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!

Welcome!

Hi to all my students in Convent, Kluang!! Welcome to my blog. To 5S1 students particularly, today wasn't such a good day eh?? Frankly I was pretty dissappointed with the responses in the class. A teacher simply asks for some reaction from her students, not listen to the wall echo her questions!! Not having seen you for a while, there was just too much to do so I was expecting a normal class. Instead the photo sessions were the order of the day. Students went in an out of the class and the lesson was of course affected. Anyway, you need to lighten up a little girls and not be so quiet!! This is English ok not some science or maths class. Communicate with me k. It can be quite frustrating sometimes if you know what I mean.

Well, anyway I hope the next class will be better.

Friday, 4 July 2008

WISE MODULE, Kluang district

Hi i've been quite busy lately so i've nto been able to be near my blog. What a shame! However just to share with you the latest news. Last 3rd July, I helped organise a profesisonal development course for SPM teachers and the building of WISE (Writing in Simple English) module. The module is to help teachers teach writing to weak learners. Some photos will be upoaded soon to show you the teachers hard at work. Meantime, be good and stay safe ya!!

WISE module

I've got to admit it's been very difficult for me to update my blog for the past month... a lot of commitment to various activities prevented me from doing so. However, let me share the latest professional interaction I've had. Last thurs, 3 rd July, the District English Panel organised two activiities at th edistrict level. One was a profesional development course for SPM teachers and the building of WISE (Writing in Simple English) module. This was the first effort by the district panel to produce a module to help teachers teach writing to weak learners. I hope to get the module published before the end of the year.
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