Month: February 2009

Answers for worksheet on adverbs

naughty-schoolboy1Here are the answers I promised you.

1) Adverbs of time
– the first morning
– at lunch
– today
– the third day
– a Wednesday of the first week
– all during recess
– during storytime
– Friday
– on Saturday
– now
– later
– Monday night
– with the third week of kindergarten
– all afternoon
– after the first minutes
– during the third and fourth weeks
– at lunch on Thursday of the third week
– afterward
– that night
– for over a week
– each day
– after school
– next week
– there
– on Friday of that week
– today
– at the meeting
– after the meeting
– the first week or so

The adverbs of time should certainly have helped you to determine the order of the paragraphs.

Learning point: Adverbs of time help to structure the text. As a reader, you use them to follow the sequence of events. As a writer, you should use them to help the reader to understand your sequence of events.

2) Adverbs ending with ‘ly’

I) ‘spoke insolently’

a) adverb: insolently
b) The adverb comes after the verb
c) The adverb describes the way the manner in which Laurie spoke to his father.
d) seeing clearly, regarded coldly, said reassuringly, wanted passionately, reported grimly, added warily, asked incredulously, said cynically, asked unwisely, whispered joyfully, asked respectfully, sat restlessly, maneuvered cautiously, said primly, adjusts quickly

II) ‘elaborately casual’

a) adverb: elaborately
b) The adverb (elaborately) is before the adjective (casual)
c) The adverb changes the meaning of the word causal slightly- instead of really being casual, the mother was actually very concerned, but trying hard not to let her son know that.
d) slightly awed, awfully fresh (but note that this is informal)

III) The word is ‘matronly’ (in paragraph 10)

If you have any questions or comments about alternate answers or adverbs and adjectives in general, post them below.


The Teacher’s Prayer

To be chanted on days when essays are due:

drowning-in-paperGrant me the patience to wait for my scripts

As my students see fit to submit them

And also the strength to hold myself back

In case I am tempted to hit them.

For I know that they will with the best of intentions

Still give me the same old excuses

I forgot, I slept late, I have left it at home

Not knowing that this lineup produces

High blood pressure, tension and also depression

And all sorts of ailments besides

Oh hang it I’ll just cut off all their marks

(Excuse her while Mrs V runs and hides!)

Facebook Study- an update

Remember the Facebook survey you did some time back? I just thought I would share with you what the preliminary analysis lookes like. This part just involves a lot of very basic sorting and counting. The real analysis comes later, and it will include your answers to the open-ended questions. Out of the 196 forms that were returned to me, 19 were unusable because some of you apparently don’t know how to follow written instructions! The good news is that 177 of you do, and so some sort of analysis is possible. I will keep you posted as the analysis continues.

The Pedagogical Fallacy


It seems to me that not much learning goes on anymore in our classrooms because we are so busy testing. Does anyone else notice this? I would like to see assessment become more creative. Just because students do the ‘O’ levels in Sec 4, why do they have to be tested to within an inch of their lives every step of the way? I do not believe it has to be done this way. There must be more relevant and contiguous ways of checking if students understand what is being taught. I think it all centers around our narrow definition of the word ‘learning’. The real advancements in our world were made by people who loved learning, not people who did well in exams. There is no relationship at all between a love for learning and exam success. So what do we prove by our testing? We prove  that real learning and the love for it is our lowest priority. Top priority goes to setting academic targets and engaging in the ultimate pedagogical fallacy- that numbers equate with learning.

I’d love to hear some suggestions about how we could put the focus back on learning in the classroom. Any suggestions?

Students who want to learn and the classes that won’t let them


I stepped into a class today that was disturbing, to say the least. It was not one of my own classes- I was taking over from their regular teacher because she was busy with something else. The first thing that struck me was the general atmosphere in the class of barely concealed boredom and distraction, which, as tenuous as it was, evaporated the moment the regular teacher left the class. It was tough getting them to do the work they were supposed to do, and I was frankly surprised. In this day and age, when education is so badly needed to get ahead, when the future for the less educated is so uncertain, when private education costs an arm and a leg, when your country educates you practically for free, when there are children in the world who work in mines and construction sites and even brothels- why would anyone throw away the chance to learn and secure their future in an environment where someone actually cares whether they do well or not? I grew even more concerned when I noticed that among the noisy many who were doing their best to prove how powerful they were in manipulating the classroom dynamics, there were the quiet few straining to hear what I was saying and to respond to my questions. It was because of them that I kept going. This is the pity of it. While I think there are definite social benefits to making education compulsory for all, I also think we need to find a way to ensure that people who want to learn get the attention they deserve, instead of dumping them in among a group of people who clearly have other pursuits they would like to follow. I don’t think there is a magical cure-all for this, but I refuse to believe that there is nothing that we can do.

2nd Writing Assignment for Sec 3

Here is a copy of the assignment. I will be printing it out for you, but I know there are some of you who just can’t seem to keep track of all the paper flying your way. Do remember to make good use of the time you have been given. I would like you to pay careful attention to grammar, sentence construction and expository structure. In addition, please do make sure that your writing is both informative and interesting. You do not have to go beyond the word limit to write an outstanding piece. Just follow the instructions, and you’ll be fine.


In this essay, you will get a chance to show us how you handle expository writing within a given situation. I believe that splitting writing into free and situational is an artificial division. ALL writing is situational- no language occurs independently of context. That said, the difference between ‘free’ writing and ‘situational’ writing lies in how much liberty you have to construct the situation for yourself.


You are a member of the editorial board of your school newspaper, and have been tasked with writing an article entitled “The Effects of Global Warming”. You have done some research and come up with the following points about the issue:an-inconvenient-truth2

You also know that you can look up the following link for more information:


The chief editor has requested that you follow the steps below to produce a piece for the newspaper that is both interesting and informative:


  1. Choose 3 main points from the above notes that you can support with adequate details and examples.
  2. Start with an introduction that grabs your readers’ attention (refer to chapter 3 of Just Write for important information about writing introductions).
  3. Continue with 3 paragraphs- each covering one main point, backed up with supporting details (refer to chapter 4 of Just Write).
  4. End with a conclusion that leaves your readers feeling satisfied (refer to chapter 5 of Just Write).


Write your piece in precise English, and don’t forget to include the title. Your piece should be about 250-350 words in length. Please do your best to stay within the word limit. Your work must be submitted ON TIME to avoid a penalty.

Oops… there goes my phone!

My Nokia N95 did a dive the other day. Literally. I was having a pedicure (not as relaxing a process as you might think- for such skinny girls they are freakishly strong and yank your feet pretty roughly) and suddenly the phone slipped off my lap and plopped into the water that one foot was still soaking in. I could only whimper in panic- my nails were wet, you see. Heaven forbid that they get smudged. The manicurist had quick reflexes and plunged her hand into the water to retrieve the phone. When I got home I opened up the phone and tried to dry its insides with a hairdryer. Nothing worked. The phone still kept beeping randomly, skipping commands and heating up.

I am upset for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a great phone that can do so many things. The 5 megapixel camera meant fabulous resolution for my photos, the internet connection made checking my e-mail so easy wherever I was… the list, while not endless, is pretty long. Secondly, a VERY good friend gave me the phone. It was really generous of him, so I’m kicking myself for having been so careless and spoiled it in such a spectacularly mundane way. Thirdly, I feel lost without my phone. I am using a substitute now, but it doesn’t have a lot of the phone numbers I’d entered into the Nokia.

But the greatest epiphany occurred just after I had dropped the phone, when I was still out and could not get home for a couple of hours. I was uncontactable for all that time. No one could get in touch with me. At all. I should have felt liberated. Instead I felt disoriented and alone. When did I stop enjoying my own company? Or maybe it was just the place I was at: I HATE United Square. It is unfriendly and expensive. There are too few places to sit, and you are forced to wander into shops and restaurants. Very hard to do that without spending money. And the music is so loud. If I hear one more stridently invasive Chinese New Year song I am going to blow my brains out with a bicycle pump.

Actually I’ve come full circle with this revelation, because my aversion to United Square explains what I was doing getting a pedicure in the first place: it was the only comfortable place I could find to pass an hour and a half. Now I just sit at the taxi stand and mark essays (ugh). You can see why I feel lonely and unloved if I don’t have my phone with me!