P5 / P6 Composition – Encouraging Someone & how not to go out of point

We have begun working systematically through the List of SA2 Composition Topics. The first one we worked on was Encouraging Someone. This was a popular theme for the SA2, with no less than 4 schools (among my students) using it, (2 of them with different pictures).

Going out of point seems to also be a ‘popular theme’ with the change of format for English compositions. Even the very best of writers can get caught in the trap. Some schools are quite merciless and subtract 20 marks while others, minus off 10.

I remind my students of two important things when planning :

1) Make sure that picture/pictures used has/have an important part to play in the story and is mentioned in more than just one sentence. If they still can’t remember to do so, I insist that they have to use at least 2 pictures in their story

2) Make sure that the theme is mentioned throughout the story. My P6 2016 student from Pei Hwa told me that his teacher insists that the theme is mentioned or highlighted through descriptions in almost every paragraph to be sure that they are on point. I think this is a great idea.

So, how do we go about doing that? Below is a composition from one of my students on the theme we worked on/are working on this week. I have highlighted the ways my student has brought about the theme in his story. He listened to my instructions well and not only used the word ‘encourage’ in different forms but also described the ways that his mother had encouraged him.


Encouraging Someone

Lazy. That was what I was. I was constantly handing in late homework and sometimes I did not even bother to hand in anything. Worse of all, I was an addict. A computer addict. I never missed a game of Minecraft or leaving the house in the middle of my homework to catch a Pokemon on Pokemon Go. To top it all, I never missed a nightly dose of watching all my cartoons on the Google Box.

Now, I stood rooted to the ground, my eyes nearly popping out of my sockets. My face turned as white as a sheet when my eyes spotted the big, red ‘F’ on my Mathematics examination paper. My examination paper was in a sea of red and I had failed miserably. Cold beads of sweat trickled down my forehead and my stomach twisted into knots when I realised that Mom was going to be furious with my results.

When I reached home from school that day, I had expected Mom to be as angry as a bull in a china shop. Instead, to my utmost surprise, Mom was as cool as a cucumber. She explained to me that she was not at all surprised that I had failed as I was always playing computer games or watching television.

Mom went on to tell me not to be despondent about my results but instead get prepared for the upcoming year-end examinations. She then encouraged me not to give up so easily and to continue on and ace my year-end Mathematics paper. She told me that I could do it and I would not disappoint her. Upon listening to her encouragement, I hung my head in shame and promised to turn over a new leaf.

From that day on, I stopped playing computer games. I deleted all my applications on my phone and packed up all my games. I would do my homework immediately after arriving home from school, making sure that nothing distracted me. A few times, I was stumped by some of the Math questions as Math was my weakest subject, but Mom would always be there, guiding me through the steps to solve the question.

As the year-end examinations came closer, the homework given by the teachers began to increase. I would always put my nose to the grindstone and work endlessly or round the clock. Sometimes, I would feel like giving up but Mom would encourage me again and again. She would even cook all my favourite dishes to spur me on.

Finally, the day of reckoning had arrived. It was the day of my Math examination. As I took out my stationery to prepare for the examination, I suddenly spotted a small note in my bag. It piqued my interest and I took it out. It read ‘You can do it!’ I soon realised that it was Mom who had written it. I would recognise her handwriting anywhere. I smiled to myself, touched by Mom’s encouragement.

“You have one hour and thirty minutes. You may begin,” the invigilator said signalling the start of the paper. The hall was in pin drop silence except for the rustling of examination papers. I soon realised that the paper was a breeze even though some questions had stumped me. I was now down to the last question. However, it was much harder than I had expected and no matter how much I thought, I could not think of the answer.

Out of the blue, I thought of the numerous times Mom had encouraged me and the note that she had put in my bag. I knew that I could not disappoint her. Wrecking my brains, I remembered Mom teaching me the steps for the same type of question. I began writing down the statement with ease. After that, I checked my work before handing it up.

A few days later, my Math examination paper was about to be returned. The teacher soon called my name and I walked up to get it. My legs were as wobbly as jelly as I was afraid that I had made a careless mistake. What if I failed? Mother would surely be disappointed this time. Taking the paper gingerly, I saw the marks written on it. I jumped for joy when I realised that I had scored ninety-seven and a half.

Now, as I looked at my examination results, I beamed with joy. I had aced all my subjects. I could finally see the fruits of my labour. However, it had not been easy. I had burnt the midnight oil and put my nose to the grindstone many times. Also, I could not have done it without the encouragement of my mother.