Archive | February, 2015

Friday Fictioneers #22

27 Feb

I must get back into the habit of regular writing!  This week’s Friday Fictioneers contribution does not flow as well as I would like, but I can’t quite seem to fix it and meet the word limit requirements.


Mother’s decision to enrol me in Girl Scouts was met with much resistance

Father resented Mother’s attempt to transform me into the son he’d always wished for; my eldest sister, Feminist Fran, was appalled by the sexist tendency to name Boy Scouts after animals and Girl Scouts after baked goods; and Grandma was worried that I would be eaten by a bear.

Recognising the futility of resistance, Grandpa offered some advice: “if you are lost, follow the animal tracks.”

Lost.  Alone.



As I walked, I wondered which animal was responsible for the metal-like tracks that I was following.

Food for thought

27 Feb

My Year 10 students have started expressing some clear views regarding prejudiced behaviour.  In order to get them to clarify and expand their understanding I am thinking of showing them the poem performed by Dave Chappelle on Def Poetry.

This poem is interesting as it raises the possibility of multiple people in any given situation holding prejudiced views.  This possibility is not one we have yet discussed, in large part because prejudice largely goes only one way in Deadly, Unna?


More Belonging related texts

25 Feb

As a number of schools are now teaching Belonging as the Year 11 AOS I thought I should update my existing list.  So, here are a few more suggestions:

  1. My Father Began as a God‘  – a poem by Ian Mudie
  2. Alzheimers‘ – a poem by Warrick Wynne
  3. The Backpacker: I’m a nomad without a home, and I’m ok with that‘ – article by Ben Groundwater
  4. The longing for belonging‘ – review by Susan Chenery
  5. Have we lost the art of belonging?” – book extract by Hugh MacKay
  6. 52 Suburbs‘ – website and photography by Louise Hawson
  7. Refugee Blues‘ – a poem by W. H. Auden
  8. Caged Bird‘ – a poem by Maya Angelou
  9. Walking with my Father‘ – a poem by Linda Hogan
  10. Community centres are about belonging‘ – an article by Stewart Dakers
  11. Tales of Belonging‘ – extracts from interviews
  12. My gang, my family‘ – an article by Rowenna Davis
  13. Two of Us: Ahmed Riza and Abbas Al-Nader‘ – an interview by Ian Rose
  14. Two of Us: Geraldine Brooks and Darleen Bungey‘ – an interview by Lisa Visentin
  15. Two of Us: Rachel and Hetti Perkins‘ – an interview by Eryk Bagshaw
  16. ‘Sweetness’ – a short story by Toni Morrison
  17. ‘In the South’ – a short story by Salman Rushdie.

I will add to this list as I come up with new ideas.

What does racism look like?

24 Feb

Viewing the excerpt from the ‘Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes Experiment’ as part of our study of Deadly, Unna? predictably unearthed another flood of queries and opinions.  One of the interesting ideas raised was that the prejudice expressed in the Experiment was sometimes more explicit than that shown in Deadly, Unna?  While I agree that this is sometimes the case, it is not universally so.  However, I took up the challenge of finding a clip that represented the attitudinal prejudices that we see in the novel.  This, a short clip which shows a woman’s markedly different reactions to two teenagers, is the example of ingrained prejudices attitudes that I want to show my students.

Another perspective about prejudice

23 Feb

My Year 10 students are studying a unit about Prejudice.  In that unit they are reading and analysing a text entitled Deadly, Unna? which explores racism in Australia.

The novel has elicited a range of reactions from students, not least of all frustration that a seemingly inescapable hierarchical society could exist.  In order to assist my students to understand how easily such divisions and attitudes can manifest I want to show them the first section from the ‘Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes Experiment’ video.  I think this will help my students to understand how tempting it can be to accept inequality when that inequality favours you.



20 Feb

When looking for inspiration for teaching The Pearl to a Year 9 class, I stumbled across this creative writing idea.  In essence, the idea is that students use the structure and thematic concerns of The Pearl as a blueprint for crafting a modern-day version of the text.

I love this activity as it requires students to engage with the text while also introducing them to creative writing.  In fact, I love it so much that I want to adapt it for my Year 7 class who are currently studying The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Friday Fictioneers #21

16 Feb

Oh how I have missed you Friday Fictioneers!  Below is my story, and the prompt can be found here.


It came to me, carried on dancing blades of grass: a hint of an idea, soft and subtle.

It came to me again, years later.  It snuck in on the scent of a freshly baked pie, on the wings of a paper aeroplane, and later on a ball’s bounce.

It always travelled on the wings of a tinkling laugh.

The laugh beckoned and propelled me forward.

“Stop,” she bellowed.

I obeyed.  Outwardly.

Inside I rebelled.

Doubly imprisoned by shadow and mesh, the freedom afforded to the caretaker’s children was irresistible.

I knew that I wanted to live there, with them.

Want to read my other stories?  Check out the collection.


Creative discoveries

8 Feb

Further to my previous post about short story starters, I have put together a selection of stimuli each of which is accompanied by the start of a story (HANDOUT – Images and story starters).  If these are successful in getting students to think creatively I will expand the story starter collection.

Getting creative

6 Feb

As we all know, creative writing tasks often require students to write narratives which are inspired by provided stimulus material.  In my experience, students tend to either interpret the stimulus literally or connect it to the narrative in such a tenuous way that the influence of the stimulus is barely detectable.  In order to encourage them to think creatively, I want to provide short starter paragraphs that offer interesting spins of stimulus images.

Example: Image is of two shirts holding arms (see here) and the AOS is Belonging.

The musky smell of sweat clings to the flannel, digging deep into the fibres as if hunkering down for a long winter.  It is an olfactory equivalent of a photograph; not light falling on paper, but smell stumbling upon fabric and preserving, for eternity, a moment in time.

Time permitting, I would also like to provide students with an array of stimuli, asking each to write the opening few lines in evocative and imaginative ways.  After discussing the merits of these in small groups and later as a class, I would be keen to redistribute them, tasking students with finishing the stories that their peers begun.

What books should students have read by the end of Year 10?

4 Feb

I have a fantastic group of students in my Year 10 class.  Class participation levels are high and most students are trying their best to produce quality and detailed work.

After class, I was approached by some students asking for some book and short story recommendations.  I am in the process of compiling a list for them now.  Below are the inclusions on the list thus far:

  • Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie)
  • The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)
  • Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
  • Haroun and the Sea of Stories (Salman Rushdie)

Any other texts that I should be adding to the list?