Small Fish in a Big Pond: how to deal with the year ahead
3 bulletproof tips students can arm themselves with
In a blink of an eye, we are more than halfway through the first month of the school year.
For all students, every new year is a frightening prospect: not only will there be a brand new curriculum, but also a fresh set of challenges. The questions of “how to handle the more difficult/increased workload?” and “how to juggle my academic and extracurricular commitments?” frequently recur.
Feelings of stress run especially high in the milestone years, where students have to take their national exams (P6, secondary 4) or enter a completely new school (primary 1, secondary 1, junior college/polytechnic/other institutions).
During these important years, we may feel like ‘small fish in a big pond’, unsure of where and how to start the year right. Here are some tips on getting the headstart you need:
The importance of social ties cannot be understated. A close friend, or
group of friends, is not only a good emotional support system; they are
also your go-tos for academic or administrative concerns!
Have a question about transferring CCAs? Ask a friend for advice! Have a question about your math or mother tongue homework? Ask a classmate! Feeling blue? Talk to a friend!
Here’s a pro tip: Include your teacher in this circle of friends. Due to their position in school and teaching knowledge, teachers can often give you advice or help that your peers cannot.
In a busy school schedule, time is precious. More often than not, we have more things than we can fit on our plate!
There are typical “crunch times” in which you can expect yourself to feel overwhelmed by the amount of things you have to do (e.g. before exams, before major CCA events). For these periods, my succinct advice is to do your best (and talk to your support system)!
However – just like an Olympic athlete peaks right before their event, a student should peak at the times that matter most – exams and CCA events.
If you want to maximise your mental and physical well-being, as well as maintain good performance during exams/competitions, try not to jampack your whole year with activities.
Since we are currently at the start of the year, simply focus on easing yourself into the hustle and bustle of the year ahead.
Wishing you all the best!
About The Author
Miss Fiona Tan is a Teacher Associate at Creative Campus. As a Hwa Chong Institution and NUS alumna, she is particularly familiar with what it takes to excel in demanding exam conditions.
Effective Steps To Surviving The IP
Being in the Integrated Programme has its perks – and make no mistake, it is a privilege that students in the IP track have more autonomy to explore academic subjects as they want. That said, this is not a privilege that one should take lightly.
Before you commence on your IP journey, be prepared to make certain tweaks to your mindset. To borrow the words of Dorothy from Wizards of Oz: Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas primary school anymore.
Your Worst Competitor Is...
One might think that in the absence of an entire national exam (the O Levels, typically slated for a student’s fourth year of secondary school), competition between peers would be less stiff. I honestly think that – just like it is outside of the IP scheme – the degree of competition mostly depends on one’s school environment.
My own IP classes were fortunately far from dog-eat-dog, but I did feel a constant pressure to keep up with my peers in the programme. Others may argue that competition in IP is bound to be more tense, given its reputation for being ‘elite’.
But this post is not about debate. What I can confidently say is that your internal sense of competition is bound to increase, given the entrance requirements and expectations of the IP, no matter the external environment. That is:
You see where I’m going with this? Do prepare for the fact that your worst competitor (AND critic, all rolled into one) might be yourself.
If you’re struggling in a competitive environment, many will tell you, “don’t compare yourself to others”. I think it’s important to add: if you feel negatively overwhelmed, don’t compare yourself to who you think you should be, or the stage you think you should be at! This brings me to my next point …
Give Yourself Time and Space
The IP scheme was introduced in 2002 for the express purpose of allowing students “broader learning experiences that would develop their creativity, critical thinking, intellectual curiosity and leadership skills” (MOE, 2002). These are soft skills in which progress is often not linear, nor immediately visible.
Create your Own Structure
It is no coincidence that many students who leave the IP midway to pursue an alternative path cite the same reason: because the programme gives so much flexibility, structure has to be self-imposed.
Taking personal responsibility and staying disciplined thus become crucial to surviving the IP. From CCA and leadership positions to the choice of subjects taken, it is you who will be in charge of carving your own path in the programme.
I remember doing a lot of introspection in the programme, as I had to decide what choices to make on my own. I cannot say that I made the best ones as a carefree teenager, but I genuinely appreciate the freedom of choice which I was given.
When push comes to shove in the sixth (and last) year of the programme, discipline becomes all the more important. One obstacle that I, and many of my friends, experienced was the transition from blithe independence to the ‘now or never’ mindset that teachers started to drive home.
From my experience, friends who had experienced the O-Level crunch – and were therefore used to the levels of discipline necessary for staying on track – were more mentally equipped for the A-Levels. Still, you need not fret so long as you cultivate discipline within freedom.
About The Author
Miss Fiona Tan is a Teacher Associate at Creative Campus. As a Hwa Chong Institution and NUS alumna, she is particularly familiar with what it takes to excel in demanding exam conditions.
Is there such a thing as a ghost? Whatever an individual's personal views are on the subject, culturally most of us are brought up with the understanding that the dead lives in another form that still requires some kind of sustenance. An afterlife is largely dictated by several factors: the kind of life they had lived on earth; how their remains were disposed of at their death; and/or how they were remembered by the living.
The details of the afterlife in different cultures can vary, but the constants are that such a realm exists. This realm is governed by immutable laws, while the souls of the dead will remain there unless given licence by the gods to return to the land of the living for a specific reason. These reasons can include improper funeral rites; a lack of any kind of burial; murder where the body is missing or improperly buried; or to resolve some unfinished business.
The appearance of ghosts of the departed, even those of loved ones, is rarely considered a welcoming experience. The dead are supposed to remain in their own land and not expected to return to the world of the living. When such an event does occur, it is a sure sign that something is terribly wrong. Those who experience a spiritual encounter are expected to take care of the problem in order for the ghost to return to its proper place. This understanding is so prevalent that ghost stories can be found, with very similar themes across many cultures.
In various cultures, the spirits of the dead can benefit the living unless they are given improper burial rites. The Hungry Ghost Festival, which originated to honour and appease the dead, continues to be held on the fifteenth day of the seventh month of the year. Known as the "Ghost Month", this time is thought to be when the veil between the realm of the living and that of the dead is thinnest and the dead can easily cross over. So that’s why during the ghost festival, you see people leaving out food and gifts for the dead in the hope that they will be appeased and not bother the living.
Do you know a Spooky Place in Singapore?
There are many locations in Singapore that are thought to be haunted. Here, we highlight two locations that are considered to have high spook factor:
Changi Old Beach Houses
On paper, this place seems like a good idea. Need a break from hectic work life? Renting a house near the beach would be the perfect getaway. However, you might be in for something a little more sinister. People have reported feeling like they were stared at and some have even returned home with scars. Others have also complained about doors creaking open and shut non-stop, and at night, witnesses claim to have heard a woman wailing. Changi Beach was used as the site of the infamous Sook Ching massacre during WWII. It is rumoured that the souls of the innocent slain continue to roam the beach, weeping and wailing in the night. Passers-by also claim to have spotted bloodstains on walls.
EVERYBODY has heard the horror stories from Pulau Tekong. Boys, you share them in your bunks and then do not sleep at night. Girls, you hear them from your male friends and thank your lucky stars for the comfort of your own homes. The most frequently-told tale is that of a young man for Charlie Company who went for his 16km route march and got separated from the pack. He was later discovered by his platoon commander with all his insides laid out next to his body. Beds in the recruit's former bunk often shake for no reason and some people even report hearing his voice at night. Apparently, a third door was built in the bunk to let his spirit out but he continues to roam the bunkers.
Houseflies. They are everywhere and anywhere.
Believed to be native to Asia, houseflies now inhabit nearly every corner of the globe. Except for Antarctica and a few islands, houseflies live everywhere people do. Houseflies are synanthropic organisms: they benefit ecologically from their association with humans and domesticated animals. Conversely, houseflies are rarely found in the wilderness or in places where humans are absent. Should humankind cease to exist, houseflies might share our fate.
They procreate anywhere too, as and when they wish, laying their eggs even in feces. Their rate of reproduction is so fast that, if not for environmental conditions and predation, houseflies would perhaps rule the world.
Houseflies breed in the things we revile - garbage, animal dung, sewage, human excrement, and other nasty substances. While living among these filth, they feed on them too. With sponge-like mouth-parts, houseflies soak up liquefied substances. When a housefly locates something tasty but solid, it regurgitates onto the food. Its vomit contains digestive enzymes that quickly predigest and liquefy the food for the fly suck it all up.
Other than its gross vomits, houseflies poop a lot too. Nearly every time a housefly lands, it defecates. So, the housefly almost always does poop where it eats. Keep that in mind next time when one touches down on your favourite meal...
Something to ponder
1. How do houseflies decide something is appetising?
2. How do houseflies transmit diseases?
They step on it! Like butterflies, houseflies have their taste buds on their toes, so to speak. Taste receptors, called chemosensilla, are located at the far ends of the fly's tibia and tarsa (in simpler terms, the lower leg and foot). The moment they land on something of interest – your garbage, a pile of horse manure, or perhaps your lunch – they start sampling its flavour by walking around.
Houseflies thrive in places that are teeming with pathogens, hence they have a bad habit of carrying disease-causing agents with them from place to place. A housefly will land on a pile of dog poop, inspect it thoroughly with its feet, and then fly over to your picnic table and walk around on your hamburger bun for a bit. Their food and breeding sites are already overflowing with bacteria, and then they vomit and defecate on them to add to the mess. Houseflies are known to transmit at least 65 diseases and infections, including cholera, dysentery, giardiasis, typhoid, leprosy, conjunctivitis, salmonella, and many more.
Major reforms to Singapore's education system were announced in parliament recently, most notably the abolishment of streaming by 2024, towards a system of Subject-based Banding (SBB). What will this mean for parents and students?
From the commentary that we have sampled, a most significant drawback of streaming is how it unwittingly punishes academically weaker students through labelling and stigmatisation. The new system of SBB will blunt this negative effect but not eradicate it, because while streaming is now less overt, it is but masked under the subject classifications G1-3.
We expect it will be quite challenging for schools to deliver on this new policy: there are time-table issues, and teachers having to juggle multiple levels within the same class, to say the least. Administrative and logistical issues can disrupt lesson delivery and the learning process in the classroom, because every system operates within limits that are made even more acute by the burdens it must bear.
There is an upside to this, though: mixing up of students of different bands, if managed properly, can be very conducive for learning. In perforating that cultural and social divide between 'weaker' and 'stronger' students, weaker students are motivated to do better when they see that the stronger students are human just like them; stronger students are pushed to excel lest they rest on their laurels. For both groups, their horizons are broadened. Anxious parents might feel more assured if their children have a one-track mind and focus on academic excellence -- but life is a long race, and its challenges, multi-faceted. In a well-managed multi-band classroom, students could pick up a more holistic spread of personal and social skills that will serve them well in life.
Moreover, unlike streaming which is very much fixed, SBB seems to offer flexibility – chances for mobility within the subject bands means that a student's education pathway is now less determined by the system than his or her own choices and commitment. For late bloomers, and those who desire to do better, they will have more chances to make good.
That said, the core of education and learning has not changed. In whatever way the education system is tweaked, the fundamental truth remains that learning happens and is determined at the level of the individual. For instance, the system may label a student – this is an operational matter. It is up to the student to not let the label define him and get in the way of what he must do: to be educated.
At Creative Campus, we focus on building the individual. The education system is not tailored to the individual, teachers at school may be over-burdened, and even good schools can be 'bad' as the case may be; but the student with the motivation and skills to learn, can prevail over these factors, and do all right. We teach English only – language is the conduit of thought, and through our programme, children learn to be curious, to imagine, analyse and express themselves with clarity and perspective. Regardless of the stream or band, this core ability makes the effective difference in one's education.
The following is the essay question from the 2018 PSLE English Paper 1, according to feedback from several of our students and other sources.
Write a composition of at least 150 words about teamwork. The pictures are provided to help you think about the topic. Your composition should be based on one or more of these pictures. Consider the following points when you plan your composition.
You may use the points in any order and include other relevant points as well. [* The three pictures given include a trophy; a group of students cooking; and several students gathering around, looking at a laptop.]
The topic was expected and the pictures were equally relatable. After all, all students need to do is to choose at least one picture and tell a story about how it relates to teamwork. However, merely doing so will give students an average grade. Delving deeper and handling the essay with a better perspective is what differentiates average students from the crème de la crème.
The trick to rise above the competition is to do one or more of the following:
On the one hand, schools tend to play the safe card for a major exam such as the PSLE. Hence, students are generally encouraged to write a narrative essay in the PSLE. The competition heats up with this approach, since the way to break the 35-mark barrier would be to:
On the other hand, students should be equipped to approach the PSLE essay. At Creative Campus, while we prepare the students on how to approach the topic differently, we also harness their personal voice to develop a plot that is unique to them. The focus on techniques, rather than staid model essays, will gear them to attempt any topic with ease, and in the process, stand out from their peers.
On the first week of 2019, students at Creative Campus were taught how to handle the PSLE 2018 question effectively. Should you be interested to receive a sample copy of the notes, click the button below to view and download.
If you're viewing the worksheet on a mobile device, click the download icon to save the file.
PSLE English Paper 1 2019: A Post-Mortem
1. CAN'T FAULT HIM
A little boy in my infant class came to school and told me he could spell his mum’s name. “M-U-M,” he said proudly. Before I could congratulate him, another little boy said excitedly, “That’s how you spell my mum’s name too!”
2. FAST & FURIOUS
A turtle was walking down a dark alley when he was mugged by a gang of snails. A police detective came to investigate and asked the turtle if he could explain what happened. The turtle looked at the detective with a confused look on his face and replied, “I don’t know, it all happened so fast.”
3. MAN V. WOMAN
My newly retired husband was watching as I went about my daily routine. I vacuumed, cleaned, ironed and sorted the laundry, and after making us both a cup of coffee, I sat down. Hubby looked at me thoughtfully. Has he finally realised he could help, I wondered?
My hopes were dashed when he said, “Isn’t it wonderful how you always find ways to keep yourself so busy.”
When a teacher asked my six-year-old why his handwriting wasn’t as neat as usual, he responded, “I’m trying a new font.”
A man approaches a very beautiful woman in a large supermarket and says, “I’ve lost my wife in the aisles. Would you mind talking to me for a couple of minutes?”
“Why?” the woman replies.
“Because every time I speak to a pretty lady, my wife appears out of nowhere.”
6. BIRDS OF FEATHER
A football coach called out the new member saying, "Look, I'm not supposed to have you on this team because you failed your mathematics but we really do need you to play for us. What I'll do is ask you one simple maths question and if you answer it correctly I'll sign a slip to say that you've passed maths, OK?'
The player nodded. "Right" said the coach: "What's four plus four?" The player wrinkled his forehead and thought for a while, then replied, "Eight!"
Immediately all the other team members shouted," Aw, come on coach. Give him another chance!"
7. OLD GENERATION
While he was visiting, my father asked for the password to our Wi-Fi.
“It’s taped under the modem,” I told him.
After three failed attempts to log on, he asked, “Am I spelling this right? T-A-P-E-D-U-N-D-E-R-T-H-E-M-O-D-E-M?”
A man is drinking with his wife when out of the blue he announces, "I love you."
"Is that you or the beer talking?" she asks.
"It’s me," he says, "talking to the beer."
Hello and welcome to our first of many blogs regarding English enrichment and its many aspects. We will be talking about many forms and meanings relating to English, ranging from punctuation, pronunciation, spelling, grammar, phonics and a whole lot more.
To start us off, we will begin by looking at oral and pronunciation, and why many students, who are learning English, find it difficult at first. This is because everybody has an accent from their mother tongue and so can be difficult to lose when learning a new language. Furthermore, certain word soundings will be challenging, but keep practicing, and never give up if you really want to sound like a English native.
Here are three methods for you to try.
Let’s take a look at some words.
Socialisation (so shul iz a shion)
Television (tel a viz ion)
Following (fo low ing)
Pronouncing (pro nown sing)
Weather (weth er)
Internet (in te net)
Condition (con dit shon)
Anomaly (a nom ma lee)
Adding to letters (vowels) together will dramatically change the pronunciation.
ou and ow, gives the “ow” sound.Out, owl.
ea and ee, gives the “ee” sound.Fleeing, seeing, sea.
ie and ei, gives the “ee” sound.Receive, receipt,
oi, gives the oy sound.Choice.