Tuesday, 3 March 2015
Monday, 23 February 2015
The year of Ram 2015 has definitely brought smiles on the faces of my International friends as I had the privilege to host a Chinese New Year party for them along with my two other crazy Malaysian friends Lucy and Maisarah.
Earlier,we had the idea of celebrating Chinese New Year in a smaller scale for Lucy, however our plans continued to fan out and we ended up throwing a party to all our International teacher friends. One of the best things in our celebration was all of us cooked different dishes and none of them were Chinese, only Lucy made some Chinese dishes which were not really Chinese as they were fusioned with western dishes (according to Lucy). We enjoyed eating the cuisines from different continents and also managed to throw a surprise birthday bash to our beloved lecturer Dr. Klar A.K.A Hans. While having fun we also had the chance to meet other international friends who were there to join us in the celebration, we invited some and some were invited by others. There were 30 of us and Lucy thought her apartment was going to collapse, we managed some how. Besides throwing party, we also had some traditional Chinese customs introduced to our friends during the celebration such as the "Yee - Sang" and "Ang Pow" tradition. Well, the "Ang Pows were not given in USD but in RM, thanks to Maisarah she has a lot of RM1s in her purse which she brought all along to US . I contributed which ever RM I had in my pocket. Well, whoever got it will not be able to spend it and have to keep it with them unless they are planning to go to the money - changer..lol! During the celebration nobody was allowed to use fork and spoon, but only chopsticks, many of them managed to eat using chopsticks but the others just gave up and went to their old ways....haha. It was definitely a memorable event for me as well as for the other fellows. I'm not going to say much , the pictures below will say a thousand words......
|Yee - Sang prepared by Lucy|
|Surprise Birthday for Dr.Klar a.k.a Hans|
|Eat, Laugh and Love.....|
|Evans and Patrick from Ghana experimenting chopsticks|
Before I end, in Malaysia most of the time we are divided by colours, creed and religions. However, when we leave Malaysia and live in another country many of us learn to appreciate other Malaysians, regardless colours and creed. Here, Lucy, Maisarah and I are known as Malaysians not as Malay, Chinese and Indian...... We are trying to be the archtype of excellent Malaysians who can live harmoniously despite being different from one another....I just hope some people in Malaysia will realise this...
Monday, 16 February 2015
At the moment, I am reading my creative writing teaching manual whilst doing my dissertation and completing assignments at Clemson University. I have always had problems with my students especially the good one and on questions that I always have in my mind is " What will lift my students’ writing to a higher level?
Of course, there is not one single thing that will suddenly improve a student’s writing. All too often their writing is too literal. Or, it is too clichéd. But, over the years, I have come to the conclusion that students rarely use metaphors in their writing. Yes, personification is used with glee and similes are used like antibiotics in the modern world, but metaphors, never and something that I found in my precious creative writing book, glad that I spent my grants on books like this and will spend more probably my one month salary from Malaysia will be used to salvage all the books that I can't find in Malaysia....mom is gonna go crazy as I already have house full of books...yeaaa.
We, Do we English teachers explore metaphors???, I do explore the use of metaphors in everything under the sun, but rarely, if I am honest, do we get students to write metaphors. This is what I am going to share with you people, I haven't tried it out, why don't you try it out with your good and mediocre students and see what is the outcome,, any outcome good or bad please share with me... I will be glad to know....
This is how it should go....
give them this piece of work;
Welcome to the dawn of a new beginning, an epoch of enlightenment and a feast of wonders. Sit yourself on the manacles of education and unlock your survival kits and release its secrets. First, open your libraries of wonder. Find a desert of emptiness that is ready for new delights. Open your grenades of ink and spread some shrapnel of damage. Across the fog of blankness, draw a road. On the motorway write the wrinkles of time on it.
ask the students to identify the things which are being described :
Then, explore and discuss each of the metaphors and their meanings , also discuss the purpose of the metaphor.
Metaphors are used to….
A - Add a new layer of meaning
B - Create a particular atmosphere
C - Provide a point of comparison
D – Make the writing seem poetic / crafted
We have to remind our students that we can’t keep a reader engaged when every other word is a metaphor, this is important as students in Malaysia tend to overuse something new that they learn and when everything goes wrong the teachers will be blamed, so be clear with them. However, when there are a few in a paragraph, the writing is more engaging.
Finally, you can get students to write a paragraph about a photograph of a beach. Here are just a few examples :
- A fisherman’s tears – waves
- Neptune’s minions – fish
- Medusa’s hair – seaweed
- Ink stains – rocks in the sea
As a start we can ask our students to just write simple sentences using metaphors, remember this is a step by step process, we can't aspect them to give us the 'wow' metaphors in just one night.
Then the next lesson we can start with getting students to fill the blanks with writing metaphors.
A book is ……
- A window to another world.
- A drug for the imagination.
- Therapy for the educated.
This leads me to think about metaphors and non-fiction. Maybe I should be getting students to work on metaphors for the narrative writing in the SPM English exams. Every so often I could have a metaphor starter, focusing on the generation of metaphors.
Happy Teaching peeps!!
Saturday, 14 February 2015
Today I had the opportunity to visit Berea High School which is one of the best performing schools in Greenville. Besides having the opportunity to see the school environment, I also had the chance to talk to the principal Dr.Noel ( the principals I have come across in US have P.hds in Educational Leadership). The high school environment is definitely not as how it has been fed into our minds through the mainstream media, the kids were respectful, friendly and very welcoming. I also had the chance to observe a few English classes ; Literature, Reading, Creative Writing (my favourite of all) and also drama. I was amazed with the teachers' styles of teaching and their classroom management. I believe it has got to do with the number of students in the classes that help the teachers to take charge easily. Their teacher - student ratio is 1 : 22. However, I am sure I use more interesting ways to teach reading ....hahaha
|At Berea High School|
I was also introduced to the school Instructional coaches, they are similar to the SISC (school Improvement Special Coaches) in Malaysia. In US, the school instructional coaches do not move around from one school to another school to observe teachers and make comments but they stay put at one school and work together with the teachers to develop their area of specialization. At Berea high school there are 4 instructional coaches and one of them is for English language. I was told that she helps to improve the schools results by working with the teachers to develop literacy programs, create modules as well as develops and demonstrates best teaching practices.
One thing I realized is, in US the responsibility of being a principal is definitely not given to any Tom, Dick or Harry. Having observed Dr. Black (RMS) and Dr.Noel (Berea) I would definitely say that their knowledge in Educational Leadership has got to do something with their performance at school and I believe it is their leadership that has brought the schools to a meritorious level.
|with Dr.Noel during the briefing session...|
This does not mean that I am dreaming of becoming a principal in future…….if I were to have plans for my future development, being a principal will be at the bottom of my list or not in the list at all, I am comfortable with what I am doing now and will continue to do so……
|I have always thought that the auditorium which I used to see in the American series 'Glee'|
was a mere exaggeration until I saw a real high school theatre,,,,
Thursday, 12 February 2015
|This is Dawson and Me with Macy|
Today instead of doing my normal school routine I decided to shadow a student to all his classes to experience the life of an American student. It turned out to be an exciting and learning experience. The student whom I shadowed was Dawson, an 8th Grader ( 14 years old). He was handsome and had blue sparkling eyes.... He was warm and very respectful in his own ways. I got along very well with him within a few minutes.. The classes he had today was English reading (Honors), Mathematics, Social Science( History), Science, English writing, music and Bible Studies.
|Technology made the lessons easier to understand|
I followed him to all the classes and had great opportunities to observe different teaching styles of different teachers. Different teachers had different styles in handling their students and all of them had the aura of their own… some teachers made sure the students remained quiet throughout their lessons, some had amazing group activities and made sure students were engaged and some had great ICT skills that they made learning so simple. One similarity I noticed among the teachers was, they were all using technology during their lessons and I am sure they were not doing it because I was there as the teachers were not aware I was shadowing Dawson and gave a surprise look when I showed up in their classrooms with Dawson, however they were very welcoming. They did not use any specific software, but exploited whichever software or online tools which was free and available. It was easy for the teachers as these softwares/tools were not so complicated and made their lives easy.
Dawson, do not have fixed classmates, his classmates differs from one lesson to another lesson based on their ability and the previous year’s results, and the school do not have uniformed lessons as well. The lessons differ from one class to another depends on students’ learning ability. For example, If a student is in English Reading(honors) class, it means this class is for students who have higher level of understanding texts where at this level they learn to study literature deeper. They study Charles Dicken's, Great expectations which is meant for higher level, where as the weaker ones will not study Charles Dickens but a simpler one which help to build their ability to understand texts better.
I did not shadow Dawson to his bible studies as it was conducted in a church nearby; in America religious studies are not allowed to be conducted in the school compounds as to respect and not influence students of other religions and it is not compulsory. They truly practice 'respect all religions' policy.
|Different lessons at different classes|
My day ended with a happy note......
Friday, 6 February 2015
I believe in making my lessons as interesting as possible in any ways which are possible. One of the ways are using songs to teach language skills to our students. Here are a set of worksheets which are based on songs sung by Ricky Martin, Britney Spears, Christina Arguilera and so on... I have been collecting and using them for years so now I think it is time to share some of them.... However, I don't have the links to the vevos as I downloaded the songs a long time ago using Youtube...you can do the same as well....Click here to download the worksheets.