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Commandments

13 Jan

Animal Farm demonstrates, in part, the power of language to invite conformity and obedience.  Indeed, the animals are offered a series of commandments that are intended to guide (and later, normalise) behaviour.  I think it would be interesting to have students compare the commandments in Animal Farm (at any stage of the text) and the ten commandments of biblical fame, exploring the language to understand the linguistic power of the proclamations.  Then, as extension, students could craft their own set of commandments, perhaps ones that would be appropriate in a dystopian world of their own creation.

‘Animal Farm’ as Writing Stimulus

11 Jan

I recently read Margaret Atwood’s article entitled ‘Why Animal Farm Changed My Life‘ and was inspired by Atwood’s discussion of her perception of the gendered nature of dystopian fiction.  Using an extract of the article for stimulus, I want to invite students to reimagine and adapt Animal Farm for the modern day, offering a new perspective.  Hopefully, this will allow students to demonstrate knowledge of the conventions of dystopian fiction while also encouraging them to be creative and innovative in their own writing.

Understanding Voice

5 Jan

What does it mean to use one’s voice?

Why is one’s voice powerful?

How do we recognise our own voice or that of someone else?

 

The questions above are important ones for students to answer in the junior years as they move towards a senior syllabus that increasingly demands that they demonstrate a personal voice and perspective in their writing.

To encourage students to engage with these ideas I want to show them an extract from Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, using it as stimulus for class discussion.

 

‘Do the other kids make fun of you? For how you talk?’

‘Sometimes.’

‘So why don’t you do something about it?  You could learn to talk differently, you know.’

‘But this is my voice.  How would you be able to tell when I was talking?’

 

 

Introduction to ‘Animal Farm’

3 Jan

I am about to teach George Orwell’s Animal Farm to a class that comprises a number of disengaged students.  With this in mind, I am keen to provide opportunities for students to participate in discussion and demonstrate knowledge of the text.

I recently happened upon a slide show in which students were provided with the opening of a cartoon strip about Animal Farm and encouraged to complete the cartoon strip as a means of demonstrating their knowledge of the first chapter of the novel.  I like this activity, but would probably elect to broaden it further.  For example, I might ask students to also identify key quotes for each panel of their cartoon strip.  I might also be inclined to ask students to reflect upon the different ways language (chosen quotations) and visual cause them to receive/understand/appreciate the ideas of Animal Farm.

Peer into the List of Pairs

8 Aug

My list of textual pairings now offers over 210 combinations!  I have tried to craft the list so that it offers a mix between what schools might already have in the book room and texts that could be purchased to supplement existing stock.

Re-imagining the Past

24 Jul

Yesterday I posted about the possibility of students creating a play script in which they fictionally re-imagine or extend the life of an individual whose story is explored in ‘How Far We’ve Come’.  Additional resources that could be useful include the overview of migrants’ experiences at Immigration Place and the Australian National Maritime Museum.

In a variation of the previously outlined activity, the teacher could, without telling students, provide each with a different section of the profile.  Students could then share their fictional re-imaginings, trying to find the kernel of truth that inspired each of them.  Then, with all the information provided, students could evaluate the plausibility of events represented in the play scripts.

So many pairs!

22 Jul

My list of textual pairings now exceeds 200!  I am keen for suggestions of combinations that have worked in your classrooms so that I can expand my list.

‘Night of the Hunted’

11 Jul

Studying the Gothic?  If so, this set of images entitled ‘Night of the Hunted’ is just what you have been waiting for!

I would like to give these images to students, challenging them to come up with a short Gothic narrative that engages with each image.  Students may sequence the images and the story as they wish, but each image must be incorporated.

It would also be interesting to have students engage in a peer review activity so that they can understand how the conventions of a genre can be leveraged in different ways to create a diverse range of stories.

Write the Script

9 Jul

An article entitled ‘#PlaneBae: Alaska Airlines Passangers’ Flight Romance Goes Viral on Twitter‘ has got me thinking about unexpected ways in which the real world provides inspiration for narratives.  The article details how a chance encounter and perceived burgeoning love story was live tweeted by another passenger.

It could be fun homework for students to eavesdrop on a stranger’s conversation, using the few lines gathered as stimulus for a short drama script.  Alternatively, students could be asked to select from a list of genres, creatively re-imagining their overheard conversation so that it embodies the characteristics of a particular genre.

Widening Students’ Reading Repertoire

6 Jul

I am currently working on a project with students in my school’s book club to create a blog to record their reading recommendations.  The project is progressing nicely, with students offering passionate and persuasive reviews of texts that they adore.

I have, however, noticed that many of my students tend towards fantasy texts and those that explore adolescent angst.  While there is nothing wrong with these types of texts, I am keen to broaden my students horizons.  In pursuit of this goal, I am interested in the reading recommendation slides posted by Beth Kemp to her blog.  As the book club becomes stronger and larger, I am keen to have students work on posters like these that can be strategically located around the school and in the library, guiding students to make more daring choices when it comes to their reading repertoire.