Sunday, 31 July 2011

Reading Challenge - When Daylight Comes (2/52)

Book 2
When Daylight Comes

When Daylight Comes is a fantastic fiction by Lyn Andrews, published on January 9, 2003 by Headline Book Publishing.
I discovered this book at a second-hand bookstore some where in June when I was in the midst of attending a new curriculum course in Penang. Being  a not-so-patient reader, I scrambled through and completed reading this fiction in less than 48 hours. 

The main character, the young but strong-willed Jessica, fondly known as Jess has captured my interest indefinitely. Adversities spread over her like mold. They struck again and again, and again and again. 

Jess was just 19 years old when her world fell apart. Her father, Martin Brennan who owned a fleet of trading ships, lost at sea when a terrible storm blew the ships off course. Jess' mother, Maddy was in for not one but two shocking news. Aside from losing her hubby, their house was also mortgaged and the family's finances were in a hazardous state. With too many things on her mind, Maddy carelessly stepped in the path of 
runaway horses and lost her life, leaving Jess to fend for herself all alone in the cruel world.

Having stripped of her wealth and properties, Jess struggled to make end meet. She was even reduced to living with only the bare necessities in a shack on a  red light street.
She persevered and managed to pull through it, though.

From near destitution, she launches a business of her own, supplying coloured bird feathers to milliners. Thanks to a guinea given by an old lady who took pity on her in front of a hat shop. She earned back the prosperity and respect her mother had once lost.


Saturday, 30 July 2011

Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge - Teaching Outside the Box (1/52)


I stumbled upon this challenge as I was blog walking. I trailed Kim to her place after seeing her at Amy's place. While checking out her postings, I came across this interesting challenge. 

Since reading is my passion, I'd love to take up this challenge. Though completing this challenge seems far fetched as August is approaching, I'd like to Link Up. I'll try to make full use of the remaining 20 weeks.

Five books are still lying idly on my bookshelf. They beckon me to savour them from page to page. Hence, I would grab this opportunity to speed up my reading. I'm positive that I would be able to accomplish this mission if the challenge administrator would be kind enough to relax certain rules as I just signed up. Hope I would be allowed to review and post more than just a book a week.


Book 1


As I was browsing through the Net some where in May 2011 for the fresh new ideas in tackling young minds, I stumbled upon this book, Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students by Their Brains. This indispensable book is authored by LouAnne Johnson, my favourite author who penned My Posse Don't Do Homework. It's quite a long wait and it has just arrived on my shore not very long ago. Now, I'm the proud owner of Teaching Outside the Box .

Teaching Outside the Box offers practical strategies that will help both greenhorns and seasoned teachers create dynamic classroom environments where students enjoy learning and teachers enjoy teaching. This  book is filled with no-nonsense advice, checklists, and handouts as well as practical suggestions for arranging classroom, talking to students, avoiding the misbehavior cycle, and making school a place where students learn and teachers teach. And also step-by-step instructions for introducing Shakespeare to reluctant readers.

Teaching Outside the Box  is indeed a good read and every teacher should own this book.



Friday, 29 July 2011

Kids on the Road ...Literally!



Staring out of my living room window, I saw a bunch of sweat-drenched, barefooted kids aged between two to six, playing wildly on the street. Some kicked a ball, a size bigger than their tiny head, very hard sending the ball across the street. It landed on a resident's car. Some yanked at shrubs and flowering plants across my house. A further observation made me realise that they were on their own. No adults in near visibility, and it's four in the afternoon. The sun was scorching hot and it's burning their oil-dripped wet curly hair.

Motorists and motorcyclists plying the small street had to be on their best alert as to avoid any untoward incident. A short while later, a younger sister cladding in only a piece of diaper, joined her older brothers in the middle of the street. Distant adult voices could be heard,
"Min, watch over your sis! I'm going to take my nap."

Oh! My goodness! The mother entrusted what's supposed to be hers to her 5-year-old. And, the burden of taking care of those tiny innocent creatures was not only placed on the young boy's shoulders, it was on every road users' as well. Those entering or leaving their house along the street have to watch out for the kids too. No one felt good but they were speechless.

The kids might be small-sized but they were headstrong and fearless. They have no worries. They balk at well-wishers' advices. They would stare fearlessly at the ones who reprimanded them. It keeps me wondering about how they were brought up. Didn't their parents tell them the dos and don'ts of life ?
Didn't their parents educate them of what's rights and wrongs? 

I draw the curtains. My attention is drawn upon my two children who have their hands full with assignments and schoolwork. It's soothing!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Is Winning Everything?





"Winning is not everything, but the effort to win is." 
Zig Ziglar
"Winning isn't everything, but the will to win is everything."
Vince Lombardi

There are lots of quotes on winning but
only these two caught my eyes. 
Yes! I strongly agree with Ziglar and Lombardi.

Both Ziglar, the motivational speaker and Lombardi, 
the greatest American coach expressed a similar note on winning.
To them ...winning is not everything but the effort
and the will to win is!
And, of course the desire to win matters too!



Monday, 25 July 2011

Phew!

Yes! It's Phew! Phew!...and Phew!
I've almost lost my beloved blog.
I've almost deleted my blog.

The problem started when I was fascinated with a blog poll.
I embedded the poll in my recent posting.
Since then, the problem persisted.
My beautiful header and footer were hidden by blocks of brown.
I was in the dark.
I've struggled for the whole afternoon but I failed to untangle the knot.

My dumbest side whispered to me....
"Your blog was hacked! Quick! Do something."
"What shall I do?" I asked.
"Can't you see the Report Abuse button?"
"Oh! Yes! So???"
"Click the button and reported as Spam!"
"Oh! No! It requires a url for the site..."
"Type in sophyta.blogspot.com"
"But...it's my blog??? Why should I reported my own blog?"
"Look at the brown blocks on your header and footer. Your blog was spammed. Go ahead. Report it."
"OK...."

And, with one touch, I reported my own blog!

Later of the day, my brighter side ticked me off.
"Why don't you remove the blog poll?"
"Why should I?"
"Your 'headache' appeared after you installed the poll, rite?"
"Yes! Oh! Yes!"

I removed it in a jiffy!
And... Phew!
The nuisance brown blocks disappeared into the thin air!
But, what shall I do now?
I've reported my own blog?
Hopefully the Blogger would read this posting and 'let me off the hook'...my own dumbest hook!

A lesson learnt ... don't get carried away with new exciting gadgets and widgets.

Boys or Girls?


Who do you prefer, boys or girls?

I threw this one million dollar question to a bunch of friends recently.
Below are their responses...

Mother A
I come from a family of six boys. They fought all the time. I imagine that raising a family of girls would be so much easier. It would be all playing with dolls and dressing up. Am I right? 

Mother B
No, you are not. I come from a family of five girls. My poor parents went through all shades of hell when we were younger, either pulling us apart when we were fighting. Yes, you got it right. We did fight! We fought to get into the only tiny bathroom in our house! Girls can be very vicious! When girls fight, they scratch each others' face and there were lots of hair pulling.

Father C
I think it differs from child to child. I have seen the worse in both bad girls and  boys. A mischievous child is just a mischievous child. 

Father D
All children, regardless of their sex, need all our attention when growing up and to tell you the truth, bringing up a child is a full time job and it's not easy.

What about you? 
Do you adore boys?
Do you prefer girls?


Friday, 22 July 2011

Beautiful Blogger Award

My very first blogger award from my dear friend, Kaz.


An award in the blogging world comes as a sweet surprise for any bloggers, and so did I when I received it from my dear blogger and real life friend, the sweet Kaz of Kaz Writes. The award bestowed by Kaz leaving me dumbfounded and flattered beyond words. Forgive me Kaz for being so ignorant about the thing calls Blogger Award. Thanks a million dear, you've really made my day!

Kaz is one of the most diligent bloggers I know. I look forward to reading her postings on her two adorable princes, talented hubby and also her quest in baking. Kaz is  great at baking. Though I've never tasted her yummy cakes, the pictures posted beckoning me to savour them.

The Beautiful Blogger Award comes with its own rules...the rules are to confess 7 things people might not know about me, and pass on to other bloggers (I'm not sure how many...).

Here are a few things about myself (some of you might find them interesting...and some might not)...but this is me...


  1. Even though I write and think in English, I apparently converse (with the members of my family) and dream in Thai. It's impossible for another language to overtake my mother tongue, the language that I was born into.
  2. As a child, I thought most vegetables tasted bad. It was due to my aversion to bitter tastes. I wasn't thrilled about eating bitter gourds, broccoli, angled beans and lots more green leafy vegetables. But now, they are my favourites.
  3. I am terrified of snakes and rodents. I'm getting all jumpy thinking about these creatures. I don't have any reasons for being terrified of snakes, mice and rats, except they made my hair stand each time I saw or encountered them. 
  4. I love teaching. When I was a little girl, I used to have  make-believe plays of being a teacher. I 'recruited' my bunch of students who were mostly my younger siblings and friends. I used to have my 'own' school in a small hut behind my parents' house. My dad was very supportive, he made a chalkboard and bought me boxes of coloured chalks.
  5.  Reading is my passion. I would read anything that is legible and decipherable. Inasmuch as reading materials were scarce when I was a little girl, I would resort to reading food packaging, old newspapers used as product wrappings and my dad's ancient scriptures.
  6. I don't like duriansFor those unfamiliar with durians, the durian is commonly known as the “King of the Fruits”, a label that can be attributed to its formidable thorn-covered husk and overpowering odour. The edible flesh emits a very distinctive odour, strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as fragrant; but I find the aroma overpowering and offensive. To me, the smell evokes intense disgust.
  7. Living in a cottage on a hill is my dream. I love hilly countryside and its magnificent countryside scene. The thought of soaking in its cool fresh air and scent of wild flowers thrilled me.
And now the passing of the baton...beautiful bloggers...

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Capturing My Little Posses' Heart ...





Whether you are just hopping on the teaching bandwagon, or you're at wits end of getting your students' attention, there are ways to potentially increase the likelihood of you capturing the kids' heart. Here are some suggestions, gathered over my very own decade of experience...

Be Yourself
There is absolutely nothing more than being who we are. But, this does not mean that we constantly show the bad side of who and what we are. We need to show the kids our good side. Lead through examples.

Listen
Listen to the kids. Listening more than speaking builds a relationship of trust. If a child feels safe communicating with us, they are more likely to confide in us when they need help. It also shows we respect them and earns their respect back.

Be understanding, do not lose temper unnecessarily
In any situation, we should refrain from raising or voice or throwing things at the kids. It just does not help. It will further aggravate the situation. Instead of stomping out of the classroom, I would focus on the cherubic faces. Their angelic smiles would 'cool' me down.

Hope these ways of capturing students' heart help!


This catchy phrase has captured my attention ...


“If you have a child’s heart, you have his head.” 
~ Flip Flippen

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Canes vs Lollipops ...





Years ago ...
I jumped on the teaching bandwagon fully enthusiastic and...
with only one thing in mind...
I wanted the best out of my young charges.

Sadly, sadly...
being a young wife and an expectant mom,
I hardly managed to control my emotions.
The rugrats seldom escaped my punishments.


They were punished mainly for not doing their homework
and making noise during the lesson.

Lots of screaming and yelling
had taken place within the four walls.


There were certain extends where harsher punishments meted out.
The poor kids were caned on their tiny, fragile palms.
The little children were pinched and had their ears pulled.
In the process, loads of hatred were sown instead of love.


Years passed...
I regain my composure.
I realise that a way to a child's heart is not through caning or nagging.
A child should be treated with care and affection.


I adopt the love cup metaphor.
Children crave love, and...
to love them is  akin to positive attention.
The experts said...
when children are filled to overflowing with wholesome attention,
they feel loved and act accordingly.





Hence, now, lollipops are presented to the kids instead of canes and whips!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Parents' Expectations...Our Expectations ...

I'm a parent.
I have children.
I have lots of expectations from my kids.


Sounds familiar?


Do you ever feel you 'expect too much' from your little ones? When I hear people questioning this it's often an indication they're experiencing some disappointment or they're worrying about pressuring their kids.



Great expectations are a big part of parenthood. As parents, of course, my hubby and I have great expectations for our children, because... well...we love them. We want the best for them. When we look ahead at the big picture of our children's' lives, we want them to have ... health, wholeness, pleasure and peace because ... again, we love them dearly.




Thank God! Our children seem to understand this and they respond well. But there comes a time when our children, in order to have a healthy maturity for the rest of their lives, must learn to be independent. So one of our goals in training them up, is to equip them to make good judgments and choices when they are out there, in the wild on their own. 

In the process of training them up, we respect  and have faith in them that somehow or other they know what they're doing. And truly, if left alone, we strongly believe they will do it right for themselves!





We always have faith and expect that our son and daughter ...
  • are able and actually prefer to be kind to others
  • can competently decide how they will spend the day
  • will choose what to eat by listening to their body's needs
  • are going to do what they need to do to become the best they can be
  •  to get dirty exploring and experimenting to learn about life on this Planet Earth
  • by their own efforts, can manage their life and make appropriate choices for themselves


Dear parents,
You're the world's leading expert on your children, the one person in creation best equipped to bring out the best in them. Just remember, as you go about it, that it's only human for parents to tend to expect that our children can do more than they can really do. Even slight adjustments of your expectations to compensate for that tendency; a little more emphasis on shaping, a little more patience, a little reflection on what's really important to you as a parent and what behaviors can be left to disappear or develop on their own ... can produce surprisingly excellent results!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Sharing and Imparting ...

It has been days since I last updated this blog. I was busy with the sharing and imparting process. It really zapped my energy as dealing with adults were not as easy as dealing with the little ones. Yes! Exactly, I'm just done with days long course. This particular course, which ended yesterday was the longest course I have ever conducted. It's a five-day-course, and for the first time in my life, I have to give almost all the slots single-handedly. Giving is one thing; commenting and correcting course participants' works is another daunting task. Many thanks to the course participants as they indeed, had made my day.

This is not a new thing. Forsooth, I was trapped in the team since 2003. We've been together through thick and thin., and we've never deserted each other. Over the years, we went through all obstacles and difficulties and enjoyed every minute of it.

It all began when I came back to my home state in 2000. In 2001, I attended a course conducted by CDC (now CDD). I was awed by the way the trainer partaking her task. It was done so professionally. I like her style instantly. She's really a very good presenter, she knew her stuff well. Every information was at her fingertips. That very experience made me love my profession more deeply.

The next year, I attended another course, also conducted by Jag, my idol. She handled a real large group easily. Though some were loosed and strayed, she managed to wrap them around her little finger eventually. I gained loads more new teaching  ideas and knowledge from her.

Came 2003, I was called to attend a course in Kuala Lumpur, most probably I 'talked' too much during the earlier courses and seminars. As a 'punishment', I would have to deliver CDD messages to other teachers. It's 'scary'. Butterflies fluttered wildly in my stomach on the first day I stood in front of my course participants. I had sweaty, clammy hands. My anxiety level surged. Nevertheless, I 'suvived' the session. Since then, I've helped the team to carry out innumerable courses for teachers at the district as well as the state.

Look out for more recounts on my bitter sweet experiences during the stint with the Sharing and Imparting Team in the next posting.

Friday, 8 July 2011

It Warms the Cockles of My Heart ...


Yesterday evening, July 7, we went back to my parents' place, which was about 50km away. It's quite late as it was a working day for me and my hubby. The main reason we were there was to celebrate my first born's 15th birthday. It's been an annual ritual for us celebrating our kids' birthday at my parents' place. They, Lynn and Korn are very close to their maternal grandparents as they were nurtured by Grandma and Grandpa since they were born up to their first birthday.


Though my mom was not given a clean bill of health, she's full of vim and vigour when she prepared some excellent dishes for dinner single-handedly. Growing up, my mom cooked us (my siblings) three meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I now realise what a superhero she was, and wonder how she always managed to have a hot home-cooked meal on the table for us every day, despite her loads of chores. I'm a no match!


My dad was a bit under the weather, too. Most probably he worked too hard, for his age. But, our visit had surprisingly lifted up his spirit. He enjoyed chatting with his son-in-law. With my hubby, he could relate his vast experience in farming and plantations.


I'm very thankful to my second sis, Bussaba, too for her angelic deed. She traveled all the way to Penang to fetch the cuppies. No complains uttered as Korn is no doubt her favourite nephew. The credits also went to my youngest brother, Chai. He snapped all these gorgeous-looking photographs. The great shots of the cuppies were taken in a jiffy. To him, every picture can be special if you put some thoughts into it!



Simple acts, huge impacts.


Monday, 4 July 2011

They Leave Footprints on My Heart ...


Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.

These are the great people who have come into my lives,
stayed awhile and left footprints on my heart.


Datin Zainiyah Ishak
My primary school teacher
To her, "colours" don't make any differences
I was taught and guided like one of her own


Madam Lucille Dass
She was my English lecturer at MPPPP
She's the 'living proof' of learning grammar the hard way
Introduced me to my 2nd love - Mr Dictionary!


Dr Zarina Mustafa
Tutored me back in USM when
I was struggling with my thesis proposal
A no-nonsense educator who treated every piece of
students' work with utmost stringent,
leaving no stones unturned


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Balakrishnan Muniandy
Supervised, guided and motivated me during
my endeavour in thesis writing
Integrating technology and spirituality
for meaningful learning

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Ducks Which are not Really in a Row (2) ...

Image credit

If you have been following my blog, you'll realised this similar posting appeared not long ago.
Yes! I've talked about ducks somewhere in April.
And now, again the ducky issue resurfaces.

However, this time around, my ducks don't seem to line up in a neat row.
They're fighting their way forwards.
Each duck is trying real hard to look urgent and important.
Every duck is begging for my attention.
They're testing my patience and organising system.
Hope I could gather enough strengths to handle them with utmost care.

First thing first, Spelling Competition Duck would be taken care of tomorrow.
On Tuesday, KSSR Duck would be getting my attention.
The following day, I would have a go at the crash course for my district English teachers which was postponed months ago.
Next Wednesday, a similar course designated for pupils would be held at my school.
Most probably batches of courses for KSSR Year 2 English teachers would take off soon.

The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it. Mother Teresa 

Friday, 1 July 2011

Peace of Mind ...

Serene, tranquil, peaceful, unruffled, untroubled, undisturbed, unhurried, cozy, cushy ... these are the feelings that I'm sure will propel me towards more purposeful and meaningful lives.
Before attaining this 'high' state of mind, I'm fully aware that I need to invite peace into my lives. Then, I need to embrace it tightly. The best part of it, I have to integrate the state of mind into my daily life.
Those big words don't simply walk into one's life. They are said to come with awareness, acceptance, surrender, compassion, detachment, moderation, virtue and last but not least...trust and faith.
It seems I have to first, free my poor mind from egos and all emotional swings, which often pay me unexpected visits.
I'll not experience the peace of a great yogi; neither I could bring it permanently into my lives, without making the much needed sacrifices.
However, for a laywoman like me, the following practices  did help in developing my emotional resilience and establishing peace in my mind....
  • Overall the most important things in my home environment that help me feel calm are neatly arranged stuff and clutter-free rooms.
  • Photo credit
  • During meals at home I feel peaceful when all four of us could sit together for a meal.
  • I feel serene when interacting with my family at home when everyone displays carefree attitude.
  • It is easy to stay calm even when very busy at home if I don't have clouds in my head.
  • I can find more peace of mind at home during tough times if I choose to be at peace.
  • Even if others at work are upset, I can stay calmer myself by reminding myself that it's not the end of the world.

  • When I am cool and collected on the job, I am better at producing the better results.
  • Some outdoor recreational settings that often make me feel centered and serene are holidaying at cool, fresh and breezy places.
  • Photo credit
  • Some indoor recreational settings that often make me feel at peace are reading my favourite books and updating my blog.
  • A special quiet and serene place I might go for a vacation is Chiang Mai, Thailand. (I've visited the place twice and I wish to go again...) 
Photo credit
I'm sure, you've your own unique ways in attaining peace of mind. I'm looking forward to hearing your ways and suggestions.

Sticks and Stones May Break Kids’ Bones but Words?


Image source: Unknown
*** this great picture was shared on FB... if you happen to know the source of this image, please let me know... Image Credit is long overdued! ***


What will ‘bad’ words do to the kids?
Yes, exactly!


These words WILL cause grievous hurts!

More often than not, agitated adults hurl words like these at an innocent child:
  • What a slob!
  • You’re stupid!
  • You’re worthless!
  • You’re despicable!
  • I wish you’re never born!
  • You good for nothing! Just shut up!
Coming from a trusted adult – a parent, teacher, favorite aunt, grandma, these words can hit as hard as a fist. Though no bones are broken, they leave severely unpleasant emotional scars. They are abused emotionally. These irreversible damage left the child feeling unloved, unsafe and not worthwhile.   

These poor kids may act out their emotional abuse by being emotionally or physically abusive with their friends. They would pose  great problems to their parents and teachers. They can be the bully of the classroom, yelling, scuffling and tumbling with others.

Words, in reality invoke wounds that last for a very long period. Thus, whenever your daily pressures mount up, instead of lashing out at your child or posse, try these...
  • Press your lips together. Breathe deeply.
  • Smile broadly at other adorable faces.
No matter how much anger is building up in me, these are most of the words that I use, be it with own flesh and blood or my little pupils...
  • You’re great!
  • You’re adorable!
  • I love you!
  • I’m happy to have you (in my class)!


Give it a try! Take time out; don’t take it out on your kids!

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