Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mag Inc. 2011 : Students' Work

Finally, it's time to send in your mini-mags! Alhamdulillah, 112 students from SMK Tasek Utara are taking part in Mag Inc Competition this year. As this is the first time we're taking part, I think that's a good start. I am extremely proud of my students as they showed tremendous effort in producing their mini-mags.

I've learned a lot of things from coordinating this project. First of all, I need to make sure I relay the accurate information to my students as it's crucial they adhere to the rules and regulations of the competition. Since it was my first time coordinating this project, I had to make a lot of phone calls to Sharon and Brenda, the NIE reps at The Star. Thank you so much for your patience in answering all my queries! Anyway, the NIE workshop I've attended months ago was very helpful as well. To Mr. Aru, thank you so much for sending off the templates despite the short notice. Honestly, this year I am determined to make this work out as my school never participate in Mag Inc Competition before. Hence, I believe it can be a good exposure for students to hone their writing skills and display their creativity as well.

Anyway, I had to remind my students on the dateline constantly but hey, they did it! Brilliant mini-mags produced by diligent and uber-creative students. Despite time constraints, these students raced against time and produced excellent mags. Way to go everyone! Sure, there might be glitches here and there but there's always room for improvement, no? When there's a will, there's a way ;)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Curse : A Truly Bewitching Performance!

Last Saturday, I had the chance of watching the premiere of 'The Curse...A New Beginning'  at Dewan Sultan Iskandar, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). I was there on behalf of my principal who couldn't make it to the play. She was the former principal of SMK Permas Jaya 3, the school that organised this spectacular event.

The invitation card. I was impressed with the array of top sponsors that supported the staging of this theatre. I am sure it was not an easy feat yet, they successfully pulled it off, kudos SMK Permas Jaya 3! I love the way the Curse's director, Ms. Hafeeza Sulong remarked on her students' performance, "They might be ordinary but they have extraordinary talents!" Indeed, they shone and lit up our fervent interests towards English Literature. I am sure anyone who was present during the theatre would vouch on how mesmerising the performance was.  

For those who would like to read up or enhance your understanding on Lee Su Ann's The Curse, you can do so at this link. If you miss the performance last week, fret not. The team would be touring in selected venues in Johor. I will watch the theatre again next week, this time accompanying my Form 5 students. I'm not commissioned to promote this theatre but I couldn't help but to sing praises to it.  Please go and watch the play if you can, it's worth it!
18th June 2011
Dewan Sultan Iskandar, UTM Skudai
2nd July 2011 
Dewan Serbaguna Johor Jaya, Johor
9th July 2011 
Dewan Pekembar Pagoh, Muar, Johor
16th July 2011 
Dewan Jubli Intan Jalan Genuang, Segamat
23rd July 2011 
Dewan SRJK (C) Chong Hwa, Kluang  
HOTLINE : 010-8259005 , 010-8259006 , 017-2885298

TIME : 8.30am - 11.30am , 2.30pm - 4.30pm , 8.30pm - 11.30pm

Allow me to share an article from The New Straits Times on 'The Curse...A New Beginning' where I gave a comment on the performance.

'The Curse' lifted by a gifted cast

By Shenton Thomas De Silva

THE Parent-Teacher Association of SMK Permas Jaya 3, Pasir Gudang, recently staged The Curse, a spellbinding theatre play, at Dewan Sultan Iskandar, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in Johor Baru. More than 3,000 students from several schools were in attendance.

The play is based on the Malaysian novel by Lee Su Ann, about a girl traumatised by the murder of her sister.

Last year, the school performed The Pearl at Dewan Serbaguna, Johor Jaya, which attracted about 2,700 students. The Pearl is based on a novel by John Steinbeck.
School principal Kamisah Aziz, said theatre and drama would encourage creativity in the students, and promote the use of English.

"The show involved students of all races, in line with the 1Malaysia concept," she said.

Kamisah said the school would continue to stage more of such performances if the response was encouraging.

The play, organised with the help of the Johor Education Department, will next be presented at Dewan Serbaguna in Johor Jaya on July 2. Show times are from 8.30am to noon, and 8pm to 11pm.

Johor Education Department academic management sector deputy head Abu Talib Abdullah, who is also the Bahasa Malaysia department principal assistant director; English department principal assistant director Shanmuganathan Suppiah, and Pasir Gudang district education office English language officer Baharuddin Ishak were among those involved in the organisation of the play.

It was produced with the help of Yayasan Warisan Johor and Akademi Seni Budaya & Warisan Kebangsaan Johor (Aswara).

Talib, who opened the play, hoped the staging of The Curse would generate more students' interest in theatre.

"This is also a step forward in efforts to improve the standard of English among students in the state," he said in his speech.

Talib said involvement in theatre would keep students away from negative activities.

Shanmuganathan, meanwhile, said the play was "educative, informative and entertaining".

"I would personally give the performance 10 out of 10," he said.

The English department principal assistant director expressed the hope that it would spur students to join or start drama or theatre clubs in their schools.

SMK Taman Tun Aminah student E. Povaneswari, 17, said the play taught her a new way to improve her English.

Her schoolmate Wong Hui Shan, 17, said she was encouraged to read more English books after watching it.

"The plot and dialogue were easy to follow," she said.

Huda Mansor, 17, from SMK Sultan Alauddin, loved the teamwork displayed by the cast.

She said the actors performed well as they managed to evoke varied responses from the audience.

"They made us cry and laugh. We were able, in a way, to join them in the story."

Johor Baru district education officer for secondary schools Ruzana Saat said the students delivered an excellent performance.

Nor Fadzleen Sa'don, who teaches at SMK Tasek Utara, Johor Baru, said the students performed beyond all expectations.

The actors rehearsed between five and eight hours a day for four months.

Production manager Munira Abdul Razak, 25, believed that the cast would have done even better if they had had more time to rehearse.

Director Hafeezah Sulong, 34, lauded the actors for their admirable achievement despite their lack of proficiency in English.

She was particularly impressed by Norsyahirah Ahmad Tarmizi, 17, who played the lead character Azreen Saleh.

Norsyahirah managed to memorise 36 pages of script in three weeks.

"She has great potential," said Hafeezah.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

20th MELTA International Conference 2011

Finally, I have the time to update this blog! I was bogged down with marking the midyear exam's scripts and attending 3 wedding receptions during the school holiday. However, I can't complain much as I had the chance to take a breather by attending the MELTA Conference in Kuala Tererengganu recently. Took a flight to KT with my significant one and I considered this as a professional development cum holiday. The venue for this year's conference is at Primula Beach Resort and I stayed at the hotel for the sake of convenience. It was my first visit to Terengganu and boy, I was blown away by the picturesque scenery, sandy beach and delectable food. Heavenly!

The conference in progress. I thought the Special Featured Session by Toh Puan Seri Wan Hibatul Hidayah Wan Ismail was brilliant. Her witty rhetoric was indeed refreshing . She intertwined her experience growing up and learning the English Language with ways she believe the subject should be taught in schools. The forum on Innovation in Global Learning was an eye-opener for me as I've learned that it is pivotal for teachers to have a stellar support system from the school admins and the parents, in order to sustain our students' learning gratification. Oh yes, the Teach For Malaysia programme is brilliant as Malaysian youths can chip in to teach students from less fortunate backgrounds. Reminded me of Projek Kalsom that was carried out by the United Kingdom and Eire Council for Malaysian Students (UKEC) when I was a student back then.
I presented a paper entitled 'The Fun Theory: Towards the Thinking ESL Classroom.' Alhamdulillah, it turned out well but indeed, there's still room for improvement. From the feedback I've received, a workshop session might be my next attempt as it would illustrate the theories presented more effectively. I think I'm the only teacher presenter who attempted paper presentation as most teacher presenters conducted workshops. It was heartening though, despite the lack of hands-on activity, a lot of participants approached me and gave positive remarks on the presentation. Honestly, I was a bit nervous in presenting ( I always feel the jitters whenever I need to talk in front of everyone) but hopefully, with more practice, I could improve my oratory skills. Thank you to those who attended my session and gave support and constructive criticisms. One can never stop learning in order to improve oneself, no?
One of the perks of attending conference is networking with like-minded teachers who are passionate about professional development. Puteri was my junior back in MPIK and she is known for her bubbly demeanour. We get along very well as we shared similar views and visions on teaching and professional development. She won the Basil Wijayasuriya Award for her workshop presentation on Dictionary Skills. Way to go Pu3! I met Ma, one of the Creative Teachers Showcase's participants who is currently teaching in Kuala Terengganu. She reminded me so much of myself when I started teaching and it's nice to motivate and share experience with the others. Saidatul is so determined to improve her teaching that she flew all the way from Sabah in order to attend this conference. Way to go!
Personally, I would encourage more teachers to attend MELTA Conference as it is a worthy investment in a long run. To me, teaching is not just about relaying information but it is about making connection. From this conference, I've discovered that teachers need to have strong support group from their colleagues as we can assist one another in improving ourselves. I've met a lot of inspiring educators that motivated me to improve my teaching skills. Datin Dr. Raja Mazuin (IPBA) was my former lecturer and she's such an inspiring woman. Dr. Normala (IIU)  has been so supportive of what I do that I am compelled to do something about my professional plan in the future.  Dr. Kabilan (USM) paved the way for me to have a go at academic writing for the upcoming MELTA Journal. I know that I I've only been teaching for 9 years and I still have a long way to go. Hence, I am glad that the MELTA Conference had helped me to develop my potential as an educator. Kudos to Dr. Guna and the MELTA Committee members who have made this conference a success!
I left my heart in Kuala Terengganu. Hope I can come back to Terengganu soon. Thank you for the wonderful memories :)