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 =)

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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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