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:


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.


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.


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.


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


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 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.

A MUST-HAVE BOOK: Contoh Karangan Untuk Persiapan Peringkat N

We have just published a must have book for students preparing for the N level examination. This book consists of descriptive, expository and narrative essays written using Karangkutu writing strategies. In addition, the structure of the different genres are presented for easy students comprehension. Another interesting feature is that the essays are written with a variety of themes that will spark in students interesting ideas when writing their essays.

This is a good reading companion for students, an excellent resource to have in school and class libraries, as well as a must-have teaching guide for teachers. To order a copy, please sms 81213129.

FREE KEMBARA NUSA 1: Android Apps Percuma Untuk Majalah Pendidikan Edufront Learning Centre

We have published  the new Kembara Nusa 1 apps for phones and tablets on Google Play.

Kembara  Nusa 1 is an apps version of the Kembara  Nusa Edition 1 (2016), a termly produced learning magazine by the Edufront Learning Centre. This magazine is among other resources used by the Edufront Learning Centre to develop learner’s interest and competency in Malay language and culture.

The first edition of the magazine is available free now in this apps.

Search “karangkutu” or “Kembara Nusa” on Google Play from your mobile devices.


Android Apps for Karangan Ekspositori (N Level Format)

We have published our new Karangan Ekspositori (Format N) apps for phones and tablets on Google Play.


This apps contains a collection of expository essays employing Karangkutu writing technique for expository questions based on N level format. The list of expository essays is available here.

Search “karangan ekspositori” or “karangkutu” on Google Play from your mobile devices.