Tuesday, 11 August 2015

SPM - Continuous Writing

As a teacher whenever I grade my students' compositions and return to them, the questions that I get will be " Why do I get a C or D but almost all my sentences are correct?" How do you tackle this issue with your students? 

Well as for me I will always look for concrete sentences in order to give an A or B for any particular essay. So how do we show to our students how does concrete and abstract sentences look like? Here is one simple activity which has worked very well in my Continous Writing Introductory Lessons to show high proficiency students the types of sentences that they should construct in their compositions  in order to get A besides having idioms and proverbs... please click here to download them. 

Hard Work Paid Off - GC DG48

I was first appointed as GC in 2010 and ever since then there was no turning back.  I know I have to keep working and working to keep my self abreast of  whatever things that was happening around me. So what did I do to become a GC DG48 ? Here are a few simple things that I did and worked well with me :

a) Firstly I did a lot of sharing and documented them...How did I do my sharing...well through this blog...Well my online sharing did not just reach people in Malaysia but also from other neighbouring countries. I have received emails complementing all my work. That was an added advantage that went directly into my professional portfolio.

b) Secondly as a GC you have to always be innovative.. However your innovation should have received some recognition at least at the district level. Therefore, I did a lot of homework on innovation in ESL and came up with "Wheels of English" which I presented at MELTA Conference 2012 and rebranded it in Perak Innovative Teacher Competition 2014 which earned me a Bronze Award.

c) The most important thing as a GC is your performance as a teacher in classroom. No matter how many innovative and creative method you use, at the end of the day the evaluation will be based on your students' performance. Therefore, I made sure that my students do well in the public examination, it is not about getting As but it is all about improving from one level to another. Ever since I became a GC I  made sure that I am given the weakest classes to prove my worth as a GC. Teaching the 'weaklings' is challenging but also a rewarding experience. I have taken up weak classes and recorded their performance in every examination and filed them. I had a few who failed in the public examinations and could not make it 100% pass...but that was due to students failure to attend school (I had some students who did not come to school for a whole year but turned up during SPM examinations).

d) Well how I  made my weak students pass? first I identified their weaknesses and I created modules that will help them,,, trust me, textbooks and workbooks in the market do not cater to the needs of the weak students. Thus far, I have created about 35 modules, which I have used with different level of students. All the modules were used at school. My modules are not just modules, they were created with purposes. they come with objectives and the before and after use report with photographic evidence to show as a prove that the modules really work in certain circumstances.

e) I have also had my trial - and - errors in teaching. I have practiced various interesting teaching methods throughout the years and improvise them every now and then as preparation for the big day - the teaching and learning observation session. You have to really make an impressive lesson and make sure that objectives are achieved at the end of the day. The lesson must be interactive, interesting, hands - on as well as techno friendly and also you should prove that learning is taking place. Therefore, you should really look for ideas and practice them in your classrooms while improvising them...you do not want to mess up during your classroom observation don't you?

f) Some of my successful lessons were made into research topics and I wrote extensively about them and got them published in two jurnals one in Malaysia and another in Australia. I have also presented my work in various conferences such as ASIA - TEFL Conference 2014, MICELT 2013, ICELT 2014, MELTA 2012 and MELTA 2014 and I will be presenting again at ICELT 2015. Please be there!!

f) Having a good rapport with everyone at school is also important, because when the 'nazirs' visit you at school they will randomly pick some teachers and students for a private interview. Besides, the principal and seniors assistants will be interviewed too. Till today, I do not know what my teachers and students told the 'nazirs' during their visit.

g) Besides, creating modules, as a GC I also shared some of my work through publications. I decided to write in an academic magazine called 'Wadah Siswa' which I managed to write for 12 publications.

h) grade students work appropriately.....It may be time consuming....but the way you mark your students exercise books reflects you....

i) I have always believe in GOD and Hinduism has taught me to stay humble...Therefore I believe that being humble and accepting criticism will take you a long way....


Thursday, 2 April 2015

My Last Day in RMS

My ten weeks internship at Riverside Middle School came to an end last week. It was a journey of learning experience as a teacher.  Throughout my internship, I came across many new teaching ideas and classroom practices that I value more than anything. I have to thank my teacher partner, Ms. Sharon Barnette who has 27 years of teaching experience. It was a bless to be partnered with her as she has been very open and understanding. We shared a lot of things during the 10 weeks of internship. Miss Barnette has always been very supportive and encouraging. She gave me the freedom to get thing done in my way and conduct the lessons in my own style. She never once stopped me from doing all the things that I wanted to do in RMS. Our relationship became so close that I almost shed tears when she gave me a hug before I leave the school for good.

As for the students, throughout my internship I realized that kids are kids no matter where you are. Students in RMS are not exceptional. They have the same cheekiness that our Malaysian students have. I did not see the difference in students’ conduct when I compared them to our Malaysian students. However I find that students in South Carolina especially those who are in RMS are very respectful. Well the way they see respectful here is not the formal greetings and wishings but they way students bring themselves. Students here are more casual in greeting their teachers which I really like ( I think I have blogged about this before). On the  last day,  we spent a few minutes together after the end of every lesson taking pictures.

Well, one of my friends said that…we started without any problems and had a smooth sailing throughout the internship and it is good that we leave when the sail is smooth rather than leaving when there is a thunderstorm… all’s well ends well…

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

He Had Such Quiet Eyes

Hi, I have made this online learning resource for You had Such Quiet Eyes. Are you interested in creating online learning tool like this for your student?? go to http://magic.piktochart.com

Monday, 23 February 2015

Eat, Laugh and Love - Celebrating The Year of Ram Internationally.....

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

Creative Writing Lesson 1



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

International Teachers' Visit Berea High School, Greenville


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.
 
with the English Language Instructional Coach
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,,,,