Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Memorabilia (2008)


Hi,
Am trying to learn how to link to word files but still haven't got a clue. Maybe some kind soul will let me know after reading this. Anyway, this was my short story that was published recently in Memorabilia- a collection of short stories in BM. Why BM you may ask. Well, why not? If the challenge is there, am game for it! So read on and tell me what you think (don't correct my BM la..) I do apologise about the paragraphs or the lack of them rather.. Try as I might, it just wouldn't follow the original :(

PELANGI DI HUJUNG SENJA
Rahmah Hj Sayuti
(published in Memorabilia, 2008- a collection of short stories from Master Teachers in Malaysia)

“Assalamualaikum, cikgu apa khabar?,” terdengar suara ceria seorang lelaki dari belakangku. Aku yang tergopoh-gapah menuju ke kereta untuk pulang ke rumah selepas aktiviti ko-kurikulum pantas menoleh ke belakang. Di hadapan ku tercegat seorang anak muda yang berpakaian kemas dan bertubuh sederhana. Raut wajahnya tenang dan dia tersenyum penuh makna. Dia memakai sepasang kemaja biru berjalur putih dan berseluar biru gelap. Senyumnya mengingatkan aku kepada sesuatu tetapi tidak dapat ku pastikan apa. Ku kepit beg galasku dengan rapi sambil memandang anak muda tersebut, menunggu perbualan seterusnya.
“Saya minta maaf. Saya tak berapa ingat. Kita pernah berjumpa ke? aku bertanya tanpa berselindung. “Boleh saya bantu awak?,” aku menawarkan bantuan. Sebenarnya aku tidak pasti apa yang patut lakukan. Aku gagal mengingati di mana aku pernah berjumpa dengan anak muda ini. Tambahan pula hari sudah lewat petang, dan aku perlu bergegas pulang ke rumah. Mungkin dia salah seorang abang kepada pelajar di SMK Sains Johor yang telah datang melawat adiknya memandangkan hari tersebut adalah hari Sabtu. Lazimnya ibu bapa atau saudara-mara akan melawat anak atau saudara mereka dari jam 2 hingga 6 .30 petang pada hari Sabtu.
“Saya Shahrol, pelajar kelas 5 set 1. Cikgu ingat tak cikgu ajar saya Bahasa Inggeris? Batch SPM 1988 la cikgu. Saya dulu spoiler dalam kelas cikgu”, katanya beria-ia. 1988 adalah lapan belas tahun dahulu- satu jangka masa yang sangat lama. Aku terdiam seketika dan berusaha mengingati tahun tersebut. 1988 adalah tahun kedua aku mengajar setelah ditempatkan di SM Sains Kluang, Johor. Masa kan aku boleh lupa! Tahun itu aku ditugaskan mengajar tingkatan 5 Set 1. Kelas yang dianggotai 33 pelajar termasuk lima orang pelajar bukan Melayu.
“ Ya, saya ingat sekarang! Awak sama batch dengan Zulkarnain dan Yang Soo Siang kan? Tiba-tiba aku teringat nama-nama pelajar-pelajar lain di dalam kelas tersebut. Mungkin kerana mereka lebih banyak bercakap di dalam kelas jika dibandingkan dengan Shahrul yang agak pemalu dan pendiam. Shahrul pantas mengiakan dan kami bersembang seketika di tepi taman PIBG. Dia sebenarnya telah singgah ke sekolah di dalam perjalannya ke sebuah mesyuarat di Johor Bharu. Tiba-tiba dia teringin melihat sekolah lamanya. Dari kejernihan matanya aku dapat membaca dia merasa sangat teruja dan mungkin juga nostalgik apabila menapakkan kaki semula ke sekolah yang telah ditinggalkannya bertahun-tahun.
“Sekolah dah lain sangat sekarang ni ya cikgu. Makin cantik. Dulu mana ada taman-taman. Saya nampak sangat berbeza dari segi fizikal.’ Aku memberi sedikit penerangan mengenai sekolah dan dia menganggukkan kepala sekali-sekala. Wajahnya tampak puas. Shahrul juga masih mengingati guru-gurunya yang lain dan bertanya khabar mereka.
‘Kenapa awak kata awak spoiler tadi? aku lantas bertanyakan kepadanya sambil kami bergerak ke arah kereta ku.
Sambil ketawa besar, Shahrul mengingatkanku yang hanya dia seorang dalam kelas 5 Set 1 yang gagal mendapat A dalam peperiksaan SPM Bahasa Inggeris. Yang lainnya cemerlang -18 A1 dan 14 A2 kecuali dia seorang memperoleh C3. Aku tidak sangka dia mengggangap dirinya seorang ‘spoiler’ hingga kini. Aku menganggarkan dia sudah berusia sekurang-kurangnya 24 tahun sekarang. Malah menurutnya dia telah melanjutkan pelajaran ke Amerika Syarikat dalam jurusan farmasi dan sekarang bekerja dengan sebuah syarikat farmasi terkemuka. Dia ke Johor Bharu pun atas alasan mesyuarat staf syarikat. Ku amati anak muda ini dengan perasaan sangat bangga dengan kejayaannya dan hatiku amat tersentuh kerana dia masih mengingatiku setelah begitu lama tidak menjejakkan kaki ke SM Sains Johor. Walaupun dia mengganggap dirinya spoiler, dia telah membuktikan bahawa dia juga boleh berjaya seiring rakan-rakan yang lain. Shahrul mengucapkan selamat tinggal dan berharap aku akan terus menabur bakti di sekolah ini.
Aku bingkas masuk ke dalam Proton Wira ku. Deruman enjin keretaku pada petang itu memecah kesunyian kawasan sekolah. Jam sudah menunjukkan pukul 6 petang dan semua pelajar sudah pulang ke asrama. Sepanjang perjalanan menuju ke rumah, aku terkenang tahun 1988. Ketika itu aku hanyalah seorang guru muda yang baru setahun jagung. Seorang lulusan United Kingdom dalam bidang Linguistik dan Kesusasteraan Bahasa Inggeris yang ditempatkan di sebuah sekolah berasrama penuh. Seorang guru yang baru hendak mempelajari sepak terajang menjadi seorang guru. Banyak sekali pengalaman berharga yang ku kutip dalam lima tahun pertama menjadi seorang guru. Bahkan aku berpendapat lima tahun pertama kerjaya seorang guru adalah satu jangka masa yang paling penting untuk membentuk seseorang guru muda supaya mempunyai keperibadian, keyakinan dan wawasan. Dalam lima tahun pertama inilah seorang guru muda belajar ilmu dan kemahiran pengajaran secara praktikal. Ia pengalaman yang tidak boleh ditimba di universiti semasa mendapatkan ijazah pertama.
Menyelusuri Jalan Yap Tau Sah, aku terkenang bekas pelajar-pelajar 5 set 1 satu persatu- Zulkanain (the Professor), Lim Kuan Yiew (PM), Chow Lin dan Farah (Baby) adalah antara pelajar-pelajar yang pernah ku didik dan masing-masing mempunyai gelaran yang diberikan oleh rakan sekelas mereka. Di antara 33 pelajar tersebut ada seorang yang paling sukar ku lupakan. Mohd. Sabri Yassin – berambut ikal, berkulit sawo matang, bercermin mata dan agak tinggi. Seorang pelajar yang selalu dihantui masalah disiplin di sekolah dan masalah ini kadangkala terbawa-bawa ke dalam bilik darjah. Pernah pada suatu pagi aku menyaksikan dia dan beberapa rakannya dijemur oleh Penolong Kanan di hadapan Dewan Makan kerana masalah merokok Terdetik juga rasa kasihan dalam hati ku kerana mereka dijemur dengan tanpa memakai baju selama beberapa jam. Walaupun mentari pagi itu seolah-olah lesu tetapi setelah menjangkau jam 12 tengahari sudah tentu sengatnya terasa! Tetapi apakan daya. Penolong Kanan pada masa itu adalah En Osman Ibrahim. Orangnya pendiam tetapi sangat digeruni oleh pelajar dan guru. Aku hanya dapat memerhatikan mereka terpacak di atas kerusi di tengah panas dengan penuh rasa kasihan.
Kali kedua aku terserempak dengannya di koridor yang menghala ke bilik Penolong Kanan 1. Dia didenda dengan diarah menyedut tiga batang rokok sekali gus!! Mungkin ini satu bentuk hukuman yang difikirkan boleh mengubah perangainya yang suka merokok itu. Entahlah. Sebagai guru baru aku tidak begitu pasti sama ada bentuk hukuman yang diterimanya itu bersesuaian atau tidak. Cuma apa yang aku sedari ialah, aku sangat mudah bersimpati dengan pelajar-pelajar ku yang dihukum untuk apa jua kesalahan.
Apabila aku melihat En Osman tiada di koridor itu, aku segera pergi ke arah Sabri dan bertanya kepadanya, “Kenapa ni Sabri? Awak merokok lagi ke?” Aku cuba menunjukkan rasa perihatin ke atas dirinya. Tetapi jawapannya sangat mengecewakan ku. Tanpa memandangku dia langsung menjawab, “Sibuk je !”. Tidak dapat ku bayangkan perasaan ku pada masa itu. Aku terdiam dan berlalu pergi. Disudut hati ini aku tertanya-tanya mengapa dia bersikap begitu? Adakah dia membenciku? Mengapa dia mempunyai hati sekeras batu? Tidakkah dia merasa gembira apabila ada seorang guru yang mengambil berat tentang dirinya? Atau mungkin perasaan malu di hukum di khalayak ramai mengatasi segala sopan-santunnya? Sehingga hari ini aku masih belum mengetahui jawapannya.
Minggu hadapannya aku ‘bertarung’ lagi dengan Sabri di dalam kelas Bahasa Inggeris.
“Kenapa tak hantar kerja penulisan Sabri? aku bertanya di dalam kelas pada suatu pagi selepas memulangkan buku latihan pelajar-pelajar lain. Kerja bertulis itu sepatutnya telah dihantar minggu sebelumnya. Malah ini bukan kali pertama Sabri berkelakuan demikian. Dia jarang sekali menyiapkan kerja rumah yang diberikan dengan pelbagai alasan dan sentiasa menunjukkan sikap tidak ambil peduli dan tidak menghormati guru. Sambil duduk dan memalingkan mukanya dariku dia menjawab dengan acuh tak acuh, ‘Tak siap cikgu, macamana nak hantar’.
Menyirap juga darah ku mendengar jawapan anak murid ku ini. Sudah banyak kali aku mencuba untuk mendekati pelajar ini tetapi dia nampaknya memang tidak suka didekati. Usaha-usahaku selama ini sia-sia belaka.
‘Kan saya dah beri kerja ni minggu lepas. Kawan-kawan lain boleh siap, kenapa awak tak boleh?’ aku bertanya lagi. Dia lantas menjawab, ‘Cikgu jangan lebih-lebih pulak. Saya kata tak boleh siap, tak boleh lah.. !’ Aku hampir saja menghadiahkan sebuah penampar ke pipinya sekiranya aku tidak sabar Sekiranya tamparanku singgah di pipinya pada hari itu, aku akan menjadi guru perempuan yang pertama berbuat demikian ! Syukurlah aku tidak membenarkan kemarahan menguasai diriku. Tetapi aku sedar yang aku perlu melakukan sesuatu supaya pelajar-pelajar lain tidak mengganggap diriku lemah. Maklum sahaja aku guru baru. Sabri ku arah berdiri selama satu masa dan aku meneruskan pengajaran seperti biasa. Demikianlah hari demi hari ada saja yang tidak kena dengan Sabri. Tertinggal buku di asrama, tidak menyiapkan latihan, lambat ke kelas, ponteng kelas dan macam-macam lagi. Kadangkala aku merasa begitu tertekan untuk masuk ke kelas 5 Set 1 kerana setiap kali ada saja yang berlaku. Pelajar-pelajar lain juga terkena tempiasnya apabila suasana agak tegang di antara aku dan Sabri di dalam kelas Bahasa Inggeris.
Namun sebagai seorang guru aku tidak berputus asa. Aku cuba mengenali pelajar ini secara dekat. Di pejabat sekolah, aku merujuk buku register untuk menyelidik latar belakangnya.
Ayah- Pegawai Kastam. Ibu-Surirumah.
Alamat rumah : Kuala Lumpur . Cita-cita: Peguam.
Tidak ada yang tidak kena. Segalanya normal. Di bilik guru aku mencari maklumat daripada rakan-rakan lain mengenai Sabri dan sikapnya di dalam kelas. Rata-rata semua guru mengiyakan perangainya yang buruk itu. Rupa-rupanya guru-guru lain juga menghadapi masalah yang sama dengan Sabri! Cerita yang sama- tidak menyiapkan kerja rumah, kurang ajar, tidak menghormati guru, ponteng kelas, merokok, dan bermacam-macam lagi aduan yang ku terima. Tidak ku nafikan ketika itu hatiku merasa sedikit lega kerana aku tidak lagi merasakan akulah guru yang paling dibencinya. Rupanya dia juga berkelakuan begitu terhadap guru-guru lain.
Menjelang musim sukan, aku selalu memerhatikan Sabri dari jauh apabila aku datang bertugas. Dia yang mewakili rumah Segara sangat gembira apabila berada di padang. Tingkah lakunya terus berubah menjadi ceria dan kompetitif. Bahkan dia menyumbangkan mata untuk rumahnya dalam kejohanan merentas desa dan sukantara. Dia juga merupakan orang kuat rumah Segara kerana terpilih sebagai salah seorang AJK rumah. Alangkah baiknya jika dia kompetitif juga di dalam pelajaran memandangkan peperiksaan SPM yang hanya tujuh bulan saja lagi! Aku perlu membantunya.
Satu hari aku mencuba sesuatu yang belum pernah ku cuba.
Melalui jurnal peribadinya aku menulis, “Tahniah kerana menang pingat emas acara lompat tinggi tempoh hari! Saya nampak bagaimana hebatnya awak melompat ala Fosbury Flop !”.
Selang tiga hari kemudian, aku menerima jawapan, “Betul ke cikgu? Terima kasih cikgu. Saya akan mewakili sekolah ke MSSD minggu depan.”
Hatiku seperti tidak percaya. Betulkah ini jawapan dari Sabri. Aku amati tulisannya betul-betul. Manalah tahu ada kawan-kawannya yang cuba mempermainkanku! Memang benar itu tulisannya. Sejak itu aku selalu berkomunikasi dengan Sabri melalui jurnalnya. Topik kami berkisar dari sukan kepada motivasi. Melalui jurnalnya, aku selalu memberikan kata-kata semangat kepadanya supaya berusaha lebih kuat dan mengurangkan masalah disiplin. Aku tidak pernah menyangka dapat memecahkan tembok komunikasi dengan pelajar ini melalui jurnal peribadinya. Jurnal peribadi adalah sesuatu yang ku wajibkan kepada pelajar-pelajarku untuk meningkatkan penulisan dan ekspresi di dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Semua pelajarku diwajibkan menulis jurnal setiap hari dalam Bahasa Inggeris mengenai apa saja. Kadangkala jurnal ini menjadi tempat mereka mencurahkan hati tentang masalah peribadi atau masalah di rumah. Maklum saja mereka adalah pelajar-pelajar sekolah berasrama penuh yang berjauhan dengan ahli keluarga. Oleh itu pelajar-pelajarku boleh meluahkan perasaan dan berkongsi suka duka. Apa yang penting bagiku ialah penulisan yang berterusan di dalam Bahasa Inggeris sudah tentu akan membantu meningkatkan penguasaan bahasa mereka.
Menjelang musim peperiksaan, aku melihat perubahan yang ketara dalam diri Sabri. Anak muda ini telah menunjukkan peningkatan di dalam Bahasa Inggeris dan mata pelajaran lain. Dia lebih fokus dan lebih serius. Menyiapkan kerja rumah bukan lagi satu masalah.
Sebulan sebelum peperiksaan SPM yang sebenar, aku mencabarnya di dalam jurnalnya, ‘If you get A1 in English for SPM, I will pour tomato sauce on my shoes!”. Dia tidak memberikan sebarang respon. Mungkin dia juga risau akan peperiksaan yang hampir tiba.
Bulan April 1989, keputusan peperiksaan SPM di umumkan.
“Tahniah Pn Rahmah,Bahasa Inggeris ada 52 A!” Tn Hj Abu Naim, pengetuaku mengucapkan tahniah sebaik masuk ke bilik guru. Aku terpinga-pinga seketika kerana sedang meneliti akhbar di sofa bilik guru.
“Saya rasa ini keputusan terbaik yang kita pernah terima. Tahniah!” sambungnya lagi.
“Terima kasih tuan haji,” aku lantas menjawab. Sejujurnya, sebagai guru yang baru setahun lapan bulan bertugas aku kurang memahami implikasi keputusan peperiksaan kepada sekolah. Aku hanya menjalankan tugas mengajar dan tidak pernah terfikir apakah kesannya kepada prestasi sekolah. Tiba-tiba aku teringatkan Sabri. Apakah keputusan yang dia dapat? Aku bingkas bangun dan meminjam keputusan peperiksaan daripada setiausaha peperiksaan. Syukur Alhamdulillah, dia mendapat A1 dalam Bahasa Inggeris dan dia juga mendapat kredit yang baik untuk semua mata pelajarannya yang lain. Setelah ku analisa sepenuhnya, kelas 5 Set 1 memperoleh 18 A1, 14 A2 dan 1 C3 dan secara langsung menyumbang 32 A untuk sekolah. Aku tersenyum gembira.
Dua minggu selepas keputusan peperiksaan diumumkan, aku mengadakan jamuan kesyukuran dengan menjemput semua pelajar-pelajar 5 Set 1. Menunya nasi beriani istimewa Pak Mat, jiran sebelah rumahku. Sabtu itu, the professor, Baby, PM, Ali, Yang Soo Siang kesemuanya datang dengan menaiki bas Gunung Lambak dari stesen bas Kluang. Mereka datang dari Yong Peng, Batu Pahat, Segamat, Mersing maklum sajalah peajar-pelajar sekolah berasrama penuh. Bas awam biru putih itu berhenti betul-betul di hadapan rumah ku. Aku memerhatikan satu persatu pelajar-pelajarku dimuntahkan keluar dari perut bas. Tetapi aku tidak nampak Sabri, pelajar nakal yang dulunya selalu memberikanku masalah. Hati kecilku agak sedih.
‘Mungkin dia tinggal di Kuala Lumpur dan agak jauh untuknya datang,’ aku cuba menyedapkan hatiku.
Ku jemput semua pelajar menikmati hidangan yang disediakan. Mereka semua kelihatan ceria dan gembira sekali. Masing-masing dengan cerita mereka. Tiba-tiba, Sabri muncul di muka pintu dengan sebotol sos tomato!
“Teacher, can I pour tomato sauce on your shoes now?” katanya sambil tersenyum nakal. Semua pelajar-pelajar lain ketawa terbahak-bahak! Mereka seolah-olah faham maksud di sebalik kata-kata Sabri itu. Aku terkedu seketika kerana cabaranku di dalam jurnalnya tempohari memakan diriku sendiri! Rupa-rupanya dia bersembunyi di sebalik bas sehingga semua rakan-rakannya telah masuk ke rumah. Apakah yang patut ku buat sekarang?
Melihatkan keadaanku yang terperanjat, dia lantas tersenyum dan memberikan botol sos tomato itu kepada ku dan berkata, “Terima kasih cikgu, terima kasih atas segalanya!” Aku hanya mampu mengukir senyuman.
Boom!! Tiba-tiba tayar kereta yang ku pandu terlanggar sesuatu yang agak besar. Hentakannya yang agak kuat memotong pendek lamunanku. Aku memberhentikan kereta dan segera keluar untuk melihat apa yang telah ku langgar. Nasib baik ia hanyalah seketul batu-bata. Jika tidak, terpaksalah aku menerangkan dengan panjang lebar kepada suamiku yang pasti marah jika sesuatu berlaku kepada keretaku. Petang itu aku tiba di rumah pada pukul 6.45. Sedang aku keluar dari kereta, aku ternampak pelangi yang indah di langit senja. Aku teringatkan Sabri. Mungkin inilah pelangi di hujung senja yang telah muncul dalam hidup pelajarku yang bernama Sabri. 

Green fingers







Salam and hi all.
On my ___ birthday (fib) last 23rd Dec, I was busy gardening away, armed with a hoe and a spade in hand. Time I did some weeding and repotting because my poor plants haven't been taken good care off for a while now. Went to the nursey to get some plants, earth and pots. Poor husband (top) had to deal with a broken pot! He isn;t into gardening frankly but because it was my birthday...Took me a day and a half to complete the whole thing. The sudden downpour interrupted my work but a beautiful rainbow (2nd pict from top)appeared right after that.It just felt great to be outdoors and for my plants to grow in rich new soil.Do you talk to your plants? Well, I do.

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas to all my Christian friends and students. May you have a meaningful Christmas with your families. This pict was taken today at the newly opened Kluang Mall. Reminds me of my student days in England where huge Christmas trees adorned the shopping complexes- a beautiful sight to behold.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Seminar Kecemerlangan SPM, MGCJ, Kluang, 11th June 2008















Been wanting to upload many photos for some time so there.. the Kluangans (about 250) who attended the English slot. It was good to see my ex-students from Sains Johor after almost a year and a half. How time flies

Seminar Kecemerlangan SPM, MGCJ, Mersing, 18th June 2008




Mersing students taking part in the SPM English seminar held this year. I had a great time with them. A total of 200 students took part and I was priviliged to share exam tips with them. The more you give, the more you will receive!







Sunday, 30 November 2008

What after SPM?

Hi and Salam everyone,

To my students who have just completed the SPM, congrats! You made it to the end hehe. To those who still have a paper or two, persevere and hang on!! I'm sure you have all tried your level best. What's important is you leave everything to God now and enjoy your well-deserved break. I hope all of you received my sms wishing you the very best in your English and EST papers...quite an experience to sms 58 students you know :)

Meantime yours truly has got to get back on track as far as this blog is concerned. Will try to get some serious (uhuh?) things on my blog like methodology, teacher development, language and linguistics materials and no politics, plz, we're Malaysians :) I've been thinking a lot of about all these but TIME or rather the lack of it is the main factor. Excuses as usual. Tell you the truth, it doesn't feel like a holiday because I'm pretty busy as usual, just got back from a week's meeting in kl, curiculum meeting on tues, weddings on the roll, dad's tahlil on the 4th, land office appointment on the third, meeting with the principal tomorrow (not in sequence!)...hehe who says teachers have all the hols??

Well, hope to see you again with some serious academic stuff! Salam and bubye!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Perdana Resort, Kota Bahru 1-4 Nov 2008




This was the venue for the national level Tan Sri Wira Abdul Rahman Arshad debates. I was priliveged enough to be one of the judges from the Johor contingent. Sadly however, Johor lost in the semi-finals although they put up a good show. Selangor emerged champs after defeating Perak.

Writer's Block

Salam and hi to all,

Am trying to write something on composition writing. I realise it's not easy to start. I mean I have all these ideas up on my head but to put pen to paper is quite another matter. Writer's block? Well, see how it goes this hols..hope I can produce something before feb next year. I've been wanting to write this for wuite some time now. This will be my second book. It's so rewarding to write and have your name published. Catch u later!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

GC Installation Ceremony, Pearl International, 30th Oct 2008


Salam and hi,


Got back from Pearl International KL at 6pm after a nite's stay for the installation ceremony of GC's who were promoted recently. I've got to say how happy the recipients and I were to receive our appointment letters from YAB Dato' Seri Hishamuddin himself. The best part was all of us in the DG52 rows clapped loudly as each and everyone of us went up to shake hands with the minister. Each and everyone of us rejoiced for the other without fail! The feeling was indescribable. There was certainly a celebration of success in the air.76 of us were promoted to DG52 from all over the country. I tuly felt proud and honoured to be among them. Yours truly managed to get Dato's signature!! Might be worth a million in future who knows hehe. Nite everybody.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Happy Deepavali!


Here's wishing all my Hindu friends and students a happy and meaningful Deepavali! Especially to Meena (5 Science 2): thanks so much for the murukku! I finished them all by myself :)

Monday, 20 October 2008

State Level Action Research, Kota Tinggi, 16-18 Oct 2008


Salam and hi to all,



Been some time since I blogged.. hope everyone is fine and doing well. Last week I was in quaint Kota Tinggi for the state level competition. The venue was Mara Professional College, just 6 km form Desaru. It was a long drive but the greenery and the crisp morning made the drive a pleasant one although at some point it seemed endless. The lack of signboards made it a little adventurous. Arriving on the second day at 8.30 a.m, I noticed many young teachers who were either the participants or the audience..felt a little old hehe!! Luckily the participant from SM Tun Iskandar Mersing was rather senior too. Anyway, frankly I wasn't so excited to be there as my mom is ill. My thoughts were with her and if it wasn't because I was representing the district, I would have been in Batu Pahat with her.

However, as God would dictate, I won the secondary category! The feeling was indescribable. Up on the stage, the State Education Director, Tn Hj Sufaat congratulated me and asked whether I had received my promotion letter. It really felt great to receive the trophy from the Director himself (felt like a schoolgirl again if you look at the kind of trophy I won!) My bluetooth connection is experiencing some problems and I dropped my camera during the open house so..no pictures at the moment :<>

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Hari Raya Open House


















Today I had open house for my form 5 students. It was great and the earliest to arrive were Meena, Hesywarya, Manimegala and Susan. Yours truly was busy cutting fruits and had to rush to the bathroom to bath!! Hehe. Anyway, they enjoyed the food very much and am happy with the caterer. I was disappointed with 5S1 though as many were not able to come. Was told they had tuition, church etc. Scroll down for more pictures!

Monday, 29 September 2008

SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDIL FITRI


Salam and hi,
I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all my friends a happy and blessed Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. Maaf Zahir Batin. Drive safely guys!! Ingat orang yang disayang!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Hari Raya Preparations


Salam and hi all,

I know we still have a week to Ramadhan and it's sort of 'improper' to talk about Hari Raya. But as a housewife, obviously I have to start thinking of the early preparations. My hubby does not worry about it because yours truly will do everything from ordering the biscuits, fruit cake, Rasyad's and Adibah's raya clothes, open-house etc. to cleaning the house (of course he helps with the cleaning- the fans are in dire need of cleaning!). Today I picked up Rasyad's baju melayu and paid RM75.00 as tailoring fee. The material itself was about RM80.00 Maybe it's cheaper to buy ready made? I've never bought a ready made baju melayu.

Tomorrow am picking up all the biscuits at Kak Lin's place and the fruit cakes at Kak Timah's house..don't ask how much it will cost. A bomb likely!! With the price rise in everything , obviously the Raya budget is also affected. I just hope that the biscuits are nice. You don't mind paying if they taste good. As you know, it's really difficult to find cookies that taste great nowadays despite the fanciful names and the price! Really. Am fussy about tarts especially. Somehow I am never satisfied with the taste of the tarts I've ordered. I had this dream of making my own tarts this year but alas it remains an elusive dream...with the just concluded SPM trial papers, I just have to forget the idea. I also have this dream of one day owning that Kenwood food mixture that can knead dough as well, you know, the one that costs RM 3300 ++? Hmm..I can afford it if I really want it but my hubby asked why I need such an expensive food mixer when they are cheaper ones...Well, I thought maybe I can go into baking if am ever out of a job you know...seriously hehe. I will own it someday and with my new Zanussi electric oven, I should be baking in style!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Teaching With Minimal Resources

Salam and hi,

For those of you who are teaching large classes and little time to prepare, here are some tips on teaching grammar using minimal resources and preparations.

DIY Grammar: 10 tips for teaching grammar with minimal resources

Each of the following ideas can be used in class with minimal or no preparation. They are ideal activities to review or extend grammar structures and require no special materials. Many of the ideas can be used with different grammar points, suggestions for the grammar follow each activity.

Personalised gap fill
Write six to eight sentences on the board which contain the target structure with gaps for the students to fill in. Write the words they must use at the top of the board. Use students’ names and details about them in your sentences. Students copy down the sentences, fill in the gaps with the words and then decide if they are true or false.
e.g. Susana’s parents ______ in Madrid.
GOOD FOR: tenses, adjectives or adverbs, comparatives, modal verbs

Error correction
Similar to 1 above, but write sentences with incorrect grammar. Again, use your students’ names, or perhaps your own. Ss must first correct the grammar, and then make the sentences true if the facts are incorrect.
GOOD FOR: tenses, adjectives or adverbs, articles, comparatives, modal verbs

Find the other half
Tell students they need two small pieces of paper. Ask students to write a two line dialogue using the target structure. They can take something from the course book if they like, or invent it themselves. They must write one part of the dialogue on one bit of paper and the other part of the dialogue on the other. Circulate and check a few to make sure that they are correct. Collect all the papers and redistribute them. Ss must find the other half of their dialogue. You can do this with longer sentences too.
GOOD FOR: almost any grammar (for dialogues, this in fact is more about coherence), longer structures like conditionals for sentences

What we did today
Ask students to work in groups of three. They must write a summary of the grammar that they have learnt for a student who is absent. They can include examples from the book or the teacher, or their own. If the students are a very low level, they could do this in their own language.
GOOD FOR: any grammar point – in fact anything at all that arose in the particular class!
Quiz
Write a few general knowledge questions including the grammar. You could make all the questions based on the same theme (history, music etc) or a mixture. Divide the class into teams and give them the quiz, either on a piece of paper or written on the board. Students then make similar quizzes for each other.
GOOD FOR: passive voice, comparative and superlative, past tense, there is/are, question forms
Find someone who
Divide the class into As and Bs. Ask all the Bs to write down a true sentence about themselves using the target grammar (you could provide a sentence stem for them to complete – see example below). Collect all of these. Mix them up and distribute them to the As. Review how to make a question using the grammar. Tell the As they must find the B who wrote the sentence and sit down next to them. This is particularly good for large classes with screwed down furniture.
Example:
B writes: After class I am going to go to the cinema.
A goes around the class asking: What are you going to do after class?
GOOD FOR: question forms, different tenses

DIY Jumbled sentence
Ask students to choose a nice long sentence from one of their grammar exercises in the coursebook or workbook. Tell them to take a piece of paper and rip it up into as many pieces as there are words in the sentence. They then write one word on each piece of paper. Tell them to mix up the pieces of paper on their desk. They then move over one place so that they are sitting in another student’s chair in front of a new jumbled sentence. Tell them they have a time limit (30 seconds or 1 minute) to put the pieces of paper in the correct order and make the sentence. When they finish, they can check with the student who made the sentence if they are correct.
Variation: To make it extra difficult, ask each student when making the sentence to add another piece of paper with an extra word that doesn’t fit into the sentence. The other student has to reorder the sentence and spot the “intruder” word.
GOOD FOR: structures with several elements (e.g. going to, perfect continuous tenses, conditionals), questions and negatives, adjective and adverb placement in sentences.

It’s your turn
Choose 3 students (volunteers) to sit at the front of the class. The rest of the students think of questions to ask the three (these can be based on the theme of the lesson). One student asks a question to the 3 volunteers. The first volunteer starts the answer to the question by saying on word. Then the second volunteer adds the next word, the third the next and then back to the first volunteer to add the next word in the sentence/answer. This continues until they finish the sentence. The teacher (or another student) can record the answer to look at later. Note: It is important that the volunteers only say one word per turn. At low levels they may wish to help each other, at higher levels the fun is when you make the next volunteer add more (i.e. by using link words like and, but, however etc).
GOOD FOR: word order, linking devices, verb agreements.

All the words
Ask the students to write down three English words (these can be their favourite words, words they recently learnt, words they think are useful, words from today’s lesson etc). Now ask the students to put their pens down and to stand up. They should then walk around the room (if this is not possible ask them to work in small seated groups) and exchange their words. They must not say any other words than their three + the ones they hear from other students (i.e. The first person they speak to tells them three words, they now have 6. The second person tells them 6 they now have12 etc). After a few minutes ask the students to sit down and write down all the words they have ‘collected’. On the board add a few ‘grammatical’ words such as and, the, a, he, she, have, has, do, does, am, are, is, etc. Tell the students they must now write as many sentences as they can but only using the words they have written down + the words on the board.
GOOD FOR: word order and sentence structure. Can be adapted to be good for any area of grammar by focussing the choice of words in the initial stage.


For more tips go to http://www.onestopenglish.com/

Monday, 15 September 2008

School Assembly

Salam and hi all,

Today was a really special day although I had mixed feelings- happy, excited, nervous, apprehensive, you name it - and all this made my stomach churn! My principal announced my recent promotion during the assembly. I wasn't sure how to react, just stood up and smiled! Another touching thing was the 'card' she printed with all the nice words on it and she placed it in my record book. Boy, am I lucky!! She is such a selfless person and will go all out to make you feel appreciated. Thank you God for giving me such a boss (there are not many around) and thank you for the promotion. It's extra special as as all this took place in this holy Ramadhan. And to really make my day, some students came to congratulate me as well!! What a day! Alhamdulillah.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Perkampungan SPM Sekolah Berasrama Daerah Kluang

Salam and helloo,

Am piecing the English module for this programme which will be held 17-19 Oct. Some co-facees have already sent me the materials but not all. We have to handle around 100 SPM students and help them with English as the SPM is drawing near. The previous year we had it in Spg Renggam during the Ramadhan but thankfully this year it's in October. I am happy to be part of this programme and be able to help students with their final preparations for the upcoming SPM.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: The Good Language Learner


Salam Ramadhan and hi to all,

How about something more serious this time round...good exercise for the brain!

Are you a good language learner? What does a good language learner do in order to learn English? What does he bring into the language classroom? Does he have to speak it often or write it often? Do you think there is such a thing as a good language learner?
Here's what the language experts have to say on the matter:

According to Rubin, J., & Thompson, I. (1982) in their book 'How to be a more successful language learner', there are fourteen important attributes:

1. Good language learners find their own way and take charge of their learning. They determine the methods that are best for them as individual learners. They learn from others and experiment with different methods.
2. Good language learners organise their study of the language, and they organise information about the language they study.
3. Good language learners are creative. They understand that language is creative. They experiment with the language and play with grammar, words, and sounds.
4. Good language learners make their own opportunities for practicing the language inside and outside of the classroom.
5. Good language learners learn to live with uncertainty by focusing on the meaning of what they can understand, by not getting flustered, and by continuing to talk or listen without necessarily understanding every word.
6. Good language learners use mnemonics and other memory strategies to recall what they are learning.
7. Good language learners make errors work for them and not against them.
8. Good language learners use linguistic knowledge, including knowledge of their first language, in learning a second language.
9. Good language learners use contextual clues to aid their comprehension of the language. They maximize use of all potential contexts around the language attended to for enhancing comprehension.
10. Good language learners learn to make intelligent guesses.
11. Good language learners learn chunks of language as wholes and formalised routines to help them perform beyond their competence. For example, they may learn idioms, proverbs, or other phrases knowing what the whole phrase means without necessarily understanding each individual part.
12. Good language learners learn certain tricks that keep conversations going.
13. Good language learners learn certain production techniques that also fill in the gaps in their own competence.
14. Good language learners learn different styles of speech or writing to learn to vary their language according to the formality of the situation.

How many characteristics are already there in you? How many do you need to work on? Which ones seem the most imprtant to you? I think it is important that English teachers and students are aware of the characteristics above because such an awareness can lead to change in attitude and hence performance! To do well in English we need to adopt the right strategies and attitudes. Otherwise, we will probably take a longer time to master the English language.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Sponges

Salam and hi to all,

Here's something I have used in the classroom to fill up the time in the English class. You may want to use this while waiting for the students to trickle in and settle down or at the end of the class with the last 5-10 minutes remaining. It shouldn't take more than 10 minutes. I learnt this from the internet but for the life of me, I can't remember the webiste!! Please do adapt the activities according to your local situation. Let me know how it goes ok!

SPONGES

Useful And Fun Activities For Vocabulary And Concept Development

§ To soak up every valuable time in the classroom
§ Can be use competitively; group competitions
§ Used as a form of brainstorming for initial teaching
§ Or as reinforcement
§ Used in relation to concepts and meaningful contexts
§ Vocabulary learning should focus on useable words

UPPER SECONDARY SPONGES

1. List the continents of the world.
2. Take a number. Write it. Now make a face out of it.
3. Name as many gems of precious stones as you can.
4. Write the names of all the girls in the class.
5. Name as man teachers in this school as you can.
6. List as many states as you can.
7. How many countries and their capitals can you name?
8. How many baseball teams can you name?
9. Write down as many cartoon characters as you can.
10. List as many kinds of flowers as you can.
11. Turn to your neighbour. One of you tell the other about an interesting experience you have had. The listener must be prepared to retell the story to the class.
12. List all the things in your dorm.
13. Write what you would do if you saw an elephant in the backyard.
14. Name as many kinds of ice-creams as you can.
15. List five parts of the body above the neck that have three letters.
16. List one manufactured item for each letter of the alphabet.
17. List as many nouns in the room as you can.
18. Write the 12 months of the ear correctly. Stand up as soon as you are finished.
19. Make a list of five things you do after school.
20. List one proper noun for each letter of the alphabet.
21. Write one kind of food beginning with each letter of the alphabet.
22. Name as many holidays as you can.
23. Name as many balls as you can that are used in sports games.
24. List as many U.S presidents as you can.
25. List all the work tools you can think of.
26. List as many models of cars as you can.
27. Name all the colours you know.
28. How many animals can you list that begin with vowels?
29. List as many kinds of trees as you can.
30. Name as many countries of the world as you can.
31. List as many personal pronouns as you can.
32. List as many kinds of transportation as you can.
33. How many different kinds of languages can you name?
34. You have five children. Make up their five names.
35. Name as many things as you can that are made of cloth.
36. Name as many things as you can that you can wear on your head.
37. Name as many movie stars as you can. Tell what movies they were in.
38. Name as many television game shows as you can.
39. Name as many politicians as you can.
40. Name as many breeds of dogs as you can.
41. List all kinds of sandwiches that you can.
42. Scramble five spelling words, trade with someone and unscramble them.
43. List as many kinds of soup as you can.
44. List all the places you find sand.


LOWER SECONDARY SPONGES

1. Make a list of the 10 largest things you know.
2. Name as many planets as you can.
3. List all the sports you can think of in x minutes.
4. List all the foods you can that have sugar in them.
5. List all the foods you can that have milk in them.
6. Name all the parts of speech given and give an example each.
7. Name as many airlines that you can.
8. Name the different sections of the newspaper that you can.
9. Name as many islands that you can.
10. Name as many kinds of fish that you can.
11. Name all the words you can begin with the prefix in.
12. Name all the countries that have the letter ‘e’ in them.
13. List the things you would buy if you were given RM100.00 gift certificate from Giant.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Problem solved!

Hi all,

It's been two days since i could get internet access at home. It's like my world really turned upside down!! Sent my new acer notebook to the shop but still failed. It was only this morning that my dear husband solved the matter. Silly me...typed the wrong password all this while!! I could kick myself.

Speaking of the internet, i wonder when the school is going to fix the router...since the term break, there has been no internet connection. The teachers in the staffroom complained to me and i've informed the school but till yesterday, still no access. You should stay in the staffroom for a bit and try connecting then you will know what i mean.

Here's my two cents worth-the internet should be made available to all staff. Even in remote schools this is available whatmore town schools and in this age! Teachers will not abuse it. All they want to do is to check their emails, the latest news etc. Of course there are teachers who don't bother using the internet at all but there are those who want to use it. I've spoken on the matter no less than three times... am so frustrated. The internet is a neccessity not a luxury!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Englishsmart

Hi all,

Today saw a group of us editing the end-of-year English papers in the library. This is what honest and hardworking teachers do ok. They build papers :) Amongst other things of course...Reached home at 6pm feeling exhausted. Now, study the following sentences and tell me which one is correct ok?
  • How much money does she has?
  • How much money does she have?
Tell me the answer soon...m not testing your intelligence. Just telling you that a syt (sweet young thing) newly graduated English teacher told me her answer to the question above. But I can't tell you yet. You tell me your answer first. Then we will see who is Englishsmart. The carrot? Hmm...who said there's a prize in it? Well, a chocolate maybe if you are the first person to answer correctly hehe. All the best!

Sunday, 31 August 2008

All the Best!

To 5S1 and 5S2 students,

All the best in the coming SPM trial girls. Remember to read the questions carefully and do your best!! Remember after 'to' is followed by the base form of the verb, elaborate ALL the points given in directed writing, write brief but complete answers for comprehension, show plenty of textual evidence in the novel question, don't count the continuous writing essay pls just the summary, hmmm.. what else...yes, don't leave any blanks!! (What a teacher :-))

Action Research: A real surprise!


Yesterday, I won the District level Action Research competition in High School. A complete surprise as I went there thinking it was only a presentation!! Only half an hour before did I discover it was a competition. You can't beat that! To make matters worse, my new notebook had Windows Vista software which somehow could not connect to the lcd!! Luckily I had a thumbdrive and managed to save the file in another notebook provided by the organisers. Long story eh?

When it got to my turn I was soooo nervous I didn't quite finish what I wanted to say..well hard luck i thought. 15 minutes was definitely not enough..then came question time by the panel of evaluators...lucky me..their questions were not so gruelling as the others. But the PPD had questions too! Anyway, I'll be representing the district at the state level competition in Kota Tinggi in October. Definitely need to improve my slides...too many and simply too much information!! By the way the research is entitled "WORDWISE: Using pictures and explicit vocabulary teaching strategies to improve 5S1 Descriptive Compositions'. I must say 2008 has been quite a year thus far!!

Friday, 29 August 2008

Ramadhan is here again!


Selamat Berpuasa to all my Muslim friends!
The Holy month of Ramadhan is fast aproaching. I look forward to it and hope to be able to improve myself spiritually and ask for God's forgiveness and blessings. Let's read the Quran and perform intensive prayers and offer thanks to God for all that He has given us.

'Whosoever recites only one 'Ayat' in Holy Ramadan,
he will be awarded as if he had recited the full Qur'an, in other months.' (Holy Prophet)

Action Research Seminar, Kluang District

Tomorrow I will be presenting my action research in a seminar in High School. Frankly I have not looked at it after submitting it in May. Hmm..quite a bit to explain. Six of us (three primary and three from secondary) have been shortlisted for the seminar. The organisers said it isn't a competition (which is a relief-am too old for this!!) but they will select the best to represent the district at the state level. Well, I have 15 minutes to present and five minutes for Q & A. Am taking this very lightly actually because I know I am going to enjoy myself sharing my research with many teachers! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Kiki died...

A week ago Kiki left us. We miss her so much. She contracted diarrohea (is this how you spell it? Gosh..English teacher!) and so we brought her to the vet twice but to no avail. I know what you are going to say hh..(I told you so..) My daughter really cried. Rasyad, my son buried her under our bougainvilla tree, same spot as our previous hamster, Gigirl. Maybe we just don't have the talent to keep pets! I still have her photos but am not so sure if I want to upload now...

Tuesday's ramblings....

Been some time since I blog eh.. lets see what happened today. My classes went well except 4s2. Really blew my top when the students kept on talking when I was explaining the poem 'If". One girl really made me snap! This is a girls school mind you but they just talk and talk incessantly..and to handle 40 students in the class is no laughing matter. Later at 1 I had est with the ten who are sitting for the paper. A good session I think although they were as quiet as a mouse!! I asked them wether I was too fierce or something, the girls just giggled away...hmm don't know what to make of that. Managed to catch up with my marking- there are tonnes on my table right now!!

Am picking up KA tomorrow at her house. We have a meeting in Teluk Kerang, Pontian. Since I didn't attend the first one I'd better go this time round as the Pengarah will be there to see us. The PPMP module is finally ready and I'll hand it over to Shan tomorrow. Item-building for end-of -year papers will be on tomorrow but I can't be there due to the meeting. Cheers!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Ooo..Chong Wei


What a damper!! It was excruciating to watch Lee Chong Wei play against Lin Dan that night. I had such high hopes and so were the rest of Malaysia. What disappointed me was the way in which he played- not much of a fight...when I expected him to give Lin Dan a run for his money. I wouldn't have felt this way if he had at least put up an agressive performance. I guess it was too overwhelming for him, something he needs to work on in future tournaments. Still, congratulations to Chong Wei. He's such a pleasant sportsman!!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Food for thought

English teachers who went to school when grammar was not on the curriculum struggle to teach it, research shows.

A review of international studies on the effective teaching of complex writing says there is a need to improve the teachers' own skills. The work was done by Exeter University for the Department for Children, Schools and Families in England . The department said its professional standards demanded that teachers have a secure knowledge of their subject. The study concludes: "For English teachers, who themselves attended schools when grammar was not part of the English curriculum, there is a significant issue of lack of assurance in grammatical subject knowledge, leading to difficulties in addressing grammar meaningfully in the writing classroom. "In particular, effective teaching requires a secure understanding not simply of grammatical terminology, but of applied linguistics and an awareness of the ways in which grammatical constructions are used in different texts for different communicative purposes."

Discrete skills

Among the studies that were examined, a recent one investigated the difficulties faced by trainee teachers when they taught writing. Being new to teaching, they were trying to understand the processes involved in becoming a writer. But they were also having to focus on different kinds of writing as a way to meet objectives laid down in curriculum documents.
So they tended to see writing as a process of acquiring discrete skills, such as "writing descriptions" or "using complex sentences". They tended to get bogged down in the mechanics and neglected the writers' ideas or engagement with the reader.

Another study described a "significant knowledge gap" in terms of teachers' pedagogical knowledge. One piece of research on the linguistic subject knowledge that teachers and trainee teachers bring to their teaching of writing found "a persistent theme in teachers' attitudes to grammar is hostility to anything that makes formal structure the central object of study".
This claimed few teachers brought any specialist knowledge of grammar to their training from their degree studies but did bring "many anxieties and misconceptions around 'grammar'."

'Lack of confidence'

It added that "it is the height of folly to send them into schools where they will have to teach grammar without making time during their training for them to get to grips with the subject".
A study of the linguistic subject knowledge of trainee teachers in the UK found that two thirds reported a lack of confidence about grammar.

"They felt that their greatest need was in using grammar to support EAL [English as an additional language] and knowing when and how to teach it.
"Trainees reported that they embarked on topics and then stumbled into difficulties. Even simple topics seemed to become complex."

A spokeswoman for the schools department said: "We know that grammar is important and that is why it is a compulsory part of the national curriculum. "In particular, primary teachers focus heavily on sentence construction, grammar and syntax as part of teaching reading and writing, for which there are specific national curriculum targets. "Our professional standards for teachers demand that they must have a secure knowledge of their subjects and curriculum areas to enable them to teach effectively across the age range they trained for. And Ofsted has said that we have the best trained teachers ever."

Effective Ways of Teaching Complex Expression in Writing - a Literature Review of Evidence from the Secondary School Phase by Debra Myhill, Ros Fisher, Susan Jones, Helen Lines and Alun Hicks, University of Exeter

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/7380202.stm

Ideas have no protocols

Be wary of people who claim they are open-minded because they are normally not! Recently I had a bad experience in voicing out my mind (upon being coaxed of course). Thinking the listerner was open-minded, I discussed a few things concerning a programme to be carried out. Hence I suggested a few things which I thought were professional pointers. But I left the meeting with a sense of unhappiness. It made me feel that my ideas were unwanted. I've been trained to accept that anyone can contribute ideas and they may or may not be accepted. Fair enough.

Don't ask for ideas if you already have all the answers in your head since you are always thinking ahead of others. A friend once cautioned me- 'You can't show you're cleverer to SH'. Hmm...interesting this.. She said SH will have thought about everything before asking other people. This explains the replies which were forever ready!! You must be really tenacious to be able to do that or simply because you don't have much too do beyond the routine. Must be exhausting to think about every single angle of an issue!! I say, let's voice out and have your say. Ideas do not have protocols!!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Happy holidays!

Can't wait for the coming hols. Am going down to Tebrau City to get a new handbag and Hari Raya shopping with the family. You've got to do it early because in Ramadhan, I normally don't have the energy! Kluang is terrible when it comes to shopping. The plaza is a real dissapointment. I sometimes go to BP to do my shopping because you have better choices. I am really looking forward to the hols (more than my students I think!). Let's see what i want to do...shopping, spring cleaning, gardening, baking, watching movies, reading, balik kampung...hmm should last me the whole holiday...To my students , don't forget your homework girls!!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Kiki

Guess what? I bought myself a cat today. Well, my daughter actually did, all the way from Segamat. Her name is Kiki, a Persian cat. Only six weeks old with greyish white fur, a brownish black stubby nose and black feet. Really cute! Will upload the photos soon. Cost me RM400 ++

Friday, 8 August 2008

Thank you!

Thank-you God for everything that you have given me; my family, my health, my job, my friends and foes alike. Alhamdulillah.

Two weeks ago I was lost in my thoughts and 'bored' was my favourite vocabulary. Perhaps I was going through a phase or perhaps it was that 'itch'. A friend once said you get the itch every ten years or so where you start questioning things around you and become restless...could it be this? My hubby had a better theory; that I was burnt out!! A friend I talked to today told me of her aunt who never complained of anything-tiredness, lack of sleep, workload etc etc. She just takes it in her stride and that this probably is a result of her inner strength. Thank you for sharing that. Perhaps I should look at my inner self and ask myself why I was so negative the past two weeks. I've always seen myself as a motivated person (Peminat aka HH will totally agree!) who likes new challenges.

Tonight I want to say thank you to God. I am grateful to You for all that I have today. Thank you God for giving me the strength to carry on and to pick up the pieces and start again. You know it isn't easy. Thank you for giving me the time and space to regain that confidence I once misplaced (You never lose your confidence, you just misplace it). Thank you for protecting me against those who are envious of my achievements. Thank you for listening to my prayers when I offer them to you in haste or peace. Thank you for surrounding me with sincere friends who always remind me of who I am. Thank you for blessing me with a wonderful husband and children. Thank you for showing me the way when all else fails. Above all thank you for always giving me a second chance!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Studying again?

Recently I've been thinking of doing my PHD. Don't really know what got into me..i've never dreamed of a PHD. Maybe it's the fact that many friends have won scholarships to further their studies. It's too late to apply for a scholarship due to the age limit so i mulled over the idea of pursuing it part time... so I thought! Well, when I finally got my foot on the ground, it's just not possible. What with school work and all other responsibilites. It wouldn't be fair to my students because it will definitely affect school work. Besides I don't have the motivation to do it part time. I guess I've got to give it a miss although I find that I always need to be intellectually challenged...Have you ever noticed how school can be really 'boring' sometimes?

WHAT TEACHERS MAKE


(found this interesting piece while surfing-enjoy!)

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.
One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education.
He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"
He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."
To stress his point he said to another guest; "You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?"
Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, then began...)
"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental.
You want to know what I make?" (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.) '
'I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.
I teach them to write and then I make them write.
Keyboarding isn't everything. I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in math. They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator.
I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity.
I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.
I make my students stand, placing their hand over their heart to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, One Nation Under God.
Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life."
(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.) "Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant...
You want to know what I make? I MAKE A DIFFERENCE .
What do you make Mr. CEO?" His jaw dropped, he went silent.

HAN'S JOURNAL ENTRY

Han's journal entry which I read today was a thought-provoking one. The title was 'Teachers'. It was an emotional outpouring of sorts..how teachers' behaviour in the classroom sometimes puzzles and shocks her. This particular teacher 'threw' a student's exercise book in a fit of anger. Well, when one is angry, unexpected things can happen. She went on to write about how teachers are viewed by students and what they stand for. It made me realise that we teachers sometimes take our anger on students. It's undeniable students of today are world's apart from their seniors and they are a challenging lot to handle sometimes. (That teacher must have been really furious to throw the exercise book away.) I too was angry in 5S2 the other day. You see, teaching has become more complex. Your'e not just disseminating and managing the content but overseeing everything from discipline to performance as well. Having said that, teachers still need to find that patience in them and to show a good example to their students. Do you realise that students, however young, are always evaluating you although they may not show it outwardly? This journal entry made me reflect on my practices and how I may have been 'unfair' to my students too. To Han's: Thanks for your thoughts and I hope you haven't lost confidence in your teachers ok!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Sunday ramblings...

I think it is working!! Hehe. Hopefully more of you will come on board and blog. Talk about anything under the sun (except politics...politics is dirty. Don't you wish to listen to good news on tv? Nowadays that's an impossibilty. Every night it's BAAAAD news!!). Am trying to decide whether I should change the dinner table in the kitchen. It's been ten years.. Tough decision this! You see, the table is big and fine but I'd really like the one with the marble top as it's easy to maintain. No need for table cloths anymore and wiping it will be a breeze. But sometimes I think it's a waste because the present one is still ok. I can be very fickle sometimes! Any advice?

Lost in cyberspace!

Hi all,
Am trying to fix something. My students said they can't leave comments which is surprising...been trying for the last half an hour. Hope this will work. Something I need to learn maybe..

OASIS: Hey it's Monday!!

OASIS: Hey it's Monday!!

Monday, 21 July 2008

Hey it's Monday!!

1. Today I was trying really hard to concentrate in the assembly. I could hardly open my eyes...hehe. Anyway I realise this medication am taking for leg pain is making me feel drowsy in
the mornings. The doctor advised me to take it only before going to bed but the effects seem to linger till the next morning. This isn't the first time I felt really sleepy. Maybe I should take it earlier say 8 p.m. instead of right before bed time.

2. Today too I learnt to say 'no' to a friend. Friends can be tough on you sometimes. They assume you are free and have all the time in the world to do things for them even at the eleventh hour! They assume you can do everything because you are a gc. Maybe they forget that it takes time and effort to prepare something - things don't just drop from the sky. You spend hours to research and prepare ok.

3. A juicy story- A gc friend of mine once related how he, after all the work he had done for his school, district, jpn, kpm and what not was never awarded the ssb or apc as it is known now. When it came to work he was first in line but when it came to the award, he was conveniently forgotten! Somehow all his contributions were not considered by the school despite the fact that a gc is expected to not only contribute in school but also at other levels. The very fact that he was able to contribute other than to his school alone showed his capabilities. To add insult to injury, his hm remarked that he already had a fat salary... (this had to be a new unwritten criterion for the apc!). Things got worse when his wife too was not given the apc because her husband was a gc!! It's sort of unbelieveable this story but this was what he related to me. However, he took it so well thinking that God did it for a reason (although I could sense the dissapointment in his face) and true enough, God was most kind. He became a super teacher. I guess his disappointment was worth it as God really had something planned for him. I was happy for him when he was awarded the super teacher. He truly deserved it!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

What a week this was...been feeling tired lately and doing much thinking. Glad the PTP was the last!! Work doesn't seem to end. Ever get the impression that that friend of yours is a bit of a slavedriver sometimes? Talked to a gc friend recently in Terengganu. Wise words for me, "Don't work too hard. We're not 25 anymore". The other thing I can't stand is routine. Boy! It really kills me doing the same thing...everyday. It amazes me how some are creatures of habit. Maybe what I need is motivation? Injection? Vitamins? I don't know. Well, maybe some days are just bad but thank God they don't happen too often. Hope tomorrow will be better.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Where is the love?

My 5sc2 students enjoyed the lesson today. They were singing along when we completed the activity (Black Eyed Peas song). It was an activity I promised them some time ago. They seemed to understand the message in the song ( you know, world peace, tolerance and all..). I hope I have shed light some light into how we need to be tolerant of the differences around us, be it race, religion, principles etc. Most of the time we do not understand each other enough and this is what breeds distrust and misunderstandings. Who says rappers are uneducated??
Some comments I got from the 'I like you slips' activity last July 11th:

"Thank-you for all the support and motivation"

" ENGLISH ROCKS! Lesson very very interesting and fun...Never know English can be lots of fun like this. BIG THANKS!" (Michelle)

" Hey, teacher...To be honest, you're the best teacher I have seen in the 13 years of my school life...Really!! You aways seem so enthusiastic and determined to teach us...And teacher, you're always so creative. I simply love your ideas in teaching. Well, I do understand about the bad attitude we have towards teacher sometimes, but I hope teacher wouldn't put it to heart and teacher wouldn't blame yourself...Because deep in my heart, I clearly know that YOU'RE THE BEST!!! You're doing an awesome job teacher...Keep it up and Love you!! (smiley)



p.s Whoever you are, thanks for the kindest words girls. You are awesome too. It's not that I ask for your praises. Most important is you are learning and improving everyday and that you enjoy our English classes!! Do you know that I learn a lot from you too?(wink, wink..don't know how to add smileys yet la...)

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Well-done!

Rasyad, my 14-year-old son got 8th place in the robotics competition today. He is standing next to me now relating what happened in the competition. Getting 8th place isn't too bad considering the number of teams that took part. But his team just missed the cut to the next level of competition! The top seven teams secured their places. I told him not to worry as he did really well considering he is only in Fm 2. He received a 'Sijil Kecemerlangan Robotik' for the effort. Well-done!!

I just remembered I got to photocopy the song for tomorrow's lesson in 5 sc2. We're doing a Black Eyed Peas song tomorrow! Would be interesting to see how it goes. Catch u later alligator.

SPM English Excellence Seminar, MRSM Muar

Hi everyone!
Today I set out at 6 a.m. to MRSM Muar for an SPM talk. Not knowing the right direction made me rather anxious. Upon exiting Yong Peng toll, I was slowed down by numerous lorries especially in the Parit Sulong area. The continuous rain didn't help either. The talk went well except for one aspect. Down to the last 45 mins a student told me that the module had all the answers in it!! Shocked, I asked the other students whether that was the case. Everyone agreed in unison. Well, the talk had to continue and I think I was happy with it. A short motivational story at the end wrapped the session. I called the Chairperson of MGC Muar and sent two sms. At 5.09 she replied and apologised about the mistake although she gave me a lecture too. All I wanted was an apology or some explanation..well, I got more. Maybe she was too tired or something. Am glad that was the last talk, having done two districts earlier. Been thinking of that second book which has been laid off for a while..

Friday, 11 July 2008

I Like You Slips

Today I had a lesson on friendship in 5s1. After the song activity (You've got a friend- Carole King), a rounding up activity was carried out in the last 10 minutes. Each student was asked to write something nice to their friends to end the week in a positive mood. They put the slips of paper into the right envelope bearing their friends' names. Time did not permit me to select some students to read their slips. However, the atmosphere was really great! The students enjoyed the activity and were excited to learn about what their friends had to say about them. I joined in the activity and got three slips. I truly hope everyone got something in their envelopes. Will upload the slips I got as soon as time permits! Meantime, be good and stay safe girls!!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

USING SONGS IN THE ENGLISH CLASSROOM (part of paper presented at UTM Southern Regional ELT Seminar, 2001)

1. INTRODUCTION

Motivating learners of English in ESL situation is often a daunting task for the English teacher. Teachers resort to numerous ways and means to encourage their students to like to learn English. One way which is not uncommon is the use of songs. Songs provide a non-threatening atmosphere for students compared to speaking formally in English in the classroom for example. They offer teachers the much needed change from a routine procedure. They provide valuable language and cultural input in the classroom. However the value of songs as a teaching tool in the ESL classroom has not been fully explored by teachers. Teachers still have reservations on what they can do with a song and how much.

Whatever those reservations may be, the use of songs in the language classroom is one of the ways to motivate students to learn English. Students love listening to music outside the language classroom and songs become a major source of English for them. Notice how those who are usually quiet become very talkative when discussing songs. Songs then, have the “power” to capture students’ attention. In addition, ESL practitioners (Reeve & Williamson, 1987; Giudice, 1986; Grifee, 1991) have widely acknowledged the role of songs in enhancing learner involvement. Together with the teachers’ ability to present songs meaningfully in the classroom, we have an inspiring way of motivating our learners to learn English.

This paper aims to look at ways teachers can work with songs (old and new) particularly in terms of vocabulary extension and listening development. The materials developed have been tried and tested with my students.

2. SOME REASONS WHY TEACHERS DO NOT USE SONGS

a) Administrators/teachers/students do not take music and song seriously.
b) It disturbs neighbouring classes.
c) It does not help the normal syllabus-time is lost.
d) Pop songs have poor vocabulary – too much slang and bad grammar.
e) Students just want to listen, not to work.
f) Teachers do not like to sing or are not musical.
g) Poor quality cassette /video recorder.
h) How do you get other teachers involved?
i) How do you share in materials production?
(Murphey, 1992:8)

3. SOME REASONS WHY TEACHERS SHOULD USE SONGS

a) Affective reasons – teachers need to provide a positive atmosphere if language learning is to take place. Based on Krashen’s (1982) Affective Filter Hypothesis, optimal learning will only take place if the affective filter is weak. A weak affective filter means a positive attitude towards learning .The use of songs can help create a weak affective filter to promote language learning. Songs can be used to

· To present a topic, a language point, lexis, etc.
· To practice a language point, lexis etc.
· To focus on common learner errors.
· To encourage extensive and intensive listening.
· To stimulate discussion of attitudes and feelings.
· To encourage creativity and the use of imagination.
· To provide a relaxed classroom atmosphere.
· To bring variety and fun to learning.
(Eken, 1996:46)

b) Cognitive reasons – The main reason for using songs in the English classroom is for developing automaticity. Automaticity is “a component of language fluency which involves both knowing what to say and producing language rapidly without pauses” (Gatbonton & Segalowitz, 1988, p.473). Songs can definitely help automatise the language development process, particularly because they provide samples of authentic language and they are fairly repetitive in nature. Songs that tell stories are springboards for discussion too.

c) Linguistic reason – Some songs provide good examples of colloquial English i.e. language used in informal conversation. Hence they prepare students for the genuine language they will be faced with.

4. WHAT SONGS?
There are no specific rules but there are several things to take into consideration:

a) The class : No. of students and age group
: The time of the day
: The SS language level
: Their musical interests
b) The teacher : Teacher’s age and musical interests
: Classroom support
: Purpose in using the song used
d) Classroom opportunities
: How much freedom do you have?
: Can you supplement a lesson?
d) The music : What is your lesson plan?
: Will the music be noisy?
: Do you have a collection of music?

5. TEACHING PROCEDURE

The use of songs in the English classroom is flexible – can be used at any stage of the class. For example, as a presentation tool, as a controlled practice exercise or as a free production activity. They can function as enhancers, reinforcers to supplement a textbook or as the text itself. However, to maximise its usefulness and to achieve the lesson objectives, activities need to take into account the following criteria:


a) promote a relaxing atmosphere
b) encourage SS interaction and participation
c) correspond to the main lesson
d) start from easy to more difficult and slow to moderate to rapid
e) allow SS to wok in groups or individually
f) take no more than 15 minutes

(The activity selected should have at least 4 out of 7 of the above criteria)
(White, 1988:48)

Samples I've used in the classroom:

A.
FOCUS : Grammatical structures (verbs) and vocabulary words
SONG : “Rhythm of the rain” (The Cascades)
LEVEL : Very low to low intermediate
PURPOSE: Intensive listening

PREPARATION

1. List some words from a song e.g. vocabulary words in the order they appear in the song.
2. Add some distracters throughout the list which sound similar to the items in the song (to encourage close discrimination)

IN CLASS

1. Distribute task sheet with the list of words.
2. Play the song twice and ask students to circle the word on the list if they hear it.
3. Teacher can play the song for the third time to confirm students’ answers.



(RHYTHM OF THE RAIN)

TASK SHEET

Circle the words you hear as you listen to the song:

listen
rhythm
falling
pouring
telling
tearing
been
bin
let
vain
rain
let
care
dare
looking
start
know
left
took
heart
cart
fair
pair
steal
won’t
ask
blow
grow

(Full song lyrics)


RHYTHM OF THE RAIN (THE CASCADES)

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain
Telling me just what a fool I’ve been
I wish that it would go, and let me cry in vain
And let me be alone again

***The only girl I care about has gone away
Looking for a brand new start
But little does she know that when she left that day
Along with her she took my heart

Rain please tell me now does that seem fair
For her to steal my heart away when she don’t care
I can’t love another when my heart’s somewhere far away

Repeat***

Rain, won’t you tell her that I love her so
Please ask the sun to set her heart aglow
Rain in her heart and let the love we knew start to grow

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain
Telling me just what a fool I’ve been
I wish that it would go, and let me cry in vain
And let me be alone again

O listen to the falling rain
Pitter, patter…..


Note: Underlined words are the words SS should circle

B.
FOCUS : Grammar and listening
SONG : “This I promise you” (N Sync)
LEVEL : Low to intermediate
PURPOSE: Detecting mistakes
Consciousness-raising

PREPARATION

Prepare the common mistakes your SS make in class e.g. spelling, s-v agreement, verb tenses, incorrect prepositions. Insert the mistakes in the lyric.

IN CLASS

1. Distribute task sheet with the lyrics containing the mistakes.
2. SS listen to the song and underline any unusual or ungrammatical items they hear.
3. Discuss any mistakes SS find.
4. Play the song one more time to confirm or to find additional mistakes.

Variation:
You could ask SS to underline the mistakes first before they listen to the song.


TASK SHEET (THIS I PROMISE YOU)

1. Look at the lyrics below. Listen to the song and underline any mistakes you find. e.g. spelling, subject-verb agreement, verb tenses and incorrect prepositions.

When the visions around you
Brings tears to your eyes
And all that surround you
Is secraets and lies

I’ll be your strength
I’ll gives you hope
Keeping your faith when it’s gone
The one you should called
Was standing here all along

CHORUS
And I will take you in my arms
And hold you right where you belong
“Til the day my life are through
This I promise you
This I promise you

I’ve loved you forever
In lifetimes before
And I promise you never ever
Will you hurt anymore

I give you my word
I give you my heart
This is the battles we’ve won
And with this vow
Forever has now began

CHORUS
Just closed your eyes
Each lovin’ day
And know this feeling won’t go away
“Til the day my life is through
This I promised you
This I promise you

Over and under I falls
When I heard you call
Without you in my life, babay
I just wouldn’t be living at all

CHORUS

I will take you in my arms
And held you right where you belong
“Til the day my life are through
This I promise you

Just close your eyes
Each loving day
And know this feelings won’t go away
Every word I say is true
This I promise you
Every word I say is true
This I promise you
I promise you


(Full song lyrics)

THIS I PROMISE YOU (N SYNC)

When the visions around you
Bring tears to your eyes
And all that surround you
Are secrets and lies

I’ll be your strength
I’ll give you hope
Keeping your faith when it’s gone
The one you should call
Was standing here all along

CHORUS
I will take you in my arms
And hold you right where you belong
“Til the day my life is through
This I promise you
This I promise you

I’ve loved you forever
In lifetimes before
And I promise you never ever
Will you hurt anymore

I give you my word
I give you my heart
This is the battle we’ve won
And with this vow
Forever has now begun

CHORUS
Just close your eyes
Each lovin’ day
And know this feeling won’t go away
“Til the day my life is through
This I promise you
This I promise you

Over and over I fall
When I heard you call
Without you in my life, baby
I just wouldn’t be living at all

CHORUS
I will take you in my arms
And hold you right where you belong
“Til the day my life is through
This I promise you

Just close your eyes
Each loving day
And know this feeling won’t go away
Every word I say is true
This I promise you
Every word I say is true
This I promise you
I promise you




Farewell!

Today was the last day for Ali. There was a farewell reception organised for him but yours truly couldn't get to taste the appetising fried chicken rice! I was fasting. Although we hardly spoke, Ali came to see me on Monday and explained that he was leaving. Heard about it from some teachers a few days earlier. Was shocked of course..he strikes me as a pleasant and mild-mannered man. What I'd like to say to him is 'All the Best. May your future be bright and some day when we cross paths, I hope you will be a happier person." Remember, 'rezeki ada di mana-mana!!" God bless.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

CHOCOLATE CAKE

I learnt to bake this when I was pursuing my studies in Birmingham. Nina, a medic student there gave us a chocolate cake one day. It was soooo good I asked for the recipe. Here goes...

INGREDIENTS:

1. 2 butter
2. 280 gm castor sugar or brown sugar
3. 280 gm plainflour
4. 50 gm cocoa powder (Van Houten)
5. 4 eggs
6. 2 egg yolk
7. 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
8. 1 tsp vanilla essence
9. 300 ml water


METHOD:

1. Beat butter and sugar well.
2. Beat eggs in a separate container till white.
3. Add beaten eggs a little at a time into the butter mixture.
4. Add vanilla esence into the mixture and whisk.
5. Sieve flour, bocarbonate soda and cocoa powder.
6. Add the clour into the butter mixture a little at a time while continuously whisking.
Intersperse with water. Mix well.
7. Get ready a greased square cake tin and add the cake mixture.
8. Bake in a gas oven at 180 degrees for one hour or at 170 degrees in an elactric oven for
1 hour.

Go on! Give it a try and tell me the results!
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