Let’s take a look at one of the trickier questions that challenged our children in this year’s PSLE Math paper. After that, we’ll look at how we can modify the question to help reinforce concepts as well as to further challenge our children’s abilities. Read More…
With the PSLE Listening Comprehension Examination just around the corner, here are some tips to take note of:
#1 Glance through the questions before each passage is being read.
This allows you to get a rough idea of what the passage is going to be about and frames your mind to look out for whatever information is required.
#2 Look at the questions while the passage is being read to you.
A common mistake people make is to stare blankly into space while listening to what is being read. If you do this, there is a tendency for your mind to drift off and your thoughts to wander causing you to miss out on vital information. A good strategy is to look at the questions as the passage is being read. This helps your mind to focus better. You may circle the answer on the answer booklet during the first reading, as soon as the information is being read to you (otherwise you might forget what was being read all too soon.)
You may then choose to shade the OAS later during the second reading when you are sure that the answer you have selected is correct.
#3 Avoid dreaming when the passage is being read the second time.
Even if you are certain that you have chosen the correct answer after the first reading, always pay close attention to what is being read the second time. Think critically about what is being read and ask yourself, “Does what I have just heard answer this particular question?”
Listen with a CALM state of mind. If you feel nervous, always take deep breaths. Listen calmly to what is being read. When you panic, nothing you listen to will make sense so it is important to keep your nerves in check. Tell yourself, this is just another listening comprehension exam and if you do not get a perfect score, it’s okay. We all make mistakes. Just do your best and be happy with whatever your best is.
So far, we have discussed themes in essays. We have also talked about the nature of conflicts and how to use them to generate plots. Once your child has understood both aspects, he needs to decide on the dominant emotion or emotions of the essay. What is this?
Remember the cartoon “Inside Out”, where the main character is controlled by five emotions? Just like the main character, we experience many emotions, far more then the five listed in the movie. However, there are a few that we commonly experience more often – including happiness, sadness, fear, excitement and anger.
Including emotions into an essay is very important. We are all emotional creatures; we watch movies, read books and listen to stories because we want to feel fear, joy or excitement. We watch horror movies to get frightened, comedies to feel joy, Korean drama series to cry and action movies to feel thrills. Hence, for your child to write better stories, he needs to convey these feelings very well.
How can we incorporate them into a child’s essay? We start by looking at the theme, we can easily figure out what emotion or emotions would be predominant in the essay. Some essays will only have one while others will feature a changes of emotion. For instance, an essay that has the theme of “surprise” will probably have emotions of fear and excitement. On the other hand, an essay that has the theme of “disappointment” will have emotions of happy, leading to sad.
Thus, you need to get your child to first figure out what emotion are present. From here, your child will remember to include words and phrases that describe them, thus making their essay richer while demonstrating the use of appropriate vocabulary. How do we include them? A useful strategy is the IDEA technique, which we shall introduce in the next few tips.
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This is Part 4 of a 12 Part series. To go back to the index, please click here.
For our third tip, we are going to concentrate on writing a good story. This is important because good stories score well for content. How can we create great stories? The key to writing great stories is to create a strong “problem” or “conflict” so that the intense reaction of the main character may be explored before it is resolved as part of the story. In other words, creating conflicts is key to writing an excellent story.
In classical Literature, experts have divided conflicts into different types. One common conflict type is “Man vs. Man”. It basically means that the conflict arises because two (or more) people want different things. In the case of of an essay with the theme of “the secret”, the conflict could be based on how one person has discovered another person’s secret and wants to reveal it to other people. Thus, this creates an interesting conflict in which the main character(s) in the story have to try to stop this person.
Yet another type of conflict is “Man vs. Self”. In this case, the main character has to overcome a personal, usually inner, struggle. For example, if the main character keeps the secret, somebody might be harmed. However, revealing the secret will cause him pain in some form. Thus, the main character struggles with himself whether to keep the secret or not.
There are other types of conflicts. However, we will not go into details as they tend to be more difficult to construct a story around these conflicts due to the lack of time in an exam situation. If you are interested, you can go here for a simple and concise explanation of creating conflicts.
In the meantime, remember to read keeping checking our blog for more advice on writing. Also, remember to ‘like’ our FB page for more news and other important information.
This is Part 3 of a 12 Part series. To go back to the index, please click here.
A couple of months ago, we posted a set of 12 Creative Writing Tips. However, they were edited for a Facebook audience and some information was left out. We are pleased to present the full set for your reading pleasure as requested by some parents.
We hope that with this full set, you’ll be able to understand the requirements of the continuous writing component of Paper 1, and help your child understand how to tweak his writing to ensure the requirements are met. With these tips, we are confident that your child will be able to improve on his creative writing. At the same time, please check our webpage every now and then for more information and tips. If you prefer frequent and bite-size tips, do like our Facebook Page. Without further ado, let’s talk about the marking rubrics.
Teachers generally divided the marking rubrics into two sections – content and language. We know that children can write other genres for the continuous writing component, we will only be concentrating on Narrative genre as Expository writing requires a rather different style.
For a child to score well in content, their essay must be:
- clearly focused on the theme
- based on at least one of the given pictures
- succinct, impactful and relevant
- well organised
- well developed
For a child to score well in language, their essay must:
- use correctly a variety of sentence structures
- demonstrate the correct use of grammar, including tenses
- use correct spelling
- use appropriate punctuation
- employ an apt and effective choice of vocabulary
In the tips found below, I will go through how to improve the content, as well as how to improve the language.
To show you how we do it, we are going to use a passage about Zheng He. First of all, download the passage for your child. The last page of the download contains the answers, so do not let your child see the answers yet! Read More…
In the previous article, we discussed Comprehension Cloze. In this edition, we are going to discuss the Open-Ended Comprehension component of the exams.
These two sections are actually very closely related to each other. It is no surprise that a student weak in one will find doing the other difficult as well. Like Comprehension Cloze, it assesses the overall English skill level. Read More…
To understand this tip better, we are going to run through a sample passage using the above method. Firstly, please download the assignment and sample worksheet below: Read More…
In the previous two weeks, we shared some tips on how your child can do well for continuous writing in Paper 1.
Now we will turn our attention to Paper 2. We will concentrate on two sections that many students find difficulty in – Comprehension Cloze and Open-ended Comprehension. We will discuss Comprehension Cloze first and move on the Open-ended Comprehension in next weeks article. Read More…
Hopefully our earlier discussions have not confused you. Let’s recap the past tense and how to use it. Read More…