Archive | September, 2015


30 Sep

As part of my Year 10 Crime Fiction unit, I would also like to introduce students to non-television Crime Fiction texts.  As such, I plan to put together a selection of extracts from a range of Crime Fiction texts, and ask students to identify key features of the genre.  I also hope to be able to use these extracts as stimulus for creative writing, with students adding their own flair to existing narratives.

Possible texts from which I could draw extracts include: L.A ConfidentialAnd Then There Were NoneA Time to KillThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, one of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, one of the Sherlock Holmes books, and perhaps The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender.

Crime Time

29 Sep

For our genre study, my Year 10 class and I are going to delve into the murky world of Crime Fiction.

As part of this unit, I want students to understand how Crime Fiction has evolved over time.  As such, I plan to show them select episodes from, or trailers/ads for, a range of crime shows and have students track key elements of the genre in each.   At the moment, I am thinking I might show them episodes from, or trailers/ads for: Magnum P.I (early 1980’s), 21 Jump Street (late 1980’s),  Law & Order (1990’s), Bones (2005-ish), Numbers (2005-ish), and  Breaking Bad (2008-ish).

I am still in the market for some pre-1980 texts, so if you have any ideas, please post in the comments.

Review: ‘The Silver Sword’

26 Sep

On the recommendation of a student, I recently read The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier.  Like many narratives about WWII written for a younger audience, The Silver Sword primarily explores the terrors of war through the eyes of children.  Furthermore, horrors are alluded to but not addressed directly.  Again, this is likely a nod to the intended audience.

For students with little interest in history, this narrative can function as a narrative about adventure and survival.  The trials and courage of the child protagonists are inspiring, and their interactions with others over the course of their journey are at times horrifying and at other times a reminder of human kindness.

This would be an interesting companion or related text to John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.  Both texts feature child protagonists, and both explore wartime experiences.  However, while The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas engages with religion and difference, the emphasis in The Silver Sword is camaraderie, loyalty and the will to survive.

REVIEW: ‘The Impossible Knife of Memory’

25 Sep

I recently read The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson.  As with many of the stories enjoyed by my students, The Impossible Knife of Memory is about a young person growing up in difficult circumstances.

Hayley’s father was a soldier, and suffers PTSD as a result of his combat experience.  His wartime experiences mean that has struggled, and continues to struggle, to adapt to ordinary routines and life.  While her father’s experiences inevitably complicate Hayley’s ability to have a typical adolescence, this is not her only complication.  Indeed, Hayley also struggles with her own past and, in particular her emotions towards people who looked after her when her father was abroad.  She also experiences a raft of new emotions as she makes friends and builds relationships with people at her school.

Distinctive Voices Related Texts

22 Sep

Below is a list of possible related texts for Standard English Module A: Distinctive Voices.  I will add to this list as I come up with new ideas.

  1. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (collection of essays)
  2. The Dark Horse (film)
  3. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (novel)
  4. Sign Language‘ by Rives (Spoken Word poetry)
  5. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (film)
  6. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (novel)
  7. ‘The Gettysburg Address’ by Abraham Lincoln (speech)
  8. The Reluctant Infidel  (film)
  9. The Arrival by Shaun Tan (picture book)
  10. Noel Pearson’s eulogy on the occasion of Gough Whitlam’s memorial service (speech)
  11. The Ballot or the Bullet‘ by Malcolm X (speech)
  12. I’ve been to the mountaintop‘ by Martin Luther King, Jr (speech)
  13. A Left-Handed Commencement Address‘ by Ursula K. Le Guin (speech)
  14. The Perils of Indifference‘ by Elie Wiesel (speech)
  15. The Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey (novel)
  16. Beloved by Toni Morrison (novel)
  17. Black As (web series)
  18. Strength and Decency‘ by Theodore Roosevelt (speech)
  19. ‘Girl’ by Jamaica Kincaid (short story)
  20. Growing Up Muslim in Australia (non-fiction)
  21. Girl Rising (film/documentary)
  22. The Boat (interactive graphic novel)
  23. Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (novel)
  24. Boy (film)
  25. To This Day (graphic novel)
  26. Martin’s Big Words (picture book)
  27. Mirror by Jeannie Baker (picture book)
  28. Michelle Obama’s speech in support of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire (speech)
  29. Ain’t I a Woman?‘ by Sojourner Truth (speech)
  30. Racism is Destroying the Australian Dream‘ by Stan Grant (speech)
  31. Scattered Lives (play)

A desirous related text

21 Sep

One of the things my Standard English students struggle with is the selection of appropriate related material.  As such, I find it helpful to have a list of possible texts handy which are clearly referable to the rubric and the set text.

One text that I think would work particularly well for Module C: Exploring Transitions is A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams.  As required by this module, the text engages well with shifts in values as Blanche transitions from one phase/experience to the next.  The text is also interesting in that Blanche is shown to regress (transition backward) which offers an interesting counter to the forward momentum of transitions in many of the set texts.

Getting into character

20 Sep

When crafting short stories, students often find it difficult to get into the mindset of their protagonist.  I happened upon an article which offers insight into the minds and experiences of a range of people who, by virtue of their professions, spend time in other people’s homes.  Students could use the provided profiles as stimulus for narratives which explore the complexities of belonging, the physical things discovered in spaces, emotional discoveries about self, relationships and the world, and the changes to relationships over time.

Climate change poetry

19 Sep

The Australian Syllabus requires students to be provided opportunities to engage with sustainability as part of each subject they student.  While this requirement seems to fit naturally with subjects like Geography and Science, it is more difficult to incorporate in English.

However, I recently stumbled upon a collection of climate changes poems curated by Carol Ann Duffy which prove to be the answer for some English teachers who are hoping to incorporate sustainability in meaningful ways.  These poems could be used for poetry analysis purposes, or they could be used in conjunction with a range of other text types as means of exploring how writers and artists engage with issues that matter.


Create a playlist

15 Sep

I am in the market for new and interesting ways to prompt critical and creative thinking.  One idea that has worked well in the past is to ask students to curate a selection of songs which engage with the key ideas of a text.  I am hoping to have the opportunity to try this activity again, this time with Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.  I am particularly interested to discover whether students will gravitate towards love songs or whether they will select (and appropriately justify) other types of music.

What is in the box?

12 Sep

I am on the lookout for ways to engage my new Year 12 students in meaningful and detailed discussion about Discovery as a concept.

One suggestion made recently was to place a collection of significant items in a box and have students to select one at random and use the item as stimulus for exploring moments of discovery.

As one can learn a lot about an individual from the things s/he owns, I also think this has potential as a way of helping students to explore characterisation (in their creative writing) without reverting to a laboured description of hair and eye colour.