Graphic Novels for 2010

Well...its been several days since I read the news from Kak Fadzleen's blog. And yes, novels will still be around for the new lit component but its gonna be a bit different.  Well, its presentation will be very different since it'll be graphic novels.

So far, the graphic novels that are set for Form 1 will be Black Beauty, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and The Boscombe Valley Mystery.  Seems like the graphic novels are a re-make from the classic novels which I believe were great novels I read for leisure while I was at school.  And I should add that there will also be novels set for the other forms as well (they just haven't got to the announcement part yet I suppose).

Hence, I have been frantically (yes, I am very 'kalut' and would easily go to my frantic mode) looking for information on graphic novels.  Funny thing is, everytime i google 'graphic novels' the results will show more on comics.  So, I've been wondering, what is the difference of graphic novels and comics?? I read this.

After reading the article, I can't say I gained as much info as I wanted but, for starters, I guess it was enough.  If I understand right, comics is a reading material which doesn't have heavy themes like graphic novels and the storyline in a graphic novel is more complex than in comics.  In my personal opinion, as a person who read comics, I don't really see that much difference in both.  So, I guess I have to wait to get into an actual school and getting my hands on the book itself (sure I can get the reference books from bookstores but I'm more interested to see how the text looks like...I've already heard it has low quality...).

Owh, and I believe I should also mention that so far, I'd say most of the articles I have read on graphic novels states that they are suitable to be used for children who are unmotivated towards reading or have difficulty in reading.  Sure that's the case in schools nowadays.  But do we really need to introduce such light reading for the English text?I read English comics and I dare say, its not much reading but more of enjoying the storyline.  I personally would opt for teenage novels Diana Wynne Jones and also Roald Dahl.  They're language in their books are easy to understand and also enjoyable (not as heavy as The Pearl, which I, as a person who doesn't really take reading as an all time hobby).

But, that's just me.  I'm still hoping that the change in the lit component would be for the best.

P/s: Still looking for information on how graphic novels can be used to teach English in the classroom.  I'll post more entries on it if I do find more info.

The Case of Nur Izzati from Convent Tarcisian Ipoh

Well, this case is actually nothing new...but seems like peoples' responses to the news made me want to include this in my blog.  Truth is, I'm quite saddened by the issue.

For those who might not have read about it, you can read the main news here: 
Utusan (20/11/09): Izzati gembira disalut kesedihan

and some reader responses here:

Utusan (27/11/09): Yuran sekolah wajib dibayar walau secara ansuran
Debate : Nur Izzati: Antara hutang RM57 dan SBP 

Here is the response my the Malaysian Ministry of Education: 
Utusan Malaysia bertarikh 27 November 2009 – NUR IZATTI: ANTARA HUTANG RM57 DAN SBP 

Basically, the problem with Izzati is that she came from a poor family and they have difficulty paying the school fees.  This has caused the school to keep Izzati's examination result slip until the fees have been payed.

If you ask me who is to blame in this issue, I won't be able to state anyone.  I think, as always, there are ways to help a child who is in school.  However, for some people to blame it all on the school, I believe that to be a bit too much.  I have handled school fees before and I have met many of my students who have difficulty in paying the school fees.  I understand the problem but so far, their parents have managed to come to school and explain their problem and pay little by little.  If they need help, they ask for it.

I also have a very dear friend who was in MRSM with me (and no, we had no political or connection with anyone 'up there'), whose father works at a factory, sells palm oil that he picks himself over the weekend.  And for your information, my friend's mother doesn't work at has 8 children.  My friend is now studying in Germany and InsyaAllah, on the way to becoming an engineer.  

I also have several poor students when I was teaching in Bangsar who had to help sell things in the pasar malam to get money because their family can't get enough money for the whole family.

So yes, where there is a will, there is way.  What we should be doing is finding a way to help these poor students.  If you think you're too busy to help out, don't complain, learn from it.  Nobody's perfect, and unfortunately for all of us, there are very unresponsible and corrupted people 'up there'.  And as we all know, the state of the country's economy isn't well and we all need to work on some ways to overcome this, together.  Yes, it is easier said than done.  But if you have time to complain (not saying I never complain, but I do try to avoid it), you should have time to think of a way.

I think any school who may have such problems could have a fund where anyone can contribute to, not just teachers.  If you make an exception for one child, the others will ask for it too.  And I dare say, our Izzati here is not the only unfortunate child in Malaysia.  And she is not the only child in Malaysia who received 5A's in the UPSR exam nor is she the only child who did not get a chance to go to SBP.  There are other children who do need our help so, rather than making such general statements about how horrible everything is, we could help make things better.  To start off, at least join the school's PIBG meeting and get to know what's happening in schools.  I've been to over 3 schools ever since I started my teaching degree and not one school had most parents attending the PIBG meeting.   

So, are we really doing enough for our children?

The All New Literature Component 2010

So yeah, next year we'll be using the new set of poems, short stories and also one drama for the lower secondary and upper secondary students.

Here's the list (if you haven't already known):

And for your information, apart from the text KPM provides schools with, there are also other books which are already available which can help you with understanding the text.

I've only found one book for the lower secondary literature component which is:
Tan, C., Rahmah, H. S. & Latiff, R. (2010).  Literature component: Poems, short stories and drama for Form 1 to Form 3.  Bangi: Penerbitan Pelangi Sdn. Bhd.   
(Price W.M.: RM6.65, E.M.:RM6.95)
Pro: - has good illustrations
       - love the section introducing the authors of the literary texts
       - the exercises are ample and interesting
       - has small sections that explains meaning of difficult words in English
       - the 'Did You Know' section!! Which talks about authors' background or about the text
       - explanations on the texts are in graphic organisers which makes it quite clear 
Con: I think the book is already good enough but I think it could be better by adding questions that can be used for discussions and maybe teaching suggestions.

Here are two books i found for the upper secondary:
Chean, S. E. & Latiff, R.  (2010).  Literature component: Poems, short stories and drama for Form 4 and Form 5Bangi: Penerbitan Pelangi Sdn. Bhd.
- its content layout is mostly the same as the lower secondary book but they added a section that allows students to answer structure questions which I think is great.  But I think there should be more section to help students practice their writing because most of the time, that's what students are weak at.

Chuah, C. H.  (2010).  Poems, short stories and drama (Form 4 and Form 5).  Shah Alam: Marshal Cavendish (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.
(Price W.M.: RM5.50, E.M.: RM5.95)
Pro: - the small size of the book ^_^
        - poems are included in the book (don't have to bring so many books...hehe)
        - themes of each text are explained quite clearly
        - love the illustrations for the short stories and drama
Con: - very little amount of exercise
         - I'm not a fan of translated definitions

ICT Room's Paint Job - Complete ^_^

Well..we finished doing the paint job a few weeks back...but I had problems with posting issues...had to go to KL-Putrajaya-Selangor etc....was really frustrated and bla..bla...bla...but life goes's some pics on the new room (well..not really new...but u get the drill =P hehe...)

 So, here are the two wall colours side-by-side.

These pictures are of the left wall before and after (with back and front wall).

These pictures are of the right wall before and after (again..with back and front wall).

As you can see, we haven't really finished work at the ICT Room. Frankly, we're enjoying our holidays resting at home more than going to school..hehe...Well, what's left to do is rearrange the computers, tables and chairs and also format the 20+ PCs and install programmes and drivers.  For now, we'll just enjoy the break while we still can =)

The Day The ICT Room Turns Green =P

Oh boy...I left home around 6.50am today and just came reached home...its already 9.22pm!

Today, me and my sister started our paint work on the ICT room's is sooooo tiring...phew...We painted the front and back walls with Maxilite's Pinang Green and also Colorland Colorlite's Gift Yellow (which looks a bit more yellow-ish than Maxilite's Sunflower).  It's me and my sister's first time attempt to pick a paint colour for a particular room so we're both hoping for the best (okay...okay...we're both excited and nervous at the same time (^_^) hehe...).

So, here are some pics on our 1st day of wall painting (yes...we both had fun even though it was sooooooo whole body is aching!)

So, it started of with covering the edges of 'obstacles' on the wall (wouldn't wanna any of the school property to be vandalised by amature painters =P ).  We just covered the edges with masking tape and that sure took us F.O.R.E.V.E.R.!

Then, we painted the edges and corners of the walls, and also the edges of sockets and other objects.  Thought it would make it easier for us to paint with the roller later.

Our little helper already feeling tired (^_^)

We only had painted a small portion of the wall when we felt really tired (and I mean REALLY tired..phew!)

This is how our ICT Room looks like. It does look messy, I know.  Maybe I'll take a better looking room after we finish painting.  Btw, the square in the middle part of the wall is for the projector image.  We're still not sure whether we should make a border around it.  We thought that we shouldn't paint it green since it'll be difficult to look at what's being projected if it wasn't white.

Luv da newly painted wall...hope the students will feel happier when they enter the room (and I really hope they take good care of the room too!!)

Hmm....It does make a good background for taking photos, don't you think?hehe...

It was raining when we wanted to go home so I put my sweater on my cute lil niece and covered her head with her towel.  She reminds me of Alvin and The Chipmunks with that oversized sweater on her..hehe...

So, yeah....actually, the main reason we decided to paint the wall was because we thought the room looked uber dull.  We hope students would enjoy using and learning in the room and not feel so bored with just a white room.  We chose green and yellow based colour because it reminds us of nature (the trees and the sun and of course flowers! (^_^) ) People do say that nature can make people feel calm.

This is our first step to make the room more interesting and inviting.  Hope students next year will learn to appreciate the room and not think that the room is only good for Myspace (seriously...they know more about Myspace than they know bout what keys are on the keyboard!).  May next year students be more motivated to learn ICT skills!!Amiiinnnnn.......

P/s: Any ideas on how to make the room more cheerful?Feel free to contribute your ideas!!

When Am I Ever Going To Get Over This? (~_~)

I'm supposed to be marking some exam papers (promised my sister I'd get it done by morning) but I just cant seem to get my mind to do it. 'Why?' you may ask. Well, I suppose there are things that should be left unsaid but I do believe I should share this with other teachers (or any human being) as well.
As stated in my past post, I had just recently graduated from a teaching college.  However, truth is, I am not so proud of my degree.  Reason being is I graduated with this:

"Saya pass kan awk sebab kesian je kat awak."
(English translation: "I passed you because I sympathize with you.")

For your information, these words keep ringing at the back of my mind (sometimes even while I'm teaching a class). I admit, I have not been the best student (ever since I was in primary school, my teachers have always seem to see a label on my forehead that say: 'good for nothing'...

even my counselor said that I shouldn't be a teacher because I'd ruin the kids even AFTER the career test I took shows that I've got the right personality - and mind you, I'm not making this up) but trust me, when I do something, I put all my effort into it.  Right now, because of these words, often, I would think back and worry whether I really am ruining these children.  I tend to doubt my self even if I don't want to because if I really am ruining these students, I should never even be near them.  They are, after all, our future.

So, why am I telling you this? No, it's not because I want you to sympathize my luck nor to agree or disagree with anything.  But I would like to show (from my experience) how a teacher's words could effect a student.

When I take a while to reflect on myself, I know I am a person who has strengths and weaknesses.  Naturally, that's what a human is born with.  Nobody's perfect.  But, I know that I am not ALL bad. I'm hardworking and I love to learn about new things.  While I was at school, people tend to think I'm a bad influence because I listen to rock music and prefer wearing pants than baju kurung and they think I'm emo because I like to sit alone, walk alone and read alone (that's the only quiet time I get with myself back then anyway - how can you do any form of thinking with people gossiping and giggling around you anyway?).

So, let me ask you this:

What would you do if you saw one of your students who just couldn't keep up with your expectations of a 'good student'? 

In my course of life, my teachers tend to give me that stare and think that I'm just unreachable.  There were also people who said I have a brilliant mind but a disappointing attitude. But very rarely has anybody held my hand and guided me in the right direction (actually, there was a senior in my school who tried to help me get along with others - she was a Pembimbing Rakan Sebaya - her friends stayed away from her after seeing her talking to me and well, she just had to avoid me in the end - which I don't blame her for).

Being a teenager is rarely easy.  Without support and guidance, it would probably be difficult for anyone to go through this life unharmed. Because of what I went through, I tend to try and reach my students in any possible way.  It hurt me when I didn't have anyone who tried to understand me and who ran away when I tried to reach out to them.  I hope my students and my future sons or daughters do not have to go through the pain that I had to go through.  Thus, at this moment, my teaching beliefs are based on this wish.

It may be my confidence that has hurt me all this while.  But as a person who puts all her effort in her work, it killed me the minute I heard that I passed because of sympathy.  But my parents and sisters have never taught me how to give up and for that reason, I am so very thankful.  And I am also thankful that Allah has given me a chance to get to know an amazing person who has always been there supporting me even from far far away =)

Till this moment, I have met students who had all sorts of problems - family, friends, self-esteem, peer pressure and etc.  And I have never succeeded in teaching any student who is burdened by their problems.  Not many of my students opened up to me because I asked them 'What is your problem?'.  And no - I don't know each and every one of their problems.  But they came to accept me because I showed them I'd be there IF they needed my help.  And often, after they come to accept me, teaching these problematic students seem to be less frustrating because they don't mind being in my class and learning what I'm teaching them.

We're all human beings and human beings have feelings.
If you feel you don't wanna be hurt by others, try your best no to hurt others.
You never know if what you do to others will bite you back.
Forgive but never forget because if you forget, you'll never learn from that experience.

P/s: I do realise this post is just my uneducated ramblings but I hope it did at least make you think of how important it is to consider your students as human beings before judging them.  I believe there's always a better way of saying something.

Teaching ICT (Microsoft Excel 2007)

In the last two weeks, I was given the opportunity to teach ICT in Sekolah Agama Menengah Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi (SAMBBST), Sepang. The class was for the Form 3 students who has just taken their PMR.

So, even before the class started, my eldest sister
(who is in charge of ICT at the school) had warned me that the students might be a handsfull because they are all so eager to go home for the holidays after the big exam. Since I was so inexperienced (not to mention the lack of knowledge in ICT stuff), my sister and I had discussions on what we should actually teach the Form 3 students.

I was told that I was required to teach the students how to use Microsoft Excel 2007 (the class was more of an introductory class).
Due to the time constraint, I was required to teach each of the five Form 3 classes for 3 hours each day (i.e.: 3 Adil on Monday 11-2.30 p.m., 3 Ehsan on Tuesday 11-2.30 p.m., 3 Iman on Wednesday 11-2.30 p.m., and so on). For your information, the classes were supposed to be 4 hours for each class (but of course there was no possible way to fit the 4 hours sessions, so we had to make do with 3 hours). For each lesson, this was (roughly) my time allocation:

  • 11.00 - 11.30 - Introduction to Excel, its features and how to use the function button (during this time, students were not allowed to touch the computers at all)
  • 11.30 - 12.30 - Students attempted to use the software to edit the given document (during this time, teacher goes around the classroom to guide students whenever needed)
  • 12.30 - 1.00 - Break (students were allowed to play games, surf the internet, carry on with the Excel task or take a walk outside the room)
  • 1.00 - 1.30 - Teacher explains on how to create different graphs using Excel
  • 1.30 - 2.00 - Students attempt to create graphs and design them according to their taste
  • 2.00 - 2.30 - Students were given extra tasks that requires them to use the skills they have learnt earlier
From the discussion with my sister, I was able to better understand why my sister had suggested for me to consider following the task-based approach to learning. Since we expected students to be unmotivated to be in the ICT class (we were proven right when some students voiced their reluctancy and some didn't even attend the class at all), we had to figure out a way to attract their attention towards the lesson.
Here you will find a bit of information on task-based learning.

So, I tried to come up with tasks that would help students understand the function of Microsoft Excel 2007 and also practice using the software to create a good work. With the few days I had, I decided to use a name list of a class of students I taught in my previous school and teach the students to alter the document and use several of the function in the Insert Function command.

Note:If you're interested to see the lesson content I prepared for the class, feel free to download from here.  It's in Bahasa Malaysia for now cause I had to teach in BM.  If anyone needs it in English version feel free to ask for it.


Who I Am

As an introduction, I thought I should introduce a little bit about myself.

Currently, I am waiting to be posted to a secondary school located in Malaysia. I had requested to be in Perak (because that's where I'm from). For the time being (actually, I have been waiting since May) I try to look for temporary or part time jobs (so far, I have managed to work for a month at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman as an examination assistant for a month and later in December I'll be working at a tuition centre located somewhere in Seri Kembangan). When I don't have a job or anything to do, I turn to my eldest sister, who is an English teacher at a school in Sepang. I usually help her out with maintenance work in the ICT room at the school (format the computers, count the items, arranging and cleaning up the room, etc.) and if I'm lucky I get to teach classes (English or ICT) and earn a bit of pocket money (^_^).

As for my educational background, here is the list of institutions I've been to:
93 - 94 - Medan International School, Medan, Indonesia
94 - 97 - SRK St Bernadette's Convent, Batu Gajah, Perak, Malaysia
1997 - SRK Convent, Teluk Intan, Perak
98 - 00 - MRSM PDRM, Kulim, Kedah
01 - 02 - MRSM Taiping, Perak
03 - 09 - B. Ed TESL Link Programme (Institut Perguruan Bahasa-Bahasa Antarabangsa, Kuala Lumpur with University of Auckland, New Zealand)

Somehow, I have come to believe that because I have been to several learning institutions, I should use my experience as a student in these various places to help me become a better teacher in the future. So far, my experiences has already helped me to form ideas on how to carry out my job as effectively as I can. However, I do realise that I should also discuss my ideas with other teachers who are more experienced in order to come up with the best solution to my classroom problems. Thus, I hope this blog would provide me with the opportunity to discuss my teaching and learning experiences not only with teachers in Malaysia, but also with teachers from other parts of the world.

Salam, Hello and Welcome

And so starts my attempt to write about my experiences in life that may (or may not) be related to the teaching profession.

This blog will hopefully be filled with articles on various issues, problems & solutions, and maybe theories related to various areas in education. Due to my current job, the content of this blog will mainly be related to the teaching of English in Malaysian secondary schools. However, due to the fact that I may also be required to teach other subjects, my writings may sometimes be a reflection of it.

InsyaAllah, I will also include some of works (i.e. lesson plans, test & exam papers, handouts, etc.) for others to discuss and comment about. If you feel like it, feel free to ask me for a copy of any materials that I have and I truly hope you will in return provide me with feedback on them.

"Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted...but to weigh and consider" ~ Francis Bacon

About Me

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~ an English teacher, an eager learner and still figuring out what it really means to be a TEACHER

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