Where in Asia shall I spend my two years?


Singapore Financial Center

  • Congratulations. You and your partner have been selected as recipients of a two year, all expenses paid study sabbatical to one of the following Asian cities: Singapore, Hong Kong or Tokyo. Your grant is for $150,000 per year plus housing and travel expenses.
  • During these two years you will be collecting great ideas to bring back home to our own schools - ideas which might improve student performance.
  • If you were given this choice, which city would you select?
Singapore, Hong Kong or Tokyo?

Activity One - Questioning and Planning (stages 1-2)

  • Your first job is to open a word processing file and brainstorm a list of the elements (i.e., weather, safety, etc.) you would care about in picking a city. See if you and your partner can come up with 15-20, including some which relate to this study sabbatical.
  • Once you have created your large list, narrow it down to 5-6 elements which will serve as your criteria to compare and contrast the three cities. These criteria will then guide your information-gathering. They will help you to sort and sift. To make a fully informed choice, you must research all three cities and fill in these boxes before deciding.

 Educational Power
 Criterion 3
 Criterion 4
  Hong Kong

  • Now create and write down 2-3 "telling questions" for each criterion which will provide a powerful and efficient basis for comparing the cities on the criteria you have selected. For safety, for example, you might ask, "How many murders per 100,000 population were there in 1990 and 1995?"
  • Your workshop leaders will lead a discussion before you move on to the information gathering stage. "What are the advantages of showing students how to question and plan before they begin their gathering? How is this different from topical research projects?"

Raffles Girls School in Singapore

Activity Two - Gathering + Sorting & Sifting (stages 3-4)

  1. 20 Minutes Click here to Go to Hong Kong on Yahoo - a huge index of information about cities around the world.
  2. Go back and forth between Netscape and your word processing file, taking notes as you gather, sort and sift.
  3. 15 Minutes Click here to Go to Tokyo on Yahoo.
  4. 15 Minutes Click here to Go to Singapore on Excite.
  5. 30 Minutes Click here to Go to the Electric Library - a pay-for-service collection of newspapers and periodicals. (You will need a password.) What value (if any) can you we in buying some information instead of relying only upon the "free Internet?"
  6. You have 80 minutes to see how much progress you can make with your "telling questions."
  7. Remember that students would have much more time than we can provide today in this simulation.
  8. Your workshop leader will engage the group in discussion before partners move forward to the next stage.

Activity Three - Synthesizing, Evaluating (stages 5-6)

Now that you have spent time gathering information about your criteria, stop to consider and organize your findings. Can you throw away material which is unhelpful? Rearrange it? Change categories? Condense?

Work with your partner to figure out how much you have learned. Is the puzzle beginning to take shape? Are you able to make out any patterns? Try moving your information pieces around until some kind of picture emerges.

You are looking for insight. Is Hong Kong safer than Singapore and Tokyo? Do you have hard numbers and evidence? What about the weather? Where will you see the sun most often? Where will you freeze and shiver the most?

You are trying to "tease" meaning out of fragments. Synthesis requires rearranging particles and elements until a new version emerges. Evaluation is the stage of asking if you have enough to build a strong case. Do you have enough so that you and your partner can stand up and speak persuasively to this group explaining your choice and basing it upon solid facts and evidence?

Your leader will engage the group in discussion before teams move to the next activity.

Activity Four - More Gathering

Many students may try to find information on the "free Internet" using the search engines which look through millions of Web pages to see which ones contain certain key words. This searching can be very frustrating because it will often give you huge lists of "hits," many of which are irrelevant or untrustworthy.

Today you will be searching for more information about your cities using the advanced version of Altavista after your workshop leader provides you with an introduction to Power Searching techniques. We hope you will evaluate the pros and cons of such searching and consider its worth for you and your own students.

Following the lesson in Power Searching techniques, click here to go to Altavista and spend 30 minutes trying out effective search techniques.

For reminders on search strategies, use the chart below . . .

 1. Question and draw before you search  6. Browse before grazing
 2. Use only the best  7. Go to the source
 3. Learn the syntax  8. Be discrete
 4. Learn the features  9. Cull your findings
 5. Start big and broad  10. Be playful

When the workshop leaders indicates that it is time to write answers to the questions below, return to your learning journal.

  • What have you learned about your three cities thanks to search engines?
  • What have you learned about search engines and the need for training in effective searching?


Activity Five - Reporting (stage 7)

If you had plenty of time and were conducting this investigation for real, you would most certainly go back through the stages of the Research Cycle several times before making your presentation, but today we'll give you a chance to speak early . . .

With more time, we might also challenge you to share your findings using a multimedia presentation program such as PowerPoint, but today we will keep it simple and focus more on content than flash.

Write a few paragraphs summarizing your findings as persuasively as you can.

Share your findings with the group. In what ways does this reporting process prepare students for their futures?


Activity Six - Discussion


    1. What skills are needed to be successful when facing Info-Glut, Info-Garbage and Info-Tactics?
    2. How does information differ from Truth? Were you able to find the Truth? Any surprises?
    3. How might test scores improve if we teach students how to "make up their minds?"
    4. What steps should a district or school take to prepare both staff and students for this changed information landscape?
    5. How must teacher preparation programs adjust to meet the changing demands of this new Information Landscape?

Computer Lab in Singapore School

© 1998, Jamie McKenzie,
All Rights Reserved

These modules may not be duplicated, republished or distributed in any manner without the express written permission of Jamie McKenzie.