Monsters in a Box!

Finally our Mini Monsters has arrived all the way from the US!

We were waiting for this throughout the school holidays. The wait is now over and it is worth waiting. The final product just looks amazing! We can’t wait to try this teaching and learning aid with our lower secondary classes.

Oh btw, the Mini Monsters is an oral guides we designed to help warm our lower secondary students to our oral strategies. We’ll discuss more about what it can do in the Mini Monsters Oral Guides page in due time.

We have not made our Mini Monsters Oral Guides public by publishing it in The Game Crafter for anyone who would like to buy it but we hope to do that soon and announce it in the Mini Monster Oral Guides page.

If you have any query about about this amazing teaching and learning aid, do drop us an email.

CROSS THE LINE ~ The Target Setting Activity Visually!

Our PLT project this year is the Saya Pelajar A1 Collectibles which we introduce to our graduating class who will be sitting for the Malay Language O Level Examinations in June. We use these collectibles as a teaching resource to invoke our students’ affective domain in order to motivate them to work harder to achieve distinctions in their O Level Examinations for Malay Language.

Details of our journey in coming up with these collectibles can be found here. We documented our journey in the longest ever post we had written. Happy reading! We hope that you gleam useful lessons from our experiences. : )

The above is the first lesson of our PLT project. The lesson is called ‘Cross The Line’. ‘Cross The Line’ focuses on helping students to set targets for their Malay Language O Level Examinations in June, identify possible challenges and solutions to overcome those challenges, and finally learn from alumni who scored distinctions in the previous Malay Language O Level Examinations.

This first lesson is the first of five installments where we will repeat segments of the first lesson again throught the first semester before our students sit for their O Level Examinations for Malay Language in June. We do this so that our students are often reminded of their targets and can track their progress visually. Puzzled? Just check out the video and you can find more details here.

And finally, if you would like to carry out this PLT project with your graduating students this year, do get in touch with us. We would love to learn from you!

Pelajar Cemerlang Series 2

This is the second series of videos where some of the students who scored distinctions in the June ML O level exams volunteered to share their success recipe. The videos serve as good motivation resources for future graduating students working towards ML distinctions. You can view all the videos here; https://karangkutu.com/pelajar-cemerlang-series/

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!