Month: May 2009

2009 SA1 Marker’s Report

marker's reportThe marker’s report is an extensive document that requires patience and dedication not only to construct, but to read as well. Some of the points may not be clear to you, while others will seem so obvious that you will wonder why they needed mentioning in the first place. Rest assured, I share the same sense of bewilderment regarding this latter group of points- why were these errors made in the first place? Year after year, essay after essay, I come across the same errors- ones that I know are actually addressed at lower secondary level. Yet many of you take the path of least resistance: when faced with a writing situation you fall back on the style of writing that served you so well at the PSLE.

 But my students, you are in Sec 3 now, and that brings with it expectations of greater precision in your language use, and greater maturity in your content. The lessons you go through over the term are not merely random time fillers. They teach you specific skills that will serve you well if you choose to use them. You will be moving on to Secondary 4 next year, and will be taking the ‘O’ levels. But the writing skills you develop in the next few months will be with you long after you leave school.

 In so many ways in my life I have found that the pen is indeed mighty. (Whether it is mightier than the sword I cannot tell, having never used a sword myself!) Read this document carefully and contact me at if you have any questions or comments.

 2009 SA1 P1 markers report

Till we meet again

To my dear students

I am so proud of you for the effort that you put in for the exams. I know many of you studied very hard and tried your best. I hope you are satisfied with your results. For those of you who are not, do try to find out where you have gone wrong so that you learn something from the experience. Getting your papers back can be even more harrowing an experience than writing them, I know. Take heart, and be resilient. There is more to life than exams.

I write this post with mixed feelings, because there is something I need to share with you. Friday is my last day at school, because my contract is coming to an end. There was an option to renew it, but I chose not to take it up. Let me explain why:

I love to teach, and I think Swiss Cottage is a simply wonderful place to work. I have made no secret of my admiration for my colleagues or my affection for my students. Here’s the thing. I am doing a masters course now that I have been trying to handle along with my teaching and marking. It is not an impossible task, and many people do manage to do it. But I find that I enjoy neither when I have to do both, and doing a less than perfect job in either sphere is unacceptable for me.

Rest assured you will get a very good teacher to replace me. Also, most of you are in contact with me online, either through e-mail, msn or facebook. Please maintain that contact, and pop up on my computer screen to say hi every so often. If you need my help with anything you have only to ask.

Remember: Mrs V is just a mouse click away.

“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”

(Irish blessing)

Exam Marking Saga I

grading-papers-6Well the scripts are in, and the first thing I did was sort them according to question number. Remember my asking you to write the question number in the margin? Well, there are at least 3 people who didn’t. Man! The good news is that there were 200 who did, so that’s what I would call progress. Here is the breakdown, in case you want to know: 46 students did question 1, 49 did question 2, another 49 did question 3, 8 did question 4 and 51 did question 5. Interesting that so few people chose the descriptive question, but not exactly surprising, I guess. I’m going to tell you right now: if you score 23 marks and above for the free writing section, I am going to ask you to clear up whatever little errors there may be, type your essay out and e-mail it to me so that I can upload it here. Anyway, that time is still far away. I have yet to mark the scripts! If you see me looking all grouchy in school, give me an encouraging smile. I can’t give you more marks because of it, but it will make me feel appreciated! Meanwhile, all the best with the rest of your papers.