Book Recommendations

RECOMMENDED CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

 

Title: Little Brown Bear Won’t Go to School

Author: Jane Dyer

Range: Ages 3 – 7

Synopsis: What’s the point of attending school? Little Brown Bear decides to forego an education and go to work like his Mama and Papa, but none of his jobs pan out. No one at the diner can read the orders he takes, his construction work doesn’t hold together, he gets tangled in a scarf he tries to knit, and the buzz cut he gives a lion makes the beast roar his displeasure! Now he knows why he needs to go to school – he’s got a lot to learn! Dyer’s sunny water colours are filled with lush detail and subtle humour. Kids will love exploring every illustration.

 

Title: Niagara Falls, or Does it?

Author: Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver

Range: Ages 8 -12

Synopsis: Hank Zipzer’s journals, “The Mostly True Confessions of the World’s Best Underachiever,” chronicle how a smart, well-intentioned, wise-cracking fourth grader survives his worst enemy – himself. Everything is a challenge for Hank, from punctuality to punctuation. In this first book of the series, Hank missteps on the very first day of school. The first-person perspective brings Hank sharply into focus. He’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of kid. The text reflects his cheeky approach to life and the dialogue rings true. Hank’s not perfect, not by a long shot, but his honesty and self-deprecating attitude will garner him hero status and lots of fans that identify with him.

 

Title: The Cheat

Author: Amy Goldman Koss

Range: Ages 10 – 14

Synopsis: A cheating scandal embroils an eighth-grade class after the class geek tries to impress the beauty queen by giving her the answers to a geography exam before the test. When the popular clique shares the inside information, the test results play havoc with the lives of everyone involved. Dramatically revealed in alternating first-person accounts, this inside look at middle-grade mores packs a powerful punch because the six students divulge all the conscience-wracking details. Told with irreverence and humour, it is an adolescent exposé that explores the values of trust and honour and the repercussions of deceit. Integrity may be deemed a cliché by some teens, but it is obvious from the fallout of this experience that cheating is not worth the self-destruction it inevitably causes.

Source: Reading Today’s “Children’s Book Review” by Lynne T. Burke

 

LiteracyPlus Tips: English Usage

ENGLISH USAGE

 

  • When do you use hyphens in numbers?

Incorrect: There are three-hundred-sixty-five days in a year.

Correct: There are three hundred sixty-five days in a year.

Use a hyphen when writing out the numbers twenty-one to ninety-nine in words. Do not use hyphens for other numbers.

 

Incorrect: France has a 35 hour working week.

Correct: France has a 35-hour working week.

Incorrect: The ten year old boy wanted to become an archaeologist.

Correct: The ten-year-old boy wanted to become an archaeologist.

Use hyphens only when the number functions as an adjective phrase.

 

  • it’s OR its?

Incorrect: The dog lost it’s bone.

Correct: The dog lost its bone.

Incorrect: Its under the chair.

Correct: It’s (it is) under the chair.

The confusion between it’s and its occurs because ‘s indicates possession, so English speakers naturally want to use it’s to mean ‘something belonging to it’. But it’s is only used when it’s a contraction of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’. Otherwise, it’s always its.

LiteracyPlus Tips: Reading Compre Strategies

READING COMPREHENSION STRATEGIES

 

Tip #1

Make connections

Good readers notice pieces of text that relate to or remind them of:

  • Their lives, past experiences and prior knowledge
  • Other books, articles, movies, songs, or pieces of writing
  • Events, people, or issues

 

Tip #2

Monitor / Clarify

Proficient readers do not just plough ahead through text when it doesn’t make sense. They try to figure out words and ideas in order to restore their understanding of the passage. One of the most important “fix-up” tools is rereading text.

  • Sound out unfamiliar words
  • Reread the text to see if you can figure out the problem
  • Read on; go on to the next paragraph or section to see if you can get further information

 

Tip #3

Ask questions

Good readers ask questions before, during, and after reading to better understand the author and the meaning of the test.

  • “What is the message?”
  • “I wonder what will happen next?”
  • “How could this be explained to others?”

 

Tip #4

Infer

Keen readers know how to “read between the lines”. Using their background knowledge and clues from the text, they can draw conclusions and infer characters’ feelings/traits.

 

Tip #5

Determine importance

In any text, readers should prioritise information and single out the important pieces. Analyse everything from titles, headings and bold print, which are text features in non-fiction text, to strong verbs used in novels, which are verbal clues.

 

Tip #6

Visualise

Good readers are constantly creating pictures in their minds while reading. Readers can also benefit from well-illustrated books as they visualise how words and images connect in meaning-making.

 

Tip #7

Synthesise

Being the most sophisticated of the comprehension strategies, synthesis is creating a single understanding from a variety of sources. New ideas combine with existing knowledge to form new ideas or interpretations.

  • Compare and contrast current text with existing information
  • Think of new ways to use the new information
  • Create new generalisations or new perspectives

2018 P5 Maths Camp: Jun

Word problems make up about 50% of the Maths paper. Being able to identify the concept of each question will enable the pupil to employ the correct and most effective strategy to solve the problem. The word problem concepts that will be taught in this camp are must know concepts and are commonly found in P5 exam papers.

 

 

Spaces are limited, so call 6777 2468 or SIGN UP ONLINE today!

2018 PSLE Intensive Programmes: Jun

As part of the PSLE preparatory process, we will also be running a variety of PSLE intensive preparation programmes over the June holiday.

Each programme has 5 lessons, Monday to Friday, with lessons being 2 hours daily. All programmes have two start dates: 4 June & 18 June.

The programmes are designed to gear pupils up for key components of the PSLE and give them an edge in their exam preparation.

 

PSLE Oral Intensive Programme

Boost your child’s confidence in taking the oral exam. Hone vocal delivery skills through exercises, build vocabulary and practice tips on how to prepare for the Stimulus-based conversation.

 

PSLE Writing Intensive Programme

Give your child an edge in Paper 1. Learn how to generate relevant and specific elaborative detail, techniques to reveal character traits, and how to avoid writing abrupt story endings.

 

PSLE EL Paper 2 Intensive Programme

The programme focuses on tackling reading comprehension, grammar cloze and comprehension cloze. Practice answering interpretive comprehension-level questions and applying cloze passage tips.

 

PSLE Maths Intensive Programme

Build your child’s familiarity with the variety of word problems that will be tested on the PSLE. Topics such as Area & Perimeter, Whole Numbers, Fractions, Percentage and Speed & Ratio will be covered.

 

Spaces are limited, so call 6777 2468 or SIGN UP ONLINE today!

LiteracyPlus Tips: English Usage

ENGLISH USAGE

 

  • fish OR fishes?

Incorrect: Some customers like to smell the fishes to make sure that they are fresh.

Correct: Some customers like to smell the fish to make sure that they are fresh.

The plural of fish is usually fish: ‘a fish’, ‘three fish’. Fishes occur mostly in children’s literature. 

 

  • raise OR raise up?

Incorrect: The government wishes to raise up the standard of health. 

Correct: The government wishes to raise the standard of health. 

Adding up after raise is redundant. 

 

 

LiteracyPlus Tips: Discursive Writing

DISCURSIVE WRITING

 

Tip #1

  • Use a formal, impersonal style
  • Use topic sentences to introduce the subject of each paragraph
  • Write well-developed paragraphs, giving reasons/examples for each point
  • Use linking words/phrases:
    • Sequencing words (e.g. first/ly; second/ly)
    • Same line of thought (e.g. furthermore; likewise; in addition; similarly; moreover)
    • Contrasting idea (e.g. yet; on the other hand; nevertheless; however; although; otherwise; conversely; on the contrary)
    • Conclusion or summary (e.g. thus; therefore; consequently; hence; in conclusion)
  • Use quotations, either word-for-word or in paraphrase, being careful to identify the source (e.g. As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said, ”…)
  • Review all aspects and viewpoints of a particular topic and present these views objectively

 

Tip #2

  • Don’t use contractions (e.g. can’t; shouldn’t)
  • Don’t use abbreviations (e.g. MOE; SPCA) unless you have previously introduced the term [“According to the Ministry of Education (MOE)…”]
  • Don’t use informal / colloquial language (e.g. some guys; stuff; lots)
  • Don’t use very emotional language (e.g. I absolutely detest people who…)
  • Don’t express personal opinions too strongly (e.g. I know…); instead, use milder expressions (e.g. It seems to me that…)
  • Don’t make sweeping statements (e.g. Everyone believes that…)
  • Don’t quote blindly or refer to statistics without accurate reference to their source [e.g. “A Minister of Parliament said… / A recent study showed…”  (which minister / study?)]
  • Don’t use clichés (e.g. Time heals all wounds.)

 

Tip #3

What are some differences between a discursive essay and an argumentative essay? Here are some tips to tell them apart:

Aim

  • Discursive essay: To present a balanced and objective discussion; usually discusses both advantages and disadvantages of the topic
  • Argumentative essay: To convince the reader to agree with the writer’s view

Writer’s Perspective

  • Discursive essay: 2 or more points of view
  • Argumentative essay: Takes a strong stance on the topic or issue; only 1 point of view

Body of Essay

  • Discursive essay: 2 supporting reasons, 2 opposing reasons
  • Argumentative essay: 3 supporting reasons, 1 counter-argument

Conclusion

  • Discursive essay: Allows readers to draw their own conclusion, or expresses a low-key opinion
  • Argumentative essay: Repeats thesis statement and summarises supporting reasons

LiteracyPlus Tips: Narrative Writing

NARRATIVE WRITING

 

Tip #1

Plan your story

Never leave writing to chance. Spend 5-10 mins plotting your story’s key events before you begin to write.

 

Tip #2

Create believable characters

  • A character doesn’t have to be perfect to be a strong character. Faults and weaknesses are important ingredients in making a character believable.
  • The traits you choose for your main character determine how your character must act, talk and think.

 

Tip #3

Make dialogue purposeful

  • Good dialogue:
    • reveals information about characters’ personalities.
    • helps to advance the plot.
    • is never boring or mundane.
  • Use short concise sentences that get straight to the point. (No more than 2-3 sentences.)
  • Don’t use Singlish. (Most schools do not accept non-standard English in dialogue.)

 

Tip #4

Show, don’t tell

Give the reader actions, thoughts, senses and feelings rather than simple description.

Telling Sentence:

Going to the dentist makes me really nervous.

Showing Sentences:

I had to go to the dentist to get a cavity filled. My stomach was in knots. I felt like I was going to throw up. My palms were sweating and my hands were shaking. Just the thought of the high-pitched whir of the dentist’s drill made my heart race.

 

Tip #5

End with a satisfying conclusion

  • The ending of your story forms the readers’ final impression of what they have read, so make it memorable.
  • A story ending can be happy or sad, something unexpected, or a lesson learnt. Make sure it ties up all the loose ends.
  • A great ending makes readers feel something. If you bring your characters and conflict to life, your readers will care how everything works out and will feel for your characters when they succeed or fail.

Changes to the PSLE Maths Paper

CHANGES TO THE PSLE MATHS PAPER

 

1. Duration of paper

Paper 1

  • Increased from 50 mins to 1 h
  • Attainable score increased from 40 marks to 45 marks

Paper 2

  • Decreased from 1h 40 min to 1 h 30 min

Pupils are not allowed to use calculators for Paper 1 so speed and strong mental computation skills are important. As a time management guide, pupils should spend roughly 90 seconds on every mark that a question is worth. For example, for a 1-mark MCQ, pupils will need to read the question, formulate a solution, work out the answer, and shade the Optical Answer Sheet all within 90 seconds!

 

2. Focus on logical reasoning

Let’s look at the following question.

The average of 3 different 2-digit numbers is 21. Of the 3 numbers, find the largest possible number.

Step 1: Total of the numbers → 21 x 3  =  63

What to do next? The logical reasoning must come in here.

  • Think:

If I want one of the numbers to be the largest possible number, the other 2 numbers must be as small as possible.

  • Consideration:

They are all different 2-digit numbers.

  • Conclusion:

The other 2 numbers will have to be 10 and 11.

Step 2: 63 – 10 – 11  =  42 (Ans)

 

3. Focus on applied learning

There is greater emphasis on application of mathematics in the real world. The following is the 2017 PSLE maths question which generated a lot of buzz last year:

Jess needs 200 pieces of ribbons, each of length 110 cm, to decorate a room for a party.

Ribbon is sold in rolls of 25 m each.

What is the least number of rolls of ribbon that Jess needs to buy?

 

Solution 1:

Total length of ribbon needed → 200 x 110  =  22 000 cm

1 roll → 25 m  =  2500 cm

Number of rolls → 22 000 ÷ 2500  =  8.8

8 + 1  =  9 (Ans)

 

Solution 2:

Number of pieces of ribbon she can cut from each roll

→ 2500 ÷ 110  =  22 (remainder 80 cm)

Number of rolls → 200 ÷ 22  =  9 (remainder 2)

9 + 1  =  10 (Ans)

 

Which solution is correct? Solution 2 is correct. The logic is that each roll of ribbon cut will result in a remainder of 80 cm. Jess will not be able to use these remaining pieces.

 

For those parents who attended the workshop, we hope you found the session useful, especially learning about the 3 types of Remainder Concept methods. Incidentally, the 2017 PSLE Maths paper tested 2 types of Remainder Concept questions – Type 1 and Type 2.

For an example of each of the 3 types of Remainder Concept questions, click the image below.

 

LiteracyPlus Tips: SBC

STIMULUS-BASED CONVERSATION

 

Tip #1

Be confident

Imagine you are friends with the examiner and that you and the examiner are having a friendly conversation. Keep eye contact with the examiner throughout the session.

 

Tip #2

Speak fluently and with grammatical accuracy

Do not lapse into Singlish, or non-standard English, during the conversation! Aim to speak as though you were writing. Sentences that are not grammatically correct are not acceptable in the oral examination.

 

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