By KANG SOON CHEN and SHARON OVINIS
THE promise of sweet-scented perfume and creamy, moist lipsticks from Clinique enticed almost 200 teachers into answering The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) questionnaire in September, which required teachers to give feedback on the usage of the weekly NiE and Stuff@school pullouts as well as suggestions on how to improve further.
An encouraging 86% of the teachers who participated in the survey said they used Star-NiE in the classroom. About 77% used the material for teaching lower and upper secondary school students.
Although 50% of the teachers encountered time constraints, 36% still managed to use the newspaper twice a month in the classroom.
Most teachers found the activities creative and helpful, and said that the syllabus-based pullouts helped them with their lesson planning. About 45% said that the graphics were attractive and captured the students’ interest.
The teachers, however, expressed the wish to see more “mini-contests”, with attractive prizes, to keep students motivated.
The top 16 questionnaires returned with the most constructive suggestions were rewarded with gifts from Clinique and Pizza Hut.
Teachers Nazreen Tajul Arif of MRSM Mersing, Johor, and Ng Wee Gwek of SJK(C) Chiao Chee, Selandar, Malacca, bagged the top two prizes and took home Clinique Totally Happy perfume sets, comprising three miniature roller ball perfumes – Clinique Happy, Wealth of Flowers and Hint of Citrus.
Nazreen, who was also the first respondent to return the survey questionnaire, said that she enjoyed using NiE and Stuff@school as the issues featured in these pullouts were realistic, and the language used was appealing to her students.
“NiE activities change the pace of lessons as they move students away from textbook learning,” said Nazreen.
Ng, who grew up in a rubber plantation, admitted to having felt “alienated from the English language as a child”.
She only began to master the language after her marriage.
“My husband reads The Star everyday. Because of him, I started reading the newspapers regularly, and soon found myself improving my grasp of the language.
“That’s why I believe that newspapers can help to improve one’s language skills,” she said.
Ng is now a serious advocate of NiE and often organises workshops for teachers interested in exposing their students to its benefits.
Time constraints, however, constitute a real problem as Year Four pupils have only 60 minutes a week for English Language lessons while Year Five pupils have 120 minutes.
“I implement most of the NiE activities during my extra classes.
“I don’t use all the activities though. For example, if I were to teach the topic on road safety, I would teach a few key words, get the students to flip through the papers, look for news reports on accidents and then write simple sentences about the causes of accidents”.
Of course, prizes are great motivational factors too, and the KFC and Pizza Hut vouchers are attractive, she added.
“Having supportive colleagues is another boon,” said Ng.
Wong Chiew Lee of SMK(L) Methodist, Penang, was one of the four lucky recipients of the Clinique lipstick worth RM63. Wong said that she found NiE useful when teaching her students essay writing.
“NiE is not just about English. It also gives students opportunities to flex their creative muscles, especially when they work to put their posters together.
“They also become more adept at editing their school magazine,” said Wong.
Another Clinique lipstick winner, Shafinazaida Abd Wahab from SMK St Michael, Ipoh, said that she has been using Star-Nie for the past six years.
“I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. Why look for other resources when there is ready-made teaching material available?” she said.
“Initially, it was challenging to implement NiE activities because the students were used to more conventional methods of learning,” said SMK Puchong Perdana’s Rajinder Kaur, who won a RM50 Pizza Hut voucher for her contribution to the survey.
“But my students eventuallly learnt to enjoy NiE-based lessons as there were so many interesting activities,” she said.
Another Pizza Hut RM50 voucher winner, Renuga Ramiah of SMK Lunas, Kedah, said that her students became more confident about conversing in English after being exposed to NiE.
“The group activities helped students to hone their communication skills while the word-scanning exercises enabled them to pick up new words.
“The annual Campaign 4 Rewards contest run by Pizza Hut and The Star also serves to boost their creativity,” said Renuga, who has her own reward system for students called the English Class rewards. Under this system, students collect stars to win gifts for completing NiE activities.
“This is highly effective as it makes students keen to take part in activities,” she said.
When asked if they had any advice for teachers interested in trying out NiE activities in the classroom, Nazreen said: “Familiarise yourself with the newspapers first. Do your homework and find out all about the content and layout of the paper.”
“If the students in my rural school can do it, so can other students,” said Ng.
“The key is to adapt and to modify the activities according to your students’ needs and proficiency levels,” she added.
To all the teachers who participated in the survey questionnaire, Star-NiE says a very big “thank you”. You have provided valuable, constructive feedback.
Star-NiE looks forward to incorporating some of the suggestions raised. For starters, there will be an activity page in the Star-NiE pullout next year — written by Star-NiE subscription teachers for teachers.
Look out for more information on how you can write in and win RM100 worth of Pizza Hut vouchers.
Pizza Hut is a co-sponsor of The Star-NiE pullout.
Congratulations to ...
THE following teachers have won prizes for sending in constructive feedback in the Star-NiE Survey 2008.
Clinique Totally Happy set worth RM100 each (2)
1. Nazreen Tajul Arif School: MRSM Mersing, Johor.
2. Ng Wee Gwek School: SJK(C) Chiao Chee, Malacca.
Clinique Lipsticks worth RM63 each (4)
1. Liew Keat Ying School: SMK Seri Permata, Selangor.
2. Loh Meng Yik School: SJK(C) Kong Min Caw 2, Penang.
3. Shafinazaida Abd Wahab School: SMK St Michael, Perak.
4. Wong Chiew Lee School: SMK(L) Methodist, Penang.
Pizza Hut Vouchers worth RM50 each (10)
1. Gan Ai Geok School: SMK Convent Green Lane, Penang.
2. Lai Nam Chun School: SMK Tmn Inderawasih, Penang.
3. Leong Wai Fong School: SMK Convent Green Lane, Penang.
4. Looi Chooi Fong School: SMK Raja Tun Uda, Penang.
5. Ong Mui Ee School: SMK Kwang Hwa, Klang, Selangor.
6. Rajinder Kaur Tarlok Singh School: SMK Puchong Perdana, Selangor.
7. Renuga Devi Ramiah School: SMK Lunas, Kedah.
8. Sobha Rani Devi School: SMJK Chan Wa, Negeri Sembilan.
9. Surinah bte Hassan School: SMK Tmn. Inderawasih, Penang.
10. Vigneswary Sanmugan School: SMK Subang Utama, Selangor.
The Star Online: 9 November 2008