Archive | November, 2014

A sweet lesson

30 Nov

My mainstream Year 9 class is about to begin a unit on advertising.  In order to get them to identify all the key features of an advert, I will go through the vocab and then ask them to identify the elements in a series of chocolate advertisements.

In order to show them how advertisements are used to illustrate slogans, I am going to show them the Snickers ad featuring Betty White as this offers a very literal demonstration of the slogan.  I will then follow this up with the Mars ad with the monks.  There, students can identify the work, rest and play sections and discuss how consuming the chocolate makes the monks able to have more fun.  I would also like to show them the Cadbury ad with the crazy eyebrows.  There, the link to the slogan can be discussed as can puns, humour and target audiences.

Discovering ‘First Contact’

22 Nov

The AOS rubric notes that studying Discovery can help students to “understand how texts have the potential to affirm or challenge individuals’ or more widely-held assumptions and beliefs about aspects of human experience and the world.’  By all accounts the recently screened First Contact allows students to engage with this aspect of the rubric.

This text allows students to explore the foundation on which understandings of people and the world are built, and how new understandings can be discovered when the initial foundation is destroyed or revised.

A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald also provides a helpful list of things we have we learnt from the show.  Students could use these points to inform their approach to discovery in this text.

And they lived unhappily ever after…

21 Nov

It is that time of the year… Year 12 students are about to write their first English assessments and are madly scrambling for AOS Discovery related texts.  I have covered, in previous posts, a number of conventional related texts.  Today, I want to explore an option which is probably characterized as fairly left field: Paint’s ‘After Ever After – Disney Parody‘.

At this point you are all probably thinking I’ve lost it.  However, hear me out, this text has great potential.  I have outlined two reasons below.

  1. ‘After Ever After’ positions discovery as a product of curiosity, a notion foreshadowed in the opening lines of the song; “If you’ve ever wondered why…”  This depiction of curiosity as a catalyst for discovery is consistent with Miranda’s experience of discovery in The Tempest and the persona’s act of staying to “watch” the ferry in Gray’s ‘Late Ferry’.
  2. Once committed to the musical journey of discovery, the responder comes to realise that not all discoveries are positive.  Indeed, the stories shared foreground the negative experiences of Disney princesses after the original narratives ended.  For example, Ariel finds her world threatened by oil spills and whaling.  Her use of a pun, “I think I’m drowning,” to describe her negative response to her newly discovered reality, conveys her sense of fear and disappointment.

Newsworthy debating topics

20 Nov

After discussing some debating topics with my students today, I noticed that a number of them have limited general knowledge about what is happening in their community, state and country.  This lack of general knowledge hampers their ability to provide relevant examples and counterexamples in debates.

In order to get them reading the newspaper and taking notice of what is happening in the world, I want to set them a challenge to read the paper, find an issue that interests them, write a debating topic, and then dot point out the key ideas that should be raised by each team in order to make their cases.  If each student does this for one issue, and then they pool their resources, everyone should get a window into key issues/areas of relevance.

Debating the big issues

19 Nov

My debaters have been in training for an inter-school competition for a few weeks now.  As part of their training, we have been discussing big issues and how to tackle them.

Some of the issues that we have tackled include: socio-economic status of students in schools, requirement to work in Australia for a period of time if graduating from an Australian tertiary education provider, the merits of studying Shakespeare, and the appropriateness of gender-specific advertising of toys.

Inspired by the news, below are some further topics that might be worthwhile discussing:

  • That free wifi should be made available in all major cities (article)
  • That all visitors to Australia should be charged $15 to enter the country (article)
  • That all major cities in Australia should be bicycle friendly (article)
  • That non-commercial television and radio stations should be treated the same as their commercial counterparts (article)
  • That legalizing marijuana is the socially responsible thing to do (article)
  • That reality TV is an effective way of changing social attitudes (article)
  • That the media should write about policy not politicians (article)

If you have any other suggestions, please post them in the comments box!

A novel about difference

18 Nov

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is often billed as a novel about difference.  For HSC Standard English students studying this text in Module B, this idea of ‘difference’ is significant.  Why?  Well, because it is through this lens of difference that the narrative is filtered.

There are a number of different ways to get the students thinking about what ‘difference’ means in the context of this narrative (see, for example, here and here).  This article and the accompanying Autism Spectrum Australia video, is yet another way in for students.  The video in particular is helpful as it clarifies some of the behaviours demonstrated by Christopher in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and, by extension, can be used to explain why the narrative is written the way it is.

As an added bonus, the video might remind our students to be accepting of difference.

REVIEW: Taronga

9 Nov

Taronga (Victor Kelleher) is my latest attempt to find something that my Year 7 and 8 boys might enjoy reading.  I have more faith in this text than most, in large part because it was suggested by a Year 7 student in another class.

I like that the novel shows two different models of masculinity, and thus allows boys to understand that sensitivity and empathy do not equate to weakness.  I also like the way the opening chapter seeks to create suspense.

As per usual, I will give my kids the first chapter and a set of questions (QUESTIONS – Taronga).  The idea is that the chapter whets their appetites and the questions get them to think critically and reflectively about the text.

Friday Fictioneers #19

7 Nov

I struggled with the Friday Fictioneers prompt this week.  Let me know if it works!

They return in droves

The MTV Show ‘Pimp My Ride’ is in town.  It is here as a guest of the Mayor who wants to lure the young people back with a promise of fame.

It works.

They return in droves, dressed in city fashions that seem out of place in this backwater.

They return to retrieve their cars from beneath tarpaulins, behind sheds, ditches at the back of the far paddocks.

Caught up in the bright lights of America and the promise of being broadcast to an international audience, the youngsters miss the irony; it is not just the cars that are being pimped.

‘The Curious Incident’ trailer

5 Nov

Generally speaking, my Year 12 students respond better to visual texts than written ones.  Accordingly, I would like to give them an opportunity to become acquainted with their set text, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time through visual means.

Alongside resources on Autism (see, for example, here), I would like to show them the trailer for the stage version of The Curious Incident.  As they watch, I will ask them to make inferences about subject matter, characters, relationships and events.  We will then compare their inferences with the actual content of the text.

Curious about ‘The Curious Incident’ and Christopher’s mind?

3 Nov

As mentioned previously on this blog, my Year 12 Standard English students will be studying Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.  In order to understand this text, my students will need to understand Autism and experience of living on the spectrum.  Why?  Well, Christopher, the main character, is on the spectrum and the world of the text is seen through his eyes.

One way to help students understand this world is to show them the thinking behind a stage version of the text.  Through this National Theatre Resource, students can come to appreciate the realities of Christopher’s world and how they can be represented.  The auditory learners in my class will appreciate being able to listen to the commentary, while the visual learners while appreciate being able to see what Christopher’s world looks like.