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What teachers do: Vignettes of groupwork in some Singapore primary classrooms
Chew, J., Ng, M., Lee, C., Ambrose-Yeoh, A., Boo, H. K., D'Rozario, V.,...Gallo, P. B. (1999). What teachers do: Vignettes of groupwork in some Singapore primary classrooms. In S. P. Loo (Ed.), Proceeds of the MERA-ERA Joint conference 1999: Educational Challenges in the New Millennium (pp. 666-681). Malacca, Malaysia.
A challenge that schools face in the new millennium is to create in our classrooms
learning communities where pupils are learning, exploring, talking and communicating within
a positive classroom culture. Creating such classrooms requires a careful look at how teachers
attempt to construct the learning environment. This paper reports on what teachers actually do
in their classrooms, with special focus on how they use groupwork in their lessons. It is part of
a wider study of classroom organization in Singapore primary schools. Approximately seventy
classroom observations of English, Math, Science and Social Studies lessons were gathered.
Based on these observations, vignettes of what took place were constructed. The vignettes
mirror what the teachers did within the walls of the classroom and reflect their interpretation
and personal methods of using groupwork or cooperative learning. The paper will report some
of our data on interesting practices that were observed. These reflect how cooperative learning
techniques were shaped by teachers, surprising moves and faltering implementation. The
teachers used groupwork in different ways and were at different stages of comfort using its
techniques. The paper will report on personal adaptations by teachers whose years of
experience, beliefs and practical knowledge influenced how they planned and used groupwork.
The study is a qualitative one. This paper will consist of the stories of lessons that featured
interesting practices. Through this experience, we now have a better understanding of the
process of implementation of the groupwork method in our schools.
This paper was published in the 1999 Proceedings of the MERA-ERA Joint Conference held at Malacca, Malaysia from 1-3 December 1999
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