Don't just tell, plan that twist!

IT WAS a beautiful Friday morning when some 160 secondary school students from 40 schools around the Klang Valley gathered in one of the lecture halls at the idyllic Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus in Petaling Jaya.

Speaking from the podium, The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) trainer Mallika Vasugi asked: “Now which one of you is in total anguish that you’re missing that Physics or Additional Math class you have today?”

Laughter erupted across the hall. Clearly, the students were anticipating good times at the Star-NiE workshop which was followed by a session of creative enlightenment at the Tale Spin 2014 contest briefing that followed.

Present to conduct the workshop with Vasugi were Assoc Prof Dr Antoon De Rycker and programme director Hardip Singh, both from the School of Communication in Taylor’s University.

Though these students were out of school grounds, learning was far from over.

The event kicked off with engaging NiE activities that put fun into language learning.

In one of the activities, three groups were selected to read a news article using different styles of reading.

Cheers and applause abounded as each team did an excellent job at making the “news” sound different in three ways: a quarrel, narration of a horror movie and a commentary of a football match.

The team from SMK Seri Sepang, Selangor, who did the sports commentating style of reading, won the mini competition thanks to their stellar display of teamwork.

After that, it was time for an informative session as the much-awaited Tale Spin 2014 storyboarding contest workshop provided tips to students on how to create winning entries.

Choose wisely

At the workshop, Hardip demonstrated how storytelling played its role in better memory retention, superb advertisements, effective public relations and successful campaigns.

“With merely nine frames on the storyboard, you must plan your narrative carefully by incorporating the CCPS formula — characters, conflict, plot and climax. Then, plan a twist to make your story unpredictable!”

Dr De Rycker said that there is always a temptation for students to choose themes, characters and settings that have already been proven successful.

“Participants should remember that true creativity involves taking risks.

“My hope for this year’s contest is to see more original stories and artwork as well as less obvious moral values and conflicts,” he said.

Taylor’s School of Communication dean Josephine Tan stressed the importance of being a good communicator.

“We hope that the experience gained from this contest will allow students to hone their skills in conveying an idea through texts as well as visuals.”

Student Justin Kong Yew Oon who took part in last year’s Tale Spin contest said that the contest gave students a chance to be creative. “I hope to gain some knowledge and inspiration through this workshop,” added the Form Four student from SMK Seri Saujana, Kuala Lumpur.

Teacher Ravichandran Narasimha who is the NiE school coordinator for SMK Shahbandaraya, Klang, said he brought along some of the most talented students in his school to the workshop.

“It’s not all about winning the contest. I want them to value the experience and use it as an outlet to express their creativity,” he said.

Meanwhile, SMK Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah, Kajang, NiE school coordinator Hafidah Abu Hassan said she is expecting between 500 and 600 students from her school to take part in this year’s NiE contest.

One of her students, Upper Six student Solehah Mansur said her group’s planned storyboard is inspired from a game called the “Silent Killer” that borders on a “whodunnit”.

Freedom to think

Although this was the third contest workshop for the year, fantastic ideas were already brewing in the young minds of would-be participants.

“The storyboard concept gives us a lot of freedom. My group members are planning to put ourselves in the shoes of the characters in the story,” said Form Three student Melissa Ding Yong Xian from SMK Sri Permata, Petaling Jaya.

Her group is already working on a storyboard with creative elements such as going to another dimension and meeting characters from a movie.

The contest is open to primary school pupils from Years Three to Six and all secondary school students.

Grand prize winners will go on a four-day, three-night all-expenses-paid trip to Hong Kong Disneyland, sponsored by The Star and Pizza Hut, while runners-up will receive a two-day, one-night stay at Awana Genting Highlands, sponsored by Resorts World Genting.

The winning team from the Upper Secondary level will also receive five units of scholarships worth up to RM150,000 collectively, sponsored by Taylor’s University.

There is also an optional video clip category, where each team may submit a three-minute video clip, advertisement or public service announcement based on the theme Food for thought with Pizza Hut product placements.

For the video clip category, winning team members will each receive an iPod Nano and a Pizza Hut voucher while runners-up will each receive a Pizza Hut voucher.

Tale Spin 2014 is jointly organised by The Star and Pizza Hut, and is supported by the Education Ministry. The contest ends on June 30. Online registration is now open and contest details are available on

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