Using comics in teaching?

My colleague (you know who you are) and I brainstormed our classroom instruction last year. It is an experiment. However, since the course that I teach is offered alternately (ONLY in semester 1), I did not get to collect data for two consecutive semesters, unlike my colleague. She teach an undergraduate course which is offered on every semester. So, the data collection for our mini research is incomplete due to the way my course is offered.

Alhamdulillah, we had a post mortem a few months ago about the instruction and what can be improved. This is one of the things that I will do in my class.

This is a comic that I created using Canva. I had created a comic before which I used for a final examination.

For the students who really want to learn about this course, please be prepared with the assignments. Unlike previous semester which I instructed students to find existing comics and they just analysed the issues etc., but this semester, the instruction is different.

Students need to identify issue(s) related to a specific stage of development. Then they have to describe the issue(s) by relating it to relevant theories (this involves their HOTs which are analysis and evaluating skills). Then they have to craft/create a comic using the issue(s) using Canva (or any other platform) (this involves their HOTs which is creating skills). There. The highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy. What we want is our graduates to be independent, creative, analytical etc. thinker, right? (tongue in cheek remark!)

Last day of my class….. errrr

I had a blast with this group of students.  Few of them took my Personality Psychology class before.  When I asked them why they took my Human Development class, they said that they want to learn from me.  They enjoy taking my class.  What a bluff!  That is my first impression.  I know that I should trust my students but due to previous experiences, I still have some reservation when they give me sugar-coated compliment.

One of them suggested that we took a class picture.  This is not what I normally do in class.  I feel cringed (you can see it from my face).  But for the sake of group dynamics, I played along with their request.

Only Izlan was absent.

New Academia Learning Innovation (NALI) Active learning: Using Gallery Walk (more)

I am a novice in active learning.  I have tried jigsaw, think-pair-share, 2 minutes paper and STAD (student-teams achievement division).  I challenge myself to learn a new cooperative learning strategy this semester.  I choose Gallery Walk (well, I also use Carousel but that one is for poster evaluation).

When I google about Carousel , I find so many versions of it.  But the bottom line is, Carousel is a strategy that you use WHEN you want to “semi-force” each individual student to take turn in giving their opinion/answer/response and they “have” to share it with others.  Ideally, 4 to 5 students per group.

But in my case, I used Gallery Walk for my PG class.  They are more matured students so the whole class is considered as one group.  But in this case, I increase the number of questions (each question is position in one station) so they can move around to answer the questions at their own pace and preference.  There is no compulsion or assignment of which station would be their first station.  They can start at any station to give their response.

There were 7 questions (7 stations) and 11 students. There were few students who absent so, the class seems bigger.

Some of them were waiting their turn. These two stations have two “controversial” questions. So, many students were eager to answer the questions.

Not so popular station. But, since I instructed them to go to ALL stations, some of them visited this station later than the other stations.

Would you use neuroenhancer to improve your cognitive capabilities?

It was a rainy gloomy day. It was our last class before the mid semester break. Deepavali is around the corner. A perfect day to have all-lecture-no-activity class [sarcastic note].  Nope. I won’t allow my students to fall asleep in my class.

I searched an article with a controversial topic but still related to human development. The use of “smart drug” to enhance cognitive and intellectual capabilities. Smart drug, neuroenhancement, neuroenhancer, you name it. It is all the same. Students consume it for the sake of improving their concentration, attention, performance and the lists can go on.

It is really interesting to know how people perceive the use of drug in a more positive note even though there is possibility for adverse side effects. Reading my students’ responses on whether they would use it, it is kind of alarming that they would say YES to it. Looking at the reasons, there is one common theme appeared: curiosity. They are willing to try because they are curious about it.

I just rolled my eyes when someone asked me if I ever tried such thing before to enhance my academic performance even though I had chances to buy “lollies” or “a slice of space cake” when I went to Amsterdam few times.

My reply: “I don’t go to gym to develop my muscles. So, you won’t see any six packs on my stomach. But I do believe reading is akin to weightlifting that lead you to develop mental muscles” [I used my right index finger to point it to my head as I said this]”.

New Academia Learning Innovation (NALI) Active learning: Using Gallery Walk (first attempt)

I did round robin Gallery Walk activity in my class this semester.  Alhamdulillah the students are ok with that. 

Gallery Walk is meant to allow students to exchange ideas by taking turn to give their feedback/response/comment.  It allows everyone to talk/write their thoughts.  HERE is one example of Gallery Walk.

You can give them a reading material first before you start this activity or it can be based on what you have previously discussed and you want the students to summarise the points, if you are afraid that their “sharing” ideas might not be fruitful. 

For me,  with the undergraduates, I don’t give them a long reading material because they might need extra [long] time to finish reading.  But with the PG students, I can finish the activity within 45 minutes [reading = 30 minutes, 15 minutes for them to “go round” the class to write their answers on the manjung paper].  Rather than grouping them into groups, I create a station where they can write their ideas.  

I posted a mahjung paper with a question. Students would take turn to write their answer. Since my class has 19 students, so with 5 stations [5 mahjung paper with different questions], it is not too crowded for them to be in one station at a time.

Students took turn to write. On the white board, there were two stations [mahjung paper] with different questions.

Some students were writing their responses at different station at the back of the class

How to conduct Gallery Walk activity?


  1. Think about a topic that you want to discuss.
  2. Decide on the amount of questions or topics you would like to be discussed.  In my case, I set 5 questions [plus muddiest concepts]
  3. Ideally, arrange the desks or tables so that discussion flows nicely and students can move about easily.   But since I want the students to move around the class, I post the mahjung paper on the wall/white board instead.  So, rather than sitting, they will walk around to different stations.
  4. Give each station [could be table, mahjung paper etc.] a question/topic.  You can assign a leader to take note or in my case, I ask the students to take note of what others have written individually [individual accountability].
  5. Set a timer for each student to move around.  There are other ways to do this.  You can assign students to move in group or they can move individually to any station as they wish according to their preferences as long as they complete the round.  If you have big classroom you can allow them to randomly move to different station, but if you have smaller classroom and large number of students, it is better to assign their movement from one station to another in orderly manner.
  6. Once every student has visited all the stations, you can ask one student to give a summary of one question/topic [based on the station] or if you select a leader (in this case, students are grouped at the beginning of the activity and their movement from one station to another in a group, rather than individually), ask the leader to give summary.  In my case, we would discuss their responses based on station.  There are 5 stations, so it takes me around 5-10 minutes to discuss on each question (station).

An example of learning management system for e-content: Flipgrid

I was searching for more examples of learning management system.  When I googled the meaning of learning management system, a good example of learning management system is our UTM elearning.  So, using Prezi is not enough to be considered as learning management system because there is no online interaction.  Prezi, Padlet, Trello and such could be categorised as collaborative tools.  

BUT, Flipgrid is different.  You can upload your note, link Youtube videos and such and ask students to discuss about a topic.  I am still a novice in using Flipgrid (I just found out about this today).  But, if you want to have a look an example of my activity (a trial and with no students, I could not show any interaction yet).  For Flipgrid, your students can provide a short video clip of their responses.  So, if you have very busy students who always on a go, they can stay engage outside classroom with you through Flipgrid.  

Unlike Prezi, Flipgrid is FOC (Free of Charge) [Note: It might change in the future though].  

P.S: Psssttt… Flipgrid is an example of e content [Learning Management System]  😀


Self-assess to know your mental health

Most of the time, we have the symptoms of psychological distress but unlike physical health like flu, fever and such, we overlook the psychological symptoms that indicate we are not ok.  Perhaps, it is easier to “see” physical symptoms as compared to psychological symptoms.  But, the thing when it comes to psychological symptoms, it can be manifested through physical expression.  So, in this case, we can self-assess ourselves as a preliminary attempt to get help from professional people who are trained to help us with psychological distress. 

I find useful website with various self-tests for FREE (only some of the tests are FREE such as mental health assessment, anger, attention span, mental speed, romantic personality, procrastination, blood pressure quiz, and menopause quiz ) .  

Puppy love? Monkey love?

I had a quick chat with Ita yesterday.  I asked her about what’s new and what’s not about school.  She told me about some teenage angst among the form 5 students.  Yup.  Among the students who she mentioned was in my class.  When they caught the form four student last April due to “energy booster” stuff, I wrote to all my former form 4 students a letter.  

I am a bit busy off lately.  I don’t think I would have enough time to write each and every one of them a letter.  But I will meet some of them this Friday for our tuition class in sha Allah.  So, I would have a pep talk with them.  There are various issues that teachers are worried about.  Among the issues are coupling, same gender close relationship, a minor brawl (this one is due to minor misunderstanding between a senior and a junior relating to defending one’s girlfriend) and lack of motivation in their study.  Some of the issues are part and parcel of life.  As teenagers, they are exploring their identity and thus they need to learn to negotiate with others.  It is not easy to do that.  They need guidance and lots of patience from other adults.  

But the thing is, when it comes to opposite gender relationship, for some teachers, it is too early for them to explore in that area.  For me, it is ok as long as they know the boundary that they have to abide according to Islam.  A normal note from one to another is common.  To meet or hang out at the mall is normal (of course this is not right if you don’t observe “the” guideline).  Some of them might say that their parents met when they were at school.  They were high school sweet hearts.  So sweet right?  Yeah right.  Now, their children are following their parents footsteps.  Of course, this makes thing a bit challenging for the teachers because on one hand. the parents are ok with that and on the other hand, the teachers don’t want it to become a culture at school.

Some people can balance their act when it comes to studying and coupling.  But if you have string of Cs and Ds, it clearly indicates that you need to focus on one aspect more than trying to focus on both.  But again, it is choice.  At the end of the day, the students need to decide and be accountable towards their decision.  

Multiple intelligence: What is that?

Any intelligence theory is complicated and could easily be misunderstood because there are many layers of intelligence.   Some might think that if a student prefers to use audio style of learning (i.e. listening to lecture, talk, engaging in discussion etc.), he/she is an auditory learner.  Well, it is easy to accept such assumption because it gives a quick way to understand one’s preference in learning.  But, as human being, we are complex beings and thus, there are so many aspects and factors that affect our learning.  

When Howard Gardner proposed his theory of Multiple Intelligence, he wrote many articles about it but off lately, other researchers have found findings that contradict Gardner’s idea.  Gardner acknowledges that he might overlook some parts of human learning.  As teachers, we have to take time to know our students.  Knowing their intelligence level or learning preference is not enough.  Compassion is one of the key elements to be emphatic teachers.