Friday, 20 October 2017

Controlled Writing


Amongst the four strands, writing is the most challenging of all because writing comprises of all aspects of language: syntax, vocabulary, cohesion of the words, spelling and logical arrangement of ideas. According to Shields (2010), “writing is a form of communication to stimulate learning and also a basis to assess the writer. (p.5). Therefore, controlled Writing strategy pertinently comes into play as it helps to design and inject focused inputs from the teacher and at the same time is able to regulate its process and assess comprehensively. Hence, Controlled Writing was chosen by the teacher to build up students’ confidence by starting from controlled and guided activities and move towards less guided and more student centered writing activities. Especially for middle secondary students, they already have a decent language to express and all we need to do is provide them the calculated techniques and directions to hone their existing writing skills. Moreover in terms of teachers’ reaction to utilizing controlled writing, the questionnaire results of Winer’s (1992) study revealed that “student-teachers who conducted their practicum in writing classes noticed that controlled or guided writing was among the most effective strategies in improving ESL learners’ composition.” (p.3).

Controlled Writing bears a formal nature but it has space for creativity for writers principally in field of writing compositions and journals. Besides, control writing is not just about getting the content but is also about getting the procedures and structure. One of the main proponents of controlled writing is Raimes (1983), which states that, unlike free writing, controlled writing takes place when learners are supplied with “a great deal of the content and/or form such as an outline to complete, a paragraph to manipulate, a model to follow, or a passage to continue.” (para.1). Hence, this dismisses the idea of it being too rigid strategy to be used conspicuously in the class.

 Moreover, Sliva (1990) added that “controlled writing assists in both preventing errors that apparently occur from first language interference and reinforcing proper use of second language patterns.” (para.1).Thus, Control writing acts like a blue print which does not allow the writers to deviate from their premeditated outcome. Another notably characteristic of control writing is that it should be rigorously implemented by the teachers in the primary and lower secondary schools so that when the child reaches the higher secondary schools, they consolidate numerous skills for writing. Hence, Controlled writing strategy befits to boost the morale of the learners as writers.

The new strategy-Controlled Writing was implemented in class X A on 13th march, 2017 and ended on 18th March. There were 34 students who underwent through this strategy. Before implementing the activity, pre-test activity was conducted on 10th March.

 During the pre-test, students were instructed casually to write an expository essay on any topic and show it to the teacher. The outcome was discouraging, the students were not aware of inclusion of background information and how to write a thesis statement. Even the body paragraph lacked cohesion because of ambiguous topic sentences. Many conclusions were abrupt.

Considering the outcome, the activity was planned and It took two periods to familiarize the students about the form of an expository essay. In the process, they were taught types of hooks, importance of background information and how to write thesis statement using a formula. Characteristics of an expository essay was also discussed.  How to write body and conclusion of the essay was demonstrated by the teacher. Then after orienting on the structure and components, the teacher even showed them the sample of an expository essay titled My Ideal person. After two classes, worksheet was designed to guide them through their essay writing.

Then on the third day, the learners were handed a worksheet each and asked them to fill in the space on the extreme right after reading the instructions and clues given. First, the teacher instructed them to write the hook and the background information and the thesis statement. After that the teacher corrected their work and provided the feedback. After approving their hook, background information, and thesis statement, the next class was how to write a topic sentence linking with the first keyword used in the thesis statement. For instance, if the thesis statement read: Smoking cigarette can cause a lot of physical, economical, and social damage.  The word, “physical” is the first keyword and based on it, they were asked to frame the topic sentence. Consequently, they also used the other two keywords, “economical” and “social damage” to write two more topic sentences.  After approving the topic sentences, then they wrote body paragraphs where they had to include evidences and examples to support their topic sentences. After correcting the body paragraph, finally wrote the conclusion. Five days of intensive writing coaching was satisfactory.


The design and the use of worksheet was strictly based in line with the principles of controlled Writing. The teacher ensured that the activity had an explicit direction for the learners to fulfill the objectives.  Kalberer (n.d.) says that,“writing task should enable learners to write in English without having the burden of thinking too much about content and text organization.”(para.1) Thus, the following worksheet was born which has clear cut instruction of how to write the essay. Moreover, the instruction found in it, serves as a guide and firmly controls the writers’ information in logical order. As a res ult, the writers’ expression as well as the structure of the essay gets concentrated on given topic. The worksheet is given below for better comprehension of how the teacher has used the strategy.



Direction: Write an expository essay of 200-250 words consisting of three paragraphs. Fill accordingly after reading the instruction and clue.


Introduction


Title:……………………………………………………………………….
Clue                                                                                             
Feedback by the mentor
Hook:
Rhetoric question, Quotation, shocking facts, definition


Background Information of the topic
Provide a factual information to explain the concept/idea of your topic to ensure that the reader understand your topic.


Thesis statement consisting of Three keywords.
Use the given formula:
Topic + three factual opinion about the topic (three Keywords to write five paragraph essay)


                                               Body (clue)

Topic sentence
Use the first keyword from the thesis statement to construct your thesis statement


Evidence/Examples
Provide evidences in statistical form or examples to support your opinion (first key word.)


Concluding sentence
Restate your topic sentence and end with an assertive sentence


                                Conclusion (Clue)

First three lines
Restate your thesis statement


Last 4 to 6 lines
Provide either advice/suggestion/warning/reminder to the reader with relationship to the topic.





 As it is shown through the worksheet, it clearly tells the reader “what to write” “where to write” and “how to write.” Thus, controlling as well as guiding them to write a technically correct expository essay.
After implementing the Controlled Writing, the outcome was positive. Through this activity, first, it provided the students to write clearly and succinctly with step-by-step style which made their writing more precise and concise while building toward a concluding argument. They clearly understood where and how to write hooks, background information and thesis statement using the clues and directions. Thus, helping them to understand the instructions which served as a functional knowledge of a topic.
Second, the clear and concise direction provided through this activity helped the learners to utilize the information in an unambiguous, straightforward way. The activity consisted of clear cut instructions of how and where to lay their data , factual based presentation of the information in the essay which further assured the readers that the information is based on experience and is objective.
Third, the learners were able to grasp the form of an expository essay. Basically they knew the components of the essay. This activity limited their errors, be it the mechanical or content aspect. And at the same it also helped the learners to lay their information in very cohesive manner.

Fourth, the feedback received from the learners during the post-test was positive, they said that this activity helped them to focus and organize their thoughts in very logical manner. The learners said that the activity helped them to monitor their writing process. Thus, enhancing their critical thinking towards writing about the given subject.

 Finally, if we look from teachers’ stand point, the most striking impact of the activity was that it helped the teacher to realize the expected outcome of the activity. With this controlled writing activity, the teacher was able to teach and make them how to write hook, background information and thesis statement. Moreover, the learners were able to write topic sentences linking the thesis statement which further strengthen their body paragraphs.  However, follow-up was also easier as this strategy helped the teacher design a worksheet where the teacher could instantly pen down the feedbacks. Therefore, control writing is an apt strategy to help students learn and practice writing.
                                                                

Note:  It is shared with an intention to help students in their writing. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Let’s talk exam...

For some kids-the intensity is never like before-especially at this hour; kids could be seen hitting the books harder than ever!   They clearly understand that much of what they have learnt will be now measured through the medium called Exams. Thus, this realization leads  them to reckon exam as some kind of strenuous activity and instantly they wear that serious expression till it’s all over.  
 Indeed there nothing wrong with the element of seriousness but the question is-to what extent should we allow our kids to be serious when it comes to exams. And during that phase, how do we come in as a teacher-as parents? How do we help them to navigate smoothly through their exams?

Yes, some of us have enticed our kids by promising that we will buy them a flashy lightening McQueen-but-only under the condition if he gets through with something handsome to show off. In a worst case scenario, some of us might be radically drilling the consequences in their head and intimidating what will happen if things turn out ugly from exams. The pressure is full on-and the target setting contract with the teacher of scoring 60% and above rings into their head.   Very categorically, some of us-we lay down our expectations and remind them to be prepared for the penalties. It is indeed a serious business here!

Amid such events, do we ever consider the factors that determine the degree of their intensity with regard to examination? Do we really think about how far we should be pushing them? Do we really-like, look into their behavior pattern-like-are they able to eat and sleep well? Are they in a right frame of mind to appear for the exams?  In fact how do you ensure sound physical and mental state at the point of time?

We know some kids break down at times, unable to cope-unable to accept the results. At that crucial moment, how do we conduct ourselves so that we signal assurances and comfort?  How do we plan the rebuilding program for the kids specially to mend their psychological status? The point here is straight; we don’t want to be the factor that triggers that humungous fear at such events of their lives nor do we want to give them an impression that they are all alone to prove to the world how good they are. Like it or lump it-exams are stressful-kids do need us! 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Sex Education and Parents


  Just because many of us-we didn’t receive any healthy sex education from our parents do not mean that we should continue that same trend. Sex education has been handled ineptly in our family circle. A sexually developing kid has very feeble idea about sex education until he gets into the school. 

Frankly speaking, many parents have this complacent attitude that the sex education their kids receive from school is more than enough for the kids and consequently tend to shy from enacting their role towards communicating sex education to their kids. 

Despite knowing the fact that sex education is beyond the learning of  human sexual anatomy and its reproductive system, still we fail to propagate the psychological, social and emotional aspect to sex education. Apart from biological sense, Sex education needs to be taught through emotional corridor and that’s where parents can jump in!

How many of us, as parents- have we really thought about when and how to begin sex education to our kids?  As parents, are we not really concerned about our growing child-will it be prudent on our part to leave this role only to our teachers and to some NGOs?  

Yes, when it comes to sex education-it is a very delicate subject which we need to illustrate with greater sense of decency to our kids. An advisory role coupled with active collaboration with other stakeholders relevant to our child can be a turning point for the  kid’s sexual well being. 

Seriously, my friend the time has come-where we need to sit together face to face with our kids-ask whether their monthly periodic cycle has any effect on their daily school activities and talk about what he/she thinks about sexual harassment-probe her about why rape-about regulatory bodies pertaining to sex crimes. We also need to inform about stigmatization that goes in the community with teenage pregnancy, sexual transmitted diseases and Of course tell them that the rapist might be just next door or the person whom she thinks is her world. At least -lets us make them aware of sexual crimes and how to deal with such issues.

 Today our kids have access to multimedia and the probability to get hooked to various vulgar audio-visual elements is very high than ever before.  Despite of imparting media literacy-still we need to be vigilant and ensure that the video games that they play-magazines that they read-the songs that they listen to and the movies that that they watch need to be censored in such a way that they are not offended.   Let’s face it-many things around us has become sensuous-be it a simple TV ad or a MTV song. In the name art-the lyrics-the motion pictures are outrageously explicit in nature-parents need to be careful!  Face booking, we chatting through various social networks need be encouraged and channeled only through proper conversation about its implication and its relationship to their sexual growth.


 However, while doing this- Let us not give them an impression of intrusion, imposition and intimidation-let’s talk rather than lecturing about it to our kids-lets share our own experiences and lessons and relate to their own developing sexuality. 


Despite understanding the urgency and the existence of such scenario-if the parents  feel irked and put a face of denial about this issue-certainly It  would be the most piteous picture ever.

Yes there is nothing wrong when an iconic public figure advocates about it through a popular social media to our kids-yes there is nothing wrong when teachers and health workers do it-so why will it be wrong on the parents to advocate sex education to their own kids-now. 

Bottom line: Our parents may not have-but-we have to-sex education is our kids' rights.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Good Governance in the Classroom setting?


Teaching is an exhibition of one’s true governance; and how you teach and interact especially in classroom setting explicitly reflects your style and quality of governance. Therefore, every individual that bangs into teaching needs to first clearly understand the importance of embracing the idea of Good Governance and need to rigorously beef up-contemplate and ultimately need to realize the entire mechanism of Good Governance.

Today, a teacher that undermines the idea of Good Governance and solely focuses upon delivering his subject across to the learners are more likely to end up either frustrated or disillusioned with some learners. As a teacher, if we put all our money in rigorous pre-planning and post-planning of the lesson anticipating good outcome, then yes-we are either gullible or blissfully ignorant at this juncture, and on wards.


Yes-we know that teaching is not mere transmission of information and skills to the learners today; teaching is an expression-an emotive art-very subtle at times and very explicit on other generally determine by our learners mode of learning as well as by teacher's sheer love of teaching.   Yes, there is no denying that what we teach is important but again deep down we also know that how we teach cannot be equated with what we teach.  This, because the former is driven by end product while the latter focuses upon the procedural aspects of the teaching which ultimately mirrors the elements of Good Governance to our learners.

Hence, we need to clearly understand where we need to seek immediate intervention in our teaching. And this clearly leads us towards understanding of Good Governance within the four walls of our classrooms.

Moreover with ban of corporal punishment; the concept of placing Good Governance in teaching learning process has become a top priority. When we talk about strengthening Good Governance- basically we are talking about strengthening and refining the processes involved in teaching and learning.

 It is indeed a moral duty for the teacher to practise Good Governance in the classroom setting because intriguingly as it may seem, teachers are only the institution of Good Governance if ever looked from the learners’ standpoint. Thus, Teacher and Good Governance is an indispensable characteristic to our learners.

Now the question that ultimately arises is-what is Good Governance in teaching terms? What would Good Governance mean to a teacher and to the learners? As a teacher-have we ever propagated the idea of Good Governance consciously to our learners? Do our learners need to learn and practise Good Governance? What are the common core attributes of Good Governance in teaching sense?

These are some of questions that have always enticed us and led us to a journey with a rock solid awareness that the teacher needs to embody Good Governance and nothing will deters us from realizing it and ultimately advocating it…



Tuesday, 12 April 2016

He got a smile...


Sometimes life springs right in front of you and he hollers at you, “Boy, got you this time!”   
Startle-you gasp unable to believe that life can be so overwhelming at times.  
What he does-he rolls his sleeve and neatly pulls out one of his favourite monster from his closet and drops right before your nose. Then, twinkling a shifty smile he circles you and muffles, “What you gonna do now-this bad uncle monster is going to eat you up!”

Amid his mocking smile and laughter-your good instinct-can only tell you to turn your back and run hard down the lane. But before you could do that-much to your annoyance, he swiftly pulls out another terrifying monster behind your back.

Then, putting a cheeky smile, “Well, my boy-this is what we call a Mickey Mouse right between the monster and the deep blue sea. The choice is all yours.”
The two monsters sharpen their blood thirsty eyes and gritted their fangs to go all over you.  Indeed a bad-bad monster.

“Supplicate before them, beg for mercy-and   give them your smile, you will go safe-or else-” His thunderous laughter made him speak no further. 

As you were standing there, your head started playing all sorts of games with you; he tells you to unbuckle your revolver and hit them clean-Bang! Bang! Bang! Then, again your head, tells you to beg for mercy and give him what he demands.

But one thing that you know is you are way beyond guns and way beyond monsters.  Your helpless moments will never change you for what you believe in and what you yearn for-your heart-your indomitable will to be a real man will live on and your smile will never be treaded to those who demands-your faiths stands tall.

Yes, you are small, yes, you are scared-but deep inside you know that no monster can trample the heart of the man.

No matter what- you have decided to stand firmly on your feet. You simply won’t allow life to dictate terms and conditions for your survival.
Life was looking at you and waiting for the response. Rustling his bone dry palms, “Yes, your smile and we all go happy from here. ”

You stood there saying not a word.

“I am asking for the last time-are you not gonna fall on to your knees and hand them your smile?”  His roaring voice meant clear annoyance. “I tell my monsters and you-you will be split into two. That’s what you want huh?”

You are definite to stand and you just stood there-strongly.

“On your knees-Damn it!” life went wild. 
“Fall-you pathetic being-or else you die!”

There was a sudden jerk at first-then it was followed by a hard crashing sound and everything went cold.Then you knew you were being spattered hard on the ground. You could barely stand-you were wobbling, your eyes were bruised and tattered.  Badly shaken but still you manage to stand right into his face. Blood dripped and soiled your face-all red!

“On your knee-you damned meat-or else you die!”

You were still wobbling, straining your bruised and blood stained eyes you ran straight at him, and you flashed across a smile and whispered:

“Suckerrrrrrrrrrrr!”

He struck you hard and you dusted deep into the dirt. Instantly your body went still and finally the only twinkling lights you had in your eyes too gave in. 

But I can still recollect your smile-my goodness! How can you have that perfect smile-awesome man! I wish everyone could have smile like yours…




Saturday, 6 February 2016

i am a fish...


Birds laugh at him, they think he is worst than a mole-they swear all kinds at him-“small!” “Forsaken!” “Cursed one!” “Alien!” “Prehistoric” Tags like these go on and on… and most shockingly, they testify him as a perfect synonym for limitation.

Yes, my friend-you are talking not of a birdie but one heck of fish-a fish who is a fish-nothing more!

In principle, he (Fish) can’t fly and that is something very idiotic-very hilarious for the bird company to learn about.  You have seen some birds holding their bellies and laughing till their stomach hurt and for some it was breach of their scared laws which only an idiot would ever think of doing it.  

Amid such hostile and confused period that’s where you step in…and your mission-your job is to make everyone fly. You are one hell of Mr. Fix

Immediately you jump into action-summoning the fish you work on him.

“If you wanna stay here in Rome-you do the Romans style here-no Ganam-no  Rajini style or else… a sleek fish like you have got no meaning-here!  Its 21st century baby-you got to stick-here-you gonna learn some birdie style-here!!”

“sir, you think I can fly?”

“That’s what I am here for!''

 
But first you have to believe, belief is what you have got and as long as you hold on to it-you are not done-you muster yourself with strong electric heart-and-you go full gun blazing to clinch your victory. And no freaking man on this damn earth can stop you from flying-remember this-
you will be the world’s first ever fish to fly-forget those flying fins-it’s no real flying-it’s you-it’s you who will show the world how a fish fly just like those damn good angry birds!”

“But sir-I got a question!”

“Do birds know how to swim-swim like me?”

“That’s an idiotic question -say no more!”

“But Sir-swimming is fun-”

“Outrageous! This is total blasphemous! This act is deemed as a sign of disobedience. We are done-no more flying classes!”

Pissed off-you walked away…



But I know my friend, you gonna come back-aren't you that  Mr. Fix who told me that belief is all I have got? I am stilling holding on to it-I am down but not broken-

 And I am not yet done …


Wednesday, 30 December 2015

You were always there…


Kids are rolling in line, and you are stationed still-still like an old lamp post.  Your stern eyes are glued at them; You began to scan them as they passes by, checking their nails, hands, hair and dress.
If offender is primary kid, you stage a stunt-depending upon the frequency of the offences particularly committed to this parameter.  You are soft but have to do something about it-it’s for him/her that you are doing it-so for the this kids you grunt pretentiously and remind them to fix it informing that tomorrow you will meet him/her at same time-same place. And if it’s a young teen, you oil it at times and say it respecting his/her self esteem but with meaning assurance that he/she would never do it again. 

Yes buddy, you are a class teacher-you are a master tactician-as good as some of the top class football managers of EPL.

 Checking the class attendees, maintaining a class profile, sticking a red inked flashy class room rules on your newly painted wall  and diligently handing a progress report at the end doesn’t really limit you there as a class teacher-you know it’s beyond…  

Rules are intact-well oriented and the setting gets A plus. There is corner for each student to imprint their dreams and aspirations. With an overwhelming physical ambiance-there is already a mood.  Then, standing tall, you shout out loud and clear, “it’s time-lets show the world what we are!”

As a class teacher you know you are the first person to whom the students look up to. You are their superhero-a friend to whom they share their immediate problems-you are the guardian away from their parents-you are everything my friend-everything! You fight for them, you protect them-and you often yell into their head, “No matter how many times life makes us to fall-we have a bad habit of getting get up! We try, we try, we try until we die!”

Your classroom becomes a safe haven, and within this four walls you celebrate perseverance, passion, endurance, beliefs, hope and glory with your kids.  Along the journey you also get an opportunity to deepen your understanding of their concern, frustration, weaknesses and their personality as a whole. The insights you get through them is too overwhelming…

 You know, you are the stage provider, you create a cool podium and behind the curtain you savour your kids' magic and wonders. It is never you-it is always them that is what you keep telling to yourself but there were some itching moments where you too took the centre stage because your kids love you having fun time with them in the middle…

Just Like a soccer referee, you are there but it’s all about Messi and Ronaldo.  It’s there show and all you did was you sail them through the match smoothly till the final whistle. During the game, spot light is onto them-and you-you are happy to hop around and quietly you fade away allowing the players to express their talents and skills.  When things go little muddy, you jostle around with your signature smile and you talk, “Let play good-that’s how it should be-just stick to the rules!”  

As class teacher, you are indeed a top class manger in your own right-a dynamic leader up front who inspires and give them the courage to dream big. You have messy kitchen at home to be put in order, a sick and feeble mother to look after, a staggering debts to fill and above all a pestering hemorrhoids, yet you know you got to have your signature smile. 

Dude! At all cost-you are a hero to make more heroes because you truly stand by what John Wooden had said: Young people need models, not critics…