Archive | October, 2015

Reimagining a Shakespearean text

27 Oct

I recently read a review of Toni Morrison and Peter Sellars’ play Desdemona.  Desdemona is a creative extension of Shakespeare’s Othello.  Like much of Morrison’s work, the text explores race, gender and motherhood.  It gives voice to Desdemona, allowing her to explore her emotions, fears, and beliefs, and to enlighten audiences as to Othello’s past.

The entire text is hinged upon one line towards the end of Othello.  I would love to give a strong Year 10 class the opportunity to use a line that intrigues them from Othello (or whatever Shakespearean play we happen to be studying) as stimulus for a narrative or scene which offers insight into one of the characters.

I’m a fan!

26 Oct

I teach a number of fan fiction fanatics.  As we are nearing the end of term and I am keen to maximise engagement levels, I am thinking of giving my Year 7 students an opportunity to write some fan fiction.

We are studying a unit with a conceptual focus on heroes and heroism.  As such, the plan is to allow them to engage with a text (probably a film) and have them craft narratives about the experiences and adventures of the heroes after the original text has ended.

Female action heroes

25 Oct

I happened upon an article about ‘30 Groundbreaking Female Action Heroes‘.  I want to show these images to my Year 7 students and have them discuss how heroic qualities are visually represented.  This activity might assist them to think critically about the costuming and placement choices they make when they create and market their own superhero.

Cross-cultural Romeo and Juliet

24 Oct

I am always searching for interesting related material for the units I teach.  I recently happened upon a review for Alex & Eve, an Australian comedy which reinterprets Romeo & Juliet in a way that focuses on cross-cultural complications.

I think this review would be an interesting text to show students prior to them creating their own adaptations of the text.

What happens next?

23 Oct

At school, we spend a lot of time with our students attempting to understand the events that lead up to Romeo and Juliet’s deaths.  An article about a new Shonda Rhimes television show prompted me to think about what the relationship between the Montagues and the Capulets might have been like after the deaths of the play’s protagonists.

I think it would be an interesting creative activity to have students work collaboratively to write the next scene of the play, and imagine the aftermath.  Students could have the option of writing in modern or Shakespearean English, and selecting how far into the future they would like to set their scene.

Disney and Diversity

22 Oct

As noted previously, I have plans to engage my Year 7 class in discussion about the relationships between gender and heroism.

I also think it would be interesting to discuss the other groups that are marginalized and/or ignored when creating fictional heroic figures.  As such, I might ask my students to consider an article about a petition to create a Disney Princess with Down Syndrome and a series of images portraying Disney characters who are disabled.

The current working plan is to have students use the article and images as inspiration for a discussion and/or persuasive piece as to whether or not organisations like Disney have a responsibility to create heroes who represent/reflect the qualities of the wider population.

Disney Films and Gender Stereotypes

21 Oct

As part of our ‘Heroes’ unit I want my Year 7 students to engage with the often gendered nature of narratives about heroes.

In order to illustrate these ideas, I want to show my students a YouTube clip which highlights the stereotypes engaged with in some Disney films.

After viewing and discussing, I will ask students to complete a graphic organiser in which they identify other narratives which feature heroes and then ascertain how male and female characters are represented in these texts.

Popular Superheroes

20 Oct

A recent discussion with one of my Year 7 students made me realise that my students might not be familiar with comic book superheroes.  To help them develop the requisite background, I found two YouTube clips (here and here) which introduce them to a number of popular superheroes.

The plan is to show my students these clips and have them construct a table identifying key superheroes and their special powers.

AOS Power

19 Oct

There is talk at school of revamping our Year 11 AOS for next year.  At the moment, no firm decision has been made as to what the focus will be.

One idea that has been mentioned, and which I am particularly keen on, is AOS Power.  It appeals to me because it has the potential to engage with important ideas about gender, race, cultural and voice and, by extension, to allow students to bring their own experiences to the unit.

It also interests me because it allows for discussion of how power is created, bolstered, used and abused.  It also allows more capable students to engage with the dismantling of power structures, and the ways social institutions can empower or, as is the case in many instances, disempower members of society.

I also like the potential within this unit to discuss the role of language in elevating some groups and disenfranchising others.  Political rhetoric and news articles could be used effectively to explore these ideas further.

National narratives

18 Oct

The most recent episode of The Verdict featured an interview with actress Miranda Tapsell.  In that interview, one of the things discussed was whether or not Miranda identified as Australian.  She noted that she did not as national narratives and celebrations marginalised or excluded Aboriginal people.

In an earlier acceptance speech at the 2015 Logies, Tapsell also touched on the notion of what it means to be Australian, calling on television writers and executives to feature greater diversity in Australian television as a means of reflecting and celebrating the myriad voices and faces of Australian society.

Together, the interview and speech highlight the importance of literature (in broad form) in presenting portraits and shaping perceptions of national identity.  In other words, if the diversity of Australian society is not represented on our television screens, in our films, and in our written texts, them certain groups becomes marginalized or excluded from the public national narrative of what it means to be Australian.