Thursday, 30 December 2010

Schemes of Work : Forms 1-5

Looking for schemes of work?

I firmly believe that your scheme of work must be tailored to your students' levels and needs. Therefore I have separate schemes of work for the different CLASSES that I teach. I am aware that many teachers prefer a standardised scheme of work but from experience, you will usually evaluate your class progress and may have to make changes to your scheme of work say in mid-term. I'd like to think of it as something flexible and needs to be revised from time to time.  Hence, it's best that you plan what's suitable for your own students.

Preparing the scheme of work is essentially our core business as teachers, so take time to do it either individually or collaboratively with your panel members. You could have teachers preparing scheme of work for the weaker classes and another group preparing for the better classes. That way, you take into account what your students really need for the new academic year. You will find that it's rewarding to actually plan your work  via your scheme of work and to work out your plan! Suffice to say that cutting and pasting someone else's scheme of work is something we must avoid :) I posted on this sometime back and suggested a format for it too. You may disagree with the format so feel free to adapt according to your needs.

Since many have requested via email for the 2011 scheme of work, I have uploaded them as a guide. You can refer to the schemes of work uploaded on the tabs above or the left sidebar.

Happy New Year!

To all my friends, students and blog visitors, 

I wish you Health...
So you may enjoy each day in comfort.

I wish you the Love of friends and family...
And Peace within your heart.

I wish you the Beauty of nature... 

That you may enjoy the work of God.

I wish you Wisdom to choose priorities...
For those things that really matter in life.
I wish you Generousity so you may share...
All good things that come to you.
I wish you Happiness and Joy...
And Blessings for the New Year.
I wish you the best of everything...
That you so well deserve.


Tuesday, 28 December 2010


PLAN- J stands for 'Piawaian Latihan Akademik Negeri Johor' which is a standard that has been prepared by JPN Johor for English teachers in the state. Teachers are expected to adhere to a certain standard with regards to the quantity and quality of exercises/tasks given to all students throughout the academic year. The document is also devised to ensure teachers take into account the type and level of exercises when lesson-planning.  

You can find the edited PLAN-J on the tab above or the left sidebar.

Friday, 24 December 2010

The Superbook of Webtools for Educators

I've been reading a lot on web technology lately and how exciting it will be if I can use some of these in my classrooms. This is free and it can be downloaded from the link.

The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators -

Goodbye 2010, Hello 2011!

The new academic term is not too far way, one week left to enjoy your holidays before we are back to the grindstone. The final week of hols is usually that time of the year when I take stock of the year's happenings; the successes, disappointments, learnings and what I could have done differently. This reflection can make a big difference before I plan 2011. During the last week of the hols, I'm usually busy:

  • completing my schemes of work
  • updating the resource files for the forms I will be teaching
  • photocopying the materials needed for the first week of school - a stack of vocabulary materials will be given to 5S2 on the very first day of school itself. This time around I want them to start off straightaway with hard work!
  • updating the perfomance file for all the classes I taught in 2010
  • looking for online materials 
  • planning for ELDSS programmes

 In 2011 I'd like to:
  • try two innovations am working on at the moment- one at the class level and the other at district level
  • do less of the same
  • use a grammar module for my classes
  • use a vocabulary module for all my classes
  • give short tests after every grammar unit learned to check progress- something I couldn't do in 2010
  • manage the journal-writing more effectively
  • use more ICT
  • write a book for English teachers professional development
  • set up a MELTA chapter in Kluang
  • attend a short course on creativity  

      I hope 2011 will be a great year of oportunities and achievements for you and me!

      Thursday, 23 December 2010

      PTK Oh PTK!

      That was my last PTK exam and boy am I glad! Just found out I got a IV!!! And what an appropriate day to hear of this good news than my birthday. Alhamdulillah.

      Wednesday, 22 December 2010

      Reading Club 10: How to get from where you are to where you want to be (Jack Canfield)

      One of the best books I've read! Many invaluable lessons, examples, principles that are easy to follow and practice. I love the way Jack Canfield (the man who co-founded the Chicken Soup series) writes. His language is simple yet affecting. The book's format is also helpful- he explains a principle with the help of true success stories  from notable people (Bruce Lee, Jim Carey, Lou Holt, W. Clement Stone etc.) and  anecdotes from his interviews. Some parts just made me go AHA!  There are many books on how to be successful, but this the best I've come across so far. Some of the most memorable parts are:

      • How our brain works - 'scientists used to believe that humans responded to information flowing into the brain from the outside world. But today, they're learning instead that we respond to what the brain, on the basis of previous experience, expects to happen next.' Experiments conducted showed that our brain actually learns what to expect next- whether it eventually happens that way or not. Therefore, we often achieve exactly what we anticipate. This is why we must hold POSITIVE EXPECTATIONS in our mind. 'When we replace the old NEGATIVE EXPECTATIONS with more positive ones- when you believe that what you want is possible- your brain will take over the job of accomplishing that possibility for you. Better than that, your brain will actually expect to achieve that outcome.' 

      •  What others think about you is none of your business- I like this!! Do you know how much time we spend sometimes worrying about what people think about us? Jack quotes Dr Daniel Amen's 18/40/60 Rule, which is so true! When you're 18, you worry about what everybody is thinking of you; when you're 40, you don't give a darn what anybody thinks of you; when you're 60, you realize nobody's been thinking about you at all. The moral of the story is people are busy worrying about their own lives, and if at all they are thinking of you, they are are wondering what you are thinking about them!!! Think about how much time you've wasted.

      •  Successful people are action biasthey take action. 'Most people are familiar with 'Ready, Aim, Fire!' but the problem is too many people spend their whole life aiming and never firing! 'Does this sound familiar? Jack proposes that we quit waiting for: 
                             - perfection
                             - inspiration
                             - permission
                             - reassurance
                             - someone to change
                             - the right person to come along
                             - the kids to leave home
                             - a more favourable horoscope
                             - the new admin to take over
                             - an absence of risk
                             - someone to discover you
                             - a clear set of instructions
                             - more self-confidence
                             - the pain to go away

      Well, these are some important things I've learned. No regrets buying the book..the only regret is it took me five years to find this gem (first published 2005)! Well, better late than never :)

      Are You Still Playing Your Flute? (Zurinah Hassan)

      zurinah hassan
      I've received some comments/emails recently on the error in the published text for the poem 'Are You Still Playing the Flute'. Apparently the last stanza has not been included. The following are the original versions written by Zurinah Hassan herself taken from her blog Interpretasi.


      Are you still playing your flute?
      When there is hardly time for our love
      I am feeling guilty
      To be longing for your song
      The melody concealed in the slim hollow of the bamboo
      Uncovered by the breath of an artist
      Composed by his fingers
      Blown by the wind
      To the depth of my heart

      Are you still playing your flute?
      In the village so quiet and deserted
      Amidst the sick rice field
      While here it has become a luxury
      To spend time watching the rain
      Gazing at the evening rays
      Collecting dew drops
      Or enjoying the fragrance of flowers

      Are you still playing your flute?
      The more it disturbs my conscience
      to be thinking of you
      in the hazard of you
      my younger brothers unemployed and desperate
      my people disunited by politics
      my friend slaughtered mercilessly
      this world is too old and bleeding

      Is this the end of our love
      time is forcing us, as artists
      to live outside ourselves

      translated by Zurinah Hassan

      The original version:


      Masihkah kau bermain seruling
      walau waktu telah terlewat untuk kita bercinta
      aku semakin terasa bersalah
      melayani godaan irama
      lagu yang tersimpan pada lorong halus buluh
      dikeluarkan oleh nafas seniman
      diukir oleh bibir
      diatur oleh jari
      dilayangkan oleh alun angin
      menolak ke dasar rasa.

      Masihkah kau bermain seruling
      ketika kampung semakin sunyi
      sawah telah uzur
      waktu jadi terlalu mahal
      untuk memerhatikan hujan turun
      merenung jalur senja
      mengutip manik embun
      menghidu harum bunga.

      Masihkah kau bermain seruling
      ketika aku terasa mata bersalah
      untuk melayani rasa rindu padamu
      di kota yang semakin kusut dan tenat
      adik-adikku menganggur dan sakit jiwa
      bangsaku dipecahkan oleh politik
      saudara diserang bom-bom ganas
      dunia sudah terlalu tua dan parah.

      Di sinilah berakhirnya percintaan kita
      kerana zaman sedang menuntut para seniman
      hidup di luar dirinya.

      (Zurinah Hassan)

      For the poet's own interpretation of the poem go to Zurinah Hassan.

      Saturday, 18 December 2010

      Step by Wicked Step- Anne Fine

      A sneak preview into my book that will be published soon...


      • The novel is set in the modern 20th century.
      • The story begins on a wet, rainy night with storms raging in the sky as the five main characters make their way ahead of their classmates to Old Harwick Hall for a week-long field trip.


      • The story takes place in Old Harwick Hall which is a spooky Victorian mansion built hundreds of years ago.
      • It is described as 'absolutely private' and 'a towering mansion with dunce-hatted turret'. It has 'dark windows' and a 'huge oak and iron door'.
      • The Tower Room in Old Harwick Hall - a room equipped with beds pointing to the centre. This is the room where the five characters Pixie, Claudia, Ralph, Robbo and Colin first gather when they arrive.
      • A tiny room (' a tower off a tower') adjoining the Tower Room is where the characters discover a mysterious old diary belonging to Richard Clayton Harwick. The room is hidden by the frame of a bed but a pock-mark reveals its existence. The room is full of cobwebs and dust on the furniture. There are six vaulted windows, a lantern, candelabra, some books, cushions and a tiny carved wooden cow with three legs in the room.

      Plot Overview

      The novel is written in seven chapters. The first two chapters are without titles while the other five chapters consist of stories from the five main characters, Claudia, Pixie, Ralph, Colin and Robbo. In the story, five schoolchildren spend the night in the creepy Old Harwick Hall, as part of a school field trip accompanied by their teachers. The schoolchildren do not really know each other, but the discovery of an old diary in the tower room find themselves coming closer together as they actually have a lot in common. The novel is written in an autobiographical style where the five main characters, Claudia, Pixie, Robbo, Colin and Ralph take turns to tell their five distinct stories step-by-step, story-by-story. They share stories of their stepfather, stepmother and step siblings frankly and openly and how they cope with their own situations. Their stories have a mixture of happy and sad endings.

        Friday, 17 December 2010

        The CURSE?

        The title of the novel doesn't really appeal to me but the story is pretty interesting. As most of you  would already know by now,  'The Curse' (Lee Su Ann) is one of the Fm 5 novels selected for 2011 particularly for Johor, Pahang, Terengganu, Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan. Have you read the text in preparation for the next academic year? Or are you waiting for the workbooks to be published so you can take the shortcut? From experience, it's always wise to read the novel first before you start teaching. Synopsis are fine but it isn't the same as reading the book yourself.  

        Are you looking for modules to all the novels for Form 5 next year? Look no further. You can find the CDC modules to get you started since there are no books in the market just yet. Click the tab (on top) under 'literature' and the left sidebar under 'Literature 2011 Modules'.

        For Pahang,Terengganu, Johor, Sabah,Sarawak and Labuan

        Here's the blurb:

        In The Curse, Azreen takes time off from her studies in London, UK to return to her village in one of the legendary islands of Langkawi, to mourn the loss of her older sister, Madhuri. But as it turns out, she has to confront the mystery that shrouds her sister's sudden death in suspicious circumstances.
        Was it her imagination that Madhuri was in danger? Azreen felt a chill. The words that she had overheard the day before came back to her. Puan Normala had been talking to a few women and did not realize that Azreen was just in the next room and could hear every word.
        "You won't believe me, but I'm telling the truth. I saw her," hissed Normala. "It was no accident. It was murder. Listen to me and keep this in mind. This is just the beginning." A few women chuckled nervously. But Normala continued. "Laugh if you like. You'll soon see. We're all cursed."
        The summary:
        (Credit: Alan wong , STAR Publications)

        CERPEN is a word I haven’t heard of since I left school. It perfectly sums up Lee Su-Ann’s The Curse, the second prizewinner in the English Novel Category of the Utusan Group’s Young Adult Literature Competition of 2005. It has since been published and ready to enthral sceptics of local literature.

        The Curse showcases village girl Azreen, who takes a sabbatical from her studies overseas and returns to her hometown in her sleepy village in an island south of Langkawi. Her homecoming is greeted by the tragic death of her sister Mahduri, the fair blossom of the unnamed village. The incident leaves her parents traumatised, especially her mother, whose senility becomes more pronounced.

        In the aftermath of her sister’s end, possibly due to foul play, a strange pall hangs over the village. There’s the token ghostly figure in white. Making things worse with allusions of a curse is Puan Normala the village gossip, who is guaranteed to get under your skin.

        Sinking into that familiar fugue that follows the loss of a loved one, Azreen revisits memories of her youth, good and bad. She finds no comfort from her sullen father or delirious mother. Thankfully, at no point does our heroine go into Nancy Drew mode. Throughout the novel we are informed via flashbacks that our heroine is no typical village girl, even in her younger days: tomboyish, headstrong and not above talking back to her elders. Which might explain her estrangement from her parents.

        Main distractions come in the form of Mohd Asraf, the hot-headed village hunk, whom Azreen had a crush on in her younger days. There’s also the mysterious outcast, an old lady whom Azreen befriends. Spicing things further is Mahduri’s recent marriage to the village headman, the jealous fits of the headman’s first wife, and some livestock that shared the victim’s fate.

        Was Mahduri murdered? Is there really a vengeful spirit stalking the village? Will Azreen get the guy? Who, or what killed the animals? Will it ever stop raining? Are Mahduri’s parents Bollywood fans? And why won’t that irritating Puan Normala just shut up? I bet you’d like to know.

        At first glance, it doesn’t look like much. It is almost pocket-sized, and borrows a lot from existing works. Mahsuri legend? Check. Vengeful spirits? Check. Rip-off of Stephenie Meyer’s cover to New Moon, complete with bloodied white flower? Check. Script from a typical Drama Minggu Ini? Check. Compensation for all that comes in the believable portrayal of the rural Malay village and its inhabitants.
        The level of suspense is quite credible, but the execution is hardly subtle. Hints pointing to something sinister in Mahduri’s demise start falling like ripe durians about halfway through the story. Thankfully, they will all miss their mark, and we are thus spared from a predictable ending.

        Lack of originality aside, there aren’t a lot of issues with The Curse. Its small size is actually an advantage. It probably kept the author focused on telling the story without any added fluff – all the elements of one good story in one miniscule package. I’m still amazed at how the author pulled it off.

        The Curse is further proof that the local literary scene is neither dead nor moribund. This edition is a nice comfortable read for everybody – especially those with short attention span – as opposed to that 700-odd page international award-winning bestseller.

        Plus, it’s actually readable.

        Here's another review:
        (credit Fuziana)

        “The Curse” is about a girl, named Azreen, her parents and sister, Madhuri. Azreen, a strong-headed girl is studying in London but has to take a leave from her study when she receives the news about her sister’s death. She is curious about the cause of her sister’s sudden death. When she reaches home, her sister’s body has been brought to the cemetery. She overhears a village gossiper, Puan Normala talks about her sister’s death. Normala claims that her sister has been murdered and has shed white blood.

        On her return, Azreen discovers a few truths about her family and people around her. First she finds out that her sister has been in love with Asraf, and has planned to marry and divorced her husband, Hj Ghani. Second, Awang, the Shaman has actually caused the accident which his parents are involved in and causes her mother to become paralysed. Third, she learns that Madhuri is actually her adopted sister and the crazy woman is Madhuri’s biological mother. Fourth and finally, she discovers that Madhuri has accidentally been killed by her father.

        There is one old woman whom Azreen has turned to for emotional support. The old woman lives alone in an abandoned house in the jungle. Azreen learns a lot about life from this wise old woman. The old woman however dies in a fire started by Asraf who has blamed her for his grandmother’s death.

        At the end, Azreen returns to London to finish her study. She has learned a valuable lesson from her short break at her little village in Langkawi Island. She has learned to forgive others and to look ahead.

        My Comments:

        Although the novel is a far cry from the texts dealt with before (e.g. The Pearl), it has all the elements of a good novel: exciting plot, believable and interesting characters, familiar themes and plenty of wholesome moral lessons to learn. For one thing, it is lighter and more accessible to L2 learners.  In my opinion, what's most important is for a text to have a good story. Does this have a good story? Yes if we are talking about For 5 students. It should provide plenty of opportunities for teachers to exploit the text in interesting ways that will help students comprehend the text. It may not be written by the likes of John Steinbeck or Keris Mas and it may not portray the same depth  and  richness as 'The Pearl' for instance, but it has a good story suitable for seventeen-year-olds (although I wish it had none of the likeness to Mahsuri!)

        I much prefer stories to be fresh and unpredictable without  the slightest connection to a known tale (however vague that connection may be). However, I am aware that the plot is different from that of Mahsuri. I can already picture how some events can be turned into a simple play that will enhance understanding of the novel. Obviously, there are many possible text exploration activities that can be done with a good story. Explore! Discover!

        Happy reading :)

        Monday, 13 December 2010

        Bloom's Digital Taxonomy

        Teacher's will be familiar with Bloom's taxonomy but how many of us are familiar with Bloom's digital taxonomy? The old taxonomy comprises of Knowledge-Comprehension-Application-Analysis-Synthesis -Evaluation but the digital taxonomy has been fine-tuned to Remembering-Understanding-Applying-Analysing-Evaluating-Creating. I always have a copy of the original taxonomy in my record book for reference because it helps in preparing activities and questions at different levels. However, Andrew Churches has developed a  Blooms' digital taxonomy which  is more in keeping with Web 2.0 technology and I think it's very creative. It guides us in choosing the best Web 2.0 technology to use in the classroom for maximum impact. It's nice to see blogging right on top of the paradigm :)

        Tuesday, 7 December 2010

        Reading Club 9: Live Life with Spice (Eric. A. Waldburger)

        Some important learning points from the latest book I've read:
        According to the author, SPICE stands for:

                                            S  parkling
                                            P  assionate
                                            I   inspiring
                                            C  redible
                                            E  ngaging
        • the sky is not the limits...
        • punctuality
        • being humble despite your achievements- make humility your weapon of choice
        • your health is your number one priority
        • your temper has a safety catch. keep it on at all times
        • don't be a copycat, be creative
        • when complacent, you simmer, when hot, you sizzle!
        • living with a light heart will give you wings to soar to great happiness
        • seize the moment when it mattered most
        • reward will come to those who set out to achieve their targets with dedication, hard work, respect for others and fair play
        • smile the day away

          Monday, 29 November 2010

          Reading Club 8: Self-leadership and the one minute manager (Ken Blanchard)

          What I've learned from this book:

          Empowerment is something someone gives you. Self-leadership is what you
          do to make it work. Sounds good but this is exactly what's missing. People give me work but they don't give me the empowerment to see it through. Somehow control and power are two things closely related. If you are so used to having power ('position power' according to Ken), I suppose it's difficult to let go. How can I develop professionally  if I have self-leadership but no empowerment and trust to make decisions? Yes I can use my 'knowledge power', 'personal power','relationship power'  and 'task power' as suggested in the book but unfortunately in schools, EVERYTHING is  'position power' and long live the system!. Power is what people want and enjoy but I'm the dreamy one who still hopes for empowerment and flexibility :) Having said all that, I'm thankful am a Gc without position power because it can lead to abuse if you are not careful.

          Diagnose Yourself - love this one! I learned to diagnose myself using the 'development continuum'.  There are four levels

              D1: Enthusiastic beginner (low competence, high commitment)
              D2: Disillusioned Learner (low to some competence, low commitment)
              D3: Capable but Cautions Performer (moderate to high competence
                     variable commitment)
              D4: High Achiever (high competence, high commitment)
          I don't have to be a D4 in all situations. It can be a mix but  what it teaches me is to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses and to do something about them. To quote Ken, "When your competence is low, you need direction: when your commitment is low, you need support.'

          Assumed Constraints and Elephant Thinking     
          I never thought of this one! An assumed constraint is a believe you have, based on past experience,    that limits you current and future experiences. Hmmm... I have too many of these I think. What  I need to do is challenge assumed constraints. I need to convince myself that 'position power' is not the only power that works.

          I will share what I learn from the next book am reading now later...ta

            Friday, 26 November 2010

            English for pakcik?

            I was working out at the gym from 8-9.45 a.m. this morning. As I was having a drink, I saw the Australian guy (whom I've met twice ) talking casually with an Indian man. They obviously do not know each other, like most of us who frequent the gym.We normally get on with our business and then leave as soon as we think we've reached our target for the day. It's amazing how we live our lives sometimes...we are always rushing and there isn't time to have a casual conversation apart from the smiles. Anyway, as I was watching  the two of them talking, (I had nothing better to do while waiting for the stepper to be free) I imagined a pakcik actually having a conversation with the Mat Salleh, a picture I don't see often. Language is a barrier for a pakcik to speak to a foreigner in English. Will there be a time when there are many pakciks who can speak English and converse with foreigners at the market, supermarket, stores etc.? In Singapore this is a common sight. I look forward to the day when many pakciks can hold a conversation in English with visitors from outside. I'm sure they have a lot to tell! 

            It feels good to sweat out the toxins and I sleep better after exercising. Some older women were there to try all kinds of machines and were pumping away. They are the regulars and how they put me to shame hehe...They look good!!! Well, that's motivation for me to keep go regularly and to watch my food.

            Wednesday, 24 November 2010

            There's Been a Death in the Opposite House-SPM 2010

            Finally, 'There's Been a Death in the Opposite House' was tested in the English SPM paper after 10 years despite the subject matter it deals with- death. SPM2010 has created history! The view that because it deals with such a dark and gloomy subject therefore it should not be tested for fear of  putting certain students at a disadvantage is nonsensical. It passed the selection process remember? Well, a point sorely missed is that literature deals with universal themes such as life and death. Literature IS about life and death! Hence, it's rather myopic to say a text can or cannot be tested simply because a text deals with death. I'm glad someone up there has decided to test this poem albeit the final year of this cycle of texts. What is literature if not to tickle the minds of our young? Let them discuss death as a natural phenomenon and let them see how every day people deal with this subject. TV images fool us everyday- we only view those touched by death- the bereaved, undertakers, morticians...not the images of death. We remove these images to insulate ourselves from the discomfort. 

            So let the text live even if it deals with death so our young may be wiser!

            Monday, 22 November 2010

            Time to catch up with my reading...

            Popular is having a sale so I got myself quite a few books to read today. I hope I can read them all this hols!

            Friday, 19 November 2010

            And so farewell...Mawarni & Fazreena

            Front row from left: Sarojini, me, Mawarni, Mdm Tan (former principal).
            Back row from left: Dr Rekha, Anand, Chong, Fazreena and Puran

            May you always have walls for the winds,
            a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
            laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
            and all your heart might desire.

            ~Irish Blessing~

            *** Many thanks to Mawarni for all the great work you did for the District English Panel.

            Monday, 15 November 2010

            Make SMCC Proud!

            Date: 15 Nov 2010 (Monday)
            Majlis Restu

            All the best to SMCC 2010 SPM candidates in the coming SPM examination.
            To 5S1 and 5RC students:  Keep the good memories!

            En Mohd Nazri abd Rahman- PPD Liason Officer giving his speech

            Me representing all Form 5 teachers

            sheau cian, jia en, bao yee, me, chiu ling, evadne, yue ming...all the best in your SPM girls!

            my six mentees under the Islamic society- all the best!

            do your best in the spm! 5rc girls...

            Sunday, 14 November 2010

            Show me the teaching

            The school term is almost coming to an end and what do teachers normally do? Complete endless reports? (don't forget your SKT!)  Clear the clutter on the table and in the drawers? Well, I've been reflecting  a lot on my teaching in 2010. This in a sense is more important  to me than the yearly appraisal that we need to hand in- some critical reflection that will help me become a better teacher. I've been wondering a lot about the materials I've been utilising in the classroom. It's no joke that I spend a lot of time choosing the materials to be used in the classroom on a week-to-week basis and photocopying. Some teachers are smarter because they rely heavily on the textbook! The only reservation I have on the textbook is the language level that is too high for my students. Yes, I'm guilty of not using the textbook...I use a lot of materials  from other sources like the internet and books. But wait a minute...what do we need materials for?

            • Can we not have teaching materials and teach as effectively? 
            • Are the worksheets, textbooks, workbooks and other teaching aids doing the teaching for us? 
            • Where is the point in say, a 40-minute class that we are teaching? 
            • What if for the sake of argument you are not allowed to bring any teaching materials into the classroom? Yes, just you, your students, the blackboard and some furniture..
            • Will you be able to teach?
            • Will teachers be handicapped?

            Seriously, where is the part that the teacher is teaching? Teachers  claim to have the pedagogical knowledge and skills and on top of that they have been trained to teach. Aren't we too dependent on teaching materials sometimes that the materials are doing the teaching for us? Well, I'm not sure if I have all the answers to the questions but I think it's food for thought for all those in the English fraternity. This could even result in the birth of a paper for MELTA next year :) Who knows?

            Friday, 5 November 2010

            Passion for teaching?

            Today, I received an interesting comment from one of the teachers who attended the recent State Level Action Research Seminar in Kulai. Let me share the comments with you:

            hi pn rahmah!...ive been teaching for almost 1 and a half year now n dat seminar was really an eye-opener for me who sometimes lacks the passion in teaching n sometimes, feeling burnout.. i was totally moved by ur presentation and INSPIRED! i pray dat i cud be just like u, a teacher who seems to have so much passion in herself thus inspiring students to excel too :) thanks for inspiring me n permit me for sharing ur blog with others k? :)

            Thanks to xxx for such encouraging comments and I certainly hope she is not burnt out because she is still a 'baby' in teaching!! We need you in the ever challenging ELT world!

            My point of discussion in this posting is about passion in teaching- a word we so often use in the teaching field. As a matter of fact, just the other day, an inspectorate complimented  me on having a passion for teaching and asked me for the translation of the word passion in BM. I responded with 'ghairah'. Ghairah?  "But 'ghairah' seems to have a sexual connotation to it!", he quipped. Well, for want of a better word ...although I think this is the correct word. This word also reminds me of a stint back in 2002 when I presented a paper in the Southern Regional ELT Seminar organised by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor. I think it was my second presentation at the seminar. That particular year saw presenters from Indonesia and Singapore as well. I was this small teacher who was eager to share my journal writing project with the audience. Taking a seat next to a lady after my presentation, she congratulated me and said, " You must be a really passionate teacher." That was so motivating I thought...

            So what does it mean to have a passion for teaching really? Well, if I may offer my tuppence worth, I believe to have a passion for teaching means:
            • to love children despite their background, age, race and creed - show them that you are genuinely interested in them and their learning. If you don't have a love for children, you cannot touch their hearts. You will just be a routine teacher (my expression) who teaches without feelings and attachment (although granted that too much attachment can be overwhelming sometimes)
            • to be enthusiastic in your teaching - you show this through your energy in class. Show that zest as you enter the class and not drag your feet
            • to be patient as you deal with different DNA's and moods- be understanding and tolerant with your students' mistakes. I always tell my students, "If you are all good at English, then I don't have a job!!" This is so comforting to them for you're showing them that you understand their problems in learning English and you are willing to give them that time and space to learn.
            • to be committed in your purpose-make sure you see projects to the end. Passionate teachers begin and end things they undertake. Teaching is not just a job...
            • to have fun, to experience pleasure and intrinsic rewards- like seeing your students' eyes sparkle when you read a short story in class (because they don't read so well!) or when they go up the stage to receive a prize
            • to be generous with your time- give your time to your students (although you must learn to set boundaries to your time just so you will not be overworked)
            • to surround yourself with equally passionate and positive people- that collegial atmosphere  that is so important to keep you motivated but is sometimes missing!
            The list goes on...I would like to think that I chose teaching as much as teaching chose me. 

            Thursday, 4 November 2010

            New Literature Component 2011 Modules

            For those who are looking for materials on the 2011 Literature Component, please find the modules for the new literature component for 2011 on the left on the top bar (courtesy of CDC, Ministry of Education).

            Sunday, 31 October 2010

            The Pearl Notes- Revision

            I'm currently revising the novel 'The Pearl' with my form 5 classes. Based on the module we've been using, I assigned eleven topics for groups to answer. They managed to produce the evidence needed to support the answer. Feel free to use them and adapt where necessary.

            The Pearl (notes by 5S1)

            I'm also revising the following texts which I think may be tested in the SPM:
            •  Sonnet 18
            • The Road Not Taken
            • The Drover's Wife
            • There's been a death in the opposite house (just in case LPM decides to throw this in this being the final year of the text)
             Am not too keen on spotting questions but one has to do what one has to do :)

            Saturday, 30 October 2010

            The Thinking Classroom

            The idea of the thinking classroom has long been used in the west. Learn about the philosophy, characteristics and benefits of the thinking classroom here.

            Friday, 29 October 2010

            State Level Action Research Seminar for Secondary Schools 2010

            Date: 28 Oct 2010
            Venue: SM Foon Yew, Kulai

            About 200 heads of English Panel from the state attended the first Action Research Seminar organised by the English Unit , JPN Johor. Principal Assistant Director of JPN Johor, Mr Shanmuganathan a/l Suppiah, the main force behind this seminar, delivered the opening speech and seven presenters shared their action research. They were Rani (SMK Convent, Batu Pahat), Ismail, Navinder and Noor Rahilme (group presentation from SIGS, JB),  Maimunah (SMK Spg Renggam, Kluang), Azrina, (SMK Tasek Utara 2) ,Raja Zainon (SMK Tg Adang, Gelang Patah), John Daniel aka JD (SMK Teknik, Batu Pahat) and me.

            The buzz word for this seminar was 'the thinking classroom', an idea that the JPNJ will pursue next year. What a co incidence! I truly believe that teachers must be thinking teachers first before you can have a thinking classroom hence I thought it most appropriate to share my blog , whose tagline is  ' the thinking teacher' with the audience.  The closing was officiated by Deputy Director of JPN Johor, Tn Hj Markom bin Giran. Peggy Loh from the New Straits Times was also there to cover the seminar. Met some old friends and FB friend like Rabiah from SMK Seri Gading.  Good to meet some old colleagues from Muar (forgive me for forgetting your names- it has been many years since we last crossed paths). On the way home, silly me took the wrong turning  (trust my bearing) and was on the way to Saleng ...I used to go to school in Kulai but how Kulai has changed..crrrazzy traffic! Well, a u-turn put me back in the right direction :)

            Deputy Director of Johor Education Dept-
            Tn Hj Markom Giran closing the seminar.

            The Heads of Panel from the state.

            Azrina (right) gave an excellent presentation.

            MGC Kluang Action Research Seminar

            Date: 23 Oct 2010
            Venue: SMK Jalan Mengkibol, Kluang

            As the coordinator for judging, my task was to brief the judges and the participants. After a few postponements, the seminar finally took place. Congratulations to the winners!

            Secondary Category:  1st:   Pn. Che Hasnah bte Nuh
                                              2nd:  Pn. Zaiton bintiDaud
                                              3rd:   En.Zulkifli bin Pungot

            Primary Category:  1st: Pn.Maimunah bt. Juraimi
                                         2nd: Pn. Wahidah bte Abdul Rahman
                                         3rd: Pn. Maslia binti Darum

            Judges: En Parmin, Pn Roshizan and Pn Khatijah

            Seafood treat for my mentees

            We had a great time at a seafood restaurant in Kg Melayu (terrible of me not to remember the name of the restaurant but it's just after the traffic lights if you are driving from town). After kerapu sweet sour, squid batter, tom yam, kai lan with salted fish we were all ready for home! Study hard Sahira, Farah, Syafiqah, Syazana, Siti Hajar, Syahira for the coming SPM!

            Wednesday, 27 October 2010


            Date: 25 Oct 2011
            Operation D-Day -GC Gred Khas C Evaluation

            Alhamdulilllah, the only word to describe my evaluation for Guru Cemerlang GKC. It is also the most appropriate word to describe my relief after it all... Got home and performed 'solat sunat syukur' as I was deeply touched by my students' spirit (5RC) and enthusiasm. Thanks for all your prayers and motivation students and friends. Thanks to the inspectorates for giving me plenty of opportunity to describe myself and what I do. As I've always said before to close friends, "It's not easy to be rahmah and to describe me!" Besides how do you  begin to summarise 24 years of teaching? No small task. Alhamdulillah for everything. The rest is up to Him...

            ***Couldn't go to the gym as planned though- slept the whole afternoon- dead tired..I deserved to sleep :)

            Sunday, 24 October 2010

            46,000 visitors

            Thanks to one and all for visiting my blog. You have motivated me to do more and to share more. I hope you have benefited from the sharing. Have a productive day ahead :)

            'The Pearl' Notes

            Click here to go to useful notes for teaching 'The Pearl'.

            SPM Talk in SMK Agama Kluang

            I was invited to give a talk to SMK Agama Kluang recently.  As always the students are always polite and eager to learn. All the best in your SPM!

            SMK Agama students and Cik Rafkah, my x-student and their English teacher. 

            Friday, 22 October 2010


            Date: 20 Oct 2010
            Venue: SM Sains Johor, Kluang

            I was invited to my former school SMK Sains Johor, Kluang for the retirement  of my former principal, Tn Hj Nojumuddin (Pengetua Cemerlang JUSA C). Happy retirement sir. May you have good health and happiness always. It was good to meet some old friends and students. Nice of the girls to still remember me!!

            Tn Hj Nojumuddin Abd Samad
            Old friends!!

            X-students- how they've grown!! All the best in your SPM!!

            4S2 wonderful journals...

            Well-done to the girls in 4S2 for diligently writing their journal and keeping them up-to-date. Keep writing!

            PLAN J Meeting

            Date: 22 Oct 2010
            Venue: SMK Spg Renggam, Kluang

            Mr Shanmuganathan (Principal Assistant Director, JPNJ) chaired a meeting to revise PLAN J for Forms 1-5 and also for primary schools. We broke into small groups and managed to produce a draft which still needs fine-tuning before distributing to schools. 

            The From 4 and 5 group- Sumila, Maimunah,John, Yusof, Vasanthi, Rani and I

            Sunday, 10 October 2010

            5RC's story

            The girls in 5RC did a great job of piecing a story from the newspapers. Congrats girls! I wanted to see how the students would react when given this activity compared to 5S1.  5RC consists of 35 students with  average to weak levels of proficiency. The only change I decided to make was  to appoint the better students (seven of them) to be group leaders for the seven groups. It's amazing how a simple decision like that could influence the students' behaviour. The selected leaders felt appreciated and they conducted themselves as leaders in the true sense of the word. As a result, the girls produced excellent writing pieces and I was very pleased to the say the least. Well-done girls!

            Li Ching and her group.

            Jing Wen and her charges.

            Su Hui and Pei Ying presenting their story.

            Poonjoley and Vaneswary trying their best!

            Their master pieces.

            'I like You' slips - a lesson on friendship

            To round up a lesson on friendship, I used this activity in 5S1 recently. I've posted something on this last year I think. Use the search engine on the top left sidebar to look for it. It's an activity that I can't do without every year as and when I see fit because the results are wonderful and the ss are engaged in a meaningful task.  I must add though that this was a double period lesson. Here's the brief structure of the lesson:
            • write about 5-7 words from the song 'You've got a friend' by Carol King. Get ss to predict what the song is about (prediction)
            • ss listen to song and fill in a worksheet with gapped lyrics (intensive listening)
            • put ss in groups and ask them to list out the qualities of a good friend (speaking/writing)
            • call group reps to read their list and teacher writes the list on board (ignore overlapping ones)
            • finally get ss to rank the top five in the list in terms of importance (consensus-seeking)
            • wrap up (about 10 mins) with 'I like you slips' (reinforcement)
            ***A note on 'I like you slips' activity:

            After a discussion on the qualities  of a good friend, get ss to write something NICE and POSITIVE about  their friends in the class. Prepare envelopes with ss names and lots of paper. You will see many ss taking  lots of papers (slips) to write. And if you dare, take part in the activity too. Have an envelope with your name and see what your ss will write!

            Envelopes with ss names and plenty of papers.

            Time to write something nice about my friends...

            Allow ss to take as many papers- observe time limit of course..
            Here are the slips I received - cross my fingers no one will hijack my blog and accuse me of gloating in  self-praise :) My comments in blue:

            1. Thanks for your teaching for almost two years! =) Really appreciate it. Love you =) (I can live longer!!)
            2. Hey teacher! Thanks for spending time with me on facebook. (what FB? o u mean FB yeah great conversations we had PY)  I appreciate it so much!!! Hope you're well with the things you are working on!!! Have a good rest before you move on =) Stay healthy and cute! (I know-like Doeramon some of you say)
            3. Teacher: You spend a lot of time and spirit to teach us (meaning comes through hehe). This activity is very good. I can feel the effect of this lesson. Thank you. I hope that our class will go raya at your house. Thanks a lot... =)
            4. Thanks for giving such a meaningful lessons today. It is really touched me and give me a deep thought. Thanks. (am glad...)
            5. Puan Rahmah, Well, there is so much to say, too much to fit in here. You have been a very good teacher. I miss the days when we were in the car and you were sharing stories (even though I didn't talk much but I was really listening. Well, maybe cause I couldn't speak fluently that's why I kept quiet, but sometimes we should be a listener). Teacher, I hope you can be a friend, a friend who guides. (catch me on FB =) )
            6. Teacher, thank you for this activity! I realise that how important friends are! You know I always think I'm alone before this activity, but maybe I will change my mind after doing this! I love you TEACHER! (my ss have feelings after all...)
            7. Teacher, well, you are a good teacher. A very dedicate and faithful teacher. You just never failed to carry out your work as a teacher. I really admire and respect your commitment in teaching! =) May you continue to be patient in teaching and many lives will be touched by you! (touching this...)

            Tell me what you think of the activity.