Monday, October 29, 2012

walking in the rain

It has been raining a lot in the evening these past weeks. I am so desperate for the walks up the hill during the weekends that I've even walked under the hot sun at 12pm. For the past two weekends, we had been caught in the rain twice. The first time, we just scrambled all the way down...totally drenched. Last Saturday, I carried an umbrella and KC wore a raincoat. We covered quite a distance as we were not worried about getting wet. It's quite a lot of fun walking in the rain.

Managed to capture two pictures of God's creation before the rain came.

 Wild berries??
 Due to the rain, lots of mushrooms mushroomed. Just like the pictures in Enid Blyton books....just need the gnome or pixies to complete the magical feel.
KC in the raincoat....brown water flowing downhill....don't seem to capture the flowing water too well. A little slippery but definitely very enjoyable especially when we have the umbrella and raincoat. The stick helps a lot.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

flowers flowers flowers everywhere

I don't have green fingers. But I think my patch of garden is green and beautiful....(my standards). All I do is water and fertilize the plants. Once a year KC and I will buy more soil and a few new pots and plants and add new plants to what we have. At the same time we may re-pot some of the old plants.

The result of the little effort I put in my garden is just so amazing. I think the fertilizer is good. The blooms this time round is really wonderful and in abundance.

This flower is not from my garden. We bumped into it on the way up the hill yesterday. Saw the first bloom on the ground. Thought it dropped from the tree. Then further up saw another two blooms. Went closer and saw it is growing from the ground...the root is bulb like. Really interesting. In the gray and brown of the hill....the red just stands out.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Open Book Exam

SPM History  for year 2013 will include a new paper...Paper 3. It's 3 hours and open book ie students are allowed to bring in books, references, printed materials etc. 8 questions with a total of 100 marks and rounds up to 20% of the overall History paper.

Paper 1 is objective questions, Paper 2 is structural and essay questions. These have been the type of papers the students had been sitting for.

My students just sat for the Paper 3 recently. I am in extreme busy mode marking. An average of 4 sheets of paper; 8 pages of writing from each student. There is just so much marking to do....pages after pages of words and they don't seem to get any lesser.

The set of question we used for this exam is based on the questions which the district History teachers did together in one of the workshops earlier this year. It was agreed in the workshop that during the year end exam, schools are to use the questions prepared in the workshop.

What I found out after the exam:A whole series of questions and answer schemes (which was emailed to me by the workshop coordinators) can be found over the internet. Somebody had posted the questions and answers!!!

Students who found the questions and printed the answer scheme were euphoric. Students who saw the question and didn't print the answer scheme were frustrated. Students who did the right thing....studied, searched, googled etc etc....were angry and frustrated. My own girl cried and said she will not bother to do research but zoom in straight to the questions  and answers next time.

As I marked, I felt upset and stupid. It's like seeing the same answers over and over....same sequence, same words. Students with the scheme just copied straight. No variety except for those who did extra thinking and sorting out of answers.

The first three questions are text book based. So with the text open, students can safely copy all the correct answers down. The rest of the questions are KBKK (creative and critical thinking) styled questions. Requires analysis, critical thinking, linking of knowledge to situation etc. So far, most of the answers I checked are monotonous, non-creative or critical...nothing original but obviously copied.

What are we teaching the students:
 Open book test means looking for answer schemes and bringing in to exam hall to copy. I saw many students bringing in answer schemes from various reference books.

What will happen and is happening to the students:
They turn into cut and paste people of the world. I see it happening over and over. Give them a project to do....they just go online, cut and paste on the topic given and claim the work as theirs. (I had a student who handed me an essay on Commonwealth Games....obviously a cut and paste the end of it she put her name. I was horrified and blasted her for plagiarism.)

What is the purpose of this paper?
History is a compulsory pass subject beginning 2013. It is one subject which most students hate and many can't be bothered if they pass it or not. This open book paper is geared to help students pass this exam which I think is quite possible at this rate as we are teaching students to bring in whatever printed materials and just copy like crazy.

At the end of the day, we will have 100% passes in History. We will pat ourselves on the back for an excellent job done but how many of the passes is actually valid?

This is the condition of our education system now. I still have tales to tell in regard to other changes and the doubts I have regarding them....well, no need to talk anymore. Getting bit long-winded.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A trip to the forests...

 6th October 2012 the CS made a trip to FRIM Kepong. This is the second time we have visited FRIM. There were 46 of us (some dropped out the last minute),  a busload with Edward and Darrissa in their car.

It's so nice to visit a forest in the city. Must say that the FRIM has done quite a good job in keeping the place and organizing the activities for us. We were divided to Team A and Team B. The tour guide took us around...visited the museum and then hiked into the forest. The guide did a great job in explaining the plants to us...I've learnt quite a lot that day.

The beginning of the hike....we were taken to a pond where we clapped hands to attract the attention of the big arowana fishes in the pond. Not sure how that works but we saw two huge arowanas.
 The guide explaining to us the various types of wood here. This has three types of wood...the first is the type used to build boats, bridges and it is still strong and solid. The third type of wood is already rotting. The children were very attentive and inquisitive. I am sure they have learnt more about the forest here than in their class.
 The canopy...this is something which this forest is well-known for. This very canopy had made its way to the National Geographic. Most impressive and majestic. Never fail to awe me....
 Something informative here. Look at the grows upwards. The guide told us that bananas that grow upwards instead of downwards is poisonous.
 The canopy walk....only four at a time and we were not allowed to group together. Those who didn't want to go for the canopy walk went back to base while the rest of us went on with our hike. Great experience even for a person who is afraid of heights like me. Get to see KL city too.
 When we came downhill, we were hot and sweaty. The kids saw water and they wanted to go in for a dip. Water is very clean and clear this end as it is higher up. They were not allowed to have a dip as we had to get to the base for lunch.
 Reached the base, had lunch and we were off again for treasure hunt. It was back into the forest again. This group....Awesome...was the first to complete the hunt but didn't win as their purpose was to complete the hunt as fast as they could.
 A trip to the waterfall.....the kids wanted this very much. They had great fun playing in the water.
A bigger view of the waterfall....The adults climbed to the higher point. The smaller children were at the lower point. Was quite scary as the rocks were slippery.

Left FRIM slightly after four. I was totally exhausted. Slept all the way back. Thank God for the great weather and protection. Was a good trip for all of us.