Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Third(?) Beginning

Someone has said it, it is time to update this blog. I guess I will start.

Last night was our second reading session for this year at Ilham. We all have to admit that we have not been showing our faces there for a long time, and I applause the person who arranged for the 'visit' three weeks ago. Was it Naz or Lie? Well, bravo for both of you. Now we know, it is the first step that is always so hard. And now, most of us cannot stop from going. Well, I sure hope so. :)

As usual, Lie was the first one to show up last night, me and Fahmi came a bit late. (Note to Fahmi: You prefer to be known as Fahmi here?) (In case you do not know, Fahmi is our latest addition to the Ilham English Programme group. We also have another friend, which is Lina, a friend of Naz's.) When we arrived, all the kids were already flocking around Lie with his laptop doing simple reading exercises from Me and Fahmi quickly switched on our laptops and grabbed a few kids to flock around us.

I had Firdaus, Badrul and Sazrul reading with me. And I think that they were into the learning process making it easy to let them read and repeat the words on the screen. After that I told them that it is time to read books and I was quite surprised that Firdaus was actually quite eager to read. Last week we read a Malay novel for kids, and last night a story from the big fairytale book. I think his English reading was better than when he was reading Malay, but maybe he was just nervous or shy the first week.

Then Kak Zaza and Abang Akaz came, and Kak Zaza took over the macbook for another reading online session. Hasif came along and wanted to copy songs from my macbook to his mp3 but I made him joined the reading session. It is quite sad to see that Firdaus's reading is far better than his. I am sure that his attitude of not wanting to read or study comes from the disability to read itself. I personally think that he needs a very special extra attention every week that we go there, if he is willing to cope with us. And when it was almost time to go home, I told Firdaus that we are stopping to read, but he seems to want to read other books as well. Yeay.

The week before I lent Firdaus, Sazrul and Fikry each one book. Fikry has returned the book but the other two asked for more time. Well, as long as they are reading I have no problem with that. And this week Faqih also brought back a book to read. I hope this will catch on. I sure need to find more interesting books to bring for them to read. If any of you have books that are suitable for their reading, please bring them over. You do not have to leave it with them, they can just read it during the while that we are there.

And after the reading session, we went to Makbul for a quick drink and discussed on what we should do next. Everyone agreed that after another week of monitoring them, we will try to separate them according to their reading ability and each group will flock an assigned laptop for their level of reading ability, subtly without them realizing maybe.

Naz came for a quick sit, then after we all said our goodbyes, Fahmis's car ran out of battery and all of us except Naz (she had dashed to Bangi) stayed to accompany him to change battery. (He did all the work himself). A trail of bad luck had hit him, said Fahmi, when a bird's dropping fell on his shirt. Well, I hope that wouldn't dampen your spirit to join us again!

Akaz bought air battery for his car.

It is hard to take pictures using a macbook, Lie bring a camera next time k.
Was trying to capture the bird's dropping on Fahmi's shirt.

Powerpuff Girls saved the helpers from being hit.

Friday, August 24, 2007

To Make Them Read Well, What SHould We Do?

And the end of the year is nearing us again, which means, we'll be a year older, and finals exams are almost here. For those in standard six, they'll be sitting for their UPSR, on the 3rd September ( =)

I know that I haven't been able to visit them as often as I would like. To tell you the truth, exams scare me, because I know I won't be able to help as much. And every time I go there, going back home thinking that I did not in any way help them as much as they need, saddens me. Something is wrong some where, and I always ask, why most of these kids, still cannot read well, both in BM and in English.

Going to classes myself now, I've learned so much about our education system. I've also learned so much about how our brain functions, when it comes to learning, and most importantly, I've learned how we can actually overcome the problems of kids not being able to read.

We wouldn't want to accept the fact, that family background has a lot of effects on how good a student can be. But it does make a difference. A student with a background of an educated family, will be able to learn more compared to a student with a very poor educational background. The reason being that, when they are growing up, they are more expose to things and experiences compared to the latter.

Do you realize how we get a little bit excited when we meet someone who has gone to the same school with our dad, (please be honest). And we will go back and tell our dad that we've met so and so, who's doing this and this and bla and bla. Do you think we'd care to know about this person if there was nothing that we can relate with him in the first place? That's how our brain function. It keeps facts and information in a secret place, and bring it out when it thinks that you might need it, to relate with new things that you are now experiencing.

So when a six year old child goes to pre-school, and learn new words, it helps if the child has been exposed to such words before, or maybe anything at all that can help them relate in the words or anything that they are learning there. And when they do know how to read, they should start reading anything under the sun, to prepare them with the coming syllabus in their education, or life.

I want so badly for the kids in Ilham to adopt a healthy reading habit. If unhealthy, make it because they do not want to put a book down, even for a second. How do you think we should do this? Concentrate only on the younger kids?

If there's a will, there's a way. (Yeah, I know. Coming from someone who has not shown her face there for awhile. Just my two cents.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

IEP - How I see it...

When I first started IEP @ Ilham, my goals were simple.

1) To inspire interest in learning English
2) To boost self-esteem and confidence
3) To encourage an avenue for expression of creativity
4) To improve the level of English

ps: in order of priority

What were my target areas?

1) Creative Thinking
2) Speaking and Pronunciation
3) Reading & Vocabulary

Why I wanted to do it?

I wanted the kids to be exposed to the English Language at an early age...

I wanted them to have an early introduction to public speaking even if it's just amongst those in the classroom, have the courage to present to others in English... have the initiative inside of them to step up and shine from the rest...

I wanted them to enjoy learning the English Language and enjoy learning in genereal... with the hope that they will want to improve their English and other subjects after what they've gone through during IEP Classes...

I wanted my friends and their friends and their friends of friends to join me in volunteering :)

I also wanted the kids to know that there are some of us out there, strangers in fact that care for them and want to see them grow...

I even had this big silly dream that one day, one of them would turn out a very successful man and he'd remember me and the rest of the volunteers as those who taught him that LEARNING IS FUN... hehe...

You see, all this was what I had in mind for IEP... I believe that this was even communicated to the Ilham's Management even before we started IEP in 2004... And whenever there were new volunteers who were interested to join us, the first thing I would say to them is that - "IEP is not like normal classroom teaching, the kids get that in school anyway! IEP is about exposure and confidence building... We learn more when we have a bit of fun along with it"...

You have to remember, that we are not teachers, we are facilitators... For example, I have a degree in Computer Science, not in teaching... So I don't think I'm qualified to be called a teacher :) But like me, the volunteers like to share their knowledge with the kids... and I think they're great at it too!!

Yes, I have to admit that along the way there were some frustrations on my part especially when I was asked to justify why the kids' results/grades were not improving. Yes, it was also a bit frustrating sometimes to see the kids giggling away when you have something important for them to learn and yes, it was very frustrating when there were times you feel your efforts in getting people to come together to be there with the kids were not appreciated by some...

But at the end of the day, I'm not doing it for myself. I'm not doing it to be praised on how wonderful I organised the classes with the other volunteers, I'm not doing it to be known... I'm just doing it because I want to... because I know in some way or another, it is helping the kids grow...

To me, grade isn't everything... I got good grades when I was in school but I didn't get enough exposure in public speaking until I got to Uni... and to me, it would have been a lot easier handling presentations if I had that early exposure... It would have come to me naturally if I was trained since young, I guess...

For the sake of sharing, we did have a list of activities structured out for the IEP kids developed from research based on the school syllabus, on best methods of teaching school kids etc.. done by myself and another friend. The plan was so that we had an inventory of activities: the what, the how, the materials needed etc so that anyone who could make it for class that night can just grab it and run it... but at some point last year when there were consistent change in volunteers, also the lack of time to prepare (do understand that most of us are working people) it was difficult to sustain the plan... Most of the activities became adhoc with little preparations yet they still achieved the objectives set!! That's all that matters...

You must be wondering why I'm writing this?

Well, I'm just writing this to answer some of your questions out there? For example:

How long have you conducted IEP? Have their grades improved? What are you guys doing about it? Do you have modules to teach them? Do you follow school syllabus? Is it difficult to teach? Are you qualified to teach? Do you have plans to continue and the list goes on...

Well, unfortunately a lot of people look at grades for an instant measure of success. I can't deny it is a measure but it is definitely not the only measure of success.

It has come yet to another end of IEP for the year. I'm not sure of the plans for the future but I would very much love to know if anyone would like to volunteer to carry on with what some of us have started here and take up the challenge to make it better... It can be a great opportunity to enhance your facilitation skills especially around kids... and of course there will be some coordination work needed between Ilham's Management and the Volunteers... Anyone up for it?


Friday, July 20, 2007

Revise or ...

Last week when we came for the usual English Program activity, we were half shocked. There wasn't any activity. We were not to conduct any Ha-Ha classes anymore. Things have gotten a bit serious around Rumah Ilham.


The 1st semester result is in, and it's not very good.

Everyone at Rumah Ilham have to start taking their studies seriously. All the students facing major exam this year (UPSR & PMR) are to be isolated from the rest. We, were invited (more like invited ourselves) to help them with their prep classes. Maybe 3-4 of us with the ones taking UPSR/PMR and the others with those not doing any major exams this year.

This week, starting last Tuesday there were some of us who came by during prep to help with any problems they might encounter with their revisions. It was the same for Wednesday night and Thursday night. Hopefully it will be the same thing for the coming weeks. Their exam is not that far away.

Be prepared for some tough questions from the ones getting ready for PMR. Hehe...

The program is like: Every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. 8.45 - 10.15 pm. Until they finished their exams. UPSR starts 3rd September 2007 and PMR is sometime in October 2007

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Listen... Listen!

Abang Bigg and Abang Jeri came up with the lesson plan for tonight. We played the "Whispering Game". Two groups were formed - the Autobots and Decepticons (yeah - Transformers Fever going around at the moment kan :))

Each group had to stand in a straight line. The first group member were given specific sentence to pass to their friends in a whispering mode. One group member at a time, the first to the second person, second to third and so on. At the end of the line, the last group member will have to come to the front and write down what the message or sentence is. The group with the right sentence or the closest to the original sentence collects points.

First sentence

Original: "I'm a Hero, are you?"
Autobots: "Macha, how are you?"
Decepticons: "I'm a Zero"

Second Sentence

Original: "Today, we celebrate our Independence Day"
Autobots: "Today, Nizam celebrated"
Decepticons: "Today is a Saturday"

Third Sentence

Original: "Here I come, there you go"
Autobots: "Hey, I come alone"
Decepticons: "Here I come, .........." oops, sorry I can't remember what was their answer - someone help me out here please

I think it's better that Abang Jeri or Abang Bigg update this entry, I was busy trying to get the message through to Alan that there are times when we need to keep quiet and listen (as he was very naughty tonight and was talking non-stop and not listening to instructions at all!) I wasn't really paying attention and keeping score. (Abang Jeri/Bigg, please help me out here :))

Well, funny thing tonight was that at 9.45pm all the kids disappeared... Getting them to go is usually very difficult, but tonight it was the opposite! You want to know why? They had DURIANs for supper. So at the ring of the bell, all of them rushed to the canteen to get their share of DURIANs!! It was so funny, as Abang Jeri was explaining something, he turned back and the kids were GONE!

They came back 10 minutes later with their durian smelling hands and sat with us to wrap up. Each of them smelled of DURIAN!!

We had Abang Acat with us again tonight - Cool! but he had to leave early. We also had Kak Nurina (Abang Jeri's colleague), Abang Jeri, Abang Bigg,Abang Akash, Kak Zaza and Abang Lie - All quite relunctant to salam with the durian smelling hands of the adik2.. hehe..

Hopefully, they learn a thing or two about paying attention and listening to others and the consequences of not doing so, especially little Mr Alan!!