Archive for December, 2012

15 Recommendations Implemented To Raise Number Of Science Students – Muhyiddin

Friday, December 21st, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: — The Education Ministry would implement 15 recommendations in the effort to increase the number of science stream students in schools, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The 15 are part of 61 recommendations put forward by the Committee Studying the Policy of 60:40 Science/Technical: Arts Stream ratio, set up the ministry on Feb 2 and chaired by Education director-general Tan Sri Abd. Ghafar Mahmud.

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said among the recommendations to be implemented were reviewing the direction of science and technology education and its definition and increasing the teaching and learning hours for all pure science subjects from four to four periods a week.

“To ensure the students learn in a conducive environment, the government will renovate and upgrade the existing laboratories in primary and secondary schools.

“These efforts will be part of the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 which is being fine-tuned,” he said at the launching of the Science and Technology Acculturation Awareness Campaign and launching of the Strategies to Achieve the 60:40 Science/Technical:Arts Stream Policy Report at Petrosains KLCC, here, Friday.

The report was published following several meetings, workshops and dialogues held with various groups including parents, teachers, education associations and non-governmental organisations with the report findings presented to Muhyiddin on Nov 5.

The 15 recommendations mentioned will be implemented collaboratively involving the public sector including the Education Ministry, Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry and Higher Education Ministry, and the private sector and community.


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Sabah’s PMR result best in two years

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah recorded 3.01 State Average Grade (GPN) in this year’s Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) or Lower Secondary Evaluation Examination, with a 0.02 per cent increase compared to last year’s 3.03.

A lower GPN (Gred Purata Negeri) indicates better grades.

Announcing the PMR results at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Tun Ahmad Shah, Inanam here yesterday, Sabah Education Director Datuk Dr Muhiddin Bin Yusin however said that Sabah’s passing rate dropped to 62.04 per cent from 63.06 per cent in the 2011 PMR.

Out of 37,607 candidates, 922 or 2.45 per cent obtained straight A’s compared to last year’s 1,025 or 2.72 per cent.

This year’s overall result was also Sabah’s best in two years, he said.

“Although the number of passing rate has dropped, quality has increased because of the lower GPN recorded this year. We also recorded a lower straight E’s results, with only 16 candidates or 0.04 per cent compared to last year’s 26 candidates or 0.06 per cent, he added.

Overall, eight subjects showed improvements, namely Bahasa Melayu (+0.7 per cent), History (+0.6 per cent), Geography (+4.6 per cent), Islamic Studies (0.0 per cent), Mathematics (+0.7 per cent), Science (0.7 per cent), KHB Technical Skills (+0.1 per cent) and KHB Home Economics (+0.9 per cent), he said.

Six subjects showed a drop in passing rate – English (-1.9 per cent), KHB Agriculture (-1.0 per cent), KHB Commercial and Entrepreneurial (-0.9 per cent), Arabic (-14.6 per cent), Chinese (-4.6 per cent) and Kadazan Dusun (-0.1 per cent), Muhiddin said.

He also said two schools in the State recorded excellent results with 100 per cent passing rate, namely SM Sains Lahad Datu and SM Sains Sabah. Both schools scored 1.08 and 1.14 School Average Rate or Gred Purata Sekolah (GPS) respectively.

Other 11 schools recorded GPS at 2.20 points and below. They were SMK Tun Ahmad Shah Inanam (95.41 per cent with 1.62 GPS), SM Islamiah Tawau (92.86 per cent with 1.73 GPS), SM St Micheal Penampang (98.93 per cent with 1.76 GPS), SMK Agama Kota Kinabalu (77.53 per cent with 1.78 GPS), SMK Agama Tun Mustapha (78.46 per cent with 2.03 GPS), SM St Francis Convent (93.82 per cent with 2.08 GPS), SMK Agama Mohd Ali Ranau (65.88 per cent with 2.08 GPS), SM Sung Siew Sandakan (88.89 per cent with 2.1 GPS), SMK Agama Sandakan (74.07 per cent with 2.13 GPS), SMK Agama Limauan (82.22 per cent with 2.14 GPS) and SM All Saints Kota Kinabalu (90.85 per cent with 2.20 GPS).

One of straight 9As students from SMK Tun Ahmad Shah Inanam, Muhammad Faishal Norjeli said choosing the right friends for study group was his formula of success.

by Mariah Doksit.

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PMR: Fewer straight As students this year

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

PUTRAJAYA: Fewer students scored all A’s in this year’s Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination compared to last year.

Of the 440,643 candidates who sat for the examination, 30,474 scored straight A’s, a 0.85% drop from 2011.

Education deputy director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin said students’ performance in the English subject also went down.

“The percentage of candidates who obtained excellent grades (Grade A) fell by 1.6% this year from 18.4% (of candidates) in 2011 to 16.8% in 2012.

“Also, the percentage of candidates who did not reach the minimum achievement and received a Grade E went up by 2.8% (from 21.3% to 24.1% in 2012),” he said when announcing the results here yesterday.

While the percentage of top scorers in Mathematics and Science dropped by 1.4% and 2% respectively, more students passed both the subjects with close to 94% of students receiving at least a Grade D.

Although the Government reversed the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) policy in 2009, schools can still opt to teach Mathematics and Science in English to cater to students who had started learning the subjects when the policy was in place.

Public examinations for the two subjects will continue to be bilingual until 2016 for primary pupils and 2021 for secondary students.

Meanwhile, fewer candidates failed the examinations this year. Only 241 candidates scored all E’s this year compared to 346 candidates in 2011.

Dr Amin said that while urban candidates performed better than their rural peers, the achievement gap between them had narrowed based on the National Average Grade.

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Helping Students Find Their Writing Voices

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
Students often have a difficult time finding their unique voice and style while writing. Help them out with these simple tips.

One of the most frustrating things for writing teachers is reading papers that simply lack style. When all of the research has been completed and incorporated into the paper correctly and all of the sentences are structured well, but the paper lacks some pizazz, it can be boring to grade. Similarly, when you know a student has a great personality, but that isn’t showing up in his or her writing, it can be upsetting to know that your students can do so, much better. If you are searching for ways to help your students find their voices, try stepping back from the analytical papers. When they write about themselves, students’ voices often shine through.

Who are You?

One of the most difficult questions for students to answer is: “Who are you?” Of course, they can give you their name, age, date of birth, and all sorts of other pertinent biographical information. However, when it gets down to the nitty-gritty stuff about what motivates them and makes them tick, this can be a difficult question to answer. Have your students explore who they are and what makes them unique. In doing this, through writing, students will start to see their personalities differently and, hopefully, be able to add a little flair to their writing. Furthermore, you can have students take on different, silly personalities in their writing. If they were an animal, who would they be? If they were a book, who would they be? Doing this can help your students break their comfort zones and think about their personalities differently.

Dear John

Writing letters is a great way for students to explore their writing passion. Have them write to a famous person they’ve always admired, and then the one they absolutely hate. Explore how their language changes between the two letters. Have them write to a family member, or a teacher. Talk about what differences in language they see as their audience change. When students know their audiences, it is much easier for them to add the kind of personality their audience wants to see. When you have them write a paper, then, have them define who they are writing it for before they even start. Then, reference the letters they wrote to give them an idea of what voice to use.

What Matters to You?

When students write about what matters most to them, they will often give you the best writing you’ve ever seen. Passionate responses are usually well-written responses, and you’ll get those when you ask questions that hit home. At the very least, when students have something to say about a given topic, it can be easier for them to get their ideas down, then work on their writing style.

Get the Words on Paper, Then Edit Them

The most valuable lesson students can learn is to write first, and edit later. Often, students think that, if the words don’t come out perfectly the first time, then they shouldn’t even write them down. More dangerously, students sometimes think that whatever comes out on the page the first time, is the end result of paper writing. To help with this, have students write nonstop for five minutes about their topics.

by Buzzle Staff.

Where and When You Study: Choosing Your Best Place

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Your surroundings have a big effect on your efficiency. Match your assessment results to the advice below. What changes do you need to make?

1.  Is my study place available to me whenever I need it?

  • Your study place does you little good if you cannot use it when you need it.
  • If you are using a shared study place, work out a schedule so that you know when you can use it without distractions and as long as you need it.

2.  Is my study place free from interruptions and distractions?

  • It is important to have uninterrupted study time. Even one hour of study without distraction is more effective than four hours of study with interruptions.
  • Turn off your cell phone or set it to silent. No ring tones + no vibrations = no distractions.
  • Turn off the IM feature on your computer, unless you are using it as a means to communicate with members of a study group.
  • Don’t check your email while studying. Set aside time to read it before you start studying or once you have finished.
  • A great way to take care of distractions is to create several user profiles on your computer. Set one, perhaps called Study, to block access to the internet altogether. Set another to Research, allowing internet access but blocking games and perhaps email. The third, with full access, can be My Time or something similar. [A warm shout-out to the brothers of Alpha Delta Phi for this suggestion.]

3.  Does my study place have all the materials I need?

  • Be certain that your study place includes reference sources and all of the supplies you generally need (e.g., graph paper, pens/pencils, rulers, calculator, a computer with internet access).
  • If you study best outside your room, check your backpack or bag before heading for the library or Athena cluster to make sure you have everything you’ll need.

4.  Does my study place have a large enough desk/table?

  • Use a desk or table large enough to spread out everything you need, so that you don’t waste time moving things around.
  • Allow enough room for writing.
  • Try to avoid clutter.

5.  Does my study place have a comfortable chair?

  • A chair that makes you stiff or fidget will interfere with your studying.
  • A chair that is too comfortable might make you sleepy.
  • Find a chair in which you can sit for at least an hour and still maintain your attention. Then take a stretch break.

6.  Does my study place have enough light?

  • Straining to see the page or screen burns through your energy more quickly.
  • If you have a dark room or study place, add a lamp or use a reading light.

7.  Does my study place have a comfortable temperature?

  • If it’s too warm, you might become sleepy.
  • If it’s too cold, you may become distracted.
  • Select a temperature at which your mind and body function best.

When to study:

Make studying a regular part of your schedule. Let it become routine like brushing your teeth or tying your shoes. For example, once your class times are set, find times when you have a two-hour block, say 2-4 pm on Tuesday/Thursday and 8:30-10:30 pm Monday/Wednesday. Do not ever schedule something else at those times: make them sacred!

Choose study times and days when you’re likely to feel energetic and have enough time to complete assignments before class.

Use daylight hours (as much as possible). Research shows that 60 minutes of study during the day is the equivalent of 90 minutes of study at night (Walter Pauk, How to Study in College, 6th ed. [Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1989], p. 27).

Plan to study for blocks of time. Generally, studying in one-hour blocks is most effective (50 minutes of study with a ten-minute break). Shorter periods can be fine for studying notes and memorizing materials, but longer periods are needed for problem-solving tasks, psets, and writing papers.

Determine how long you need to study to fully engage with the material you are learning. The third unit number in MIT subject listings tells you how many hours departments and instructors feel you need to spend studying in order to effectively learn that subject: 1 unit = 1 hour of work per week. Most subjects expect 6-9 units of preparation, and many students find they need more. You do the math!

Study soon after lecture. You’ll remember and understand more if you review your lecture notes immediately after class. If questions arise then or something is unclear, you’ll have plenty of time to check with a classmate or the instructor to clarify what you missed; it may be something important that you need for your psets and might appear on an exam.

List and do tasks according to priorities. Remember Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” If you allot two hours to read ten pages, it will probably take you the full two hours to complete this 30-minute task.

Start long or involved assignments ahead of time. In your heart you know it’s true: cramming and rushing = poor quality work.

Set an agenda for each study period. Be specific, and plan ahead so that you know exactly what task you will accomplish during each study period.

Once you find a schedule that works for you, stick to it. Some days you may not feel like studying at the appointed time, but habit will help you settle down.

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Sandy Hook Shooting: Why Did Lanza Target A School?

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

The killing of 26 people, including 20 children, at the Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut has understandably shocked the nation, and details are just beginning to emerge about the shooter, Adam Lanza, a 20-year old man who also murdered his mother. Events such as these inevitably re-open up debates about gun control, or more tenuously lead people to complain about American culture itself. Yet on the very same day, a 36-year-old Chinese man attacked 22 children with a knife at a primary school in China, suggesting that there is a critical factor with mass homicides that gets far less attention.

(MORE: Chilling Details About the Gunman)

For all the disbelief and dismay, we actually know pretty well that most such events are committed by individuals with a particular set of characteristics. As my colleagues Mark Coulson, Jane Barnett and I noted in a 2011 article in the Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations, school shooters have generally been found to 1) have a history of antisocial personality traits, 2) suffer from mental illnesses such as depression or psychosis and 3) tend to obsess about how others, whether other individuals or society at large, have wronged them. (These conclusions are similar to the findings of a 2002 U.S. Secret Service report on school shootings.) These individuals seethe with rage and hatred and despondency, until they decide to lash out at individuals or a society they believe has done them great wrong. Mental health, and our failure to address it as a society, is at the core of these events.

Not all mass homicide perpetrators target schools, but schools do seem to be an unusually common target. People wonder why angry men (and an occasional woman) so often target innocent children who have done them no wrong. In the case of Sandy Hook, although early reports suggested that Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza, may have worked there, the school superintendent has since clarified that she was not a teacher or a substitute. In many other cases, there is no obvious connection. Watching the horror and great sadness that has descended over the nation in the last 24 hours, we have our answer. These perpetrators have lashed out against society in the most vicious way possible, inflicting the most pain that they could. That is the point of targeting a school.

(MORE: Funerals at Christmastime: The Tragedy of Sandy Hook Village)

Gun control may potentially remove one tool from the hands of potential perpetrators, but mass homicides occur in every part of the globe—Scotland, Norway, Germany, China. So while it may indeed be the right time to talk about gun control, as many are saying, it is also the right time to talk about mental health care in our country. Our country’s funding for mental health services has only gotten worse since the 2008 recession. As the National Alliance on Mental Illness has been warning for some time, the existing level of funding is inadequate, so our nation’s ability to identify and care for the severely mentally ill has been hamstrung.

In my own clinical work, I’ve seen individuals I’ve identified as being potentially at risk for future criminal behavior due to their mental illness.  Very often, there are simply few to no resources for them until they come to the attention of the criminal justice system.

by Christopher J. Ferguson.

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NUTP: Students learn less under PBS system

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: Students are losing out under the new school-based assessment (PBS) system as many teachers are forced to skip topics, said the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP).

Its president Hashim Adnan said many teachers are concentrating only on certain topics that will be assessed under the system.

“For example, if there are 10 topics in History, but only five are assessed, some teachers take a shortcut and focus on the five to save time. In the end, the students lose out because they learn less.

“This happens because there is no communication between the Curriculum Development Division and the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate under the Education Ministry,” said Hashim, after a meeting with NUTP exco members at a hotel here yesterday.

He said the union was calling for a meeting to discuss how to improve the PBS system.

The PBS was introduced last year in primary schools, and this year in secondary schools.

It is a holistic form of assessment and incorporates both school and centralised assessment.

by Joseph Koas, Jr.

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Building a strong foundation

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

When teaching young learners, it is vital to remember that initial, formative experiences help shape their lifelong educational development.

EARLY childhood education is important for young children as it helps develop their intellectual, social and creative skills.

With this in mind, the next four editions of Exploring English will focus on teaching young learners for whom English is an additional language.

The role of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) teacher is analogous to that performed by the team of professionals responsible for the construction of a multi-storey building; from the initial conceptual, design and architectural stages to the foundation, engineering and construction processes.

More specifically, just as the ultimate height of a building depends significantly on the depth and strength of its foundation, so too can the eventual “height” of an individual’s educational achievement be determined by the “foundations” put in place by the ECE teacher at this early education stage.

This education truth is even more applicable to the ECE teacher responsible for establishing the education foundations of the young learner for whom English is an additional language (EAL).

These initial, formative experiences can be the most crucial components in an individual’s educational development.

It is the building of an attitudinal “foundation” that will positively influence, guide and motivate the learner throughout his or her lifelong educational journey.

This particular educational phase is also important for inculcating independent and group learning attitudes as well as the willingness to question, explore and think critically in a fostered environment.

Development goals

The overall, paramount objective of the ECE-EAL teacher during this vital period is the development of the “whole person”.

Central to this developmental process is the creation of a safe, supportive, stimulating and inclusive learning environment where alternative opinions and cultural, religious and personal diversity are respected.

by Keith Wright, the author and creator of the 4S App- roach To Literacy and Language (4S).

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Let’s walk the talk for special kids

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

The authorities should be serious if they want to move towards advocating inclusive education especially for children with learning disabilities.

MANY children with special learning needs require speech and language therapy from an early age. They generally receive this service from speech-language pathologists, either in hospitals or in private practices.

Although the provision of speech-language services in schools is common in most developed countries, this service, unfortunately, has yet to be made available in Malaysian schools.

Therefore, this area of remediation, though crucial, remains inaccessible to many children in need of it.

Developmental and learning disabilities in children are common. Evidence from worldwide reports show that about 16% to 33% of children have at least one form of special learning needs.

McLeod and McKinnon from Charles Sturt University in Australia compared the prevalence of communication disorders with other learning needs in 14,500 primary and secondary school students.

They found that the majority of students with special learning needs are struggling in the area of speech, language and communication.

Their statistics show that 19% of the students have dyslexia, 12% have communication impairment and 6% have difficulties learning English or other languages as their second language.

Altogether, these figures yield an alarming 37% of students with speech, language and communication difficulties.

This figure is compelling, as compared to the other forms of special learning requirements: behavioural/emotional difficulty (6%), early achiever/advanced achiever (6%), physical/medical disability (1%), intellectual disability (1%), hearing impairment (1%) and visual impairment (0.5%).

Besides that, the prevalence of developmental and learning disabilities has been reported as “increasing” over the years. According to an American national report released in a prominent scientific journal, Pediatrics (2011), the prevalence of development disabilities has increased from 12.84% to 15.04% over the past 12 years.

In the past 10 years, Malaysia has also experienced a notable shift in the prevalence for students with special educational needs.

The Special Education Department in the Education Ministry reported that in 1999, there were 6,433 students who received special education services in primary schools and 2,627 students in secondary schools.

by Dr. Low Hui Min.

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Slipping and sliding

Saturday, December 15th, 2012
Even as the latest TIMSS scores indicate a continuing drop for Malaysian students, there needs to be more in-depth analysis than just knee-jerk reaction.

IMAGINE two continents separated by water. What sort of fossils would you look for to prove that the continents were once joined?

Can you find the value of x in this equation: 9x – 6 < 4x+ 4?

If you cannot figure out the answers to these questions in about 10 minutes or so, you are not alone.

Only 5% and 3% of Malaysian Form Two students respectively answered these questions correctly in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011.

While these were deemed as questions for above average students, it was disconcerting to note that only 67% of our 14-year-olds could identify the chemical formula for carbon dioxide.

Conducted in schools in 63 countries last year, the results of the global student assessment for Mathematics and Science was only announced on Wednesday.

With the international “intermediate” achievement set at 475 points, Malaysia’s most recent scoring of 440 in Mathematics and 426 in Science has been a source of much hand-wringing.

In comparison, the top performing countries for Mathematics based on students’ average scores were Taiwan (Chinese-Taipei), Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong and Japan.

There was not much difference in terms of who came up tops in Science other than the order; Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan.

TIMSS is a project by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), which describes itself as an independent cooperative of education research institutions and government research agencies.

First conducted in 1995, TIMSS assesses fourth (Year Four) and eighth grade (Form Two) students around the world on curriculum content shared by participating countries.

The tests contain multiple choice and structured subjective questions, and are carried out in the main language of instruction in the respective countries.

Having participated in the survey since 1999 with only Form Two cohorts, Malaysia has been generally recording a downward trend.

For 2011, a total of 5,773 students from 180 schools across Malaysia were assessed, and students were selected based on representative sampling.

by Priya Kulasagaran.

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