Tracking my trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, and Bali

This is a blog about my Spring 2014 trip which starts with a stop in Ho Chi Mihn City and includes biking to Cambodia, and then time in Singapore, where I have the privilege of meeting new colleagues who, like me, have devoted themselves to lives in education. Late entry: I stole away to Bali, too.


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Vishnu, Waves, (more) Biking, and rice

Bali is hot. Bali is cool. And Bali is beckoning me back. That’s all there is to it. Cutting to the place where video and rice meet – start here.

The evening quiet at the Villa Saraswati was soothing after the heat of day. Each night, I especially enjoyed winding down – sipping on a cold beer and eating a bowl of delicious, freshly roasted peanuts. I also loved swimming a few cooling laps in the pool just steps from my bedroom, late at night and early in the morning.  Being the naïve one that I am, I had no idea that Saraswati was the goddess of knowledge, music, arts, and nature. It figures that I would choose “her” villa for my first Balinese sojourn. According to my Wikipedia sources (oh no, it’s come to that!)…

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Saraswati is a part of the trinity of
Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. All the three forms help the trinity of BrahmaVishnu and Shiva in the creation, maintenance and destruction of the Universe.

Most of my Bali highlights took place away from the crowds. I can not seem to get enough of the Vishnu stories, the vIMG_1439arious representations of the gods, the ogres, and cool animistic sculptures. One day, I spent the better part of an afternoon and early evening visiting two temples – one dating back to the 1600’s and the second, to the 1500’s. One inland. One on the ocean. The latter, Tanah Lot, is highly commercialized and visitors of every stripe  pay their way into a market area with hundreds of souvenir stores on the bluff.


The waves, quietly erode the temple. Some visitors come to bathe or dip themselves or children in the holy water; some pay homage to real snakes that symbolically represent those that guarded the temple from their cave on the beach.

There are a series of alluring mini-temples stretched across the bluff. With the ocean waves and the sunsets, it’s no wonder that the place is crowded. The inland temple, on the other hand, was quieter and sat in front of a beautiful green park and next to a gorge.  There were roosters caged on each corner of an interior courtyard. An adjacent area continues to be used for cockfights. Everywhere I went, I saw caged roosters, and even cages for sale.IMG_1482

On my second full day, I left early in the morning heading by van for an area adjacent IMG_1551 to a volcano for a half-day of downhill biking. Way up high, with overcast skies, the air felt almost cool as I scooted downhill. I tried to find my Zen place and enjoy the views rather than worry about the bike’s worn brake pads and bald tires – the owners of this Bali biking company were not terribly invested in routine bike maintenance. In addition to the pleasure of biking through small villages on back roads and visiting a family’s compound, we got to bike through a rice field. I admired the water systems, that snake their way around and through the fields and of course, the hard work (mostly women’s) of planting and picking the rice two or three harvests per year, depending on the type.

On my final morning, with only one last “chunk” of expendable time, I took an hour-long walk through the terraced paddies of Tegalalang, a small village about 20 minutes from Ubud.  Feeling a bit like I was walking into some strange mystical story, every five minutes or so, I would meet an older Bali person. I interacted with each as I walked my way along a narrow path toward terraced rice paddies. The green color floored me even as each person stopped me. One wanted me to buy postcards, another coconuts, another (the smelly) durian fruit, and another two simply wanted me to pay passage.

IMG_1587 Walking further and further into the terraced wonderlIMG_1596and, I dared myself to quit moving, to quit wiping away, to quit wiping away the sweat and to simply be still. The reward for being still was to enjoy the loud sounds of insects, roosters, cows, and water. I saw reddish brown dragonflies, an egret, a snake, and two lizards. I also saw a handful of people working the terraces. Sadly, I had to retrace my steps and unwind the dream, sit in a van, and drive to an airport, zipping through and around traffic, tourists, and beckoning walled compounds and temples and palm trees and ocean.

So, as I leave Bali – I realize I have really seen next to nothing yet. How could I having only two full days to visit?

My hope is to bring my family back to Bali – those who will come – and visit the far north, visit some of the museums, sample the beaches, and enjoy meeting more of the kind people and tasting more of the delicious food. Each evening, I enjoyed a vegetarian dinner that consisted of fresh, lightly stir-fried vegetables and tofu served with slices of freshly grilled eggplant slices, and a cone of white rice. The meal sat on a banana leaf. Alongside the dish sat a bowl of soy sauce with slices of fresh, yellow peppers floating within; the peppers subtly burn the crap out of anyone who will try them. The heat is addictive. Bali is cool. I will have to pray my way back! Vishnu. Waves. Biking. And Rice.

And so, I prepare to leave this part of the world but two last days await: one in Singapore where I have met (and will say goodbye to) amazing colleagues in this 21st Century city that hums along on the other side of my expanding universe; the final day will be a quick in and out of Hong Kong.


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Bali: Weddings, sweating, and wishing to solve a riddle

My first full day in Bali, a Friday, was a fortuitous one for weddings. Seriously, there are good wedding days and bad ones. The priests sanction the good days; but I believe that some of these dates are also marked on calendars. So, when it took a driver about two hours to ferry me from a coastal temple, Tanah Lot, back to the center of the island – a distance requiring what couldn’t have taken more than 30 minutes of normal driving, I needed to understand that on this Friday, things were not ordinary.

The island traffic, village to village, had everything to do with weddings. Festive, orange marigolds at the temple gates welcomed wedding goers lined up in their traditional wear. Some arrived by scooter, the woman looked elegant, sitting sideways, with brightly colored sarongs and sashes. When they got close to wedding entrances, each of the women walked in balancing covered baskets on their heads with rice and other foods inside. Bali_ubudWeddinggate

Reputed to be the artistic center of the island, I stayed in Ubud which is made up of 14 adjoining villages. The center boasts temples, museums, stores, a monkey jungle, and throngs of tourists. Many of the western tourists looked young and ready for a yoga session or maybe, an appointment with a tattoo artist; the ones who’d been on the island long enough wore loose-fitting Bali clothing and carried their personals in various sacs and packs slung on their shoulders and hips. I saw tourists from Indonesia, China, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Australia, Holland, France, Italy, and the United States. One thing almost all had in common – including me – was a smartphone.

BaliBehindEveryWallThe sidewalks are narrow. Behind walled-in areas, one can only imagine the guesthouses, backpacker accommodations, and family compounds with their family temples, sleeping houses, and separate kitchen facilities.

On the streets, Bali men are forever asking, “Hello sir. You want a taxi?” “Hello boss, a taxi?” “Scooter ride?” After being in Singapore with its civilized efficiency and quiet reserve, I felt a bit ambushed by Ubud’s venders, tourists, and shop after shop of batik products (shorts, skirts, pillow cases, handbags, sarongs, etc.), t-shirts, silver goods, hand-carved wooden items, new-to-look old Buddha heads, aromatherapy and massage spas, yoga houses, restaurants (also called Warangs), coffee houses, money changers, ATMs, and a market place with vendors selling more of the same.

Each of my Bali days were hot and humid – two of my favorite activities took me away from Ubud: a 40k bike ride that began near a volcano and a short hike through a terraced rice paddy in Tegalallang, a nearby village. In town, however, I could not keep up with the sweat as it poured out of my every pore. When I wasn’t trying in vain to wipe my brow or mop my sweating arms (true!), once in a while I would stop to take a photograph – amazed by the ordinary temples and compounds with their froBali_blackandwhiteLIONnt gates guarded by decorative lions and spirited figures, often wrapped in black and white scarves. I was told the black and white acknowledged of the presence of good and evil (a bit like Yin and Yang).

Whether on foot in Ubud or driving toward one of the incredible nearby sites, scooters and cars everywhere vie for road space to gain advantage. The average speed ranges from about 0-35 miles per hour as traffic ebbs and flows. As a passenger I wondered how with such chaos, there was no apparent road rage. Then after three days, I quit wondering and amused myself with the constricted passages and sudden easing of traffic and the views out the window. Fortunately before I left, with the help of a local, I solved one of the many mysteries of the world. Why, I wondered, do I see bottles – many of them Absolut vodka bottles – lined up in little covered houses along the sides of the road? Answer at bottom! Bali_motorbike gas

Scooter gas stations, of course. I only wish I’d taken a better photo of one of the hundred or times I saw the bottles and was stumped!


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Bali: Tom_pray_chill

During my first weekend in Singapore, Matthias (my AirBnb host), invited me to Singapore’s Bar 22 in Chinatown where he would engage the crowd with his monthly DJ gig. Sipping on a few beers to the beats of the Commodores and other pre-Hiphop music, I enjoyed chatting with several of his ‘ex-pat’ friends. They were youngish people from Canada, China, Holland, Germany, Japan, and the United States. They all held jobs with multi-nationals. One, for example, worked for Facebook, another for Holiday Inn, one for a bank, and a fourth for a large-scale landscape architect. In any case, when I asked them about where to spend a quick getaway weekend, it was unanimous: Bali.

And so it was. Bali Ho on Jetstar Airlines, a no-frills equivalent to Southwest (nothing is free; not even water). Jetstar offered round trip airfare from Singapore to Bali for less than $250 non stop; airport transportation via driver was another $40; the lovely “Villa Saraswati,” a popular choice on TripAdvisor, cost $120 per night. Steep by Bali standards, $120 bought me a huge room with sliding doors to a gorgeous pool and a daily, four-course breakfast: banana shake, fresh fruit, eggs with tomato and mushrooms, toast, and a fresh banana pancake with lime and honey syrup.

Although it was not mosquito season, the four-post bed had mosquito netting and an anti-mosquito mist spewed from a small contraption in the corner of the room. On my way out each night, I sprayeIMG_1525d Off on my legs and neck – anti-dengue; at night, before bed, I took my proper dose of anti-malaria pills. So far – so good.

Bali is like nothing I’ve ever seen. There are temples everywhere. Literally. And that’s because all families live in clusters or “compounds” and within each, are family temples. The compounds sit behind four-to-five foot walls within small villages that also have larger communal, village temples.

Some of the oldest temples date back 600-700 years.  In the compound I was able to visit, there was a building set aside within which the eldest slept except when there was a new marriage when it was transformed into a test run, honeymoon bed site. The compounds have separate sleeping buildings for each son-led family. The daughters move to their husbands’ compounds. Separate from the sleeping buildings can be multiple kitchens. In addition to the temple, shrines, and statues, in the back, there might be livestock. One second-generation son told me that his mother always takes care of one pig. She buys IMG_1536one baby for approximately $70 and then feeds it until it is large enough to sell and earns about $250.

Another job for the women within the compound is to prepare daily offerings in order to bring positive spirit(s). The woman makes a small, flat square container out of a green, banana leaf. Within the mini-tray, I always saw small bright flowers; sometimes I saw shredded leaves, a little food (a cracker?), a piece of candy, and often sticks of incense. After a while ants find them. But one morning I watched one of the Villa staff taking a tray of offerings around the small property and placing them in strategic spots, punctuating each placement with a wave of her hand, maybe a spirited wish or prayer. The offerings are everIMG_1575ywhere – on the sidewalk next to stores, on the steps leading into a temple, on a driver’s dashboard, and even on the shiny clean, floor of a Duty Free store at the international airport.


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Singapore Teacher Tracks

One of the most fascinating features of the Singapore Education system involves a policy to create both horizontal and lateral career (track) movement for educators. In simpler terms, what this means: teachers have access to different role opportunities in and out of the classroom. And one of the “givens” is that there are rarely permanent career stops. Teachers can apply for positions in other schools and for ‘boarding’ different career tracks. All along, they participate in all kinds of professional development. One quick example. A teacher of seven years applies for a “secondment” to the MOE to study curriculum; she gets posted at ELIS where she studies and assists in cross-disciplinary literacy and professional development.

The MOE (Ministry of Education) has a strong record for laying out conceptually coherent and clear plans for how things should work within the system with regards to the organization of schools, the assessment of students, the curriculum plans for teachers,
and for many organizing principles.

I’m not certain that all of the rational policy ideas that are developed and communicated by MOE (high up the educational food chain) are enacted as rationally below – at the classroom level. At Fairfield they described the local changes as “customizations.” [Reminds me of Larry Cuban’s metaphor about teachers being Street-Level Bureaucrats who filter ideas at their classroom door, effectively protecting their students from problematic pieces of policy.] That said, many of the educators I have met have shared personal stories about the ways they ‘shift’ in and out of schools as they try new roles and gather new ideas.

I have taken the following quotation and chart (above) from the MOE website.

There will be flexibility for lateral movements across the different tracks. Education Officers can choose to move across the different careers tracks, as long as they satisfy the standards and criteria of the job / career track they aspire to take on.

The Singapore teachers need not move out of the classroom to advance a career; but the career tracks provide a SingaporeTeacherCareerTrackstemplate for professionalism. Teachers are invited to consider moving within (up) or across any of the tracks: the “teaching,” the “leadership,” and/or the “senior specialist” track. In the teaching track, teachers demonstrate more and more expertise in teaching and have more sway within their spheres of influence. That said, they do not necessarily remain in either a “primary,” “secondary,” or “junior college” position. As the teachers move across and up the tracks, they may be “posted” to different schools and/or different grade levels as needed.  I have met educators who have started their careers as teachers, taken more leadership in the teaching track, then moved to “MOE” to work on national curriculum development and deployment for 2-5 years, before moving back for more teaching and/or possible re-entry into the leadership track. Some of the people I’ve met have been teachers who moved to the leadership track and back to teaching; some have been principals who have moved out of the principalship and over to the Senior Specialist track and then back to leadership.

Many of the educators at the English Language Institute of Singapore – where I have visited have started first as teachers, have often been posted at MOE (also known as HQ) for stints working on national curriculum, working on Masters’ degrees, and/or working on helping to launch ELIS. Some of the teachers went from being regular teachers to “lead” and then “master” teachers. As such, they are more eligible to provide professional development and coaching.

I realize that my understanding remains a bit fuzzy about how teachers negotiate the moves, what moves are supported or thwarted…but I remain intrigued. Although, I did hear from one teacher in the system who explained that MOE hoped that there would be a large number of new “master teachers” – it didn’t happen. The teachers were not drawn to the position which was fairly ambiguous – in role and purpose. Some teachers felt like true advancement involved becoming “HOD” (head of department) and then moving to the positions of Vice Principal and Principal.

In our system teachers often have to leave teaching to assume leadership. Or leave leadership to pursue additional education. There is one exception. I think that we do a great job in the Writing Project with helping teachers assume and try out new kinds of roles, responsibilities as they extend their leadership, build and share their knowledge.

At the Hudson Valley Writing Project our teachers have often remained in the classroom even as they assumed greater Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 11.26.51 AMleadership. The blue panel from a recent HVWP flyer shows the types of roles our teachers have taken after their participation in the Invitational Institute. A lot of their leadership comes with no overarching policy support.

One last interesting Singapore example of professionalism. In the leadership class I observed, all candidates were in groups of six. Each group were putting the finishing touches on a proposal describing their focus for their upcoming two-week, paid visit to study school leadership in pretty much any country in the world. I met a young man whose group had narrowed their choices down to Finland v. the United States. Today he wrote me that the group had opted for Germany.

I will need to drill a down a bit more to emerge from my fuzzy first understandings. I think that one big thing is that the Singapore government invests heavily in teachers’ professional development – but while the professional development is “free,” the teachers do not accrue additional salary for their participation.

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(Cautious) Emergent classroom themes based on limited observations

In less than one week’s time, I have had the privilege of meeting several classroom teachers with 5-35 years of experience, including primary teachers (grades 1-6), secondary teachers (7-10), university lecturers and professors, and curriculum, research, and professional development specialists from art, English/language, and math. I have observed in classrooms where teachers are teaching English and science within the primary school, and ‘leadership’ for future principals.

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Although I had hoped to make classroom observations within Secondary and Junior College level schools, I will have met and informally interviewed  teachers from each of these grade levels. Today, I attended a 3-hour professional development session for secondary English teachers at Nan Hua Secondary School. Next week I will lead a focus group with teacher candidates. On a separate mission, I have been conducting (a few) interviews with teachers about how they conceptualize and manage the teaching of writing.

Sec School_NanHueaWhat I found interesting about Nan Hua HS is that students are taught to be proficient in Chinese and English. In fact it was originally launched as a school, 95+ years ago, to serve the Chinese community. English is now the “official” language of Singapore, the language of commerce, and the language that permits members of this multi-racial, multi-lingual nation speak together; it is imperative for students to learn it. In the photo below, I appreciated that these three English teachers sitting together at the professional development session appear to represent some of the various backgrounds of the nation.


At Fairfield Methodist Primary School (FMP) I observed three classes, which each had between 35-40 students: one Level 2 English class (roughly equivalent to US Grade 2); one “Level 6” English class; and one “Level 5” science class.  Two of the classes represented the large ‘mainstream’ “band” (track) and one of the classes was for “express band” (honors/fast track). Note: class size is about 40 for all classes except those from the lowest “band.”

At the National Institute of Education, I sat in on a class for future principals on the topic of leadership. The 40-45 “students” had all taught for approximately ten years and had most likely been assistant principals. The topic for the day had to do with the balance between certainty and ambiguity, rational v. random leadership, decision-making and outcomes. A subtext had to do with what it means for school leaders to oversee a recent national policy initiative called TLLM (Teach Less, Learn More) while understanding and promoting variability in teachers’ enactments of the policy.

FairfieldGreetingThe students in all classes that I visited demonstrated “respect” for teachers and visitors through greetings. The students stood, smiled, clapped, and said “good morning.” In the primary school, the students also stood and said, “Goodbye Dr. Meyer, God bless you.” As you can see the students in the primary schools wore uniforms. This has been true in all three countries I’ve visited. Sewn on the front pocket is the student’s name.

One instructional feature in every class I’ve visited: teachers structure time for small groups to collaborate and talk and explore ideas or produce writing. The future principals were given five minutes to make sense of an ambiguous, conceptual picture having to do with leadership and decision-making. The teachers in the professional development session talked at the end of their session for nearly 20 minutes discussing ideas/theories that confirmed their practice, that challenged their practice and that were making them consider changes to their practices. In science the students engaged in short experiences related to conduction/induction and collaborated on writing procedures for an experiment that they would carry out the next day. In Level 6 English, the teacher had the students use a “making thinking visible” routine for which students talked through three prompts when looking at a photograph or image: I see, I think, I wonder. OracyPeerMTV

In the photograph below, the P2 teacher used the final five minutes of English class to recap what the students had done and to invite them to share ideas from their collaborative work. This lesson was one of a three-lesson sequence that involved reading a book together, Owl Babies. After a first read in which the students learned vocabulary and the plot, the students looked at the story again through a structure related to setting, problem, complication, outcome, conclusion. Eventually they would produce “parallel stories” about kitties who encountered problems. This early P2 instruction is part of a process to help students with their Primary School Exit exam upon which they need to write a narrative in 50 minutes.EndofClassSensemakingP2

From a WP angle: One thing I found promising (familiar?) in this P2 class was the ways in which the teacher invited students to write collaboratively. The classroom walls were “print rich” and included drafts of whole-class and small group composition. In the photos below, you can see “informational” writing about the function of simple machines. There was evidence of revision and editing on the whole-class composition. The teacher also used a different color to note who authored contributions to the whole group composition.WholeGroupComposition GroupComposition


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Cranes, trains, automobiles, and orchids

Last Sunday, I flew one-stop from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Singapore. It has taken me the better part of a week to make sense of my new surroundings. What a contrast. One day biking around the ramparts of an ancient city, walking around the remnants of a remarkable 12c civilization and during the next days, beholding a remarkable, 50 year-old, city state that is in the midst of a 21c makeover.




On my first full day in Singapore, I privately mourned my departure from Cambodia. There was something so magnificent about the people, the temples, Buddhas and biking. I wondered if I would ever be lucky enough to go back and if so, what I might do to support people in their lives. Probably, because I’m somewhat naturalistic at heart, I found my way to Singapore’s Botanical Gardens, a source of country pride, and nominated to be a World Heritage Site. As I took the photo of the towering trees (above right), I wondered if they’d been manicured, or if I was simply imposing my recent memory of the Angkor Wat towers into my view.

During my walk around the Botanic Garden, I loved seeing two monitor lizards (their bite is deadly), turtles, an orchid garden, and enormous Kapok, Ficus, and Mahogany trees. Within the Orchid Garden there is a VIP garden where they exhibit hybrid-cultivated orchids named after world leaders who have visited the garden including Laura Bush, Nelson Mandela, and the Cambodian King who I wrote about in earlier posts (something I found ironic). There’s even an orchid posthumously named for Lady Diana. The orchids are pretty amazing – even in the humid 90+ degree weather.


At one point, I was pleased to walk across an air bridge into a glassed-in exhibit of orchids that grow in higher (read: coolerCulivatingBeauty) elevations. I took a picture of an orchid-cultivating garden from the air bridge. I think that the structured organization within the garden is visible in daily life on the streets, in the busses, and in the schools I visited this week.

After three hours of walking amidst the greenery, I joined two new colleagues for a stroll and a delicious dinner in the CBD. Almost everything here has an acronym!).  CDB = Central business district.  Much of the CDB sits on or near reclaimed land – land that used to be a marina. The waterfront and “esplanade” are like eye candy. One hotel has a boat anchored across the top of its three buildings. The origins of the boat go back to advice from a feng-shui master who said that the three towers, without a connecting piece across the top, were too emblematic of death and funerals.


It’s not my imagination. Everywhere – okay, almost everywhere – I go, I see a skyline dotted with cranes (the “national bird” according to one Singapore native). The cranes hover above unfinished buildings, and next to gleaming architectural structures, tall government-subsidized housing units, cars, busses, and trains zipping people from place to place. The city seems to be undergoing an almost constant transformation. On many streets, and often on both sides, one sees three-story malls. I have heard that “shopping” is a big part of Singapore weekend culture. It feels familiar to me; like the US, there seems to be a heavy emphasis on consumerism. One person told me that an eligible bachelor is one who can claim the “five C’s” as personal assets: cash, credit cards, a condo, a car, and a career.


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Educator Swag

I started thinking, what resources should I bring for the Singapore part of my journey? It was tricky. Since I don’t especially like Kindle reading, I loaded my suitcase with personal reading, potential book gifts and swag: HVWP t-shirts, New Paltz School of Education pens, and a few reports – that educators might SteveJordanappreciate. My suitcase weighed in at 52 pounds – yikes. One additional gift: I stopped by Steve Jordan’s Water Street Market photography gallery in New Paltz. I figured that the images of New Paltz’s beauty might be interesting to share with people who might have a limited idea of what New York looks like. Although Steve no longer sells greeting cards, he found a nice stack of old ones anyway and gave them to me with his blessings! Generous.

Books I packed – and why I brought them:

One of my favorite “strategy” books is More Tools for Teaching Content Literacy by Tools For TeachingJanet Allen. I’m not certain that it’s the best book but it lies flat and includes a ton of useful how-tos and brief whys. I also brought Troy Hicks’ Crafting Digital Writing, which marries two fundamental ideas that remain important in 2014 – the steady notion that composition reflects a process (and that teachers’ and students’ awareness of processes is key) and that digital tools offer us potential to engage in composition in new 21st century media and situations.

I also brought Arthur Applebee and Judith Langer’s new book, Writing Instruction that Works: Proven Methods for Middle and High School Classrooms (2013) WritingInstructionThatWorks[including contributions by Kriston Wilcox, Marc Nachowitz, Michael Mastroianni, and Christine Dawson]. The book provides descriptive analysis and findings from three recent studies that looked at writing instructional practices across the United States, across the various subject areas, and within “technology,” ELL, and high poverty settings. Each chapter offers portraits of high impact practice, and thus offers what Lee Shulman calls portraits of possibility.

One thing I found interesting (disturbing) in the Applebee & Langer book was the meager amount of extended writing that US students reported doing. In one study the researchers gathered ‘8,542 separate assignments and only 19% of the assignments required students to write a paragraph or more. The majority of “writing” involved fill-in-the-blank or short answer (p. 14). Writing rarely allowed students to use writing to think about through issues, make connections, or show the depth and breadth of their knowledge (p. 15).

One book that needs reading — but may not turn into a gift necessarily:  Making Thinking Visible allows me to bring my interest in Project Zero’s work. Actually it’s a book I barely know yet…but want to know. I love the idea that my own future teachers will join Makingthinkingvisibleme in thinking about how to engender students’ thinking. I remember a long time ago, I had a smart social studies teacher in my class who used to ask her students to write a brief note next to test questions for which they were stuck with two final choices – she figured that if they could explain their thinking, she would know whether they knew the material better than if they simply chose a (slightly) “wrong” answer.

Postscript: Now that I’m nearly a week into my Singapore visit I have had a chance to meet with educators interested in launching a “starter” writing institute, to visit the English Language Institute of Singapore (ELIS), and to spend a day in a primary school observing English and science lessons. My new ELIS colleagues have given me gifts, too: pamphlets about their work, a DVD, post-it notes, and a bag with their logo.

Pictured below: Me (!), Wai Yin Pryke (Principal), Dr. Tay May Yin (Principal Master Teacher), Mrs. Vara Durai (Master Teacher), and Ms. Genevieve Wong (Subject Literacy Officer). Note: Vara and May have visited the Chicago Writing Project.ELIS_photoOP_hvwp


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