OCPD: Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Providing Relevant Ideas and Details in Writing
Some say "Practice Makes Perfect" but personally, I prefer "Practice Makes Progress". In ESL writing classrooms, teachers can help learners make progress in terms of their ideas and details through sufficient practices. How? What kind of practices to be given so that learners improve their ideas and details? In this write-up, I would like to reinforce OCPD, a strategy to promote relevant and accurate ideas and details in writing. OCPD was shared in the previous write-up, therefore, if details are needed, please kindly refer to the previous write-up.
OCPD is mainly used for DESCRIPTIVE or NARRATIVE essay questions; the two genres which are favoured by many SPM candidates. I am very positive ESL teachers are aware of the two major issues among some ESL learners when they write; the poor language accuracy and relevance of ideas. Some learners are unable to think critically and fast. As a result, some of their ideas and details are poor; not convincing and irrelevant. To address this issue, I would like to offer a GRAPHIC ORGANISER that is designed based on OCPD. Learners are given a blank template of the graphic organiser and they have to fill it with relevant ideas and details in line with the essay question. These are two examples of the application of OCPD and the graphic organiser.
The following are some descriptive and narrative essay questions (formulated by me, therefore, I humbly apologise if they do not meet your expectation) for practice (Please ignore the argumentative essay questions).
Describe the kind of person you are at present and what kind of person you wish to be in ten more years.
Describe great successes achieved by your school. Explain about a new success that you think your school should achieve.
Leadership camps during school holidays are getting more common these days. Discuss the reasons why teenagers should join such a camp and suggest one activity which you think must be compulsory at the leadership camp.
Students should be awarded with cash for their academic success. How far do you agree with this opinion? Explain why.
Write a story about a teenager who joined a school programme. Describe the programme and explain how the programme changed the teenager’s outlook on life.
Describe the place where you have grown up. Explain how the surroundings of the place have shaped you to be who you are today.
What is the most important decision you have made in your life? Describe what you did before making the decision and the impacts the decision has on you and your loved ones.
Pupils should be encouraged to take performing arts classes. How far do you agree with this opinion? Explain why.
Write a story about a single mother was always positive no matter how hard her challenges were. Begin your story with: “It rained again and it was getting heavier. …”
What are the things which you wish to change in your neighbourhood if you were given the power to do so? Describe the changes and explain your reasons.
Describe an adventurous activity which you took part recently. Explain about your preparations for the adventurous activity and how you felt during the activity.
Getting all As in examinations is all that matter. How far do you agree with the opinion? Explain why.
Write a story about a young woman who had a dream to be a superstar. Explain about her determination to reach her goal. Begin your story with: “There was a big crowd at the audition. …”
Describe the things and people that really motivate you to be a better person. Share about your biggest motivating factor in detail.
What are your principles in life? Describe the key principle which you have been practising in your life and give reasons why it is very important to you.
Describe the biggest fear among teenagers and how they can overcome the fear.
Students who are found guilty cheating in examinations should be severely punished? How far do you agree with this opinion? Explain why.
Write about your sweet and bad memories when you were in primary school. Which memory you will share with your present classmates and why.
What are the things that you think older generations can learn from the younger generations? Explain one crucial lesson which older generations have taught you.
Write a story about you being pranked by your close friends. Describe what they did and how you felt. End your story with: “…. I would never forget those moments all my entire life.”
If you were given RM5 million to start a business, what kind of business would you do? Describe your business plans and how you would spend the money.
What is your most favourite sports? Describe the sports and ways to improve the quality of your favourite sports in your school.
Students should be given a chance to evaluate their principal and teachers. How far do you agree with this opinion? Explain why.
Write a story about Angela, an orphan, who developed her confidence step by step before she achieved success. Begin your story with: “It was 6.30 a.m but Angela was ready for her practice. …”
How important is fashion to you and why? What kind of fashion you wish to promote among Malaysians? Explain why.
"Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment". No doubt, the more practices done by our learners, the better they will become. The more they are asked to think critically about the ideas and details for their Continuous Essay, the more progress and improvement they are going to achieve.
Applying OCPD and the graphic organiser can be one of the activities in ESL writing classrooms. It can also be an INDEPENDENT PRE-WRITING TASK whereby learners complete the graphic organiser on their own either during the English lessons or done as homework. The point is, the practice to think critically and fast about what to write must be an ongoing practice. Just like a knife, our learners' minds must also be sharpened often. In shaa Allah, they CAN!
IT DOES NOT MATTER IF THEY DO NOT BECOME PERFECT BUT WHAT IS MORE SIGNIFICANT, THEY MAKE PROGRESS. ALL THEY NEED IS PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND PRACTICE!