Monday, October 19, 2009

UNSW Writing competition... and the real reason why it's good news

Lesley-Anne has truly come into her own this year. Apart from garnering a Distinction for the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Science competition, she also managed to clinch a Distinction for the UNSW Writing competition.

Admittedly, the writing award wasn't as unexpected to me as the science one but still, it came as a very pleasant surprise. This is because in the three years that she has participated in the writing competition, this is the first year she managed to get a Distinction. According to the report, this puts her in the top 6% of p6 Singapore kids who sat for the test.

However, what I found most encouraging about the report was not the actual score but the progress that she has made over the past three years. The great thing about the UNSW competitions is that they track the history of the student's scores, in relation to other kids in the cohort and even in relation to other cohorts, as shown here:

As you can see, in p4 when Lesley-Anne first took the test, she scored only marginally higher (as shown by the black dot) than the cohort's average within the top 41% (she received a Participation certificate). In p5, she improved slightly, scoring within the top 31% (receiving a Credit). This year, her results shot up (depicted by the black triangle). The score is borne out in her compositions - the ones she has written this year are a vast improvement from those written in 2008 (click on the label 'English' to find postings of Lesley-Anne's compositions). If I'm interpreting the chart right, the p6 results are very similar to the sec1 results this year, which gives me some reassurance that she should be able to cope well with English next year.

To me, her performance spells hope, not just for her but for Andre as well. Why? Because I know there was no significant difference in the type or intensity of coaching Lesley-Anne received in writing from last year to early this year when the test was conducted (although she did have an excellent English teacher this year). There was also no marked difference in her reading frequency that could have contributed to the sudden improvement in results. This tells me that she naturally developed a maturity in writing and was suddenly able to commit her thoughts into words effectively, ie come into her own style of expression.

I've been resisting enrolling Andre into a writing class despite his mediocre marks in composition because I find that many of their methods stifle creativity and impose rigid techniques such as memorising model compositions and phrases instead of instilling the love of writing. Lesley-Anne's results in the UNSW competition makes me optimistic that I'm making the right decision, to let Andre develop his writing skills naturally through time. I realise it's a gamble (what if it doesn't improve sufficiently by PSLE??) but I'm willing to take a chance because I think nothing is worth the risk of killing your child's love for the language.

So parents out there, if your kids are facing problems acing their compositions right now, take heart! Maybe there's hope yet.


Lilian said...

Amazing progress...well done Lesley-Anne, and I know you'll only get better and better. Looking forward to reading more of your witty and funny writing in the years to come. Love your natural writing style, we know where you got that from :)

monlim said...

Thanks Lilian, it's very comforting (for me!) Don't think writing style is inherited lah but as you've said, environment definitely plays a part. I'm praying hard it will rub off on Andre too!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, L-A! : - D


HLin said...

Hi Auntie Monica!

Congratulations to Lesley-Anne for her big improvement! I think the best part of the result slip is that they show you the criterias in order to score. I think that is good because you will be able to work on your weaknesses.

Hope that Andre excels in SA2! Good Luck!


(P.S. I got a distinction too, but I am the top 9%. Bye!)

breve1970 said...

Well done, Lesley-Anne! Congratulations. My daughter, Hannah, hopes to write like you someday!

monlim said...

Thanks y'all!

HL: Yep, it's very useful to have the detailed analysis of your writing. Congrats on your distinction too!

Ann: Hannah writes much better than L-A at that age, I'm sure she'll do really well in the future :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats L-A, remarkable progress and achievement!

I dare not hope my girl can write so well to be in top 6% but I hope she will develop the passion for writing as second nature so that at least it is not a chore or drag.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Lesley-Anne! I love reading your writing. Hope to read more....*hint to mummy* *LOL*


Anonymous said...

Well done, L-A! I like L-A's style of writing. No need for fancy schmancy cliche phrases. :) I wasn't aware that there was a UNSW Writing Competition. The school offered only the usual Math, Sci, Eng and Comp options. hhhmmm.... Was L-A specially selected for this competition?


monlim said...

Thanks Chris and Sue!

Sue: I didn't know UNSW had Math and Eng competitions! Maybe the schools are selective about which they sign up the kids for. All the GEP kids in L-A's school have done the UNSW Writing test since p4, the Science one only this year.

Anonymous said...

I guess the schools select the ones they're keen on then.


Anonymous said...

Hi Monica. I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for all your wonderful posts. I stumbled upon this post on NSW writing. My boy got distinction (top 2%) for writing in P3 and P4. I always thought he had good ideas, writing style so so. But I think this distinction twice in a row tells me something about his writing ability???


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