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Sunday, 26 January 2014

Using Ausubel's EMO to Help you Study & Get 'A+'

Most teachers are familiar with the proven study techniques learnt during their years taking diploma/degree/Master in Education. Here I would like to share with my students some valuable tips to study and store the information you learnt more effectively for your upcoming exams & lifelong learning using Ausubel's Theory of Meaningful Learning.

According to the theory, one interesting topic is about the three processes of effective long-term memory storage. They are the EMO (Elaboration, Meaningful Learning, & Organization). Here are the explanations:


The info we learnt is not enough until we elaborate them. Our brains simply loves new stimulation via fancy stuffs. That's why in my notes I put ridiculous pictures, graphics  diagrams with colours, and absurd drawings. 

Here is an example of my Master-level note of Curriculum Development...
Observe the drawings & different colours used
For you guys, I suggest put more drawings and colourful highlighters. The weirder, the better. 

They key here is how you fancy up your info/notes.  


According to Ausubel, we may forget raw data, but we largely remember what it means to us. That's why you might forget the dialogues in the Titanic, but your surely remember how it makes you feel. That's why in my notes I put memorable stories, similes, metaphors, & analogies which the students can easily relate to in their life. 

For example, the process of blood clotting we learnt in Biology F5 is similar to the quest of Harry Potter and friends fighting Voldermort.

For you guys, I suggest you use relate your notes with anything that catches your mind. It could be the Miley Cyrus' shameful act. It could be the recent song by Psy. It could be vegetables like kangkung. It could be your cat's playful acts. 

The key here is how to dramatize your info/notes.
Yup, this is blood clotting all right...

The stories & colourful notes would be useless unless you organize them. Our brain is a pattern-seeking machine. It loves to tidy things up into a certain pattern. So, like the well-arranged books in a library, the tidy organization of information makes it easier for our brain to store & retrieve information. That's why I arrange the notes using mind-map style. 

Observe my note above & you can see I use it myself even for advanced level of education. In this post, I use the acronym EMO to organize my points.

For you guys, I suggest you use mind-maps if it suits you. Ask your school teachers - they are trained professionals - on how to build an effective mind-map. A good mind-map should let you see clearly the direction of your topics -what you going to learn from beginning until the end. 

The key here is how clear the direction when you use the mind-map.

There you go, the secrets of most successful students for getting the best of their study (in short time!) and achieve flying-colour results. Not so secret isn't it, when you know the techniques. All you need to do now is study hard and have fun along the way. Best of effort, guys! :-)


Understanding Osmosis 2

Last post I explained the osmosis outline. Now we shall go in detail regarding the process, as shown below:

click to enlarge

As you can see, water loves to go to the 'pekat' (浓缩) region. From this principle, we shall understand the 3 conditions occurred in red blood cells and plant cells, as mentioned in the experiment result shown below:

click to enlarge
How to explain in exam to get full marks:

When immersed in hypertonic region:
-The solution is more concentrated than the cell sap (1 mark)
-As a result, water diffuses from the cell sap into the solution (1 mark).
-The net flow is negative, as the water flows out of the cell (MUST MENTION THIS!) (1 mark).
-Hence, the cell mass decreases, and flaccid/ crenation occurs (1 mark).

When immersed in isotonic region:
-The solution's concentration is similar to the cell sap (1 mark)
-As a result, water diffuses equally in & out of the cell (1 mark).
-This is because the net flow is zero (MUST MENTION THIS!) (1 mark)
-Hence, the cell mass does not change. (1 mark).

When immersed in hypotonic region:
-The solution is more diluted than the cell sap (1 mark)
-As a result, water diffuses from the solution into the cell sap (1 mark).
-The net flow is positive, as the water flows into the cell (MUST MENTION THIS!) (1 mark).
-Hence, the cell mass increases, leading to haemolysis/ cell turgidity (1 mark).


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Biology Seminar - A Blast with the Best

PROLOGUE: The speaker in front of the master communicators

Last Saturday, I went to the USIM (Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia) for a seminar with the prodigies of 3 of the best schools in Malaysia -  SMAP Kajang, SMAP Labu, & SMS Seri Puteri. Active learning strategies for teaching such as inductive learning & synectics are utilized since the students are the insan kamil, which most students were academically superb & highly active in school activities (in fact, the SMAP Kajang reigns supreme as master communicator -winning 3 national-level debate championship last year).

The notes given were designed as ideal advance organisers for their reference. Nevertheless, the teaching style was predominantly direct-instruction since it was conducted in the hall. All systems -man and machine- such as audiovisual aids, internet, voice command, & body language were optimally utilized to cater the students' different learning styles. A tinge of deductive teaching was also applied since the seminar discussed the frequently-asked questions in the exam. As always, I used the Rogerian-inclined SEL (social & emotional learning) as my main theme and teaching platform - my favorite teaching style.

The students were the creme de la creme of their respective schools. Simply put, they were top scorers. So, the seminar was more an enrichment programme rather than a prescriptive one. The questions were also a form of formative assessment, HOTS (higher order thinking skill) -type, tailored to stir up the students' prior learning & increase their level of curiosity. Example of discussed questions related to Chapter 1 Biology F5:

1. Why frogs have incomplete blood circulation?
2. Why we feel cold during fever?
3. Why we have to 'respect' pus?
4. Why cats never suffer from heart attack?
5. Why we still can't cure AIDS & common cold?

The result was overwhelmingly positive. The students were in the absolute state of pure awesomeness. These pictures below hail the history we made that day:

"Tengok depan la korang nihh..."

"Best smiles, made my life wholeheartedly worthwhile"

Master of Ceremony aka The English debater & pals

After 4 hours seminar, still have enough ATP to smile

"Tengok cikgu, saya pakai pakai jaket Monster for Monocyte!"

The awe-inspiring hall

The green sea of Cikgu Heery's advance organizers...

The great guys & the graceful girls...

"Doakan kitorang k cikgu, Insyaallah sukses!... :-)"

The bouncer and the bunch, ready to bring Biology up to the blast!

I simply love the flourishing smiles along the 4-hour seminar. Time flew, and we simply didn't feel it. Thank you fellas for the great contribution of making this program a success. We just meet a few short hours...

...and made a memory lasts for a lifetime.

Kudos to Cikgu Nadrah & Cikgu Dahliza, the Ketua Panitia Biologi -the masterminds behind the whole programme. Looking forward for our next meeting...

...with more surprises & awesomeness await :-)


Sunday, 19 January 2014

Using Buffalo in Car to Memorize the List of Connective Tissues

According to the Bloom's taxonomy of learning objective, remembering/memorizing is in the lowest level. But that doesn't mean we cannot have fun with it. Today we shall use the acronym BBAFLo Car to memorize the list of connective tissues we learnt in Cell.

Here is some real Buffalo in Car for you :-)

"on the way to _laughterhouse"
(credit to a post in

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Eight Guidances for Parents - Choosing the Right Tuition Centre

The role of tuition centres is pivotal. They are highly complemental to the nation's education system. Their role is prominent in countries such as Japan, Korea, Singapore, & Hong Kong. For example, last time I heard the BFM radio station interviewing one of the Directors in the Ministry of Education. She said that Shanghai city gained the 1st place in the recent PISA test due to the contributions of their tuition centres.

We also have many tuition centres here in Malaysia. They are one of the blooming institutes in the urban area for many years already. Which means, our education achievement should be on par with the mentioned countries just now right? Unfortunately, the Malaysia's education system is steadily deteriorating. The reasons? It could be the keep-on changing education policy (from using Malay then English then Malay again then English). It could be our culture which think of education as a for examination instead of lifelong learning. It could be the school ethos which our beloved teachers are forced to become mundane clerks, preventing them from focusing on teaching itself. The reasons are many that it's not easy to find out the real answers...

But today, I wish to talk about the tuition centres. Like many things, they can be an efficient tool for our kids learning, or their bane. Fortunately, they are soooooooooooooooooo many of them! It's a good thing for us because it encourages competition for better quality & for us parents to choose only the best one. As a tuition teacher myself, here are my tips:

1) Our kids' needs - Do your think your kids really need tuition? Do you enquire for tuition because it's a popular trend or because your kids genuinely need it? Or do they prefer group-style class? Will your kids be comfortable with the tuition environment there? All or some subjects only? Compare the fees & timetables. 

This is important because it will show you why you come to the tuition centres in the first place.  

2) The centres' image - What others say about the tuition centres? What are their highlights? Their mishaps? Search it online. Do they have active FB/Twitter account or homepage?

This is important because you need to find out whether its worth of your time/money to invest your kids future in this centre.

3) Teacher quality - The 2 most important things you must enquire are about their credibility (qualifications) & reputation (what others say about this teacher). Ask for a trial class. Do your kids feel comfortable with the tutors?

This is important because the teachers are the biggest factor to your kids learning attitude.

4) Teacher's extra quality - How about the teachers general knowledge? Do they have extra qualifications such as Masters? Can the teachers instill the love of learning to your kids? How about the teachers' teaching activity? Have they ever give talks to schools/ conduct big seminars/ teach the orphanage for free? Can you have the teacher's phone number so you can call anytime about the progress of your kids?

This is important because you can find out the teachers' professionalism. 

5) Teachers notes - Do the teachers make their own notes or just cut-&-paste from books? Are the notes systematic & enjoyably readable? How about the flow of the notes? What to expect from the notes every week?

This is important since the notes show the teachers image as genuine teachers. Also, your kids need some really good references for studying at home.

6) Location - Is it safe for your kids? Does the surrounding place look deserted/crowded especially at night? Is it near to your home? If you pick your kids, where can you comfortably wait?

This is important to ensure your kids safety.

7) Business premise - Can you trust the premise once you enter it? How's the floor? The wall decoration? Do they put photos/articles showing their previous years highlights? Check the bathrooms. Do they clean them regularly? See the classrooms. Are they noiseproof? Do you find the place homelike & cozy

This is important because the premise would indirectly affect your kids' learning experience. Also, you will know whether it is a real place that cares about your kids, not your cash.

8) Staffs - Do they monitor your kids in-between class sessions? Are they friendly enough. Can they answer every of your questions satisfactorily? Are they patient to attend to your every questions? Does the centre have both male & female staffs? Observe whether they are committed to their task or busy chatting online/with other staffs.

This is important since the staffs are your kids' guardian.  

It is still early of the year. So I hope this post would aid you in your quest to search for the right tuition centre. It might be tough to find one, but in the end it's all worth it for you kids' time and future...

...and in the end, they make you proud.


Friday, 10 January 2014

Why Total Surface Area/ Volume Matters?

What is actually the Total Surface Area over Volume (TSA/V) thing that we learnt the first thing in Chapter 1 (Transport) in the Form 5? Here we shall discover more about the confusing concept:

First, see the diagram of cells below:

As you can see, the large animals have LESS CELLS EXPOSED FOR DIFFUSION of substances compared to its volume or size.

Diagram: 14 cells exposed compared to overall 27 cells --> 14/27 = 0.52

The small animal, it has MORE CELLS EXPOSED FOR DIFFUSION of substances compared to its volume or size.

Diagram: 5 cells exposed compared to overall 6 cells --> 5/6 = 0.83 (HIGHER TSA/V)

That explains why large animals such as whales have a VERY LOW HEARTBEAT RATE. This is because the heart doesn't need to pump much because the large size can retain more heat & substances in the body (heat is difficult to diffuse out because of less cells for diffusion).

My heart beats 6 times per minute...

Compared to small animals such as mouse. it has a VERY HIGH HEARTBEAT RATE. This is because the body cells constantly need to replace lost heat/substances thanks to the high diffusion rate.

My heart beats more than 600 times per minute!!!

Now you know :-) See you in the next post!

One more thing, I want you to ponder this...

Q: Why big/obese individuals have HIGHER HEARTBEAT RATE than normal ones?????

Is it violating the TSA/V rule? Google now & let me know.


Monday, 6 January 2014

Whimsy Wednesday - The Solid Reason Why You MUST Not Start Smoking

"It's not about the health issue. It's all about control. Do you want to control your life? Or do you want the cigarette to do it for you." - Zulheery Ismail aka Cikgu Heery.


Friday, 3 January 2014

Learning The Nitrogen Cycle With Ease

Today, we shall use my diagram to learn one of the most challenging topics in Bio SPM -nitrogen cycle. Most of the books provide the outline right away without explaining systematically according to the pedagogical theory. Here, we shall use the 'chunking' method advocated by the Information Processing Model, which is part of education cognitivism. Enjoy! (CLICK DIAGRAM TO ENLARGE)

1) Learn the 'big circle':

2) Learn the 'small circle':

3) Learn the processes:

4) Finally, learn the microorganisms.
Monster face= bacteria, FB= fungi & bacteria

Go to my previous post on Nitrogen Cycle for more detail.