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- PublicationOpen AccessUsing ensemble theatre to facilitate twenty-first century drama literacy in the literature classroom(2022)In secondary Literature education, whether in Singapore or elsewhere, the genre study of drama has always posed both problems as well as possibilities for its teachers. It poses problems as dramatic works were never meant to be studied exclusively as print-bound texts, which the discipline refuses to acknowledge out of a strict reverence for outdated traditions. Drama has a double life, on the page and on the stage, that is necessary for teachers to appreciate if they are ever to promote a full and rich understanding of the genre to their charges. Yet, Singapore teachers have shown little interest or inclination to do so in the past. For most, the very notion of exploring the dramatic qualities of a play in any shape or form is well outside their comfort zones, disciplinary training, and lesson priorities that they would rather avoid altogether. It implies high levels of risk and uncertainty. Accordingly, if teachers are required to teach drama at all (and oftentimes they are not), they do so in the manner that they teach works of prose and poetry, which is typically line-by-line with a heavy emphasis on teacher-centred instruction. Not only is this approach impersonal, unmotivating, and unengaging for students–thereby eroding Literature’s reputation–but it also makes drama incomprehensible to most. Drama only becomes visible and vital for students through dramatic enactment. This is especially true if they have had no prior exposure to theatre and drama with which to start building a theatrical imagination.
Despite a general reluctance of teachers to embrace drama’s unique character, it nevertheless offers them many possibilities for revitalising the study of Literature by making it a crucial aspect of the larger project of twenty-first century literacy education. In the new media age, literacy education must prioritise multimodality, convergence, and participation as these are the broad and observable trends shaping social worlds which students must have active and critical knowledge of. This means that students must become well versed in varied and often completing modes of communication, learn how to make meaning by borrowing and blending media forms and texts, and appreciate what it means to have a genuine stake in public conversation and in community. Drama can help address these twenty-first century priorities responsibly and meaningfully. In this multiple-case study research, I examined the actions of three secondary school teachers in Singapore as they integrated ensemble theatre pedagogy into the design of their units of work on drama. Informed by my experiences as a teacher educator and drama practitioner, ensemble theatre pedagogy is an Athenian-modelled approach to drama work that I specifically developed for use in the Singapore Literature classroom. Comprised of five pedagogical practices, it offered the teachers an easy-to-apply set of drama tools that could help convey their personal convictions, learning outcomes, and student-centred ambitions. The findings showed that ensemble theatre pedagogy had a powerful and positive effect on teacher identity. It also allowed their students to see the study of drama as something deeply personal and socially significant.
- PublicationRestrictedPlaywriting drama: playwriting through drama in the English literature classroom(2012)In this study, I examine through the reflective practitioner research method, my belief that structured drama activities, which I name “playwriting drama,” can effectively support secondary school students in their playwriting efforts. I argue that playwriting drama is best integrated into the English Literature classroom so as to facilitate first-hand experiences of the literary arts, which, in my opinion, must mean something more than the critical reading of literary texts. This is especially true when dealing with dramatic writing in particular, as such writing has a dual nature as something to be read as well as embodied in performance. A play cannot simply be understood as words on a page – it must be imagined in the three dimensions of a theatre space. Moreover, when students are permitted to speak artistically through playwriting, they develop a sense of personal voice through which they may articulate their own unique perspectives on the world that they inhabit. Personal voices in playwriting are best pursued via drama, because drama develops students’ instincts for the dramatic medium. At the same time, it provides a safe environment in which to take risks and experiment with the playwriting process. Hence, playwriting drama can empower students and allow educators to pursue the Freirean ideal of a problem-posing education.
- PublicationOpen AccessTeacher resilience in Singapore: Insights from a mixed-methods study
- PublicationOpen AccessFostering cross-cultural communication and understanding in the English language writing class
- PublicationRestrictedFostering cross-cultural communication and understanding in the English language writingThis study's goal is to explore how secondary school English teachers in Singapore develop 21st century competencies in their lessons. Specifically, the research project has two key objectives: 1) to explore how secondary English language teachers in Singapore facilitate their learners' acquisition of cross-cultural skills in the teaching of writing and representing; 2) to create data-driven principles and strategies for the successful development of cross-cultural skills in the teaching of writing and representing. This research is significant given the introduction of the Framework for 21st Century Competencies and Student Outcomes by the Ministry of Education Singapore (MOE, 2010a, 2010b) which highlights the need to develop skills necessary for living in today's globalized world and in Singapore's multicultural context. Cross-cultural skills are part of the framework's core competencies, along with civic literacy and global awareness, and aim to enable learners to develop a ''broader worldview, and the ability to work with people from diverse cultural backgrounds'' (MOE, 2010a). Interestingly, despite the existence of extensive literature on 21st century skills and intercultural education, empirical research which investigates how teachers work in everyday settings with these concepts is painfully scarce (see e.g. Halualini, 2011). Most published work present conceptual guidelines on how to develop cross-cultural competencies and global awareness. Research that investigates classrooms is therefore lacking and it is this gap that the present research project aims to address. In addition, the results of the project will provide practical, classroom-based guidelines for English language teachers on how to implement the Framework for 21st century Competencies and Student Outcomes and facilitate cross-cultural learning in their lessons. A multi-case study approach is chosen as the methodological framework to gain in-depth understanding of how teachers incorporate (or not) cross-cultural skills in their writing instruction. The case study approach is selected as ''case studies are the preferred method when [...] 'how or why' questions are being posed'' (Yin, 2009, p.2) and they do not require any control, or manipulation, of events and variables within the research context. We define the 'case' as the process of developing cross cultural skills in a unit of work that primarily aims to teach English writing skills in Singapore Secondary 1 and 2 classrooms. The key figure in the research is the classroom teacher as they are the ones who make decisions that facilitate the process that we explore in our project. Therefore, when selecting cases, we focus on the teacher. Six teachers from three secondary schools will be selected as the participants of the research, based on their teaching experience (minimum three years) and their willingness to participate. The research questions investigate the interplay of three key facets of classroom practice: a) teachers' choice and exploitation of teaching materials to develop cross-cultural skills; b) what teachers actually do in the classroom in terms of strategies and techniques used; and c) teacher cognition, i.e. teachers' thinking and beliefs about developing cross-cultural skills. Data will come from three major sources: 1) teaching materials, including the unit and lesson plans any accompanying materials; 2) lesson observation (video recording and field notes); 3) interviews and focus group discussions with teachers. The key deliverable of the project will be the document 'Principles and strategies for the development of cross-cultural skills in the writing classroom'. This will be disseminated to educators through local workshops and conference presentations. Furthermore, project will lead to a follow-up intervention research project which will see the implementation of the principles and strategies outlined in the document.
- PublicationOpen AccessFrom functional literacy to multiliteracies: Understanding the challenges of integrating rich and visual texts in Singapore writing classrooms(2021)The recent exemplification of multiliteracies in the newly implemented English Language (EL) syllabus in Singapore clearly signals to EL teachers the great importance of integrating technology-mediated communication practices into their classrooms. An initiative of the New London Group, multiliteracies is a pedagogical approach that points to the urgency and challenges of preparing students for a fast-paced, dynamic and multimodal world that now shapes all aspects of modern text consumption and production. Yet, EL writing instruction remains particularly resistant to such reforms. What we have instead is a persistence of long-dominant functional literacy strategies which emphasize technical skills, language rules, and learning by rote. This paper utilizes data gathered from a two-year, grant funded multiple-case study that investigated writing pedagogy on the part of six teachers working in three typical secondary schools in Singapore. It seeks to explain how functional literary persists to constrain the pedagogical actions of teachers, either explicitly or implicitly. It also identifies teaching opportunities that emerged in classroom observations but remained unexplored as a result of this functional literacy focus. Most importantly, the paper articulates how this historical trend may be challenged and overcome with a more robust multiliteracies pedagogy.
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- PublicationOpen AccessConnecting multiliteracies and writing pedagogy for 21st century English language classrooms: Key considerations for teacher education in Singapore and beyond(2020)
;Kiss, TamasBackground and Purpose: Given the dynamic, global and multimodal character of English in the 21st century, it should be reasonable to expect English language (EL) teaching to accommodate the influences of media and technology on modern communication practices. In Singapore, education policy therefore highlights multiliteracies as one of three foci for the EL classroom. Yet, scant attention has been paid in research and practice to the impact of technology-mediated communication on writing pedagogy. This paper presents the findings of an extensive multiple-case study research project which sought to establish how multiliteracies pedagogy was being utilized in Singaporean secondary teachers’ classrooms and the significant internal and external factors that contributed to classroom practice.
Methodology: The research explored six EL teachers’ practices within one unit of work, focusing on writing skills. Data were gathered through video recorded lesson observations, pre- and post-lesson interviews to explore rationales and justifications for planning and implementation, and focus group discussions to establish common practices, values and beliefs towards writing pedagogy.
Findings: The study found that although teachers were aware of and trained in multiliteracy practices, they dominantly addressed writing as a monomodal form of communication, limited student autonomy and critical development, and neglected culture in their instruction.
Contributions: We argue that writing instruction must be socially situated and multimodal and teacher education must prepare practitioners to empower learners to become critical and effective writers. We also assert that examination-oriented practices make writing in the classroom inauthentic and largely incomprehensible, despite belief that the opposite is true.
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- PublicationMetadata onlyRemixing visual literacy for 21st-century adult education(Routledge, 2021)Visual literacy is a long-contested term that has led to a wide array of competing theories and practices being advanced in education research. However, one thing is certain: in our image-driven 21st-century world, adult education can no longer neglect the fact that our learners must be critically literate in the ways of images and their meaning-making possibilities. What is more, it must embrace a pedagogical approach to visual literacy informed by the principle and practice of remixing with which many adults are still unfamiliar. To explain, ours in not simply a visual culture, but a convergence culture driven by the unrestrained need to blend, juxtapose, assemble, and remake all manner of visual media as part of one’s daily digital communication practices. In this chapter, I argue that we must empower adult learners through remixing activities in order to make them realize their full human potential in the 21st century.