Saturday, 30 January 2010

Literature Component 2010- Kota Tinggi & Johor Bharu

Date   : 26-27 Jan 2010
Venue:  PKG Laksamana, Kota Tinggi - 41 teachers
Date   : 28-29 Jan 2010
Venue : SMK Tasek Utara (2), Johor Bharu - 43 teachers

Poetry in Motion- 'The River'

Me in SMK Tasek Utara (2) Language Room

Boy don't I look tired...
The chocolate cake special I baked for Aisyah & the KT gang..No secret ingredient :)

Johor Bharu was my last training centre for the new literature component. I've been training in four districts since last week and finally Kota Tinggi and Johor Bharu this week. JB was the only centre where I could bring the teachers out to act out 'The River' as the training room was next to this large open space. Although it was rather hot the teachers were sporting enough to carry it out.  It has been a great experience and an enriching one. The teachers were simply splendid!  Now,  time to get back on track with school work :) Thanks to all co-trainers (Azri and Hajariah), teachers, Language Officers from PPD Kluang, Kota Tinggi, Johor Bharu and Pontian (Farid, Mahyudin, Radziah and Hood) for the hospitality and to Pelangi and Setia Emas for the freebies.  A special thanks to Khairiah, a sweet  teacher from the host school who showed me the way to Sri Malaysia Hotel although I couldn't stay for the night after all (silly me left my 'baju kurung' at home!!). All the best to you teachers- be sure to make literature come alive in the classroom!

Johor Bharu District

Kota Tinggi District

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Gulp & Gasp: Kluang Teachers in Action

Best Group Performance: Group 2
From left: Hajariah (trainer), Noraini, Ida Soraya (Best Lord Septic), me,
 Farhan (always wriggling her toes happily despite being tied up as Rose!), Azri (trainer)

You can't beat Kluang coffee after two days of hard work!

Hmmm...Azri deep in thought on becoming a good trainer :)

Date: 21-22 Jan 2010
Venue: SMK Tinggi Kluang
Trainer: Azri, Hajariah and I

Hi everyone! Just got back from Gunung Lambak after three weeks of no exercise!! Boy was I panting but it sure felt good to sweat. My second pit stop in the training circuit- Kluang, my own homeground. Well-done to Kluang teachers for their participation in the Literature Component Course conducted recently. I thought they were wonderful and the drama was superb. I definitely saw a lot of potential in the young teachers. They have a lot of ideas and enthusiasm- they surely impressed me. We showed them their performances right after the session before announcing the best actor and actresses. I couldn't do it in Pontian as urs truly forgot to bring the videocam cable. Am trying my best to upload the video although the link seems to be missing from my blog! Photo bucket too failed and am now trying Youtube. Well-done to all teachers and co-trainers Azri and Hajariah! You made me proud. Results of the Golden globe Award:

Best Percy: Khoo Cheng May
Best Crouch: Roslinda Dollah
Best Rose: Mary Thomas
Best Lord Septic: Ida Soraya
Best Group: Group 2

Friday, 22 January 2010

Literature Component 2010 Training- PKG Pontian, 19-20th 2010

The Best Group
I'm a friendly ghost!
Rahman and co.
Help! Help! Microphone wire used to tie Crouch & Septic!
Met old friend Roslee
Discussion at work
Group work
Yesss! That's what I thought...
What do you think?
Lord Septic and Crouch in action!

We hit the training trail at our first stop- Pontian. This being our first pit stop, it served as a benchmark to the rest of the sessions later. Our experience in Pontian was flipping fantastic! Teachers were very sporting although a bit shy at first. They really impressed us with their drama performance despite the set up of the room. We managed to get teachers moving and to try 'Gulp & Gasp' and I think they really enjoyed themselves! Azri handled the session fantastically. Our next trail- Kluang! My homeground!!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Classroom Ideas: Teaching Adjectives

Yesterday during the single period in 5S1, I taught 'adjectives' by playing two interesting games that I learned from '700 Classroom Activities, David Seymour and Maria Popova (Macmillan). I purchased this book during the 2008 MICELT conference. As I had been teaching adjectives for the whole week, this was a wrap up lesson for reinforcement.
 The first game was called  'Someone who...'
  1. Tell ss you are going to read to them (listening in progress) some descriptions of people. I chose 18 out of 20 descriptions as the other two were not suitable.
  2. For each one, ss shout out the adjective that describes the person. T writes the adjectives on the board.
  3. Ss write the number and name of the person they know is like that.
  4. SS compare their list with partner.
The second game was 'People and Places':
  1.  Divide your class into Team A and B.
  2. T say out the nouns (e.g.s house, river, actress) . Group A shout out a positive adjective of the place and Group B shout out the negative adjective e.g. house- A- stylish  B- old
  3. Compare your descriptions.
Since this was a good class, I asked for three adjectives instead of one and extended the nouns outside 'People & Places'.
+ points: minimal preparation needed, reinforcement of adjectives learnt for the whole week.
Try it and share your experience.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

19,000 hits and growing!

Thanks for visiting my blog. 19,000 hits so far and growing!

How to prepare a scheme of work?

1. I received some requests recently via e-mail concerning how to prepare a scheme of work as the new term has started. I believe that schemes of work should not be standardised. A strong statement maybe? I'm speaking from experience. Let me share something with you. I am teaching two Form 5 classes this year and in terms of proficiency, they are miles apart. Given their rate of learning, I must have two separate schemes of work for them. It will be unfair to my students to have the exact same thing as their abilities differ greatly. As a matter of fact,  I spent three weeks to get them completed. My advice to teachers is to go through the process of preparing your own scheme of work essentially because it is a good way of learning. When it is ready, all you need to do is to alter the neccesary part the following year. Cutting and pasting from colleagues is not a good idea because it will just mean having something just to please your boss! Look at the students you have and plan what is appropriate for them. There is no one standardised format for a scheme of work, you will agree with me but some principles to look for are:

  • Begin by breaking down the year into chunks. How many themes/topics/language skills do you need to teach?  Allow yourself a couple of weeks at the end for revision and assessment - or games. Allow a week at the start for introductory lessons.
  • Decide how long you'll need for each of these chunks. Perhaps you'd have about 2-3 weeks per chunkThink about what resources you'll need. Textbooks? Mahjong paper and felt tips? Computers? Write these in the Resources column. (Some schemes of work have a 'resource' column.)
  • Decide the core language skills you cover for the semester absed on you curriculum specifications. (Some teachers prefer to build their scheme of work one semester at a time). This seems very flexible to me.
2. On a more serious note, your scheme of work is your work plan for the whole year and what you hope your students to achieve. Don't forget, it is the teacher's equivalent of the builder's plan and the engineer's blueprint. Hence it's an important part of our job to plan one suited for our classroom. Having said that, I have included a template for a scheme to download SAMPLE TEMPLATE. I hope it helps. Remember to leave lots of white space, for annotations, after thoughts, reflections in order to see what works and what doesn't. You will be able to take these feedback into consideration when you plan your next scheme of work.

3. Another thing I do is to have a file with monthly dividers and weekly dividers where I place master copies and answer key for the handouts, activities carried out for that week. Obviously these resources must go hand in hand with my scheme of work. This helps me greatly as I will have a complete resource for materials that I have used the following year and photocopying the materials is much easier! On top of that, I have blank sheets in the weekly divider to jot down any reflections on wether the materials work or otherwise after the lesson. Yes, it's a lot work..but this is what am paid for :)

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

To Madam With Love!

It was a beautiful sunny day in SMK Canossian Convent. For the past week or so, we have had cloudy skies but today was exceptionally bright as if the powers that be understood there was going to be an important event taking place! Madam Tan's farewell ceremony today began at 11.15 a.m. in the school hall. Honourable guests who graced the occassion were Sister Geraldine Tan (Mother Provincial), Mr Larry (Chairman, Board of Governors) and Mr Lee Kwok Hee (Chairman, PTA SMK Canossian Convent). A variety of performances was held for the special ocassion and the one that stole the limelight was inevitably the teachers' dance. I thought they were superb!! Well-done to Ain, Marina, Ija, Kartini, Wan, and Sham! Prior to this was a grand farewell dinner hosted by the PTA in Prime City Hotel on 9th January. It was a splendid evening and a memorable one. The Deputy Minister, Honourable How Kok Chung attended the farewell too.

Todays' event was even more special as it was held in the school ground where Madam Tan had served for six years as principal. I thought I could hold back tears but no... I just couldn't believe she was actually seems like only yesterday I reported for duty in Convent. I kept 'postponing' her retirement date and pretending she was still going to be around. But today, it hit me like a rock. it's going to take some time to really sink in. How time flies.

Let me record a special thanks to madam Tan for being a good listener and for all the advice she had given me. At times when I thought I had become wiser, I hadn't- little did she know that she had shown me there were still many things I needed to learn and one of those important things was to be in control of my emotions.  Indeed with age comes wisdom (although I do not want to get older too fast!!) Thanks for this 'gift' you've left me-something I will never forget. Please also accept my apologies for anything I've said and done that may have hurt your feelings. To err is human to forgive divine.  At lunch today I was asked whether I had adapted to SMKCC by the PTA chairman and my answer to that was an honest one- I took a longer time than I had expected. Well, better late than never. Although I have never said it before, SMKCC has essentially taught me to be a better teacher. Thanks to you Madam. Here's wishing you good health and happiness on your retirement. Keep in touch! (Thanks to Qiao Wen for the great photos she snapped for me)

Sunday, 10 January 2010

New Literature Component State level Course 2010

The new literature component course for the state of Johor will be held as follows:
  • 19-20 January 2010- Kulai (SMK IndahPura 1), Pontian (PKG Benut), Batu Pahat (PKG Penggaram)
  • 21-22 January 2010- Kluang (STK), Segamat (PKG Segamat Baru) , Muar (PKG Tengku Bendahara)
  • 26-27 January 2010- Kota Tinggi (PKG Laksamana), Pasir Gudang (SMK Pasir Putih)
  • 28-29 January 2010- Johor Bharu (SMK Tun Aminah & SDARY) , Mersing (PKG Mersing)
I will be able to give more information after the state coordination meeting tomorow in Air Hitam.Meanwhile read the texts supplied to your school before you come to the course! I will be training in Muar, Pontian, Johor Bharu and Kota Tinggi.

Fun With Grammar- free download

Image from

1. If you're looking for fun ways to teach grammar, you can download FUN WITH GRAMMAR- BETTY AZAR . I've used this book for a few years now. There are plenty of fun activities to make that grammar class of yours fun and lively! Make that change today and try something new in the classroom.  You will never know until you try the activities yourself. (You can also click on the link in left sidebar under 'Grammar')

Too often I think, we teachers let worksheets do the talking (and teaching?) for us. Yes, materials are important but they should not replace us in the classroom. Handouts are not there to do the teaching for us. They are support materials to hep us in our teaching.  You will find 16 chapters altogether covering all aspects of grammar in this wonderful resource. If you have anything you would like to share with other teachers and ELT practitioners, leave your message in the comments section or email me.

2. Thanks for the emails I've been receiving from teacher trainees. It's great to know you find my blog useful. Feel free to discuss anything related to ESL and I shall try my best to answer your questions.  Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

MELTA 2010

MELTA (The Malaysian English Language Teaching Association) will be hosting the19th International Conference at three different locations:

  • 7 and 8 June 2010 (Kuala Lumpur)
  • 11 and 12 June 2010 (Kuantan, Pahang)
  • 17 and 18 June 2010 (Kuching, Sarawak)

 This year's theme is Transformations in English Language Education: Vision Innovation, Implementation.  
 For more information, visit

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

First School Assembly 2010

PK1 Hjh Mahizan

The school hall with a brand new coat of paint!-courtesy PIBG

The team

Enthusiastic students back to school

Senior teachers

From left: Mr Cheng (GPK Co curricular) ,Madam Tan (outgoing principal) and Dr Rekha (GPK HEM)

All ears

(Madam Tan at her last assembly with students)

 It was good to see Madam Tan again after the holidays although she is retiring on the 13th January! It was good to have her set the focus of the school and to give us that sense of direction. She did not show any signs of retiring- as energetic as ever! She congratulated students, teachers and staff for the recent PMR results (88% passes, GPS 1.95, 31st in the state). Some pointers in her speech:
  • congratulated teachers and students forthe Anugerah Sekolah Harian Terbaik 2010 award (second consecutive year) in the state (although she was rather disappointed with the drop in the percentage of passes. SMCC has always surpassed 90% in previous years)
  • 34 perfect scores
  • RM200,000 allocation by the ministry for a computer lab
  • 20 near-miss 'gemilang'
She also mentioned the public-speaking programme carried out last year which she hopes will continue. This was her last formal assembly with us and she wished us well. Two farewell stints are in place for her.
She will be missed.
Let's hope 2010 will raise standards in SMCC!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Literature Component 2010

Many have asked me about the literature component via sms and emails. As a GC, I see it as a responsibility  to disseminate information (of the non-confidential type) although this was met with some misunderstandings recently. There are many blogs I have come across writing on this topic though. As a matter of fact my first posting on the new literature component was AFTER the texts (book loan) had been published. It's amazing how people jump to conclusions without even giving the other party  the chance to explain things. Regardless of your position, education background, age etc. etc. keeping an open mind and having that sense of humour are important to be able to read a blog post and to decide whether you will laugh, cry or scream. For one who has been involved with confidential work for over 20 years, surely I would know where to draw the line. And who would have thought  my small blog would have been noticed :). Anyway, it will not dampen my spirit to continue sharing.

Many books on the new literature component are available in the market now and as a matter of fact,  they were already available when I first posted on this topic. However, the two that I like are Pelangi (pict below) and Setia Emas Publications. I co-wrote the Pelangi book and we tried to keep it as simple as possible as it's for lower secondary (promo in progress hehe).  For the poem 'A fighter's Lines, I actually spoke to Pak Marzuki Ali (the poet) himself!- an out of this world experience albeit a short conversation. I must thank Pak Marzuki for his insights and not forgetting Cahaya ( an ex-convent student whose godfather knows Pak Marzuki- that explains how I got in touch.

The Setia Emas book is rather detail- something you  may want to buy as a reference book rather than a workbook. My students would be discouraged by the notes. What I like is a book with just enough notes that I can expound on and plenty of exercises.

(Literature Component Forms 1-3, Pelangi Publications)
The River (Valerie Bloom)
Mr. Nobody (anonymous)
Short Stories
Flipping Fantastic (Jane Langford)
Graphic Novels (one for each zone)
I wonder (Jeannie Kirby)
Heir conditioning (M Shanmugalingham)
Short Stories
One is One and All Alone (Nicholas Fisk)
Rumplestiltkin (Angela Lanyon)
A Fighter's Lines (Marzuki Ali)
Leisure (William Henry Davies)
Novel- to be decided
In the Midst of Hardship (Latif Mohidin)
He had such Quiet Eyes (Bibsy Soenhardjo)
Short Stories
QWERTYUIOP (Vivien Alcock)
The Fruitcake Special (Frank Brennan)
Gulp and Gasp (John Townsend)
Nature (H.D. Carberry)
Are You Still Playing the Flute (Zurinah Hassan)
Novel - to be decided

If you are looking for web materials on the texts above, you will be disappointed especially the local texts. This is the problem with us Malaysians- we are good users but bad contributors! I mean you know how difficult it is to find information on local writers and authors and anything academic for that matter. We have yet to cultivate that culture of sharing and disseminating information. I appreciate the west- at how selfless many bloggers and webmasters are in sharing information with the public. Yes they do monetise but that's their right totally but we get the information we want. I thought with globalisation and all the jazz, information would be within reach but in reality we are far behind. However, if anyone has found good links , do share. The best thing to do at this point in time teachers, is to use the books available in the market if you want to at least get a sneak preview of the new texts you will be teaching.

Be sure to insert the new texts in your scheme of work for Forms 1 and 4. Happy Teaching!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year!

 Happy New Year Everybody!

Resolutions? Well for the new year I hope I can achieve the following:

  • lose weight (an uphill task...)
  • teach my students really well
  • be up-to-date with my marking
  • be healthy (exercise more often)
  • cook more often (hehe...hubby has been hinting)
  • complain less
  • gossip less
  • complete my action research
  • finish the manuscript am writing
  • save more (2010 year of savings!)
  • reduce my addiction to Blo_ _ _ _ g
  • travel somewhere Mac (London here I come.)
 Sorry God, I know I'm greedy!