lesson. Zoom also allows recording of lessons and learning management systems like Teachable allows unlimited uploads of video recordings for students to refresh their concepts as and when it’s required.
  4. Chat feature in zoom encourage student interaction and participation. We pose questions, initiate discussions, and gather student feedback through these features, promoting engagement and active involvement.

By employing these innovative strategies, our tutors have been able to create dynamic and interactive online learning environments. Thus ensuring that students remain engaged, motivated, and actively involved in their education.

Flexible Learning Schedules:

The pandemic has reshaped the way students manage their time and commitments. With the implementation of remote learning, tuition providers have adapted their schedules to accommodate the changing needs of students. Online platforms have allowed for greater flexibility, enabling students to attend classes at their convenience. This flexibility has been particularly beneficial for students who previously struggled with juggling multiple commitments, allowing them to strike a better work-life balance.

Expansion of Small Group Tutoring:
While one-on-one tutoring remains popular, small group tuition has gained traction post-pandemic. Small group sessions provide students with the opportunity to collaborate and engage in peer-to-peer learning, fostering a sense of camaraderie and healthy competition. These sessions also allow tutors to manage their time more efficiently, catering to multiple students simultaneously while still providing individual attention when needed.

Emphasis on Well-being and Holistic Development:
The pandemic has underscored the importance of holistic development and mental well-being. Tuition centers have recognized this shift and are increasingly incorporating elements of emotional support and stress management in their programs. Beyond academic excellence, tutors are now equipped to provide guidance on managing anxiety, building resilience, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. This holistic approach aims to support students’ overall growth and well-being, ensuring they thrive academically and emotionally.

Conclusion:

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the transformation of the tuition industry in Singapore. While the challenges it presented were significant, the industry has emerged stronger, adapting to new teaching methods. As we move forward, the tuition industry will continue to play a vital role in supporting students in their academic journey.

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Should I get a MOE teacher or non-MOE tutor?

Mr Khemistry

Hiring a Ministry of Education (MOE) teacher or a non-MOE teacher can have various pros and cons. Here are some factors to consider:

Pros of hiring an MOE teacher as a tutor:
  1. Expertise in the Singapore education system – MOE teachers have extensive knowledge and experience in the local education system, curriculum, and syllabus. They are well-versed in the teaching methods and assessment formats used in schools, which can be beneficial when providing tutoring aligned with the student’s school requirements. Especially for A levels Chemistry, where phrasing of the answers needs to include certain key words and terms.
  2. Familiarity with MOE resources – MOE teachers have access to a wide range of resources, including textbooks, past examination papers, and teaching materials developed by MOE. They can leverage these resources to provide targeted and comprehensive support to students. There is a difference between the resources found online and the resources an ex-MOE teacher has.
  3. Updated knowledge – MOE teachers undergo regular professional development and training sessions to stay updated with the latest teaching methodologies and curriculum changes. This ensures that their knowledge and teaching techniques are current and aligned with educational standards. Every year, MOE teachers are updated with the latest marker’s comments from Cambridge, highlighting the most common misconceptions and key phrases they deem as important.
  4. Classroom management skills – MOE teachers are experienced in managing classroom dynamics and handling diverse student needs. They often possess strong classroom management skills, which can be valuable in maintaining an effective learning environment during tutoring sessions. Note that this is only applicable for group tuition.
Cons of hiring an MOE teacher as a tutor:
  1. Limited availability and higher demand – MOE teachers may have limited availability for tutoring due to their existing teaching commitments. Additionally, their expertise and reputation may make them more in demand, leading to potential scheduling conflicts or difficulty in securing their services. Important to know that very good tutors are often fully booked by May period and their rates are typically much higher than those found by tuition agencies.  This is especially true for H2 Chemistry where the pool of qualified MOE tutors is very limited.
  2. Lack of individualized attention – MOE teachers are accustomed to teaching larger classes and may have limited experience providing one-on-one attention. As a result, they may struggle to adapt their teaching style to the specific needs and learning pace of an individual student during tutoring sessions. Not all MOE teachers are excellent private tutors, at the end of the day, it still depends on the learning style of the student and the teaching style of the tutor.
Pros of hiring a non-MOE teacher as a tutor:
  1. Flexibility and availability – Non-MOE teachers often have more flexible schedules and can dedicate more time to tutoring. They may be more readily available to accommodate the student’s preferred timing and frequency of sessions. This is especially true for non-NIE trained full-time tutors. They are more able to meet your schedule and availability.
  2. Tailored teaching approach – Non-MOE teachers can offer a personalized teaching style that caters to the student’s specific learning needs. They may have more freedom to tailor their teaching methods, pace, and content to suit the student’s requirements, promoting a more individualized learning experience. Note that this is true only for private 1-1 tuition.
  3. Specialized expertise – Non-MOE teachers may have specialized knowledge in specific subjects, teaching methodologies, or educational approaches beyond the standard MOE curriculum. This expertise can be valuable for students seeking additional support in specific areas or pursuing alternative learning paths. Probably for students in non mainstream courses, private non-MOE tutors might be more suitable.
Cons of hiring a non-MOE teacher as a tutor:
  1. Limited knowledge of local curriculum and assessment – Non-MOE teachers may not be as familiar with the intricacies of the Singapore education system, including the specific curriculum and assessment formats. They might not have access to official MOE resources, which could limit their ability to align their teaching with school requirements.
  2. Variable teaching quality – Unlike MOE teachers, who undergo stringent selection and training processes, the quality of non-MOE teachers can vary significantly. It is important to thoroughly assess the qualifications, experience, and teaching track record of non-MOE tutors before hiring them to ensure their competence and effectiveness. For this reason, it is often a hit-and-miss hiring private tutors from tuition agencies. Usually if parents are financially constrained and the student is self-motivated, attending a group tuition early in the year taught by a MOE trained teacher is preferable.

Ultimately, the choice between hiring an MOE teacher or a non-MOE teacher as a tutor depends on the individual student’s needs, preferences, and specific subject requirements. It is advisable to consider factors such as teaching expertise, availability, and compatibility with the student’s learning style when making a decision.

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Inorganic QA

Mr Khemistry

Inorganic QA

Inorganic QA is one of the most feared components besides planning question for H2 Chemistry practical.

QA inorganic chemistry

Here’s a useful framework you can use to approach this part of the practical assessment.

  1. Preliminary observations: Begin by making preliminary observations of the sample, such as color, odor, and physical state. These observations can provide initial clues about the composition of the sample.
  2. Group separation: In inorganic QA, ions are often grouped based on their solubility properties. The sample is typically divided into different fractions by adding specific reagents (eg adding NaOH or ammonia to test for metal cations) to selectively precipitate or dissolve certain groups of ions. This step helps to simplify the analysis process.
  3. Confirmatory tests: Once the ions are separated into different groups, you can perform specific confirmatory tests to identify the presence or absence of particular ions within each group. These tests typically involve the addition of reagents that produce characteristic color changes, precipitates, or gas evolution reactions. For example, if you are told there is certain anions in the group, you can add silver nitrate to test for halide ions, or barium chloride to test for sulfate ions etc. Take care NOT to add sulfuric acid then test for sulfate ions (i.e. don’t add reagents with the ions you are testing for!)
  4. Observations and data analysis: Record your observations carefully during the confirmatory tests. Note any color changes, precipitate formations, gas evolution, or other reactions that occur. Compare your observations with known reactions and expected results to draw conclusions about the presence or absence of specific ions. Usually you need to have an idea what type of reaction has probably happened, e.g. if you add KI and you see a brownish suspension, a redox reaction likely occurred. The brown solution formed is likely iodine with a white precipitate of copper iodide. You should let the suspension settle for 5 mins so that you can see a brown solution and white precipitate at the bottom of the test-tube. Deduction: copper 2+ ion present.
  5. Systematic analysis: Follow a systematic approach to analyze each group of ions individually. Perform confirmatory tests for each group, taking into account any observations or results obtained in the earlier steps. Continue narrowing down the possibilities until you have identified all the ions in the sample. Use precipitation to separate cations into filtrate and reside then conduct addition test. Eg. adding ammonia to copper ions will produce blue precipitate, then adding excess will cause the blue precipitate to dissolve into deep blue solution, adding acid dropwise will reform the blue precipitate.
  6. Verification and cross-checking: After completing the analysis, it is essential to verify the results and cross-check them to ensure accuracy. Review your observations, data, and conclusions to confirm that they are consistent and logical. Look for any inconsistencies or errors that may have occurred during the analysis process. (see point 3 above)

Hope this framework has been helpful to your revision!

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How to study Chemistry effectively?

Mr Khemistry

Study Chemistry Tips!

Studying H2 chemistry effectively requires a combination of proper planning, active learning strategies, and consistent practice. Here are some tips to help you study chemistry effectively:

  1. Understand the concepts: Start by thoroughly understanding the fundamental concepts of H2 chemistry. Take the time to read your textbook or any supplementary materials, and make sure you grasp the underlying principles before moving on to more complex topics. For example, if you don’t understand chemical bonding, it might be more difficult to understand delocalisation and resonance in Organic Chemistry later on. Another example is if you do not grasp Chemical Equilibrium’s basic concept of how equilibrium shifts according to Le Chatelier’s Principle, you will likely struggle with Acid-base Equilibrium since there’s another layer of concept (acids and bases) on top of the equilibrium concept.
  2. Create a study schedule: Plan your study time and allocate specific periods for H2 chemistry. Break down the topics into manageable chunks and assign dedicated study sessions for each. A consistent study schedule will help you stay organized and ensure that you cover all the necessary material. I keep a daily to-do list and cross them out as i go through the day. It’s extremely satisfying for me and irks me when i see many items still on the list by noon. So use a little bit of psychology here. Same concept with a door half-close, a dessert with a bite left, a circle not closed. A to-do list is an open loop and we instinctively want to close the loop by completing the tasks. If you’re the sort that can’t be bother to close the fridge door, just stop reading here already.
  3. Take thorough notes: While studying, take detailed notes that summarize the key concepts, definitions, and examples. Writing down the information helps reinforce your understanding and serves as a useful reference for revision. I have had students who are always asking me how to study better, how to score good grade etc. I wish they can see how they act when in class. Spacing out, not taking down corrections, notes when i’m teaching, not doing homework….the list goes on. There’s no magic pill to improvement, you have to do the work. You have to use your mind to think and not always trying just to memorise everything. Our brain remembers things that makes sense or have sequence, logic. If you don’t understand how the concepts works and just rote learn, there’s a limit to how much you can remember.
  4. Practice regularly: Chemistry is a subject that requires practice. Solve a variety of problems, including textbook exercises, past exam papers, and additional practice questions. This will help you apply the concepts, improve problem-solving skills, and familiarize yourself with different types of questions. Practise with your mind engaged, remember the brain is like a muscle, the more you apply it, the stronger it gets. Conversely, the less you use it…
  5. Seek clarification: Don’t hesitate to seek clarification when you encounter difficulties or have questions. Consult your teacher, classmates, or online resources to get a better understanding of challenging topics or concepts. There is so much resources nowadays, make an effort to get help. But before you go ask for any help, make sure you help yourself by doing the afore mentioned points first.
  6. Use visual aids: Chemistry often involves complex structures and reactions. Utilize visual aids such as molecular models, diagrams, and charts to visualize and understand the concepts. This can make abstract ideas more tangible and easier to comprehend. i.e. molecular models help visualize stereoisomerism.
  7. Form study chemistry groups: Collaborating with classmates can be beneficial for discussing concepts, solving problems together, and sharing different perspectives. Explaining concepts to others can deepen your understanding, and group discussions can help reinforce learning. There are many types of study groups, make sure your study group has people of different abilities. If you’re just huddling with your close friends, none of whom have the faintest idea how to solve chemistry problems, you are not going to improve studying together. It’d just be a group chit-chat session.
  8. Review and revise: Regularly review your notes and practice materials to reinforce your understanding of the topics. Use techniques like flashcards, concept maps, or summarizing key points to aid in retention and recall. I cannot begin to tell you how many students think that going to school/tuition and just sitting there copying whatever is on the screen is going to help them ace the A levels. They spend a couple of hours just reading through the lecture notes and comfort themselves that they have done enough. Nooooooo, far from it. Practise and revise regularly!
  9. Seek additional resources: Explore additional resources like online tutorials, videos, interactive simulations, or chemistry-related websites to supplement your learning. These resources can provide alternative explanations and examples to enhance your understanding. These can come in the form of tuition or textbooks also. Do check out our helpful H2 Chemistry Summaries at our student portal,  available for just $9.90! Chemistry Student Portal
  10. Stay engaged and motivated: Maintain a positive mindset, stay motivated, and find ways to stay engaged with the subject. Motivation can come from many sources, i personally use Youtube to listen to motivational talks from Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, Lewis Holmes, etc. You can check out my Youtube channel here! Connect the chemistry concepts to real-life applications, stay curious, and appreciate the relevance and beauty of chemistry.

Remember, effective studying is about consistent effort, active engagement, and understanding the underlying principles. Be patient with yourself, seek help when needed, and celebrate your progress along the way.

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Your Frame of Mind

Mr Khemistry

Your Frame of Mind

Was just re-watching a Youtube video by Simon Sinek regarding frame of mind, you may listen to it here:

In the video, Simon talks about how elite athletes interpret their body signals due to the adrenaline. For the same symptoms, they’ve learnt to see that as excitement, which makes them look FORWARD to the competition, rather than nervousness, which makes them shrink back from the challenge.

In the same way, much of life’s events in and of themselves does not have any negative connotations, rather, it’s our thinking that makes it so.

When we have tests and exams, how do we look at it? Most students think of it as a drag, they hate getting back their tests and seeing a bad grade. They dread mugging and studying intensively.

I remember that was a time i look forward to taking Math exams and tests because it’s so simple (i was in primary 3) and i’d always score full marks. I remember the anticipation and watching for my math teacher to come up the stairs towards my classroom to return our scripts. I realised it’s because i’ve framed the event in my mind as proud moments where i stand head and shoulders above all the other students.

After that, i wasn’t always so outstanding, scoring close to full marks and the feeling of anticipation and excitement died off.

What if we could frame our interpretation of tests and exams as something that we excelled in? Imagining that we are so good at the subject that we score full marks, always looking forward to the release of our results. This feelings will cause us to enjoy studying a lot more and understand concepts better, scoring better grades and it becomes a virtuous cycle.

Be careful that you don’t just imagine yourself doing exceptionally well and do nothing about it. That is called wishful thinking.

Do you want to do better for JC H2 Chemistry? Come join us at our weekly lesson and experience first hand how to Frame your Mind!

Cheers!

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Organized Learning

Mr Khemistry

Recently i had a chat with one of my top students, she said something which surprised me.

Chemistry is really simple. Especially Organic. Just need to remember the reagents and conditions, or the standard long explanations.”

I was intrigued.

Every couple of years, i get one of these students who actually enjoys studying chemistry specifically.

Probing deeper, i asked, “Why Chemistry? How about Math? Or Bio?”

“Math is not as straightforward as before, Bio is a LOT of memory work. Chemistry is more straightforward, i enjoy doing organic chem questions”

“When did you start to like studying Chemistry?”

“I used to fail Chemistry, until i attended Jeremy’s tuition lessons. (Jeremy’s my partner for O level Chemistry) He taught me how to organize the concepts and since then, i never had problems once i know how to organise my knowledge.”

So desu ne.

This is one way to make it easier to retain information. And there’s a lot of information to remember at A levels.

But make no mistake, this is not a secret hack to do well for A levels. My top student works very hard for her As, she pays 100% attention in class and does her homework diligently. She frequently engages in discussions with her friends regarding chemistry questions and challenges assumptions. She really reminds me of how i used to study chemistry, especially organic chemistry. Only difference between us is she writes it on her arm, i write them on cue cards LOL.

 

I would also like to share another secret to success, called incremental improvements. The top achievers in every field knows that to be the best and stay the best, you need to improve yourself a little every day. For example, you start to organise your concepts for Chemistry. This improves your retention rate by 2%. Then you discuss and teach your friends concepts which you know but they don’t. Reinforcing your own knowledge, improves your understanding by 2%. You pay 100% attention in class and lectures, this allows you to catch an extra 2% knowledge. You practise challenging questions and reflect on your mistakes, taking note how the questions are phrased. This improves your scoring by 2%.

Even though by themselves, each one seems insignificant. Together, all these improvements adds up to improve your grades significantly. This is really a very important strategy, using it daily and honing it to become a habit will put you in a great position to improve your studies/work or anything you wish to achieve.

Remember, it’s often the small things that adds up!

Have fun and good luck!

Online Tuition – The Next Paradigm Shift

Mr Khemistry

Online Tuition

Online Tuition, the next major paradigm shift. Every tuition, whether private or centre, has to adapt to this new paradigm. Even the students.

Every student or parent or centre or teacher who does not embrace this shift will be left behind.

People who cling on to the old ways of giving tuition will be left behind.

Now i got to give a disclaimer, i’m no prophet. Tried giving online lessons 2 years ago but students were not keen. So i dropped the idea. Now this idea is forcibly pushed upon us so nobody has a choice.

Students who think they are very smart and simply login, mark their attendance (for school lessons) and then go to bed will reap the consequences at the end of the year.

Some students who can’t study on their own and need tuition, still do not want to transit to online lessons will be in for a rude shock as the more open-minded ones adapt to the new paradigm.

Parents distrust having tuition lessons online because they think students cannot absorb as well. My personal opinion is that even if the student takes in 50%, that’s still better than zero.

Tutors who do not transit to online lessons, who simply record their lessons, will probably lose their students. Or worse, pausing lessons until circuit breaker is over. Nobody knows when this will be over. Even after CB lifts, tuition might not be the first to resume business as usual.

As of now, we need to wait til June to have any chance of resuming tuition.

People’s habits will change. In this case, this will be a game-changer.

Teaching helps us learn

Mr Khemistry

Teaching helps us learn

Teaching helps us learn

pyramid of retention

Teaching helps us learn!

Read this from a website

Looking at text and expecting to learn is not far off from looking at food and expecting to get its nutrients. We need to digest our life experiences just like we digest our food.”

This made perfect sense. I have been telling my students the best way to remember the information is to TEACH others.

Because i’ve applied this knowledge umpteen times, i know it works!

If you haven’t been sharing your knowledge, start today!

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JC students profile

Mr Khemistry

JC Students batch profile

JC Students – Every batch has their unique profile. For example, 2020 batch are significantly more enthusiastic and open to new ideas/concepts.

Every teacher knows that teaching an enthusiastic class rubs off positively on our own energy. We feel the positive vibrations from the students and that in turns injects energy into our teaching. When you know that students are interested and learning well, something inside you fires up 🙂

Hope this will be a virtuous cycle for 2020 and 2021, that everyone is excited to learn new things and grow.

How has your 2020 been shaping up?

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Energetics Thermochemistry

Mr Khemistry

Energetics Thermochemistry

Energetics is such a broad topic students sometimes have difficulty understanding what the question is asking for. This post aims to help build a mental shortcut for students to “funnel” the question into broad question types. Thereafter to quickly apply the thought process for solving it.

In the picture below, you see the four broad question structures on the left. On the right side is the approach to solve certain types of questions. Additionally, there are also acronyms to help students remember the sequence of answer, e.g. F.A.I.L for Born Haber Cycles and BE.R.P. for bond energy.

Energetics Question Structure

Energy cycles can only be done well if you have a good grasp of the common definitions of different enthalpy change. Point 5 on the left shows the three main components of definitions for enthalpy change.

Energy level diagrams are simply a special type of energy cycle where the arrows point upward for endothermic reactions and downwards for exothermic reactions. Learn how to construct energy level diagrams quickly in our weekly classes. It is easier to learn how to construct energy cycles/levels when you can see how other students do it. Moreover, we can also see what kind of mistakes are commonly made.

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More Energetics!(Born Haber Diagram)

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