Saturday, October 1

English Week 2011 @ SMK Katibas

Hello & welcome to the highlight of my year... The English Week 2011 @ SMK Katibas!
Compliments to the English Language Panel & the English Language Society for bringing an exciting week-long string of activities to the rural school which is SMK Katibas.
Esp to Messrs George, Royston, Chieng, Ida, Hilda, Wesley, Florinoya & Gomez.

During English Week this year, there were the staples of a time capsule, essay writing competition, treasure hunt, spelling bee, crossword puzzle competition &, the highlight of the week, English Night. There were also new additions such as the Opening Night, Sing-A-Long, Indoor Games Competition & Katibas Premier League Futsal Competition.

There were plenty of photos & activities but I'll just highlight the activities that I was directly involved in.

Time Capsule 2011
The support for this year's Time Capsule was better than last year.
More students wrote in & it seems many were really into it & excited about the prospect of writing a letter to future students!
As usual, I instructed the top classes to write a letter while the weaker classes drew a picture with a few English sentences.
I removed the wrapping from my giant whey protein plastic bottle, told the ELS to paint a few words on it & recycled it as the time capsule. The sign board was made by the school handymen & painted by the ELS.

English Week: Sing-A-Long 2011
Those of you who knew me back in Secondary School or Uni will remember me singing with a talented guitarist & totally rocking it out with him. I miss those days & even more so my talented brothers so I wanted to share similar moments with my students. Besides, I think such an activity will be a novel way to indirectly teach them the English language.

The original idea was to train a guitarist & a vocalist to learn several songs & then share it with the school.
I chose simple songs that were easy to sing & learn. They were "Wherever You Will Go" by The Calling, "Sway" by Bic Runga, "You And Me" by Lifehouse & "I Do" by Colbie Caillat.

The guitarist had no problems learning the songs but the vocalist faced serious problems mainly because she was totally unfamiliar with the songs. She had to learn from scratch & at the end of 1 month, she learned 2 out of the 4 songs. So, I came in to do the other 2 songs.
We did this for 2 nights during English Week & the response was so-so. Perhaps the songs we too unfamiliar, non-mainstream pop or just too old.
This was a pilot test for a long-term activity I was planning to start next year but I guess, I will have to experiment some more with more catchy or popular songs.

English Week: Indoor Games Competition 2011
The games featured in this competition were Scrabble, Uno Cards, Chess & Chinese Chess.
Originally, I planned for Monopoly & Jengga too but it was hard for our supplier to source them. Even now, they are still pending delivery.

The response was really good although a lot of students expressed frustration at knowing nothing about the games they were playing & apparently some umpires knew nothing too.
I really wanted to let students learn the games first before actually having them competing but the delivery was pretty late so we jumped straight into the competition.
Next year, I'll definitely let them learn the games first.

English Night 2011
Finally, the grand finale.
This year's English Night had our favourite MCs Caroline & Darryl, Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" played & sung by a student, a "Gee" by SNSD dance, "Standing In The Eyes Of The World" by Ella sung by the English Panel teachers & ELS as well as an "Alice In Wonderland" performance.
I was truly unforgettable. It was also the début of our exquisite brand new stage curtains (thanks to George!).

It was unfortunate that the Form 3 & 5 were not allowed to attend. In my heart, I wanted them to attend because I think this would be a great boost to their impression of the English Language & thus more motivation to study the not-as-dull-as-you-think subject!
Will make the English Week earlier next year & insist on including them.

I told the ELS to dress up & ALL of the girls did! They were so lovely!
However, only the older boys dressed up for that night. It was good to see them cleaned up at least for an evening from the shabby unsightly collared-up style that these boys liked to adopt.
Who does that any more nowadays besides wannabes?

Once again, the drama performance this year was just as impressive as last year. The costumes, props & thought put into it was simply at a higher level than any other drama ever performed in our school & it serves as a wonderful introduction to the newly minted Drama Club of SMK Katibas.
An initiative by Royston Sihas with the wonderful support of Gomez (art), George (language) & Florinoya (dramatisation). Simply splendid!

I was very satisfied with my "Gee" dance production this year.
Some people actually thought that I taught my girls the dances. No, you are mistaken. I found a really talented dancer & made her the leader. I gave her a laptop, a loud speaker & "Gee" videos downloaded from YouTube and told her to find other girls, learn the dance & perform it in 4 months time.
My only input was coming in towards the end & adding some fine touches to their performance. Also, having a large mirror & a video camera to show students their movements was invaluable.

Initially, I had commitment problems with several of the girls but thankfully, they pulled their act together before English Night & put a lot of effort into perfecting their dance. With the amount of my own money invested in such productions, next year, I will choose the dancers myself instead of leaving it to the students to choose their friends.

I was also very doubtful of the costumes I sourced from Bandung, Indonesia. I was worried that the colours were too dull to compliment the bubbly naughty cute "Gee" but the girls made it work. It looked wonderful on stage.
Special thanks to Mdm Junai & Mdm Liba for the hair & make-up.
Next year, I want to produce a boy's dance. If I have the time & the right talent, I'll do a girl's dance too.

There you have it.
A grandiose English Week from a RURAL school in the jungle.
What have you URBAN schools done?
Better? I don't think so...
Rural schools are still the best!

p/s: a video of the English Language Night 2011 is underway! Will post it when it's ready. Might take a few weeks coz I'll be really busy these final months!

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