Wednesday, September 22, 2010

English composition part 6

I know I haven't posted any of Lesley-Anne's compositions this year. It's not intentional, I haven't had much to work with. Since entering sec 1, Lesley-Anne has only written two compositions in school to date. I'm not sure if this is the case with all secondary schools or just hers but her English classes are more like Literature classes, ie they tend to focus on literary analysis and different genres of writing.

Anyway, she finally brought one home so I here it is. The title provided was Dreams and the students were given an hour to write the composition. They could interpret it however they want, as long as it's a narrative (meaning it can't be a philosophical or scientific account of dreams).


She sat at her desk, her left hand holding her pen loosely with her slender fingers, the other supporting her small, round head as she gazed into the distance thoughtfully.

The sound of her English teacher's rough, strong hands coming into contact with her desk at high speeds snapped her out of her dream-like trance.

"Dreaming again, aren't you? This is the third time I've warned you today! Stop it, focus on your writing assignment. You may be the best writer in class, but you have to stop daydreaming. The key to success, my little dreamer, isn't dreams. It's focus!"

She sighed and nodded. It was no use argueing against Mr. Wellington. He will not understand her and probably never will. You see, Mr Wellington and her had a lot in common. Both loved the english language and both were great writers. But the huge distinguishing feature she had that Mr Wellington didn't, was that she believed in dreaming. Not dreaming in the sense of what one's ambition is, or what one is to become. No. It is the raw stuff of dreams she believed in. The escape into the world that you want, the making of brilliant adventures and friends. Most importantly, the making of the most creative and out-of-this-world stories. The best ever. The main reason that she wrote so well. Not to say that she did not dream of what her ambition was. She did not neglect those sort of dreams entirely. She dreamed of becoming a famous childrens' writer. Children, because children dream so much more than adults.

She sighed deeply once more and started to write her essay.

Just before class ended, Mr Wellington announced that the finals of the ongoing World Young Writers' Competition was this Saturday. He also suprised the class by saying the he had submitted one of her A star compositions and that she was chosen as one of the finalists. Her head felt giddy and her heart felt as if it were trying to break out of her chest when she heard the news. Because of this golden opportunity to showcase her talent to the world, she was more than willing to stay in school for another two hours for a personal lesson with Mr Wellington.

However, nothing in life ever goes smoothly. Mr Wellington caught her dreaming five times, no less. He was so mad, he looked as if he were on the verge of spewing hot lava right onto her. However, he calmed down a little when she promised him that she would have an A star story on her desk in an hour if she could be left alone to write. Mr Wellington was doubtful of her, but she he was at a loss of what to say or do, he agreed. And she at the end of the lesson, she kept her promise.

That saturday, she won a gold medal no less. But, whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Because of her degrading school work as she daydreams in her other classes, except for English, she was thought that she was not coping in her school work and was pulled out of her specialised writing class.

At this, the girl was heartbroken. You see, reader. Dreams may be great things, but they cannot save you from reality. You can escape reality temporarily, but you cannot avoid it forever. This was the thing that she was too blind and naive to see. She continued to dream, but she could not escape the truth. Because she was so upset, she stopped writing and a brilliant writer she was no more. I hope, reader, that you realise now how fragile dreams are. Like glass, it looks strong, but can be shattered in a flash.

Now reader, to lighten things up so that is story ends happily I shall tell you the answer to the question that may be plaguing you. What is that girl's name? Well, it is a name she gave herself and one that she lives up to. You may want to flip back to the first page as her name was mentioned earlier on. Yes, reader. Her name is Dreamer. As to whether or not she ever started writing again or ever became a famous writer, well, its up to you now to dream that ending up.

Lesley-Anne scored 21/30 for this composition, Content - 6/10, Language - 15/20. Her teacher's comment was: "This is an interesting, clever idea, but the execution could be improved." It's an ok grade but not outstanding, and she was rather disappointed by the score for her content.

I can see that her grammar and spelling still give her trouble, especially in a time crunch, but I like the way she's able to give her stories an unusual spin (although there are a couple of holes in the plot). Incidentally, I think the secondary school topics for composition are so much more interesting than in primary school and open up lots of room for creativity. No more pictures and accidents at the mall, thank you!

On a brighter note, Lesley-Anne just received the results of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Competition in English that she sat for earlier this year. She scored a Distinction and was ranked among the top 2% of sec 1 participants in Singapore.

Just a point of interest, this competition is different from the UNSW Writing competition that she'd participated in from p4 to p6, where she had to write an essay of a specified genre. This English competition comprises a series of comprehension passages of increasing difficulty and all the answers are MCQ. According to Lesley-Anne, it's a tedious assessment, most of the kids would rather do the writing one.

We're obviously very pleased, it's nice to know that she can hold her own not only in writing but in English in general. The icing on the cake is that this score counts for 20% of her CA2 mark. Strange policy I know, but hey, we're not complaining :)


Lilian said...

Wow, stingy much?...Talking about her teacher's marking. I thought it was a wonderful piece of writing. LA has improved so much, and she was already really good before!

I really liked her story, the only thing I'm not keen on was when she started speaking to the reader. Somehow that took me away from how real the story felt, and made me too aware that this was a composition. Not sure if you know what I mean. But it's still an excellent piece of writing, I know I couldn't have written like this, not at 13 and not now hahaha!

I foresee many more distinctions and prizes in your young dreamer's near future! Well done LA!

monlim said...

That's great feedback, thanks! I didn't notice that before but I get what you mean. I think she's influenced by many of the contemporary writers who tend to address the reader. Actually, come to think of it, Enid Blyton did a lot of that too and I recall I didn't like that. Thanks for the show of confidence!

kjj said...

she wrote THAT in an hour?! i've bn staring at my work for laptop for a day and nothing comes to mind. *sigh* i'm just glad that there are no vampires in her story about dreams. that twilight phenomenon is driving me batty. (pardon the pun!)

rgds - kjj

monlim said...

KJJ: I know!! I don't get the fascination with vampires (thankfully L-A doesn't too). Anyway, it's so retro - didn't we already go thru that phase with Buffy? At least that is one kick-ass female!

kjj said...

your idea of retro is Buffy while my idea of retro is Dracula and that Tom Cruise one... Interview with the Vampire!

angiefm said...

Great job, Lesley-Anne. I'm partial to your story because I'm a HUGE dreamer. :)

We LOVE the ICAS papers! My kids take them ALL every year. Science, Math, Writing, English and Computer. The last one also MCQ. Go figure! Ha ha. ICAS levels the playing field because it doesn't test the child's ability to memorise and regurgitate. They give you all the information you need and see how you use it to answer the questions. We actually submit our children's results to MOE as part of our annual report on how wonderfully our homeschooling is going. *grin*

monlim said...

Angie: I also like the fact that you don't need to memorise facts for the ICAS papers, explains why L-A does so much better in the ICAS Science than school science! But I've always wondered how many SG kids actually take each of these tests, and their profiles cos I think that would skew the results somewhat, wouldn't it, since the results are in relation to peers from your country? I would love to know for eg, who are the ones taking the English test, just from the kaypoh's perspective, haha.

czx said...

Hi, if I'm not wrong, I'm in the same school as Lesley-Anne. I did a similar assignment in school when I was in sec 1. I liked the way Lesley-Anne interpreted the topic.
I guess the school wanted to include the ICAS as part of our grade because they want us to take it more seriously. And they want us to take the ICAS because they want to let us know where we stand at a 'national' level.

monlim said...

czx: Thanks for the info! I'm stoked that someone from L-A's school actually visits this blog but I think she's kinda weirded out :P

angiefm said...

Er ... were you not told that you can obtain FULL analysis of the ICAS results online? :) If you go to and enter her TAP ID (found on the results sheet you should have been given), you will see a very detailed analysis of her results vis-a-vis her cohort. Enjoy!

monlim said...

Angie: I know abt the detailed results online, it's in the results slip as well. What I'm curious about is who are the other kids who take the test, ie how many, from what schools etc cos I think since not all kids in that year take each test, the results can be skewed upwards or downwards so that result is probably not representative of her standing compared to the entire sec 1 cohort, for example.

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