Archive | August, 2016

Show rather than tell

26 Aug

We constantly tell our students that, when writing, they must show rather than tell.  I have finally found the perfect video to explain what that looks like!

I want to show this clip to my students, offering them opportunities to find examples of ‘showing’ in a range of short story extracts.  I then want to provide them with examples of ‘telling’ (ideally from earlier drafts of their own writing) and have them transform the ‘telling’ into ‘showing’.

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Building Fictional Worlds

20 Aug

I recently stumbled upon Kate Messner’s clip about building fictional worlds.  In this clip she discusses fictional worlds created by others and shares the questions she asks when, as part of her writing process, she builds her own fictional worlds.

I think this would be a useful clip to show my students as it would give them a starting point for their own narratives.

Comparing sample responses

18 Aug

I am a huge fan of deconstructing sample responses with my students in class.  I think it is really helpful for them to be able to understand and apply the criteria to a piece of writing.  Sometimes I provide my students with A-range responses and, in doing so, give them something to aim towards.  However, on other occasions I provide them with weaker responses and we work together to improve them.

Typically the samples I provide are paragraph extracts. I have observed, however, that students struggle with creating introductions that meaningfully engage with the question.  As such, I think this time I will provide my students with a selection of introductions, all responding to the same question.  One of these introductions will be A-range, and the others B, C and D-range.  Students will be required to annotate the introductions according to a provided set of a criteria and, based on their annotations, order the introductions from A to D range.

 

Lyrical timeline

16 Aug

I have a difficult time convincing my Year 9 students to put aside their headphones and participate in my lessons.  Unable to find a solution, I have decided to embrace my students’ love of music.

We have been studying Romeo and Juliet, and I want my students to demonstrate their understanding of the plot by creating a lyrical timeline of the play.  Students are to identify key sections of the plot and locate a line from a song to represent ideas and emotions at each point.  We will then pool our resources and make a timeline along the wall of our classroom.

I am hoping that this will help students to engage with the events, ideas, experiences and emotions at key moments in the text.  I also hope it will give them a memorable shorthand for the main plot points.

Selecting examples

14 Aug

During my recent bout of Year 12 marking I noticed that many students in our cohort are having difficulties selecting examples that are relevant to the question.  To help these students I want create a mix and match activity: quotes will be printed in one colour and questions in another, students have to work in pairs to find the SIX BEST quotes for each question.  After each round, students will have to complete a grid in which they list and justify their chosen quotes.

Character Game: Guess Who?

10 Aug

Over the course of a school year, students learn about, analyse and explore the lives of a number of different characters across a range of texts.  I like the idea of testing students knowledge of all the characters they have encountered by asking them to create their own versions of popular game ‘Guess Who?’  Here, the generic faces typically provided with the game will be replaced by students’ rendering of the characters encountered over the course of the school year.  Students will then need to utilise their knowledge of texts in order to play the game.

An uphill battle

9 Aug

In Billy Elliot the titular protagonist faces a number of challenges during his journey of transition. In particular, he faces significant disapproval from his father when he seeks to escape the confines of traditional masculinity and pursue ballet dancing.

One of my particularly attentive students noted that when these challenges are most acute Billy is typically shown to be running or travelling uphill.  The student wondered if this was deliberate and, if so, if it could be read as a metaphor for the obstacles that Billy must overcome during his period of transition.  The student is now tracking this across the text, hoping to use changes in the inclines and trajectories of Billy as a means of mapping the complexities and nuances of his transition.

 

 

‘This is what a feminist looks like’

7 Aug

President Barack Obama recently penned an essay for Glamour Magazine in which he discussed feminism; what it is, why it is important, and why men should be feminists too.

I think this would be a great text to use as part of a unit about gender and identity as it challenges the perception that a prerequisite for identifying as a feminist is being a woman.

Grammar Game: Snakes and Ladders

6 Aug

As part of my mission to add variety to the lesson activities I offer my students I want to create a game of Snakes & Ladders that helps students to develops and hone their grammatical skills.

The board would look the same as a typical Snakes & Ladders board.  However, in order to be eligible to roll the dice and have a turn students would need to correctly answer a grammar question.  Questions could test technical details, or ask students to use particular words or punctuation features correctly in a sentence.

I am also keen to involve my students in the creation of the game. Depending on students’ abilities and levels of interest, I might ask them to create the game board, identify the skills they need to develop or, perhaps, to create the questions.

90 second thesis

4 Aug

I am on a mission to find creative ways of helping my students to develop requisite skills and revise knowledge.  It is now halfway through the year and I think it is time to up my game in terms of the learning activities that I offer my students.

One activity that I am keen to try is a game entitled ’90 second thesis’.  Here, students listen to 90s music while moving around the room.  When the music stops, students grab a pen, pad of paper and partner and work together to write a thesis statement that responds to an essay question.  In keeping with the 90s theme, students have only 90 seconds to write their thesis statements.  After the 90 seconds have expired, students share their thesis statements with the class.

I think this activity would be valuable as it would help build students’ confidence regarding (a) the composition of thesis statements and (b) to compose said thesis statements quickly, as would be required under exam conditions.