Archive for December, 2011

How to make a New Year resolution

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Although many of us make a New Year resolution at the beginning of a New Year but we do it more out of a custom than with actual planning. Also, people don’t spare much thought in finding out what he/she will actually like to achieve in the year. Hence, the success rate with New Year resolution is actually poor. Some tips therefore can become handy in making your New Year resolution a success.

Fix your target: What is really important to you? What do you want to achieve in the coming days? Setting your priorities will help you set your New Year’s resolution better.

Make a realistic promise: When we promise, we promise big, without really considering the possibilities of achieving it at the end. This is one of the major causes of higher failure rate with New Year’s resolutions. Hence, make yourself a realistic promise.

Make an optimistic promise: Try and look at the positive side of the promise. Leave the negative ideas aside. Hence, instead of saying that ‘I’ll not be late at my appointments’ say ‘henceforth, I’ll reach everywhere in time’. The positive tone will help you improve your chances of success.

Break down big goals: If you have promised yourself a big thing set small targets at first. Instead of looking at the mammoth task on the whole, taking small steps towards achieving it will help you to reach the target easily.

Develop other habit: We all know that some habits are hard to change. Hence, the best way to change an old habit is by developing other engagement. If you have decided to quit smoking, find another engagement which will relax you and will take your mind away from smoking.

Read more @

Stages of Change – How to Keep a Resolution

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Anyone who has ever made and broken a New Year’s Resolution can appreciate the difficulty of behavior change. Making a lasting change in behavior is rarely a simple process, and usually involves a substantial commitment of time, effort and emotion.

Whether you want to lose weight, stop smoking, or accomplish another goal, there is no single solution that works for everyone. You may have to try several different techniques, often through a process of trial-and-error, in order to achieve your goal. It is during this period that many people become discouraged and give up on their behavior change goals. The key to maintaining your goals is to try new techniques and find ways to stay motivated.

Psychologists have developed a number of ways to effectively help people change their behavior. Many of these techniques are used by therapists, physicians, and teachers. Researchers have also proposed theories to explain how change occurs. One of these theories, known as the ‘Stages of Change’ model, has been used to help people understand the change process. This model demonstrates that change is rarely easy and often requires a gradual progression of small steps toward a larger goal.

Understanding the elements of change, the stages of change, and ways to work through each stage can help you achieve your goals. Learn more about the process of change through the following links listed below.

In order to succeed, you need to understand the three most important elements in changing a behavior:

  • Readiness to change – Do you have the resources and knowledge to successfully make a lasting change?
  • Barriers to change – Is there anything preventing you from changing?
  • Expect relapse – What might trigger a return to a former behavior?

One of the best-known approaches to change is known as the “Stages of Change” model, which was introduced in the late 1970’s by researchers James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente who were studying ways to help people quit smoking. The Stages of Change Model has been found to be an effective aid in understanding how people go through a change in behavior.

In this model, change occurs gradually and relapses are an inevitable part of the process of making a lifelong change. People are often unwilling or resistant to change during the early stages, but eventually develop a proactive and committed approach to changing a behavior.

by Kandra Cherry.

Read more @

Making the Review of Assigned Reading Meaningful

Monday, December 26th, 2011

The typical college student dreads hearing, “Let’s review the chapters you read for homework.” What generally ensues is a question and answer drill in which students are peppered with questions designed to make clear who has and hasn’t done the reading. In reality, these exchanges do little to encourage deep thought or understanding of the assigned reading. They produce awkward silences during which students squirm in their seats, hoping to become invisible. Other times students decline to answer for fear of giving the wrong answer. Almost all the time a negative tone permeates the classroom during this review. I decided to restructure the way that I approached reviews of reading assignments, and found that by doing things differently, I could change both the tone and outcomes of the review activity. I’d like to share some of the ideas and techniques that I have found useful:

The Top Ten - Ask students to create their own “Top Ten List” of important concepts presented in the chapter(s). I encourage student collaboration in the creation of these lists. The activity provides a nice review of the material, and you’ll be amazed at what students consider to be most important. I use these lists as a starting point for discussions. They also let me know what areas of content need further explanation. For students who didn’t do the reading, the lists expose them to ideas in the text and that prepares them at least a bit for the subject of the day.

Secondary Sources - Gone are the days when the textbook is the only source of information available to students. With blogs, research articles, journals, informational pages, and news websites at the touch of a fingertip, students can easily learn more about the subject. After they’ve done the assigned readings, have students locate another viewpoint on the subject and bring it to class. In class, set a time limit (say 15 minutes) and have partners/groups discuss the reading material and their secondary sources. As you circulate around the room, you may hear some good examples that you can use later in the period. Interestingly, students often (without being asked) continue to bring in outside resources on the topics we study, which makes for rich and healthy discussions.

Journaling - For the ideas presented in the readings to become relevant, students need to articulate thoughts about what they are reading and they need to hear how others responded as well. I encourage my students to write journal notes, which I describe as what the brain is thinking while reading. Example: “Wow! I never considered how George Washington must have felt during this turbulent time in the nation’s history. I always thought of him as liking his role as president.” Students can share their journaling with a partner or small group. This exercise helps students get past initial impressions, and it connects what they already know to the new information.

Divide and Conquer - Divide up the next reading chapter among small groups of students. Student A reads the first section in the chapter, Student B reads the next section, and so forth.

by Sarah K. Clark, PhD.

Read more @

Problems in the Workplace

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Alright, I hope my boss doesn’t read this, but all workplaces have their set of problems. My workplace is no exception. Many people feel that the problems are one-sided or of one single type. That is not the case. The problems are mostly bigger than what they may seem. However, they have to be dealt with, with tact and understanding. I hope there are HRMs reading this, it will help you out. Here are a few workplace problem examples and workplace problems and solutions.

Problems in the Workplace# 1
The first problem in the workplace is with people who fail to achieve the expected performance, repeatedly. It can be a major problem, because one person not achieving the target, can put pressure on the other team members as well. More so, it can, at times, render the other team member’s work useless, if you know what I mean. So, what if you are facing an employee who is repeatedly not achieving targets? Here are a few suggested solutions:

  • Make sure that the target is mutually agreed upon. If a target is forced upon an employee, it is only understandable if they don’t achieve it.
  • Have regular milestone checks. This is really good to avoid any kind of procrastination on the part of the employee. You can also couple that with feedback. This ensures that the employee gets all the required support during the project.
  • Make sure that all the employees are aware of the performance bonuses. Give them gifts, recognition lunches etc for achieving the target.
  • In case a person does fail to achieve the target, you can implement these penalties for the same. You can try mandatory over time till the work is completed, cutting back incentives, negative mention in the company for lack of achieving of target, etc. These will be an example for the other employees to make sure that they refrain from repeating such behavior.

These solutions are the same for every hierarchical level. No matter which strata of the hierarchy the employee fits in, the rules need to be the same for all.

Read more on gender roles in the workplace.

Problems in the Workplace# 2
The next problem is people who call meetings for even the minutest reasons. There are also some people who waste time discussing inconsequential things during meetings, making them longer than required. How do you solve such a problem? Well let’s see…

  • Make sure that you make it a practice in the workplace for everyone to know that meetings only need to be held for important matters. If possible, two to three matters can be dealt within one meeting.
  • Keep timings for the meetings fixed. Like, make sure that the meeting starts on time and ends on time as well. However, there are times when certain matters cause the meeting to elongate. That being an occasional event, can be allowed.
  • Make sure there are meeting runners, not takers, minute keepers etc. job roles assigned to people. This will help stream-line the meeting.
  • Call only required people to the meeting. Make sure that only people who are associated with the points discussed in the meeting, attend it. The others can receive updates of the meeting with the help of internal workplace communication.
  • Make sure that there are monthly off-site meetings organized. This helps discuss major matters in these meetings. More so, there is more time at hand, in the off site meetings, as compared to in-house ones.

Meetings are important. However, calling a meeting for discussing small matters can prove to be a waste of valuable resources. Hence, make sure that you plan out a meeting properly.

Problems in the Workplace# 3
Another major problem in the workplace pertains to people not having the required authority to take decisions. This is common in a workplace wherein individuals are power struck and don’t believe in delegation of authority. So, now let’s see how to solve or avoid this problem.

  • Make sure that everyone has written acknowledgment for their respective responsibilities and authorities.
  • Another thing to ensure is that if someone is responsible for a certain project or a task, they need to have certain amount of authority for the same, as well.
  • Make sure that there are clear cut defined boundaries. People should not over ride others who are responsible.
  • Make sure there is agreement about the authority and responsibility. For example, you are planning to promote a certain employee to a leadership position and give him authority over the team. Discuss it with the rest of the team, to ensure that is it agreed upon.
  • Get all agreements in writing.

Authorities and responsibilities need to be discussed and defined in writing. It is also always better to announce it in front of other employees, to avoid discrepancies.

Problems in the Workplace# 4
A very major problem is incompetence. In fact it is a problem even when outside the workplace. There are some people who are simply incompetent no matter what they do. So, in this case there are a few things you can do to improve the situation.

  • One thing that you need to acknowledge is that the problem is sometimes not about incompetence but that of over work, lack of motivation at work or other motivational problems in the workplace etc. So, be nice to the person and repeat your request in a calm manner. Losing your temper and lashing at them is not going to make them perform any better. However, being nice might motivate them to do your work right.
  • Proper training is the key to getting better performance. Remember that every employee needs company specific training in the least. So, try to find out what’s the problem that’s causing the incompetence. Once you have singled it out, you can solve it.

This problem needs a lot of tact and patience to solve. However, make sure that you try to judge a person’s competence even before you hire them. This ensures one less problem in the workplace.

by Aastha Dogra.

Read more @

Recognise the relations

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Significantly improve grammar by learning the elements that group words into different categories.

TENS of thousands of words and word groups can be placed into grammatical categories with formal or traditional terminology being used to distinguish them. When a learner can recognise these important “relationship” elements, language skills will be enhanced very quickly.

Words and word groups can be related for a variety of reasons.

Some have a phonic relationship in that they may rhyme, e.g. sand, band, hand, land; or they may contain common-sounding symbol combinations, e.g. word, worm, worth, world; or are homophonic, e.g. pour, poor, paw, pore.

Other words are related by number, e.g. chair, boy, car (singular) — ponies, children, horses (plural); or by gender, e.g. mare, cow, daughter (feminine) — nephew, rooster, drake (masculine).

Words can also be related by case, e.g. Thomas hit the ball.The kitten raced under the bed. (objective); Jess was going on a holiday.The children went swimming in the river. Noel is captain. (nominative).

When words and word groups perform the same purpose or function, a relationship also exists.

For example, compare “a blue shirt” and “a wonderful holiday”; the words are related by a qualifying, descriptive and adjectival function. He spoke quietly — She sang sweetly (modifying-descriptive-adverbial); Claire and Elizabethan apple or an orange (connecting-conjunctive).

In the above examples, a relationship also exists between the words that are described and their describers — between those that are modified and their modifiers — as well as between those that are connected by a connector, e.g. blue and shirt; wonderful and holiday; spoke and quietly; sang and sweetly; Claire and Elizabeth; apple and orange.

by Keith Wright, the author and creator of the 4S Approach To Literacy and Language (4S)

Read more @

Motivational Activities for Students

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

A person’s confidence needs to be given a significant amount of boosting to propel them towards being individuals in the future that can take on challenging situations, not to mention people. It is important to have self-confidence and a certain air about oneself that exudes sureness. Students today are subjected to different activities that calls for one to be brave and walk up to the limelight without letting one’s meekness get the best of them. I am a soft-spoken person most times, the keeps-to-themselves kind if you know what I mean.

School was my main ground when it came to kick starting my self-confidence and getting over my fear of audiences. Once I built upon that fear through motivational techniques mostly done through self-motivation more than anything, I was able to give speeches more confidently and handle teams better, once I hit college. Students need to have their own space when it comes to feeling comfortable when being thrown in the spotlight, and these motivational activities for students should help bring about a completely different side to themselves once they adjust.

How to Put Together Motivational Activities

Combined with a series of games, there should be activities incorporated into the session like public speaking, enacting in plays, taking part in dance shows, leading a debate team and so on. Check out these motivational games to throw in some fun time during the sessions. Let’s find out here on what other kind of activities would suit a crowd of students best, in motivating them to become self-assured individuals in the future.

What If…
Explain to students that the purpose of the game is to give them a chance to not only exercise their confidence levels but also their creativity and openness. Get them to feel comfortable among each other and to understand that they are among ordinary folk, with zero judgment. Start off with yourself by saying, “What if I were stranded on an island and needed three essential items. I’d need…“; trail off from this point and ponder about what you would want, making it slightly funny to lighten up the air. Give everyone a chance to think about what it is they’d like to have as well, and ask them questions here and there to further make them talk. That way everyone is involved and you can keep the conversation flowing and not just focus on the game alone.

Team Presentations
Make a series of small cut up chits and write down different topics that cover creative arenas and those that fuel discussions and opinions. Hand these out in a bag while students randomly pick out a topic to work on. Divide them into groups of four or five depending on the strength of the classroom, and have them come up with something totally spontaneous and fun, in an hour and 30 minutes. Once they’re done, have them all present their work in front of the class, initially of course providing the materials to pull off a presentation like chart paper, drawing boards, sketch tools and so on. The team with the best presentation wins; give them something to work towards like a prized object, so that each team gives it their best. This helps them speak openly in front of a crowd and opens up room for them to learn how to interact with team members when working as one.

Self-Introductory Speeches
Everyone has something interesting to reveal about their pasts or future pursues. Have students formulate a way on how to structure a speech revolving around three criteria based areas – a brief account of their childhood (where they were born with random snippets from their past), details of where they were previously situated if at all (foreign exchange students or those from out of the town) and what does the future hold in terms of career. That way they open up about themselves to others, where you can allow students to ask questions at the end of each student’s speech. It allows them to get to know each other better and find out things about their classmates, touching upon areas like speaking fluidly, making eye contact, maintaining a flow of questions between him/herself and the one who asks the question and so on.

by Naomi Sarah.

Read more @

PMR : Sabah records 63.06 per cent passing rate

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

RANAU : Sabah recorded a 63.06 percent passing rate for this year’s Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) Form 3 examinations, surpassing its target of 61 percent with a 3.92 percent increase compared to 2010.

Sabah’s State Average Grade (GPN) also showed improvement this year, recording 3.03 compared to last year’s 3.06 ( a lower GPN indicates better grades).

Out of 37,714 candidates, there were 1,025 (2.72 percent) straight A’s result compared to last year’s 870 (2.36 percent) straight A’s. This year’s overall result was also Sabah’s best in two years.

Sabah Education Director, Datuk Dr. Hj Muhiddin Bin Yusin disclosed the figures during the release of the PMR results in SMK Mat Salleh, here, on Wednesday.

He also revealed that Sabah recorded a lower straight E result of only 26 candidates (0.06 percent) compared to last year’s 32 candidates (0.09 percent).

When explaining the results in more detail, English subject also showed an improvement of 3.0 percent to 70.2 percent compared to last year’s 67.2 percent.

Other subjects which showed improvements in passing rate are History (+2.9 percent), Geography (+1.3 percent), Mathematics (+1.1 percent), Technical Skills (+0.3 percent), ERT (+1.8 percent), Agriculture (+0.3 percent), Commercial and Entrepreneurial (+4.5 percent), Arab (+8.5 percent) and Kadazan Dusun (+2.5 percent).

However, four subjects showed a reduction in passing rates which are Bahasa Melayu (-1.2 percent), Islamic Studies (-3.6 percent), Science (-0.6 percent) and Chinese (-1.3 percent).

Read more @

Motivation in the Classroom

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

The classroom is a place where students spend most of their time. So, the values learned in the classroom will always remain with the students. Though all teachers want their students to excel in life, motivation in the classroom is one of the important way to help achieve this goal. There might be some students in the classroom who are extremely self motivated and do not require inspiration from someone else. However, motivation in the classroom can certainly help these students more and also those who are not aware of their strengths. Now, before discussing how motivation in the classroom should take place, let us understand the need of motivation in the classroom in the next paragraph.

Need for Motivation in the Classroom

Motivation in the classroom by teachers helps students focus on their studies better. Students understand how they should approach a particular subject and get their doubts cleared. The aim behind motivating the students is to make them aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Good motivation can help students fix their goals in life. There are many students, who lose interest in their studies due to lack of motivation, attention and guidance from their teachers. Because of this, students end up being failures in their life when they grow up even though they had all the skills, abilities and talent to reach the topmost position. Thus, there is a big need for motivation in the classroom.

How to Motivate Students in the Classroom?

Student motivation is of two types – intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation makes a student study and take interest in his job due to his strong will power and strength of mind. In other words, such students practice self motivation. On the other hand, an extrinsically motivated student would work hard and study with an aim of winning a prize or getting praised by his parents and teachers. Though it is the responsibility of teachers to motivate students, one must learn self motivation as one grows up. For articles on self motivation, refer to:

In order to motivate students in the classroom, teachers should not overreact by criticizing them in front of the entire class for the mistakes committed by them. Instead, the mistakes can be brought to the notice of the student individually and suggestions can be given to improve them. An effective and frequent communication between the students and his teacher is imperative for motivating the students. Teachers should praise the good qualities of the students. They should encourage the students to participate in group activities with full enthusiasm. Providing the students with emotional support in times of difficulty is the task of the teacher. Small children, sometimes, are very sensitive and due to this, their performance in class can get affected due to family problems. Here, teachers play a crucial role in keeping the students motivated by assuring that everything would be just fine.

by Charlie S.

Read more @

34,271 PMR Candidates Obtain Straight ‘A’

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 34,271 students (7.7 per cent) out of 441,137 who sat for the PMR examination obtained grade A in all subjects compared with 30,863 (7.02 per cent) in the 2010 said the director-general of education, Datuk Seri Abd Ghafar Mahmud.

He said the result showed an increase of 3,048 pupils (0.75 per cent) and the PMR achievement was also the best in 17 subjects in the last four years based on National Average Grade (GPN) of 2.71 points compared with 2.74 points in 2010, 2.78 points in 2009 and 2.83 points in 2008.

“I would like to convey my appreciation to the teachers who worked hard to help achieve the improvement in GPN from 2.74 to 2.71 points.

“This is the product of the effort and hard work of teachers throughout the country including the administration and commitment of parents. I would also like to congratulate all PMR pupils for studying for the encouraging result,” he said when announcing the PMR results, here Thursday.

Similarly the number of candidates who obtained grade E in all subjects had also dropped from 386 candidates (0.09 per cent) in 2010 to 346 candidates (0.08 per cent) this year.

In Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory education director Datuk Khairil Awang said the PMR results in Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory this year was the best in the last eight years.

He said the achievement of PMR candidates for the Federal Territory improved based on the GPN of 2.54 points compared with 2.59 points in 2010.

Out of a total of 22,449 candidates who sat for the PMR in Kuala Lumpur, 2,296 candidates obtained straight ‘A’ compared with 2,103 last year.

Six schools obtained 100 per cent passes, namely Sekolah Menengah (Sains) Selangor, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Aminuddin Baki, Sekolah Menengah Agama Kuala Lumpur, Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah Putrajaya, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Victoria and Sekolah Menegah Agama Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur.


Read more @

Country’s population expected to peak at 57 million

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia’s population is expected to peak at 57 million by 2090 and the country could become an aging society in 2024 if current population trends continue.

The Department of Statistics made this projection based on Malaysia’s increasing life expectancy and decreasing fertility rate that is recorded in the Population and Housing Census done throughout the years.

The population growth rate has slowed down to 12.7% from 18.9% a decade ago.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, who announced the fifth census report (2010) yesterday, said the government was not worried about the possibility of an aging population as yet.

“The definition of an aging population is when the number of people aged over 65 is more than 7% of the population,” he said.

“According to our projections, Malaysia will only reach that point in 2024. So we are still a growing population that is young and strong.”

Read more @