THANK YOU!

We would like to thank everyone who had visited out booth during the recent 2-day ExcelFest. We are grateful and humbled by your encouraging words and support.

Click to view the poster in pdf

Our exhibition posters at the Excel Fest. Click to view the poster in pdf.

We hope that our sharing continues to generate ideas among us to bring about innovative and effective teaching strategies and resources into our classrooms for the benefit of our students. We are amazed by the extended marketing lifespan of our Saya Boleh Membaca! app and we thank God for this. It is only through His grace that we were able to promote our app on prestigious platforms such as the International Conference Teaching and Leaning with Technology 2018, Innergy (Schools) Award 2018 with a Bronze Medal and ExcelFest 2019. Through these platforms, we were able to share with fellow educators the benefits of our app and encouraged them to use it with their students. Let us ensure that NO students whom we have the pleasure to teach leave us without knowing how to read.

Our promotional video that we played during the Excel Fest.

Writing an Impressive EAE Write-up

Working towards a successful EAE application begins with submitting an impressive EAE write-up that stands out. The challenge is how to write one?

Below are a collection of write-ups we have collected over the years helping students write and polish up their EAE write-ups. The samples are a good resource for graduating students to think about what everyday experiences they can creatively include in their write-ups. Aside that, they can take away some know-hows how to present their main info ‘jump into the eyes’ of the reviewers and not get buried because of poor organisation.

Note-taking Versus Note-making

We get our students to write their own notes.

We do this because primarily we want our students to make sense of what they learn in our lessons. In the past we provided our students with notes that we wrote on the whiteboard, present them on powerpoint slides or print them on handouts. However, we soon learn that this approach only makes learning passive and transfer of knowledge difficult.

Secondly, we insist our students to write their own notes so that they have ownership. Their notes are unique as what they take away as key points from our lessons differ because of their prior understanding and knowledge vary.

However, Rick Smith has taught us that self note-taking even if ended up with good notes is not necessarily enough for effective learning. We learn that self note-taking can be a passive learning endeavour too. Rick offered us the idea of note-making and showed us that note-making is more active and focused activity where students assimilate all information they have written and take understanding to a (meta) higher level. He shared with us a number of note-making activities and we use them after we have taught a body of knowledge to help our students consolidate what they have learn from their notes.

Below are several note-making activities that we have used in our lessons apart from the one shown in the video above:

Summary

We carried out this note-making activity as a whole-class approach. We started the summary by writing the first two sentences on the whiteboard. Students were invited to contribute two sentence to the summary but writing their second sentence only after their peers had added their first sentences. Students had to ensure that their sentences provided a good flow to the structure of the summary for easy understanding. At the end of this activity, students were invited to review the summary to critique and query each other contributions.

Slogan

Student has to derive the essence of a body of knowledge taught and turn it into one short phrase or a slogan. A good slogan is memorable and durable. When a good slogan occupies prime real estate in a student’s subconscious, it aids the student to recall the body of knowledge he or she had learnt.

Questions!

We used this note-making activity as an exit pass for students to leave the class at the end of our lesson. We started by asking students to select only three facts out of the many things that they had learnt from our lesson and come up with a corresponding question for each fact. Students were then invited to stand up and approach other students (one at a time) to trade a question that they had come up with earlier. At the end of the activity, we asked if there was any question that the students were not able to answer correctly at their first attempt. This allows us to surface student’s misconceptions and address them immediately.

Translation

This note-making activity is useful as a starter activity when we have a body of knowledge to teach. We used this activity when we had to teach students a list of peribahasa or proverbs. We divided the class into groups and assigned each group to translate the meanings of selected set of peribahasa into English. To our amazement, the students were deeply engaged that we saw them taking turn to teach the peribahasa and correcting each other translation. This activity allows students to develop their baseline understanding of the peribahasa before we start teaching them to students

Acronym

We employ this note-making activity when we require students to bring into memory procedural knowledge. Students has to first derive key ideas of a body of knowledge taught before they could encapsulate them into an acronym. As with slogan, a good acronym is memorable and durable, and it is a effective tool to help students recall key ideas of what they had learnt.

We encourage you to try these note-making activities with your students. Good luck!

Teaching Lisan Using Theme From The International Friendship Day

We commemorate the International Friendship Day this week with the theme Friends Next Door. One of the many learning activities to engage students during the commemoration is to use the video above as an oral resource for lower secondary students.

We prepare lower secondary students for oral examination by familiarizing them with a set of thinking routines to answer a CONNECT and a CHALLENGE questions. A typical CONNECT and CHALLENGE questions are the respective first and second questions usually asked during an oral examination.

A CONNECT question seeks answer that connect to student’s experience as well as an analysis of that experience. A CHALLENGE question on the other hand, presents student with a challenge to solve. Students are expected to mention two categories of problem solver and what they need to do. To elucidate their case, students need to present a personal experience as an example.

For this video, we recommend the following CONNECT and CHALLENGE questions as well as their respective thinking routines. We make use of our Mini Monsters thinking routine cards during our preparatory lessons to prepare lower secondary students for oral examination.

CONNECT QUESTION
Adakah kamu mempunyai seorang teman sekolah yang berasal dari luar negara. Apakah perkara yang menarik mengenai teman kamu itu?

Pengalaman
Saya pernah . . .
Students are expected to describe in 10 sentences details of their experiences using the guide 5W1H (Who, What, Why, Where, When & How).

Perasaan
Saya rasa . . .
Students are expected to give two contrasting emotions to give a balance response, and explain why.

Pendapat
Saya berpendapat . . .
Students are expected to give the goodness/advantage and evil/disadvantage of what they have gathered, and explain why.

Pelajaran
Saya belajar . . .
Students are expected to present what they have learnt “to do” and “not to do”, and explain why.

Perasaan
Nilai yang boleh digarap adalah . . .
Students are expected to give two values related to their experiences.

CHALLENGE QUESTION
Bagaimana boleh kita mengalakkan para pelajar untuk mudah membuat kawan dengan teman sekolah yang berasal dari luar negara?

Kenapa Soalan Ditanya
Soalan ini ditanya kerana . . .
Students are expected to give two reasons why the question is asked to indicate that they are familiar with the issues related to the question.

Keluarga
Pertama dan utama, ibu bapa boleh . . .
Parents are the first category of problem solver. Students are expected to indicate what can parents do and elucidate their case with a personal experience as an example. 

Sekolah
Kedua dan sama penting, pihak sekolah boleh . . .
School is the second category of problem solver. Students are expected to indicate what can their schools do and elucidate their case with a personal experience as an example. 

Our Mini Monsters thinking routine cards is a prototype, and we are collecting feedback from teachers and students alike how to improve them further. Perhaps in a future post we will talk more about them and share in more details how we use them during our lesson.

Improving Oral Content and Organization Using Guides in Our Oral Apps

Students need guidance to improve their oral content and organization. For this purpose, we have provided guides in our oral apps to help students do well in their oral examinations. In the video above, these Secondary Four Normal Academic students made use of the guides in our oral apps to improve their oral content and organization.

Our apps Lisan 1, Lisan 2, Lisan 3 and Lisan 4 cover all the respective topics in the Jauhari textbooks, and are available free for android phones and tablets. Apart from the guides, students have access all the oral videos and questions related to the respective topics in the Jauhari textbooks. In addition, the apps help students to make an informed guess of the oral questions that the examiners may ask while they wait for their turn to be called for oral examination.

Please check out the apps below. We hope that you and your students will find the apps useful.

How We Teach Descriptive Writing

This is an extraordinary descriptive essay written by Nur Adlina. Nur Adlina is a Secondary 3 Express student who we taught our descriptive writing technique only this year. Prior to this, we taught her how to writing the first two paragraphs in the Bahagian Pengenalan when she was in Secondary 2 to expose her to some elements in our descriptive writing technique. So, this essay is her first attempt at writing a descriptive essay after learning the technique. And all praise to God, what a great essay she wrote!

We gave 39/40 for this amazing essay, and this is why:

So how do we teach our descriptive writing technique?

Context:
Firstly, our Secondary 3 students were taught some elements of our technique when they were in Secondary 2. However, their competent level is still at intermediate level as they were not taught the whole technique, and as such, could not see and appreciate how the elements taught connect and support other elements in the technique to form a complete descriptive essay.

We did this on purpose as we felt that the students were not ready to learn our descriptive writing technique at Secondary 2. However, exposure to certain elements of the technique in Secondary 2 put them in a stronger position to learn the technique in Secondary 3.

Secondly, every Secondary 3 students were given a copy of our book Contoh Karangan Untuk Persiapan Peringkat O. The book becomes a required text and a central piece in our teaching of the technique.

Our Teaching Approaches:
We adopted a back and forth approach between (a) explicitly focused on illustrating the different elements in the technique as well as (b) monitor and provide feedback of student’s demonstration of learning. This we carried out over three cycles.

The first cycle
We chose a descriptive essay from our book and familiarized our students the descriptive essay structure found on page 8 in the book by highlighting the specifics found in every paragraphs on the descriptive essay. We explained the ‘why and how’s the specifics play an important role in each paragraph and across all paragraphs to form a complete and a coherent descriptive essay.

Next, we engaged students to highlight these specifics in another descriptive essay we chose from our book. They would then take turn to explain the ‘why and how’s the specifics work together to present a descriptive essay that meets the expectation of the question. As students presented their explanations, we queried students with probing questions to seek gaps in understanding and addressed them.

The second cycle
We chose a descriptive question and engage students to demonstrate their learning by writing an descriptive essay. We chose a descriptive question from the November 2018 O Level Paper 1 for Malay language.

Kamu menyangka bahawa ibu bapa kamu akan memarahi kamu disebabkan oleh sesuatu perkara yang telah kamu lakukan. Namun, setelah memberitahu ibu bapa kamu kedudukan perkara yang sebenarnya, mereka tidak memarahi kamu. Gambarkan kejadian itu dan pengalaman yang kamu perolehi daripada kejadian tersebut.

We used flipped classroom pedagogy for this activity. In this activity, students submitted paragraph by paragraph of their 5-paragraph essays every lesson in a specially created Padlet website. In the Padlet website we embedded short video guides that illustrated students how to write each paragraph correctly. The video guides reinforced what students have already learnt in the first cycle activity.

Teachers may ask how can they access these video guides.

Well, the video guides are available in the password-protected spaces in this website. We provide teachers who have attended our workshops before with the passwords to access these spaces. Now, we provide these passwords also to teachers who use our books to help them teach our writing techniques to their students better.

We selected and read a few students’ paragraphs in each lesson for feedback. In our feedback, we highlighted common mistakes that students generally made so that our comments were applicable and useful to all students, even those whom we did not read their paragraphs for feedback.

The third cycle
We carry out the the third cycle when we feel the need to remediate if learning gaps continue to exist and are evident from student’s paragraphs. When this happens we will select the specific paragraph(s) and demonstrate how we would write it ourselves onto the whiteboard for all to see. We will talk aloud or verbalize loudly every decision we took when writing every single line. In this way students will understand the rational behind every moves we took when writing the paragraph(s).

The pedagogy for this approach is called Cognitive Apprenticeship. Cognitive Apprenticeship is a theory that attempts to bring tacit processes out in the open. It assumes that people learn from one another, through observation, imitation and modeling. In our case we use modeling and talk our thought process aloud to demonstrate to students the tacit process when writing every paragraph of a descriptive essay.

Support
We have received a query from a teacher asking if we will be organizing any workshop for teachers in the future. We have a workshop coming up in May but it is for trainee teachers. However, with the coming March holidays, we welcome any school who would like to invite us to hold a workshop for teachers who are using our writing techniques when teaching descriptive, expository and/or narrative writing. We propose a Q&A format workshop where participants come with a list if questions seeking clarification about our writing techniques and how to teach them better.

If you are keen to hold the workshop in your school this March holidays, let us know and we will help promote the workshop via our website. We suggest the workshop should be open to teachers who are already using our writing techniques so that they have some prior knowledge before attending the workshop. In this way, they will enjoy tremendous benefits from the workshop, if God wills.

Teaching Expository Writing Using The Theme Total Defence

Many students struggle to write good expository writing because they lack content and good writing technique. To teach students good expository writing technique is difficult if they do not have content. And so to help students with some content is a necessary first step to help them work on mastery our expository writing technique.

This week we commemorate Total Defence Day and what better theme to write an expository writing other than that on Total Defence. As an educator I notice that many students do not realize how close they are to building self-capacity for Total Defence through their engagement in school. One of these areas in through CCA, in particular the uniform groups. And such the video above can help students realize this as well as learn expository writing technique if it is used in teaching.

A possible expository essay question can be as follows:

Penglibatan pelajar dalam kegiatan kokurikulum pasukan berseragam dapat membina keupayaan mereka untuk menyumbang kepada pertahanan negara.

So how to use this video?

First I would have students collect as many vocabulary they can find that is related to the theme Total Defence from watching the video. Next they will pool together these vocabulary and work on translating them into Malay together through the use of Kamus Pro Online Dictionary.

Next, students will work on writing the different paragraphs for all the three segments in our expository essay structure. The structure and samples of expository essays can be found in our Contoh Karangan Untuk Persiapan Peringkat O and N books. Teachers and students who have access to these books will benefit from this post sharing.

Using the book as a guide, student would have enough resources from the video to choose to write either permulaan jenis suasana or permulaan jenis perbincangan for the Bahagian Pengenalan.

Students can then work on familiarising themselves with the P.E.E.L technique for the four content paragraphs in the Bahagian Utama. They can choose to focus on four out of the five uniform groups highlighted in the video for each of the four content paragraphs. I would insist that students use the different penanda wacana used in the expository essay samples found in the books for the different elements (Point, Elaborate, Example & Link Back) in the P.E.E.L technique for each paragraph.

In addition to that, I would insist that students write 6-8 sentences for each content paragraph – Point:1 sentence; Elaborate: 2-3 sentences; Example: 3-4 sentences; and Link Back: 1 sentence. This will give the expository essay good optics. Optics is achieved when all the paragraphs in an expository essay are of the same length. Optics is important because it provides balance for the overall expository essay and gives the impression that the student have explored equally enough for all the content paragraphs.

The video will provide enough resources for student to reflect for rumusan, cadangan, harapan and pendirian penulis, elements needed in the Bahagian Penutup.

Good luck! I hope you find this sharing useful.

Here is a well-written essay by Farah Nadhira on this topic after the above lesson was carried out in her Sec 4 Normal Academic class.