Using Our Books to Better Support Learning

We provide our upper secondary students from the Express and Normal Academic streams a copy of our karangan and email books. This approach allows our students with better support when we teach our writing strategies. Our students are able to see how the strategies play out in the samples karangan and email in the book and model them when completing their writing assignments.

On this note, we encourage you to consider including our books in your school booklist for upper secondary Express and Normal Academic classes. Do raise your intention with the owner of your school’s bookstore and instruct the owner to contact us for supply. Do let us know early so that we can set aside supply for your school.

We have just sent the manuscript of our fourth book – Panduan Bacaan & Lisan Untuk Persiapan Peringkat N & O – for printing. We plan to provide our graduating students a copy of this book next year to better support them for their Oral O Level Examination. We are aware as educators that the oral examination is the third-largest mark component of the overall Malay Language assessment in the O Level Examinations. We believe that the book is a good investment for students who are working towards doing well for the Malay Language O Level Examinations.

You may want to include this book too in your Secondary 4 and 5 classes’ booklists. Do contact us should you be interested to do so.

Preparing Students Psychologically for the Imminent ML O Level Results Release

What does a Japanese racehorse have anything to do with graduating classes and the Malay Language O Level results release. Who would have thought that there is a connection and a useful one too?

The Malay Language O Level results release is imminent. The release is anticipated with a varying degree of trepidations from many students, even those who were consistently doing well in assignments and are expected to do ace the examinations. They are the focus of our one-time lesson specially designed for the pre-Malay Language O Level results release.

The objective of our lesson is to psychologically prepare our graduating students when they receive their Malay Language O Level results. All of them have worked tirelessly for the past 18 months now. However, we adults are wise enough to know that life may not necessarily play out as how we plan it to be and we may not get in the end what we have strived hard towards to before. Our students are too young to know this and maybe too inexperienced to accept disappointment to bounce back stronger and focus on the next step.

The next step for our graduating students is the November O Level Examinations for their remaining subjects. They have to remain focus regardless of what is the outcome of their Malay Langauge O Level results. They can achieve this if they are able to take disappointment well and bounce back as soon as possible. However, we have seen over the years there would always be a few whom we had expected to do well lost a lot of time because they were sucked into a depression after receiving an unfavourable result. This lesson is for them.

What this lesson is not – and this is an important caveat – is that it is not for students who refuse to work hard from the start. They should not take what they learn from the lesson any respite for their poor results that were of their own doing. This has to be made clear from the start of the lesson. We do not want students to walk away from the lesson with any unintended message that may affect negatively how they approach work and challenges in life moving forward. We thank God that most of our students are highly motivated to work hard to ace their examinations except for a very small number.

Our special lesson is designed around a short film about a Japanese racehorse named Haru Urara. The video is available in Vimeo. The original lesson can be found here but we have made some modifications.

The most prominent modification is an activity called Dearest me that we have added at the end of the lesson. In this activity, students are invited to write a motivational note to themselves via Google Form using their handphones. These notes are for their eyes only and will not be shared with others. As such, they are expected to be sincere and upfront with what they wrote. Their notes consist of advice and words of motivation to themselves should they get unfavourable results, may God forbids.

We will text these notes to them after the release of the results. What better way to shake one up from a depression slumber than reading one own advice and motivation!

We encourage you to modify the lesson to what suits your students best. Good luck! Do share with us how you lesson went. We would love to hear from you. Cheers

Teaching Comprehension Question Types

We teach our graduating students systematically on how to ace comprehension exercises.

Our 5-step approach consists of teaching them (1) what makes up the structure of a comprehension passage, (2) how to annotate every paragraph in the passage, (3) how to match questions to answers in the passage, (4) what are the different question types and how to answer them, and (5) how to derive the meaning of selected vocabulary asked in the questions.

We share with you here resources we use teaching our graduating students the different question types for 5-mark comprehension questions. You’ll find our lesson recording above and the PowerPoint slides used in the lesson here useful. We hope you benefit from our sharing.

Recent Graduates Shared Their O Level Experiences (and More!)

We invited our most recent graduates to share with our graduating students their experiences preparing for their Malay Language O Level Examinations experiences. This sharing was part of the motivation segment that we conducted on the last day of our Intensive Mother Tongue Programme and has become a tradition that we have maintained for several years now. Following the sharing was the prize-giving ceremony that we have discussed extensively here to end our programme on a high.

The selected students whom we had invited scored distinctions for their Malay Language O Level Examinations and represented both the Secondary 4 Express and 5 Normal Academic streams. Their sharing was meant to inspire our graduating students to work hard specifically for Malay Language and generally for other subjects in the O Level Examinations, In addition, they had the opportunity to learn first-hand experiences from those who ‘have been there and done that’. This was facilitated by the Q&A session where our students could ask these graduates any questions at all.

From our experiences thus far, the questions our students put forth did not necessarily centre around Malay Language and other subjects alone but touched on a range of other topics like EAE application and interview, life in polytechnic and BGR. It was amazing to see our students being comfortable discussing openly and learn from their seniors (under our close watch of course, where we jumped in when we felt it was important to enlighten any possible misinformation *smile).

We conducted the session via Google Meet this year because of the pandemic. Nevertheless, the session was still as engaging as when we did it face to face in the previous years. This year we had Adibah, Asyiqin, Nadhirah and Adam. They had been generous and also volunteered to share in our Pelajar Cemerlang Series sharing on this website. We have seen a lot of benefits from holding this sharing and we encourage you to consider having it during your yearly Intensive Mother Tongue Programme for your graduating students. All the best!

Motivational Gifts for Graduating Students

We continued our yearly tradition of holding a prize-giving ceremony during our intensive mother programme this year. We held this ceremony at the end of the programme and it was meant to lift up our graduating students’ spirits, as the programme was quite an energy-sapping experience. The ceremony was also to reward them for working hard to learn Malay throughout their 4-5 years stay in our school.

We have seen our students grew and mature right before our eyes. We felt honoured that we had the opportunity to teach them not just the content of our subject expertise but also nurture them into individuals with wholesome values and good work ethics from our classroom interactions with them. How we wish that our influence would sustain and be far-reaching, even after our students have left us. With this in mind, we have thought of the right gift for them.

This year we have decided to gift each of our students a Solar System Crystal Ball. This 6 by 6 cm crystal ball can be part of their bedroom decorations whereby upon looking at these gifts remind them fondly of us and the advice we gave them, as well as the memorable experiences they had during our lessons.

Why the Solar System Crystal Ball?
Well, a documentary about the Apollo 8 mission that sent humanity to circle the moon for the first time in 1968 had inspired us. Though it took the following year for Apollo 11 mission to land humans on the celestial body, this mission was still nothing short of spectacular. The Apollo 8 crew were fixated at the moon as the spacecraft circled around it was understandable. The inaugural mission to the moon was a momentous moment for humanity. The whole proceeding was telecasted live that many people around the world could see the moon’s surface up close for the first time to concur if the moon was really as it was described in their local folklore of romance genre.

Something profound happens when astronauts see Earth from space for the first time

Just as all eyes were fixated on the moon, one of the Apollo 8 crew had a Eureka moment to turn the camera around to capture the sight of the Earth. He must have been curious how our planet looked like as arguably no one had seen our blue planet from space up till then. The sight of the Earth the size of a soccer ball was a gasp of surprise. Looking at our mother planet for the first time gave rise to a profound and overwhelming shift in awareness. This sense of awe is now described as the Overview Effect.

What is the Overview Effect?
While the Overview Effect is understood and discussed broadly by commentators (as evident in the Vimeo video below), we narrow its applicability to looking at one’s challenges in life from a wider perspective.

How do we mean by this?
Well, life offers us unexpected challenges as we moved along its different stations. These challenges often knock us off our feet as we are caught by surprise and left unprepared for them. During those moments when we are down and out, we are likely to fall into depression and to recover out of our predicament will prove difficult and long if ever possible. Chances are for the weak hearted, they may even call it quits and choose to end their life.

However, if we look at our challenges in a wider perspective, we are bound to ask: Does all our present challenges so great that they add up to the size of Singapore? Definitely no, right? I can only think of the Prime Minister of Singapore who has a challenge that fits the size of Singapore because he burdens the nation’s problems.

Still, even if our present challenges do fill up the size of Singapore and possibly the whole world, the world as we can see from the Solar System Crystal Ball is no bigger than a saga seed. Moreover, even if our challenges add up to the size of the whole solar system, they are still no bigger than a speck of dust in the context of the whole universe!

A knock of reality
Remember, there are 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of Sun-like stars and red dwarf stars within the Milky Way Galaxy. The nearest such planet may be 12 light-years away. This is with only within our Milky Way Galaxy while there are an estimated 100 billion galaxies in the universe or so. And this number is likely to increase to about 200 billion as telescope technology in space improves.

How is that for a perspective? In short, no matter how huge our challenges we perceive to be, in reality they are just a speck of dust.

So what does Overview Effect teach us?
Overview Effect teaches us all life challenges put together are no more than a speck of dust and we should not be afraid of them. We should expect challenges and challenges are meant to help us grow qualitatively to be better in what we do so as to prepare us for more difficult times in the future. For example, a good entrepreneur can only be at the cutting edge of his business if he takes every challenge as an opportunity for him to reflect on his practices to seek ways how he can improve how he carries out his business. Only in this way he can succeed.

Likewise, this is the spirit that we expect from our graduating students. We are hopeful that by looking at the Solar System Crystal Balls we gave them will help activate this Overview Effect every time they are faced with challenges as they move along the different stations of life. And in doing so, they remember our advice in this regards so that they remain excited about living and take what life throws at them as an opportunity to learn to better at what they do.

Our Recipe to Keeping Students’ Motivation High During Full HBL

At the start of the year, we did not anticipate there would a worldwide virus outbreak and we never heard the term circuit breaker being used before to name the strategy to stop the virus from spreading in Singapore.

In short, full home-based learning was remotely far from our mind. But now that we are in the midst of it, we are grateful that our collectibles have helped us keep our graduating students’ motivation high during the full home-based learning.

We document our journey employing our collectibles in teaching nd learning in the section and subsections of Kami Pelajar A1. Do check it out. Who knows you may like and consider our approach for your graduating class next year.

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!