Sunday, 12 February 2017

Teaching creative writing....

According to Tompkins(1982), there are several reasons why teachers should do creative writing. One of the reasons is to make lessons to be more entertaining as well as to foster artistic expression among learners. Creative writing can also be taught to explore the functions and values of writing. Besides, creative writing promotes higher order thinking skills as well as stimulate imagination. On the other hand, it will make writing lessons interestingly alive. 

Teaching creative writing gives opportunities for learners to learn to write from a different perspective rather than a fixed and rigid style of writing proposed by most mainstream SPM writing references in the market. Creative writing can be an avenue for learners to search for their identity in written forms besides acquiring a vast amount of vocabulary if they are guided towards the right direction. 

Honestly, I am not a fan of the reference books sold at bookstores, which only provide samples after samples for students to memorize without actually giving them the guidance to improve their writing skills. As a teacher, I find 'the' guidance in the creative writing references which I searched extensively online (unfortunately we can't find many books on creative writing in Malaysia and most of the time it is only available online and guess what they are free) and more than often my classroom materials and ideas are adapted from these references. 

with the aforementioned compelling reasons, we can't just ignore creative writing as a part of teaching and learning at secondary level. As a teacher, I would like to make a difference in my lessons and one of the many differences that I have made is teaching creative writing. It may look difficult at first glance but without trying we may not even know the wonders that learners can do. Therefore, it is always important to give it a try. The materials given below may help teachers to create their own teaching materials to teach creative writing. 

blue sky thinking 
blue sky thinking answer guide
British Council Teaching Creative Writing 
The Routledge Creative Writing Book 
Creative Writing for Dummies 
Guidelines to Teach Creative Writing 
Creative Writing Tasks 
Lesson Plans to Teach Poetry 
Lesson Plans to Teach Poetry 2
Story Craft
Writing Creative Non - Fiction  


Excerpted from : Essex, C. (1997). Teaching Creative Writing in the Elementary School. ERIC Digest. ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English and Communication.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Sing to the Dawn...Made Simple

I have compiled some notes and sample answers to make things easier for students to understand the novel Sing to the Dawn.At times, students may not be able to understand the gist of the story due to the lengthy and wordy elaboration, Therefore, to make students understand the story better, I have compiled a simplified version of the novel which I compiled from various sources. Please click here and here for the module and sample answers.  

Sing to the Dawn by MinFong  Ho

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Have you tried writing a poem with your students ??

I took this idea from a creative writing workshop conducted by Alan Maley during MICELT Conference 2013.

This is how it goes....

Firstly, ask your students to make a list of the following :
(please make it clear that they can only write one for each)

a)  Favourite food
b)  Favourite animal
c)  Favourite flower
d)  Favourite place at home
e)  Favourite drink
f)  Favourite clothes
g)  A person you like the most
h)  Favourite climate/month/

Next do the following, step by step :

Ask your students to fill in the first line with the name of the food in their list. For example, you are the curry of my noodle.  

Move to the second line, only after they are done with the first line, if you have a below average/ weak students you can actually help them out.

Let us go to the second line now.

Once you are done with the second line you can move on to the third line; 

Now move on to the next line, and fill in the gaps with the favourite place at home and it characteristics.

You are done with the first stanza and now let us move on to the second stanza, and you can start with a favourite climate/month. 

Then, continue with your favourite clothing, 

and then with you favourite pet animal.

The last line should be the person you love the most,

You are done with the poem and this is how it should look now,


Here is one of my students work. She dedicated the poem to her favourite teacher....

Be ready for crappy poems as
sometimes mischievous students like to make it interesting with crappy ideas, reward them for their creativity rather than reprimanding as this will motivate them to do better but be clear  that they should not include racially or religiously sensitive and sexually explicit lines in their poems.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

The Living Photograph's'

I started my literature lesson this year with my form four students by introducing the poem 'The Living Photograph' by Jackie Kay. The poem somehow reflects our own childhood as some of us have had very special moments with our grandmothers which will be cherished live long and I wanted to add this as an element in my lesson.

With that in mind, after introducing the poem, I asked my students to write a memoir of their own grandmothers with their 'living photograph' attached to the memoir. It was true enough that each and everyone of them have had different moments with their 'grandmas'. Some of my students had never seen their grandparents as their grandparents passed away even before they were born, so these students had to ask their parents about their grandparents to know more about them. I am sure relating the poem to their own lives had definitely made a way to build stronger bonds among family members by appreciating their elders. The video below shows some examples of my students work. 

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

English Language Classroom Posters

It was a dream come true when I was given a room to set up our English Language Lab last year. Despite being a premier school, we did not have much space at school as most of the rooms were being utilised. It was a blessing when I was given a small dungeon to be turned into an English Lab. Thanks to our former principal, Datin Mungit  who took this matter seriously and worked hand in hand with me. It took so much time for me to set up the limited space into a classroom which could fit at least 35 students. 

Lesson in Progress 
Today, the English Language Lab is still going strong and being utilised for various activities related to the English Language Panel. Besides, we could also model the 21st century teaching and learning activities in this room. The setting of the room is designed for student centred teaching and learning. However, due to limited space we could not change the setting from time to time, we hope to get a more spacious room once the new school building is ready (probably in another 3 years...haha). One set back about this room is we do not have any technology in this room except for a computer and an LCD Projector. 

Charts about 21st Century Teaching and Learning 

In the midst of setting up the English Language Lab, I downloaded learning charts and posters from Pinterest and Tumblr that can be used in classrooms. I have compiled and saved them in folders. If you are planning to set up your own 21st century classroom and are looking for posters and charts, you may click here and here to download them.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Lesson for the First Day of School

Tomorrow will be the first day of school in some parts of Malaysia and I am very sure, the likes of me are very excited to get back to work and catch up with your colleagues and students. I am sure with 5 weeks of holidays we are fully 'charged' and energized. Probably this is not the sure thing for those who were marking SPM 2016. I gave up marking this year last year so I had so much of time lazing at home and enjoyed mum's cooking. Also, I had some visits to the gym not to get a 'six - pack' but just to stay healthy. 

By the way, if you are planning to start your lesson tomorrow and not sure where to begin with,  I am sharing what my lesson is going to be like... 

I am actually planning to start with writing as I am sure some of our students never attempted any writing during the holidays.So, just to bring them back I thought of starting with as simple writing lesson. For those who  are teaching form 4 and 5 you can try this simple activity by asking them to write elaboration using the 5 W's and 1 H. Many of us are aware of this activity but it would be better if a proper worksheet is prepared for the activity so that students will be able to put their ideas in proper order. I made this activity as my first day activity so that students will be able to remember how to do elaboration for directed writing for the rest of the year. If you are interested please click here to download the worksheet. 

The 'task' 

The table for elaboration  
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