ROUNDTABLE 13 Nov 2009, Sheraton Towers
read about UBD
nutshell, please click here.
has been organising Understanding by Design (UBD) workshops since
2007. We are the first organisation to bring in UBD training on a
regular basis. Since 2007, we have trained hundreds of Singapore
teachers in both primary and secondary schools. To support schools that
have embarked on UDB, a roundtable discussion was organised on Nov 13,
bringing together trainer, Dr Susan Clayton, ASCD Council members, and
key personnel from schools who have embraced the UBD for organising
their school curriculum. Participating schools included
Girls’ School (Secondary),
Hilda’s Secondary School,
Primary School and
and ideas were also offered to participants to
facilitate their implementation of UBD.
the format of the UBD workshops.
working for teachers through their journey of implementing UBD.
challenges at the school level.
was frank discussion and useful suggestions and input from all
participants. Schools like Xin Min Secondary that was among the first
to implement UBD had useful advice and ideas to share with others. All
agreed that UBD had helped them shift some of their practices that were
not working for their students and that UBD had the potential to shift
teachers’ mindset and open up new ways of thinking about
teaching, learning and assessment.
the implementation was not without problems. Some of the
issues that surfaced were related to mindset, trust among staff
members, working across disciplines, not enough feedback, fear of being
wrong and the many new theories and technical terms. However, they
agreed that once some of these were overcome, teachers found it
gratifying to have a common language when speaking about the
curriculum, and they also were more focused on planning their own
learning and planning their teaching for understanding.
answered some of their concerns and also offered support in the
form of suggestions and rubrics for use by teachers to track their own
progress in the classroom and in school. Susan also offered ideas on a
master strategic plan that was designed to help schools obtain an
overview of how they can manage the implementation and tracking of UBD
in their schools.
president Betsy Lim also announced the next level of professional
development for UBD practitioners and that is the training of on-site
UBD coaches to help with the implementation of UBD in schools. The
coaching programme will begin next year.
added to elevating the good feelings that afternoon,
such that despite the crazy traffic resulting from the APEC meeting,
everyone went home agreeing that it was an afternoon well spent. Our
sincere thanks to Susan and Betsy for facilitating the event, and thank
you UBD schools and participants for your frank sharing and feedback.
taken at the UBD Roundtable:
March 13-16, Orlando, USA
ASCD Council members were in Orlando in March for the annual
conference. Below is an article from Mrs. Saraspathy Menon, Secretary
Singapore ASCD about her experiences at the conference.
My Three Cups of
Tea at the 64th ASCD Annual Conference, Orlando, USA
(in Pakistan and Afganistan), we drink three cups of tea to do
business: the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend,
and the third, you join our family and for our family we are prepared
to do anything – even die."
Haji Ali, Korphe Village Chief,
Karakoram Mountains, Pakistan
"The Opening General Session" by Greg Mortenson was most apt in
reiterating this year’s theme Learning beyond Boundaries.
Mortenson, the mountaineer who failed in his attempt to assail Mount
K2, took us on a journey beyond physical hardship into an emotionally
compelling personal tale. Three Cups of Tea, which tells the story of
his unwavering mission to build a school in a village in the Karakoram
Mountains, was used to teach us the lesson on overcoming
the punishing terrains of human ignorance and
weaknesses. His success in reaching out to the peak and power of
humanitarian spirit was a dramatically inspirational start to the
conference. It was my first cup of tea.
On the second day I was no longer a stranger to the trials and
tribulations that teaching and leadership had to surmount.
Eileen Collins, the first woman to pilot the space shuttle and also the
first to serve as mission commander, shared her challenges in charting
the riskiest space missions. In sharing the pain and trauma of making
mistakes, as the astronauts did with the ill-fated Columbia, she shared
some profound lessons learnt from the mistakes. In her case, we learnt
how the human spirit could move on with renewed fervour to build an
organisational culture of learning by questioning, problem solving, and
Just as astronauts make mistakes, we too sometimes may make mistakes
especially since our countless decisions deal with
dynamic living souls whose personality, mood and behaviour can be quite
unpredictable. Nevertheless, mistakes can be costly and, as Collins
reiterated, we need to continuously hone our understanding, knowledge
and skills to ensure that we expand the horizon of our wards and ensure
that they are equipped with the skills necessary to chart their own
space shuttle with confidence.
The third cup of tea, presented by Sir Ken Robinson bolstered the
spirits of the fraternity. Delegates were engaged in a hilarious
orchestra of giggles and uncontrollable laughter as he effortlessly
crossed the boundaries by teasing the gathering with his characteristic
British humour. The family of teachers was encouraged and affirmed with
the joy and purpose that came with our convictions in recognizing,
respecting and nurturing the infinite potential in every child under
our charge. The standing ovation he received was a celebration of sorts
of our bond and commitment to our collective cause.
Coming home, I feel grateful for and was thoroughly refreshed by my
cups of tea.
Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations . . . One School at a Time
by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Viking 2006 ISBN 0-670-03482-7
The photos below are from the ASCD Conference at Orlando.
ASCD Council members at
Orlando: Miss Tay Siew Lian (immediate past president), Dr Koh Thiam
Seng (President-elect), Mr Jimmy Tan ( President), Mrs. Saraspathy Menon
Betsy Lim (past president, and current board member, ASCD
left: Ron Miletta, Dr Koh, Jenny Lewis, Miss Tay, Judy Seltz and Linda
Jimmy Tan with
Board Members, Marsha Jones and
(Click to enlarge)
Miss Betsy Lim, past
president and current board member of ASCD International appeared on
the cover of the Conference Daily, the
official newspaper of the event.
She was photographed with Greg Mortenson, the keynote speaker, and CEO
of ASCD, Dr Gene Carter.
of Conference Daily cover reproduced with permission from ASCD).
Launch and Talk by Professor Colin Marsh
launched his new
Concepts of Curriculum Design (4th edition)
on 20th March at the Grassroots Club. Organised by ASCD and Taylor
& Francis, the launch was preceded by a talk by Professor Marsh
entitled “A Stocktake on Doing SBCD in Singapore:
Achievements and Ongoing Issues”. ASCD members
attended the free event and were treated to an insightful and
interesting evaluation of school-based curriculum development in
Singapore. Many also purchased the book at a discounted price and had
it autographed! The evening ended with a sumptuous high tea.
introducing Professor Colin Marsh.
Marsh autographing copies of his book for participants.
Colin Marsh autographed my book!!!
participants at the book launch.
Marsh with some members of the Singapore ASCD committee.
20th AGM was held on 6 March at the Grassroots
Club. Mr Ee Chye Heng and Mr Lim Chong Eng were elected
the coming year.
Jimmy Tan addressing members.
Wolfe and Susan Clayton who held a
just before the AGM drew the lucky draw
fun at the workshop.
Wolfe signing copies of her book for workshop participants.
members with Pat Wolfe and Susan
of the lucky draw. Seated (left
to right): Ms Tay Wee Chin, Ms Chin Shin Wee, Ms Tan Khar Guek.
Standing (left to right): Mr Ee Chye Heng, Mr Lim Chong Eng, Dr Diana