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ASCD events and activities 2019
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Catching Up with the Winners of the ASCD Gold Medal and Book Prizes 2019
We caught up with the winners of this year's ASCD Gold Medal and Book Prizes and asked them for their reflections. Here's what they had to say:

ASCD Gold Medal winner Emen Low Xiankai



Q: Please describe what you do now and how the course has helped you with your work. How have the prizes helped you or contributed to your professional development?

I will always be grateful to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) for recognising my efforts in the Masters of Education (Curriculum & Teaching) course. I have benefited in so many ways from the thought-provoking lectures, developmental tutelage and riveting discussions with peers. Allow me to focus on my professional development in the following two ways. 

Firstly, in my decade of service in public education, I have remained humbled by the vast expanse of challenges our learners face, and how our deliberate curricular and pedagogical decisions will either help or hinder our learners to overcome these challenges. In the course of my study, I have been inspired by the vast array of research that calls into question routine practices, and urges us to reimagine our expectations of schooling; in fact, my key research interest remains the interlocking nature of teaching, learning and assessment, and how these may be highly leveraged to offer a more equitable schooling experience to underprivileged individuals and families.

Secondly, I remain fascinated by the diversity that characterises our schools. I am keen to explore the impact of diversity (e.g. ethnicity, nationality, social class and gender) on the way curriculum is experienced by both learners and teachers. Whether it is the cultivation of future-readiness or values that typify our citizens, I am curious to explore how our standardised curriculum may continue to evolve in order to better serve an increasingly complex diversity of learners and teachers. In this vein, going forward, I am determined to work on research that will help clarify the future value proposition of public education in Singapore.
 
My achievements in education may not be attributed to my efforts alone. I will always be indebted firstly, to my supportive family who never turned a deaf ear to my rants, secondly, to the fiercely passionate peers and colleagues who broaden my worldview, and lastly, to the highly energetic and authentic learners who fuel my imagination. It gives me immense pleasure and pride to be able to give back to the community that continues to nurture me as an educator. It is my daily mission to do the right thing, and to do things right.



ASCD Book Prize for Best Captstone Project Sharon Yap Ching Ling

Q: Please describe what you do now and how the course has helped you with your work. How have the prizes helped you or contributed to your professional development?

I am an Academic Mentor at the School of Life Skills and Communication (LSC), at Singapore Polytechnic (SP). In addition to teaching, I support my school and colleagues in curriculum and teaching design and development matters, and in professional learning.

I found NIE’s MEd (Curriculum and Teaching) course tremendously helpful to my work as it greatly broadened and deepened my notions of the complexities that characterise and underlie teaching-learning relationships, curriculum and assessment design, and professional learning. I hope that it will translate into a greater ability on my part to make insightful contributions to dialogue and wiser decision-making to respond to both everyday work and novel disruptions.

Receiving the ASCD book prize was a pleasant surprise! I am still making sense of its implications, but I suppose it does make me think more seriously about whether my critical inquiry ideas could be realised.

 
Q: Can you briefly summarise your dissertation and your critical inquiry project which won prizes?

My critical inquiry project seeks to theorise or construct a frame through which to understand how students and teachers in the context of an SP institutional programme dynamically co-construct “trust” in a bi-directional relationship, and the importance of “trust” in students’ educative experience.

“Trust” is interesting because it is not a singular or unitary construct. Indeed, it is a very slippery one in the sense that different disciplines define, study and construct it differently, there are controversies over how “trust” is built and broken, it can shift with time and depends on who is doing what in a “trust” relationship. In our context, we do not know if “trust” is even the “same thing” to students and teachers (some research indicates it is not), or whether our teaching-learning relationships should more appropriately be viewed through lenses of “distrust,” “mistrust” or “lack of trust” than “trust,” with its normatively positive implications.

My project thus aims to construct an understanding of what might be going with students and teachers in their human agency in relationship-building, and hopefully add to our collective wisdom to cultivate rich and enduring experiences for our learners.

Q: What do you think are urgent issues in the area of curriculum development in your own field of specialization?

I feel we face challenges in how curriculum should be reimagined and redesigned for “optimal” or “effective” learning in a constantly shifting education landscape of competing discourses and narratives of urgency that value certain modes of living/learning, such as greater digitalisation. How can we critically contemplate the beliefs and assumptions underlying the demands placed on us to act, yet shift our paradigms quickly? To what extent should we shift, or should we shift in other directions? I think these are some of the crucial questions we must continue asking as we make sense of how the world is changing, and exert our own influence in shaping the way we think about and take action on it.


ASCD Book Prize for Best Dissertation Adrian Tan Kok Wui

I was blessed to be given a chance to serve as a Head of Department at Raffles Institution after joining school and in this role, I oversee 4 main subjects in the Knowledge Skills Department: General Paper, Project Work, Knowledge & Inquiry and English Language & Linguistics. In this role, I often find myself thinking about ways to make meaningful changes for both teachers and students. Very often, however, while there is an awareness that there are things that could be improved, I did not have the right vocabulary or that ability to frame the problem effectively. The Master of Education course gave me what I lacked: the conceptual knowledge and ability to articulate what the root causes of these problems were. As Head of Department overseeing Project Work at the JC level, traits like collaboration and independent learning are important goals. My research into the subject is to use PW as a case study to delve deeper into a subject that aims to deliver outcomes related to 21st Century skills and how it has fared in terms of assessment and its outcomes. Essentially, I argue in my dissertation that we have to be careful not to put the cart before the horse – in other words, not let assessment drive curriculum, else outcomes related to character traits and intangible qualities would just be lip-service and any good outcome, merely incidental. These issues related to 21st Century skills and competencies are important to consider, given the changing needs of society. Not taking this seriously may result in us being good at running a race that is increasingly becoming irrelevant.  


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ASCD Gold Medal and Book Prizes 2019

Singapore ASCD sponsors book prizes for outstanding students in the higher degree programmes at the National Institute of Education. At this year's award ceremony held on August 7th, the ASCD Gold Medal and Book Prizes were awarded to three deserving recipients. 

The three awards are as follows: 
- ASCD Gold Medal:  Awarded to the top graduate with outstanding performance in the MEd programme specialising in Curriculum & Teaching
- ASCD Dissertation Book Prize: Awarded to the Best Dissertation submitted for examination by a graduate from the MEd programme specialising in Curriculum & Teaching
- ASCD Capstone Project Book Prize: Awarded for the Best Capstone Project submitted for examination by a graduate from the MEd programme specialising in Curriculum & Teaching

Below are some photos from the event:
Singapore ASCD President Mrs Tan Wan Yu, with two of the award recipients ASCD Gold Medal winner Low Emen Xiankai, receiving his award
Winner of ASCD Book Prize for Best Captstone Project Yap Ching Ling Sharon was not present to receive her award.
Winner of ASCD Book Prize for Best Dissertation Adrian Tan Kok Wui, receiving his award.

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 Teachers' Conference

Aside from enhancing teacher development through workshops, ASCD Singapore started to support the Teachers’ Conference, an initiative of the Ministry of Education. With its beginnings in 2001, the Teachers’ Conference is a biennial event for teachers to deepen their pedagogical skills and together, share teaching practices as a fraternity.

ASCD Singapore first sponsored a speaker for the Conference’s keynote address in 2004 and has continued to contribute $10,000 to the event. As it is able to access renowned overseas educators and trainers due to its affiliation to ASCD International, ASCD Singapore also plays a key role in helping to reach out to these experts, to share their knowledge with Singapore teachers at the Conference.

Such speakers have covered wide-ranging topics: from the critical role that the teacher plays in nurturing the spirit of innovation and enterprise among students; to creativity; the organisational implications of computer-supported activities; as well as social-emotional and character development. Eminent speakers, to name a few, have included Gary Marx, the President at the Centre for Public Outreach, Vienna, Virginia; Frans Johansson, author of "The Medici Effect"; researcher Dr John Seely Brown and Professor Maurice J. Elias from the Psychology Department of Rutgers University.

Professor Maurice Elias (centre), with Soo Kim Bee and Tan Wan Yu

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Workshop: Questioning Strategies to Activate Student Thinking, by Ms Tang Swee Noi
When planned and executed in a strategic manner, classroom questioning has high potential for engaging all learners in thinking and speaking related to learning goals. This three-hour workshop seeks to provide participants with tips and examples to help them develop questioning practices that motivate students and activate their thinking. Participants will become familiar with the ASCD Quick Reference Guides (QRG) on Questioning Strategies to Activate Student Thinking and have the opportunity to explore and apply questioning strategies used in QRG in the Singapore context.

Only 30 seats are available, to be issued on a first-come-first-served basis. Closing date is 1st April or when all seats are taken. Free for Singapore ASCD members (who register by 20th April) and S$50.00 for non-members.

Participants can choose to attend the workshop on either 12th April (for secondary school teachers) or 26th April (for primary school teachers).

Click on the following links for more information and the registation form.

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 30th Annual General Meeting and Buffet Hi-Tea

This year is the 30th anniversary of ASCD (Singapore), and all members can look forward to a series of events and benefits. We kick off with the 30th Annual General Meeting on 29th March 2019, to be held at Orchard Rendezvous Hotel. The Guest of Honour is Mr Edmund Wee, Founder of Epigram Books, who will speak about "Everything you always wanted to know about publishing in Singapore (but didn't know what to ask)".

Interested members can review the AGM notice and the Singapore ASCD Constitution.

All members will receive a door gift. In addition, a lucky draw will be held for members, with the prize being an air ticket plus expenses (total S$3,500) to attend an ASCD International Conference of the winner's choice during 2019/2020.

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ASCD Empower19 Annual Conference

Our Immediate Past President Ms Yeo Hong Mui is attending the ASCD Empower19 Annual Conference now, held in Chicago from 16-18 March. Singapore ASCD is the only representative from Asia. Issues discussed at the conference include membership and benefits, communication and social media. All are facing the same challenges.  


About 30 delegates attended the ASCD Affiliates' meeting.
Ms Yeo, with Mr Ronn Nozoe, ASCD Interim Executive Director
About 30 delegates attended the ASCD Affiliates' meeting.

Ms Yeo, with Mr Ronn Nozoe, ASCD Interim Executive Director

Ms Yeo, with Mr Walter McKenzie, Senior Director for Constituent Services Ms Yeo, with Ms Leslie Grant, ASCD President
Ms Yeo, with Mr Walter McKenzie, Senior Director for Constituent Services

Ms Yeo, with Ms Leslie Grant, ASCD President

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