Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Commonwealth Essay Competition

One of the easiest ways to reach your English students is to bring real life into the classroom. If you teach them to write a letter, why not write a real letter to a real person? The same goes for writing essays.

TESL ppl, I offer you.. or rather The Royal Commonwealth Society offers you the PERFECT opportunity to implement process-writing.
The Commonwealth Essay Competition ( http://www.rcsint.org/essay/) is an international education project open to all young Commonwealth citizens under the age of 18. It has four different age bands, 'Classes'. Each Class offers five topics, plus the Commonwealth Question.

Competition deadline is 1st March 2008

CLASS A - Born 1989-1991
1500-2000 words
All questions can be answered by writing an essay or a story which explores the topic in an interesting and relevant way.

  1. Tell us about your favourite book OR your favourite place and what it means to you.
  2. Why decorate?
  3. Is the world becoming tribal or global?
  4. EITHER Let me tell you a story. This is how it all began … OR Fifty years from now.
  5. Refugees.
  6. The Commonwealth Question (see details below).

CLASS B - Born 1992-1993
1200-1500 words

All questions can be answered by writing an essay or a story which explores the topic in an interesting and relevant way.

  1. "You have to have a dream or you go nowhere." (Kofi Annan)
  2. An inter-galactic market research company is canvassing opinions on whether Planet Earth is suitable material for "first contact". What do you think?
  3. What advice would you give to a family living with teenagers?
  4. EITHER This is where I live OR These are the things which make me who I am.
  5. Blue.
  6. The Commonwealth Question (see details below).

CLASS C - Born 1994-1995
500-700 words

  1. Write a story or an account starting "Now, when I was your age …"
  2. Write a review of a favourite book, film, exhibition or piece of drama. Make sure you discuss why you liked it and why you think other people would too.
  3. What single change would most improve life in your community? Explain why.
  4. Write a story which includes a song and a secret.
  5. Imagine what it would be like to live for a whole day relying primarily on just ONE of your five senses.
  6. The Commonwealth Question (see details below).

CLASS D - Born 1996 or later
300-600 words

  1. Write a story or a poem entitled EITHER "The Storm" OR "The Ring".
  2. If you were given three special powers, what would they be and how would you use them?
  3. Strange happenings at the market.
  4. My best friend.
  5. You wake up one morning as the family pet. Describe your day.
  6. The Commonwealth Question (see details below).
Commonwealth Question
The Commonwealth Question is open to all candidates and entries will be judged according to the relevant criteria used in the four Classes (A to D).

If you choose to answer the Commonwealth Question please DO NOT submit another essay and keep to your Class word count.

There is a £150 prize for a winning entry on the Commonwealth Question in each of the four Classes. This prize is in addition to the main prizes offered in each Class. Any entrant selecting the Commonwealth Question as their topic will also have their essay considered for a main prize.

The theme for Commonwealth Day 2008 is "The Environment: Our Future". Discuss the likely impact of climate change on life as you know it. What is to be done?


Now it's all up to you and don't forget to READ THE RULES!


Monday, October 29, 2007

A Lesson Plan That Won't Be

Here's a lesson plan that won't be used in my class.

Set Induction : 3D Picture of a Glock

Question : What do you see here?
What's a really hot issue about guns in schools nowadays?
(Possible answers: Columbine, Virginia Tech, the inclusion of weapons in national service training...)

Take the discussion where it may go but keep it within ethical/moral boundaries.
Like I said, this is a lesson plan that WON'T be used in my class.

Pre-Listening Activity :
1. Teacher hands out worksheet
2. Students brainstorm and fill in the blanks (one column - what's good about guns and another column - what's bad about guns)

While-Listening Activity :
1. Listen to the song.
2. Note down ONE lyric or image that grabs your attention.

After-Listening Activity :
1. Explain why the lyric or image is so fascinating to you. Give reasons.
Homework : Write an essay that answers the question "Should Young People Learn About Guns?"

Looks good, huh? But I'm not doing this in class. This is just for fun.
(Got that? Third time I said it.)
Yeah, I'm a wuss.

The song I'm NOT gonna use?
Read and enjoy...it's better if you let the Southern California punk band sing it for you.

Come Out And Play
(Performed by The Offspring)

You gotta keep 'em separated

Like the latest fashion
Like a spreading disease
The kids are strappin' on their way to the classroom
Getting weapons with the greatest of ease
The gangs stake their own campus locale
And if they catch you slippin' then it's all over pal
If one guy's colors and the other's don't mix
They're gonna bash it up
Hey - man you talkin' back to me?
Take him out
You gotta keep 'em separated
Hey - man you disrespecting me?
Take him out
You gotta keep 'em separated
Hey they don't pay no mind
If you're under 18 you won't be doing any time
Hey come out and play
By the time you hear the siren
It's already too late
One goes to the morgue and the other to jail
One guy's wasted and the other's a waste
It goes down the same as the thousand before
No one's getting smarter
No one's learning the score
Your never-ending spree of death and violence and hate
Is gonna tie your own rope



Acoustic Mayhem

There are days when you want to zoom down the road, foot heavy on the gas and acoustic mayhem blasting on the cd player.

I've got Offspring screaming out 'Original Prankster' and the wind whistling by...ah, what bliss...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

SPM and STPM Exam Tips and Trial Papers

Looking for SPM and STPM exam tips and trial papers? It may be a bit late in the day but well, we've got two more weeks for the final sprint!

Check out this URL http://www.malaysia-students.com/2007/08/upsr-pmr-spm-and-stpm-tips-2007.html

Thursday, October 18, 2007

People Can Be So Wonderful


My aunt Joan has been in and out of hospital and she is due for surgery tomorrow morning.

She was actually supposed to have that surgery earlier but the blood bank was bankrupt.  Fresh out. 

Well, it WAS.

Two days ago, a doctor appealed to us to find blood donors for O+ blood type.  Otherwise my aunt would not be able to go through the surgery.  So I told my sister and did some sms sending.  Audrey went a step better (after finishing all the credit in her phone) and put up a bulletin in Friendster.

Since then, the response has been amazing.  She's had total strangers calling her up to ask her who to donate for (as they needed to complete the form at the blood bank!). Today, when Suzie Labadin went to donate at 5 pm, she was informed that she was the 10th person to do so for Joan Casius.  Today alone.  Yesterday, we know there were at least three.  We know that some people have already planned to donate tomorrow.  I doubt that my aunt can use up all those pints.  But I have a strong feeling that those extra pints will be saving some lives at Queen Elizabeth Hospital these few weeks.  After all, O blood type is Universal Donor...saves all lives!

People can be so amazing...and so beautiful.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Facebook Is Driving Me Nuts!

Okay, okay... don't drag the lawyers out.  It's not Facebook that's driving me nuts. 
It's my wonderful friends and family who wanna do things to me. 

Oh for crying out loud, I've got :

- 8 superpoke! friend requests
- 1 what are you wearing invitation
- 1 new wall post request
- 2 zombies invitations
- 1 oktoberfest invitation
- 2 my aquarium requests
- 2 werewolves requests
- 2 top friends friend requests
- 1 get superlatives invitation
- 1 my room invitation
- 3 vampires invitations
- 1 wishabi request
- 1 hottest friend request
- 1 tattoos invitation
- 1 describe me request
- 2 slayers invitations
- 1 likeness quiz request
- 1 my kids invitation
- 1 my cause invitation

.... and a partridge in a pear tree?  Not.

Just looking at the list is tiring.  What more delving deep into these requests and invitations...
Unlike the Indian man in the Astro advert, I AIN'T GOT TIME!

I dread to find out how many zombies I'm gonna get tomorrow.

Books On Board

I've found a pretty good ebook seller on the Internet.  Books On Board's ebook prices seem to be the cheapest on the net.  That's in US Dollars.  And when you convert them dollars to puny Malaysian ringgit, it makes a big difference.

I just bought a book for USD5.94 (RM19.99) which cost about RM32 at the local bookstores.  Hefty savings....

But there's a downside to this.  I'm saving money, I tell myself... so I buy more.  In the end, I don't really save.  But I do have more books to read...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Scary Realizations

Today, I'm going to visit a colleague in the hospital.  Last Saturday, he was admitted because his heart was only functioning at 52%.  It's incredible because he is an active sportsman and seems to be doing all the right things like eating right, going for regular exercise...
It must've been a tremendous shock to his family when he collapsed last Saturday.

It's frightening in a way because it made me realize that I'm in the 'zone'... I'm now in the age bracket where health problems begin to emerge.  Scary scary scary...

P/S M looked okay..his wife n kids were with him. The docs are hunting for the suspected blockage in his heart. :(

Friday, October 05, 2007

Finding Love And Acceptance Part II

Once upon a time, I tried to search for something missing in my life.  I KNEW it was missing but I didn't know what it was.  But I would know it if I found it because I'd feel whole inside.  I'd feel peace.

My favourite place to search for it were places like Shenanigans and Something Al's (changed name three times as far I know and is now known as Blue Note).  The music was loud enough to fill up all the empty spaces in my ears, heart and mind.  The drinks were just as great and when you hit a certain level of intoxication, the whole world was beautiful and no problem seemed insurmountable.  Best of all, you were surrounded by happy people ... and they were all my friends.  Even if I didn't know their surnames.

But after a few years, it all palled.  The music was always the same... and when it changed to trance music, it wasn't to my liking.  I liked music by GunsnRoses, Queen and Joan Jett.  And as I got older, the recovery time from an alcoholic binge grew steadily longer.  And still I hadn't found 'it'.  Not really.  In the end, I just plain got bored.

Now I'm in a contented phase of my life.  My hubby thinks I'm nutty and still wants to stick with me. My son's daily development and fascinating viewpoints keep me very much entertained.  I think I've found 'it'... and even if I haven't, I'm feeling pretty good with the way things are.

Finding Love And Acceptance

Had a talk with a friend recently. She was upbeat about her life...although things could be better.  Later I heard from others that she was seeing a married man.  At first I thought,"Why would such a winner of a lady 'sabotage' her life in such a way?"  I mean, what can that man offer her?  A few stolen hours?  Some happiness... but not much and most definitely temporary? 

Cue Whitney Houston's song 'Saving All My Love For You".

But I begin to see that it's all about finding love and acceptance.  That's what all of us want anyway.  It's just that some of us find it within ourselves, within our families and our friends.  Others seem to need to find it elsewhere.  Perhaps 'elsewhere' is more fun, more interesting... I wouldn't know.  Different strokes for different folks.

One friend said to me,"Hah, wait till it happens to you."  I may sound arrogant but I say it won't.  Because I wouldn't let it.  A relationship is like heading down a road.  But you have to take that first step.  Before you do, you have to have some idea where that road is heading.  So if you don't like what could be waiting for you at the end of that road, then don't take that first step.

Walk away.  Even if it kills you inside.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Online Social Networking? Uhh..ookay...

When I was in university, calling home was a major undertaking.  I had to make sure I had dinner before setting out in search of a phone booth.  My pockets jingled with coins and I dragged friends along (who knows if the queueing got too long and one had to go to a toilet).  Without a friend, one could easily lose a place in a line.  Then once we made the call, we had to talk super fast cos the coins were jingling super fast into the bottomless maw of the telecommunications company.  Keeping in touch with friends meant letters, movies and treks out to a meeting place.  And if one lost touch with a friend, one prayed some miracle or twist of fate connected friends again.

But now... NOW.. the Internet has turned the world of social networking onto its head.  When I learned about emailing, I thought "Wow.." but I had to know people's email addresses.  It had to be correct right down to each dot.  Then my sister badgered me to try out Friendster.  Eyeww, I thought.  Social networking.  I wasn't in the market for sly smiles and flirty giggles.

Until I had to look for a friend and turned to Friendster as one of the avenues of hope.  Then I got Ringo.  Then Facebook.  It was an uncontrollable slide into the world of online social networking.

Then I found old friends, former students... it was amazing.

I found Juraidah, ex-coursemate and long time friend.  They used to call us the 'twins' cos we looked similar.
I found Francis, ex-student.  He was in New Zealand and on his way to London for a brandnew adventure!
I found Warren + Marilyn, cousins long lost in the wilds of Kuala Lumpur.  Uh, okay, calling Uncle Thasius would've yielded up phone numbers but that's not the point!

Trying to find Shahnaz Mat Daud and Melor Ismail next.  This networking is gonna do the job...I can feel it.