Archive for the ‘Effective Classroom Management’ Category

Making classrooms more conducive

Sunday, March 5th, 2017
It is time that classrooms are given a face-lift. — File photo

It is time that classrooms are given a face-lift. — File photo

THE average classroom in primary and secondary schools have not changed much since the 1970s.

It is a four-walled structure with two doors and glass windows at the sides.

There are a number of tables and chairs for the children, a teacher’s table and chair, a white board, a couple of notice boards and a cupboard or a book rack.

The room is lighted with a few fluorescent lights and a few fans provide ventilation in the room.

Some classrooms are equipped with LCD projectors and a screen mounted on the wall.

The classrooms are neither big nor small. A normal classroom can accommodate 20 to 25 pupils.

Most classrooms are cramped with 30 to 40 children with little space to move around.

This is the picture of an average Malaysian classroom in a primary or secondary school.

Malaysian classrooms have not changed over the years.

It is time that we give the Malaysian classroom a new face-lift. Malaysian classrooms in government schools, both primary and secondary should be refurbished and given a new face-lift.

The classroom is and has been the repository of knowledge and skills where the teaching and learning process takes place uninterrupted by outside distractions.

For a start, let us make the classrooms conducive for the teaching and learning process under extreme weather conditions.

Our weather is extremely hot and a few fans in the classroom cannot provide the ventilation to cool the room.

Walk into a primary or secondary classroom after recess at around 10am in the morning and you will feel the heat and warmth of the classroom. The classroom is hot and stuffy.

It is made even more unbearable when the small children walk into the classroom after recess sweating profusely after playing during recess.

The same condition prevails when children return to the classroom after their Physical Education lesson or Sports practice from the field.

The smell of sweat would permeate the room and it is virtually an uphill task for a teacher to teach under these hot, sweaty, sticky conditions.

The fans do not give the necessary ventilation and air to cool the hot conditions in the classroom.

It is time that we transform the infrastructure of the Malaysian classroom that has withstood the test of time and weather and air-condition all the classrooms.

As we enter the 21st century we need modern and state-of-the-art classrooms for our children.

National schools have always been a pale shadow when compared to international and private schools which boasts of excellent teaching and learning environments.

It is time that the infrastructure and facilities in national schools be upgraded and refurbished to improve the learning and teaching process.

Why should our children in primary and secondary schools be deprived of quality learning classrooms? The layout, design and decor of the classroom has a significant effect upon the quality of the educational experience. The lighting, furniture and good ventilation likewise influence factors such as children’s attention span.

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People Will Prosper With Sustained Administrative Excellence In Federal Territories – Agong

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 (Bernama) — Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V urged that the administrative excellence in the federal territories (FT) be maintained to ensure the people’s wellbeing, especially in an uncertain global economic climate.

The King said to help reduce the burden of the people, particularly the low-income group, hopefully the government could find new, innovative ways in overcoming the situation.

“I hope the administrative excellence will ensure continued wellbeing, prosperity and joy for my subjects in the federal territories.”

His Majesty said this at an investiture ceremony held in conjunction with the Federal Territories Day 2017 celebration at Istana Negara, here, today.

Also present were Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.

Federal Territories Day is celebrated to commemorate the declaration of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan as federal territories, and today is the 13th celebration.

The Agong said many new initiatives had been and were being undertaken by the FT Ministry, such as the use of biodegradable products to make environmental preservation a culture, reducing green house gas emissions, drawing up of the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan, and water resources management.

His Majesty said a number of task force had also been formed such as for housing, cleanliness, traffic and combating illegal activities, as well as a special task force to tackle price hikes of goods in Labuan.

“I understand that in Labuan, many industries have the potential to be developed, including the tourism, shipping, fisheries and agriculture industries, as well as commercial centres.

“I urge that such efforts and activities be continued and stepped up for the wellbeing of the people,” the King said.

His Majesty also stressed the importance of public servants, as the backbone of the government, to have integrity in carrying out their tasks to ensure that all the government plans and policies could be implemented well.

“Bureaucratic red tape should be reduced for more efficient and effective government service delivery,” the King said.

At the investiture ceremony, 375 people received federal awards and medals, including the late former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Ghafar Baba, who received the Darjah Seri Utama Mahkota Wilayah (SUMW) which carries the title ‘Datuk Seri Utama’. He was represented by his son, Datuk Tamrin Abdul Ghafar.

Also conferred the SUMW was former Public Service Department director-general, Tan Sri Mohamad Zabidi Zainal.

Receiving the Darjah Seri Mahkota Wilayah (SMW) which carries the title ‘Datuk Seri’ were 19 individuals including Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Second Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani and deputy secretary-general (Cabinet) in the Prime Minister’s Department, Tan Sri Mazidah Abdul Majid.


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Making the classroom more conducive

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

THE incident where one of our secondary school students fell to his death from the third floor of his school made me very sad.

Being a discipline teacher for more than a decade, I understand that adolescents at that age are very agile and need time to break free.

According to reports, the student was trying to rescue a school bag which another friend had thrown down is all quite natural gimmicks among adolescents.

In my years of dealing with adolescent boys and girls, I have dealt with more cases. However what I am going to highlight here is when did the incident happen. If it was during school hours, then what were the teachers doing?

One of my unwritten regulations for my trainee teachers when they start their practical teaching is to be at the classroom at least several minutes before the bell goes off for the next period. Being early before the teacher in class leaves can resolve many discipline issues.

In my own experience, once the bell goes, the students who actually need a physical stretch after a 40 or 80 minute lesson will start running around or to the next class to have some excitement. And I think it is only natural for them to have such an urge as they have been focusing or trying to focus on the lesson taught.

Research has shown that many discipline cases do take place during change of periods. Usually in the olden days, the principal or other school administrative will make their rounds during such times. It is still a routine in several schools and a kind of subtle warning that all students and teachers are to be in class to continue with the learning and teaching process.

After all these years in the educational field, I ask myself … I just finished an 80 minute class which could be anything from Science, Maths, languages, Religious Education or Moral Education. I have another three different subjects before recess or school ends. What do I need? Yes, a short break to rest my mind, exercise my limbs and refresh my muscles. And how can teachers help deal with that need? I always made sure that my students kept standing after they got up to wish me and did some physical movement and basic exercises in the classroom, spoke to their friends about anything and then settle down. But because Moral Education (that I mostly taught) is a subject where the Muslim and non-Muslim students have to go to their respective classes, students would have moved a bit and felt fresh to start a new subject.

In most New Zealand secondary schools, students have the privilege to move from one building to another building. Meaning teachers of different subjects are in the specific rooms and it’s the students who move from classroom to classroom.

It gives the students the opportunity to walk, chat with their friends a bit, go for nature’s call, feel refreshed and continue with the next subject. Year 12 and Year 13 students (Lower Six and Upper Six) also have the privilege to leave the school grounds for lunch breaks or a short rest at home if home was nearby. The issue of students playing truant hardly exist.


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Tips and tools for an engaging lesson

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Inspiring session: Dass (standing) says that the newspaper is an excellent tool for language learning and teaching higher order thinking skills.

Inspiring session: Dass (standing) says that the newspaper is an excellent tool for language learning and teaching higher order thinking skills.

Language learning can be fun and exciting when a teacher is armed with the right ‛gadgets’.

A teacher’s tools of the trade consists of their techniques and activities for the classroom – and every teacher ought to have a toolbox.

“What’s in your toolbox?” asked Star-NiE freelance trainer Lucille Dass to more than 60 primary school teachers as she began the Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) workshop.

Regardless, the teachers present there had one extra tool to add to their box that Saturday morning.

The workshop, held at the Gombak District Education Office located at the Selayang Mall complex taught teachers invaluable teaching methods on how to create engaging class activities using the newspaper.

A second session was also conducted for about 30 secondary school teachers.

Dass was pleased that the teachers showed an eagerness to learn.

“I hope they learnt an alternative teaching method compared to the usual methodology that they use in class.

“Using the newspaper can excite and persuade students in wanting to learn and improve their English. It is also a good resource for teaching higher order thinking skills.”

She also added, “If the teachers enjoyed it so much, then they must realise how much more their students would enjoy, if they implemented it in their classroom. I hope they would be able replicate what has been done here and keep their lessons interesting,”

The NiE teachers workshop was part of an Education Carnival by the District Education Office. The carnival, held at the same premises from April 22 to 24, was one of the programmes leading up to the Selangor state-level Teachers Day celebration, also hosted by the district education office.

The three-day carnival saw a book fair and exhibitions by YTL Corporation, the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN), Menara KL, Bank Islam andThe Star. Among the objectives of the fair was to inculcate the reading habit in students as well as to give new insight to 21st century learning.

Gombak District Education Officer Sajoli Masdor said that the NiE workshop was used as a platform to get more students interested in language learning.

“Teachers can learn to be more creative when it comes to class lessons. When students use the newspaper, it draws references to their daily lives. Content in the newspaper is focused on current issues.”

He added that NiE is one way to increase students’ attendance in schools.

“Using the newspaper in class can create an interesting and meaningful learning process for students.” For SK Taman Setia English teacher Gerald Anthony, attending the workshop was an unexpected opportunity for him to reunite with Dass.


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Reshaping the classroom experience

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

Local schools are looking at conducive learning spaces and new age methods to engage, challenge and support learners.

THEY dash into the classroom all eager to start their first lesson of the day. There’s a reason for their enthusiasm – it isn’t a regular classroom. Missing are the regular desks and chairs arranged in rows. Instead, what greets the Form One students of SMK Damansara Utama are tables and colourful chairs arranged in a non-conventional way. This is not all, the room is colourful and brightly lit, aimed at turning the classroom into a creative learning hub.

The makeover is also in line with the evolving needs of the current generation – 21st century learners.

In fact, the government has launched a programme on 21st century learning (SPA-21) that is compulsory for all schools in Selangor’s Petaling district.

Instead of the conventional chalk and talk teaching method, SPA-21 emphasises on enabling students to learn in a comfortable and conducive environment to allow for “better absorption” of lessons while enhancing their soft skills at the same time.

Conducive learning: While Boey offers some pointers to her students, they are encouraged to think out of the box and given a free hand in coming up with materials for their English language presentation. The non-conventional classroom at SMK Assunta was redesigned with modern furniture and fittings for 21st century learners. – AZMAN GHANI/ The Star.

Conducive learning: While Boey offers some pointers to her students, they are encouraged to think out of the box and given a free hand in coming up with materials for their English language presentation. The non-conventional classroom at SMK Assunta was redesigned with modern furniture and fittings for 21st century learners. – AZMAN GHANI/ The Star.

Experts in learning spaces have claimed that students learn more effectively and behave better in a “borderless learning” atmosphere when they have freedom to work in smaller groups.


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Turning to newspapers as a resource for learning

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Dr Mah showing the book by Kok (left) . With them is ILTI academic adviser Datuk Richard Small.

Dr Mah showing the book by Kok (left) . With them is ILTI academic adviser Datuk Richard Small.

ARTICLES and letters in newspapers are great sources for teaching English says an expert.

So much so, Ipoh Learning and Training Institute (ILTI) principal Thomas Kok compiled a book was based on the content of newspapers.

Newspaper Articles for English Practise Book 2 is the second book by Kok that teaches students about vocabulary, comprehension and grammar based on articles and letters.

Kok said the book contains published articles and letters from English dailies, including The Star, which are interesting and thought provoking.

“The topics of the articles can also be used for debating, lessons, or for discussion among students.

“There are about 33 articles or letters that were published in newspapers and that are suitable to be used by MUET, IELTS, TOEFL, pre-university and college students,” he said during the launching of the book by Perak executive council member Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon in Ipoh on Friday.

“The articles and letters offer a wealth of information and provide a variety of current topics like sports, education and morals that can help students focus on language learning,” he said.

“There are also exercises and questions to allow students to practise on,” he added.

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Classroom connection

Saturday, October 17th, 2015

NiE injects more fun and brings students together during English lessons.

MONOTONY during class lessons can lead to a lack of interest among students. But one way of grabbing the learners’ interest and attention is by incorporating the use of the newspaper.

English teacher Norasiah Mohamad firmly believes that it is an effective tool citing the activities in The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) pullout as a welcome break for her students because it is not the traditional way of learning.

“The students love cutting and pasting, so they’re very happy when we have an NiE session,” says the teacher from SM Teknik Kuala Lumpur.

The 12-page NiE educational pullout comes with a copy of The Star newspaper every Wednesday. It is written by a team of experienced English language teachers and specialists, featuring a range of fun-filled activities for the classroom.

Norasiah said that the newspaper gives her fresh teaching ideas. “Moreover, the activities can be modified to suit the proficiency level of students.”

Scrapbooks by students of SM Teknik Kuala Lumpur done in conjunction with Merdeka and Malaysia Day. The scrapbook was done with newspaper clippings from The Star newspaper.

Scrapbook splendour: As part of an NiE class activity, the students came up with creative and colourful ideas for their National Day scrapbook covers.

“Sometimes, before we start the class, we would start a conversation about the headlines in the newspaper. It’s a good induction for an English lesson. I would also ask them to cut articles and highlight difficult words. They can then add to their vocabulary this way.”

“I had a student who would regularly copy a sentence or phrase that she found interesting from the newspaper into a book. When I looked at the book, there were already about 500 phrases and sentences. She would find out the meaning of these phrases and try to use them in her essays.”

Norasiah says that students who like to read tend to write better. “And the newspaper can be read anywhere. They don’t have to be in class to learn English.”

She also notes that students have different types of intelligence that influence their way of learning. “Students with visual intelligence, for example, will benefit from the comic strip of the novel in their literature component – Step by Wicked Step. The illustrations will help students understand the story.”

With only Forms Four and Five students, the boarding school with its serene surroundings has been bustling with NiE activities. More recently it took on a festive air with students from Form Four Civil Three incorporating songs to make their English Language presentations even more fun and interesting.

Student Che Aina Husna, says that her previous school did not use NiE as a tool in the classroom. She is new to the experience but finds it enjoyable.

“Learning English is always exciting for me. We need it for the future. In order to further one’s studies overseas, it is important to communicate with other people.

“Even on the Internet, English is widely used. I like English because I can enjoy watching online videos that are mostly in the language.”

Classmate Muhammad Imran Rosman says that the NiE activities have so far been wonderful as they allowed him to interact and work together with his friends. “The newspaper has a lot of content. I always get to learn the meaning of new words.

“In a multiracial society, English is a common language. When we go to other countries, it will be very helpful,” he says.

“It will also help us when we go for job interviews. Proficiency in English is a must if you want to secure a good job,” he adds.

For a boarding school, the newspaper is a window to the outside world as students leave the school grounds only during the weekends. “The newspaper provides news about current issues.”

English panel head Khairiyah Kassim said that English is important for students wanting to further their studies. “When they go out to work, English is a must for them.”

“Reading the newspaper also adds to their general knowledge, while improving their grammar at the same time.” she added.


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Fostering Student Learning through the Use of Debates

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

Four students talking

There are many ways to get students engaged in a classroom, but when topics are controversial or taboo, students may shy away from sharing their thoughts on the subject. In contrast, some may be so overly passionate about a topic that they proselytize their point. One tactic that helps students feel comfortable enough to speak about controversial topics is through debates that are structured and promote students’ preparedness in defending or opposing a particular stance on a topic.

Debates allow students to see both sides of a situation, topic, or story, and debates also require them to think critically and support what they say with substantive and factual information. Although emotions and biases may come out in a debate, the research-based supporting information helps give context to those emotions and biases and can foster critical thinking, especially if students argue the position opposite to their initial beliefs. The “consider the opposite strategy” may force students to set aside their emotions and biases and evaluate the evidence supporting both sides of a controversial issue (Budesheim & Lundquist, 2000).

For a Psychology of Women course, debates were used mainly to help students see past their predispositions, since it has been noted that students enter such courses with their own biases (Chrisler, 2013). Additionally, because classroom debates can foster critical thinking, considering information presented in the debates may help students move past those biases in this course and possibly change their minds about a topic or at least be more educated about the “other side.” In order to incorporate debating effectively, the following was done:

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Can We Teach Students How to Pay Attention?

Friday, June 19th, 2015

students paying attention

Ineed to start out by saying that the article I’m writing about here isn’t for everyone. It’s not like any pedagogical piece I have ever read, and I’ve read quite a few. My colleague Linda Shadiow put me onto it, and although the article may not have universal appeal, the topic it addresses concerns faculty pretty much everywhere. How do we get students to pay attention? Their attention spans are short and move quickly between unrelated topics. Can we teach them how to pay attention? Is there value in trying to do so?

Author Anne McCray Sullivan, who was teaching in Florida when the article was published, writes, “My autobiography is largely an autobiography of attention—learning it, teaching it, discovering its role in research. It’s a story that began when I was very young.” (p. 212) Sullivan’s mother was a marine biologist who regularly took her daughter on outings to collect and study specimens. Sullivan did not follow in her mother’s footsteps. She’s a writer and a poet. The article includes nine of her poems, most of them describing her mother at work. The poems and article explore what Sullivan learned about attention, mostly from her mother.

We pay attention at different levels—from sort of focusing on something to giving it full, undivided attention, an intensely focused concentration that obliterates all but the relevant details. I am a knitter, and I always try to have on my needles at least one complicated knitting project. Right now that happens to be a Cookie A sock pattern, done in the round on four very small needles. I tackle these projects first thing in the morning, when the coffee and I are fresh. I count stitches, inspect what I’ve done, move the markers, find mistakes, fix them, finish a round, and start the next one. It requires serious mental effort—the kind I hope will prevent Alzheimer’s. Suddenly my husband shows up. It’s time for breakfast, and my coffee is cold.

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Getting the Most out of Guest Experts Who Speak to Your Class

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

guest speaker in clasroom

Inviting guest speakers into your classroom is a classic teaching strategy. Welcoming other voices into the classroom provides students with access to other perspectives, adds variety to the classroom routine, and demonstrates that learning is a collaborative enterprise. At the same time, however, presentations by guest experts are often plagued by a variety of design flaws that hinder their educational effectiveness. Guest experts, being unfamiliar with the mastery level of the students in the class, may speak over the heads of the students, or they may present their material at a level that is inappropriately introductory. Because they are generally unfamiliar with the class curriculum, they may repeat information that the students have already learned, or their comments may not connect in any clear way with what the students already know and what they are currently learning.

Miscommunication between the guest expert and the host professor, furthermore, may result in the guest’s presentation running either too short or, more commonly, too long. Despite these hurdles, the increasingly collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of higher education makes the kind of partnerships represented by guest-expert arrangements more important than ever. With a little extra preparation, professors can increase the likelihood of a productive guest expert experience.

Typically, professors may invest weeks of effort into scheduling a guest speaker, but less effort into arranging their classroom activities so that the speaker’s appearance will further the curricular objectives of the course. When professors invite guest experts into their classrooms, they tend to conceptualize the arrangement as a compartmentalized event that stands outside of the regular current of class activity. The block of time scheduled for the guest tends to represent a break from the class schedule, rather than an essential part of the course material. As a result, the guest’s contributions are not as impactful as they might be if steps were taken to ensure that some degree of alignment were achieved between the curriculum and the speaker. The following strategies may help professors optimize the value of guest experts whom they invite to address their students.

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