What a Box of Surprise!

Wow! We didn’t expect the prototype for our Professional Learning Team (PLT) project next year to look this good. What is our PLT project all about? We will make the announcement when the time is right. You’ll be excited to know what we are working on. For now, let’s keep it under wrap. We will proceed to order 40 sets of this prototype from the Game Crafter for our graduating students next year.

Happy Teachers’ Day

Our best wishes definitely go to all educators for their dedication in educating our young.

However, this year Teachers’ Day I would like to share an anecdote. It was an encounter I had with a ML teacher at a mosque for Friday prayer many years ago. I first knew this teacher when I was at MOE HQ and I have the upmost respect for him. It was in the month of Syawal and hari raya was just a week old. So naturally we talked about hari raya and in particular about having students visiting our homes.

What struck me during the conversation was about what he said of students under our charge. Till this day his words remain in my mind and has been a constant reminder for me to be a grateful servant. The teacher informed me that he would make sure that he invited all his students to his house for hari raya and treated them well when they came. When I asked him why take such trouble? His reply was unexpected but devastatingly cut deep.

He said: Para pelajar kita ini ada pundi-pundi rezeki kita. Melalui merekalah Tuhan memberikan kita rezeki. Tanpa mereka, tak tahulah dari mana datangnya rezeki kita.  

I was taken aback when I heard this.

So as we educators celebrate Teachers’ Day today, I would like to take this opportunity express my sincere gratitude to all my students past and present for being the best students I have and more importantly for overlooking my shortcomings and continue to be the pundi rezeki for me and my family.

Among all my students, the lovely bunch in the video above always draw a smile from me every time I watch this video. They were from my best cohort who produced our school best ever distinction passes the year they sat for their O level examinations. They acted and produced the video as a video project submission for our rentas cipta lesson to expose and get students interested in Malay folklore (cerita rakyat).

Check out the video. I am sure you would enjoy it as much as I did!

Terima kasih kepada semua pelajar cikgu!

How To Beat That Pre-Oral Jitters?

Cikgu, when I’m nervous I forget everything.

All too often we hear this remark from a handful of students who suffer from pre-oral jitters while waiting in the examination hall for their turn to face the oral examiners. The sight of the two oral examiners whom they have not seen before and anticipating their turn in fear not knowing how will they do in front of these strangers is understandable. So how do teachers advice students suffering from pre-oral jitters?

Pre-oral jitter is like stage fright and it hits even a seasoned entertainer. Some students suffer from pre-oral jitters even though they have prepared well for their oral examinations.

Traditionally, we encourage students to get into the habit of reciting the doa Moses was taught when he met Pharaoh every time during oral practices and more so during oral examinations.

My Lord, expand for me my breast (with assurance). And ease for me my task. And untie the knot from my tongue. That they may understand my speech.

Wahai Tuhanku, lapangkanlah bagiku, dadaku. Dan mudahkanlah bagiku, tugasku. Dan lepaskanlah simpulan dari lidahku, supaya mereka faham perkataanku.

This oral doa has a tremendous therapeutic effect to calm students’ nerves and improves their self-confidence during oral examinations. In the past we have seen its impact on students who worked hard but stutter since young. However, they performed well during the national oral exams bagging distinctions.

Nevertheless, there are students who need an additional hands-on approach apart from the oral doa to beat their pre-oral jitters. For these students we provide them each a small container of playdoh (see above). The container is no bigger than a lens of a spectacle that students can easily carry in their pockets. The playdoh is in a set of 12 multicolored short strings.

We advise these students not to look at the examiners while waiting for their turn to be called up by the oral assistant or time-keeper. They should focus instead on working on their playdohs creating objects of their choices. This exercise has two effects on these students; firstly, it distracts them from worry incessantly, and secondly, it triggers them to be creative as their finger their way turning their playdohs into interesting artifacts. This pre-oral exercise will beat any pre-oral jitters and sets students’ minds into problem-solving mode with all the creative juice they have feed their minds with.

I have got my daughter who is a primary school going pupil to buy the playdohs for me from her school bookstore. It costs me only 50 cents each. The playdohs are meant for 1-2 specific students who need the extra help to beat their pre-oral jitters.

Would this work for your students too? Why not send the link to this post to your students’ Whatsapp group chat?

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.