Monday, November 2, 2009

Action Report



86200 JOHOR


This classroom action research was conducted in order to help form 3RK students of SMK Simpang Rengam to improve their summary skills. The research was carried out from 23rd. January to 10th. June 2009. During the second week of January, a test was given to diagnose the students’ weaknesses in answering English paper. The test was called “Gerak Gempur.” A set of PMR 2008 English Papers were used for the assessment. One component which students should be able to score was the summary. Yet the assessment of students’ summary writing revealed that they lack ability to identify main ideas and reorganise the ideas and rewrite the ideas in their own words resulted in getting low mark for summary. The research aimed at helping the students to overcome these problems. A module (SMART ENGLISH PROGRAMME –using 5R) was therefore designed for this purpose. Five strategies were used and the results were analysed. The findings were discussed and some improvements on the module were suggested.

1.0 Teaching and Learning Reflection

Based on the diagnostic test (Gerak Gempur), I found that students of 3RK only managed to get 5/10 marks in summary writing when they should be able to get at least 8 marks. The difference of 3 marks can bring changes to their overall result. I realised their inability to get full mark for summary writing was due to lack of summarising skills. They also had not acquired effective reading skills and thus were not able to identify the main ideas in a text. The failure to write a good summary also resulted from students’ lack of vocabulary and incompetency in grammar.

2.0 Research Focus

The focus of the research was on how to improve students mark by drilling them on writing a summary effectively. During the research, some weaknesses were identified.
They were;
I. failure to identify all the main ideas.
II. inability to reorganise and rephrase the words used in the text.
III. inability to reduce the number of words used in writing a summary
IV. inability to rewrite the summary in their own words.

3.0 Research Objectives

3.1 General objective: To help students to get 8-10 marks in summary writing using 5R-module Smart English Programme. The module has the following features:
 Word classification
 Word substitution
 Reorganisation of phrases / sentences
 Rephrasing sentences phrases / sentences
 Matching phrasal verb with a word
 Reducing number of words in a sentence
 Identify main ideas and leave out the elaboration / examples
3.2 Specific objectives
I. To employ 5R - reading, reorganising, rephrasing, reducing and rewriting in teaching students to comprehend a text and write a summary.
II. To analyse the exercises given as pre-writing process
III. To analyse practice 1- 10 used to drill students to write a summary text.
IV. To raise students’ awareness of the importance of acquiring the 5R. By employing 5R, it is hoped that students will put an effort to master reading skills, to improve their grammar and to increase their vocabulary.

4.0 Target Group

3 students of 3RK

5.0 Implementation of Research

5.1 Analysing the Pre-test (Gerak Gempur 1)

No Student Pre test (Gerak Gempur 1)
1 A 6
2 B 5
3 C 5

5.2 Implementation of activity 1
The students were given words in a box and then classify them according to the list given in a table. Examples
1. Teddy bears, train sets, music box toys (Replace)
2. Orchids, roses, hibiscus flowers (Replace)
The Students were first asked to do on their own without referring to dictionary and discussing with their partner. During discussion with the teacher, the students marked their answers. The teacher did not tell them the correct answers. After the discussion, they were asked to find answers by referring to the dictionary and discuss with each other. As they were finding the answers, teacher monitored and guided them towards getting the correct answers.
i. Observation
The students seemed to find this simple exercise difficult. After discussing with friends and referring to dictionary, they were able to get all the answer correct. Even so, two students spelled “nationalities” as “nasionalities”. This misspelling showed that they were influenced by the Malay spelling.
ii. Reflection
Realising the students’ problem with vocabulary and spelling, the use of dictionary was made compulsory in the next activity. Wrong use of vocabulary and misspelling are serious errors that would affect the students’ marks.

5.3 Implementation of activity 2
The Students were given list of phrases in a table and then were asked to replace them with suitable words in the box provided. The students were allowed to refer to the dictionary.
1. little girls and little boys children (Replace)
2. office blocks, condominiums and shops building (Replace)
i. Observation
The students could find the suitable words to replace the phrases using dictionary but they took a longer time than was set by the teacher. Even when they had found the words, they kept on referring to the teacher, displaying they lack of confident in their own answers.
ii. Reflection
I realised that the students need to be exposed more to this kind of activity to build up their confident. Ability to find the suitable words proved that they had acquired some vocabulary but they had not done enough practice. So, they must do more exercises.

5.4 Implementation of activity 3
Students were given list of sentences.Then they had to reduce the number of sentences into a phrase. This exercise trained students to use their knowledge of English Language (grammar and vocabulary) which, they had learned in the past. This particular exercise required a high linguistic ability.
1. The house is made of wood wooden house (rephrase)
2. The parking there is free free parking (rephrase)
i. Observation
To do this exercise, I gave them a few examples. However students find this exercise very challenging. Out of the three students, only one student managed to get 7 correct answers out of 14 questions.
ii. Reflection
The students had shown their inability to rephrase a sentence in an attempt to reduce the number of words in a summary text and to gain mark for ability to rephrase. So in the next activity students were exposed to do more practice aiming at cutting down the number of words in a summary text.

5.5 Implementation of activity 4
Students were asked to match the phrasal verbs with suitable single words (verbs) in attempt to teach them how to reduce the number of words in a summary text.
1. put forward suggest (replace)
2. cut into divide (replace)
i. Observation
I noted that students had failed to match the phrasal verbs with suitable words (verbs) even by referring to the dictionary.
ii. Reflection
This made me aware of students’ lack of vocabulary, particularly verbs.

5.6 Implementation of activity 5
Students were asked to write sentences as shorter sentences. They were given 10 sentences and had to do it individually. The teacher demonstrated how to shorten the sentences before students did the exercises on their own.
1. Farah burst into tears and wailed loudly.
Farah cried loudly. (Reduce /replace)
2. The beggar was eating very fast without chewing his food properly.
The beggar was eating greedily. (Reduce /replace)
i. Observation
One student could not even shorten one sentence. The other two tried but with lots of errors.
ii. Reflection
Ability to rewrite a sentence as a shorter sentence is crucial in determining a better mark. The students were not confident to write their own answers. They were afraid to make mistakes.
5.7 Implementation of activity 6
This exercise focused on training the students to leave out elaboration. They had to read the sentences and identify the main ideas and leave out the elaboration. They were only required to rewrite the main ideas.
1. He is Jack of all trades. He can repair cars; he can build houses and make furniture.
He is Jack of all trades. (Reduce)
2. There are many ways to improve your English. Reading English book is one of them. It helps you to increase your vocabulary.
There are many ways to improve your English. (Reduce)
i. Observation
Two of the students could get 3/5 correct answers but one could not even complete the task.
ii. Reflection
I discovered from my observation that students’ lack of reading had actually halted them from obtaining better marks in summary writing.
5.8 Implementation of activity 7
After exposing the students to the 5 strategies - 5R, 10 summary practices were assigned to the students. The texts were chosen based on PMR syllabus.
The marks obtained revealed students’ achievement and ability to apply the 5R- reading, reorganising, rephrasing, reducing and rewriting
In completing the task for practice 1-10, students were asked to
1. Read the question on summary first.
2. Read the text.
3. Read the text again and identify the main ideas. Underline them.
4. Reorganise the ideas.
5. Rephrase the sentences which contain the main ideas.
6. Replace words that can be replaced.
7. Reduce the number of words by cutting down the elaboration, adjectives and adverbs.
8. Rewrite the final draft. Count the number of words. Check linkage and grammar.

Marks obtained in Practices 1-10
Practice A B C
1 6 6 5
2 7 7 6
3 7 7 6
4 7 6 6
5 7 7 6
6 7 7 7
7 7 6 7
8 8 7 7
9 8 7 7
10 7 6 6
Average mark 7.1 6.6 6.3

i. Observation
Initially 2 students obtained 6 marks and one obtained 5 marks only. On average they managed to maintain between 6 and 7 marks in summary writing. The students found that some of the texts used in practice 1-10 were too difficult.

ii. Reflection
I realised after more practices the students could get better marks. These implied students must be given more practices and more exposure to 5R.They should be exposed to text containing simple vocabulary to a more difficult vocabulary. However, the data above shows that in practice 10, students obtained less mark than the previous text. This finding reflects that students’ ability to sum up certain texts were not consistent. Probably, the particular text contained too many difficult words or they were not familiar with the subject mentioned in the text. None of the students obtained 9 or 10 marks.

5.9 Reflection on The Research

I began the research with the aim of helping students to get 8-10 marks in summary writing. However, the marks students obtained in practice 1 to practice 10 shows that students still could not get 8-10 marks. The approach I adopted to help them in writing a summary must therefore be examined and improvised. I realise my students need more drilling in identifying main ideas, reorganising ideas, rephrasing, reducing number of words, replacing phrasal verbs with a verb and rewriting the whole summary text as their own.
Though I had not succeeded to help them to get 8-10 marks, I had at least able to increase the marks they obtained from 5 marks to 7 marks. I believe they need to do more drilling on 5R. As a teacher I had to come up with an innovative approach that will attract and sustain their interest in summarising a text. I believe once the students able to sum up the text given and rewrite in their own words, they would love summarising text and would not fear reading a long text they might have to read in the future. I must raise their awareness on the importance of summarising. This skill is indeed very helpful for students to search for important points in a long text or a book. In reading for details, the students must be able to look only for the main points and summarising is the best way to train themselves.

5.10 Suggestions For Future Research

The findings from the research had shown that some improvements must be made to the Smart English Programme. Changes and additions to the module would be essential to achieve the aim of the research which was to improve students’ marks in summary writing and consequently PMR result. The suggestions are:

1. In choosing summary texts for the future module, the following aspects should be taken into consideration:
i. the theme/subject
ii. the topic
iii. the length of the text
iv. the level of vocabulary

2. The next research should be focusing on how to further develop a teaching technique that can assist students to leave out elaboration in a text so that only the main ideas are rewritten as a summary. Ability to summarise will not only help them in PMR but this skill is crucial when they further their study in the colleges and universities.

6.0 Bibliography of Research
1. Van Els, Bongaerts, Extra, van Os and Janssen-van Dieten, Edward Arnold Publisher Limited, 1987, “Applied Linguistics and the Learning and Teaching of Foreign Languages”.
2. R. Quirk and S.Greenbaum, Longman, 1987,” A University Grammar of English”.
3. Kent, R. (2001) Data construction and data analysis for survey research. Basingstoke: Palgrave. (Review)
4. Y.M.Lai, Preston, 2004,”Progressive English Grammar”.