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Have Your Say

15 Jul

It is important for students to hone their speaking skills and develop their confidence in contributing to class discussion.   To do this I have developed a scaffold that helps students to structure and organise their responses.

The scaffold requires students to address the following points:

  • Issue
  • Why is this issue important?
  • Reason #1 – Why is it important/relevant to you?
  • Reason #2 – Why is it important/relevant to your community/country?
  • Reason #3 – Why is it important/relevant to the world?

For weaker students, I can supplement this scaffold with relevant persuasive language and, possibly, sentence starters.

 

‘Refugee Boy’

12 Mar

I have just finished reading Benjamin Zephaniah’s Refugee Boy.

Despite some initial concerns that Refugee Boy would be simply another variation on Boy Overboard or Girl Underground, I found myself hooked from the outset.  I think my interest was stimulated by the text’s opening – a short outline of a mixed-race family’s experiences in Ethiopia, followed by an almost identical incident, this time in Eritrea.  I found this to be a very effective way of illustrating the complexities of that family’s situation and in illustrating the challenges faced during times of war.

I think this would be an interesting text to study in Years 7 or 8 in a unit with a focus on identity.  Indeed, the text deals with the tensions between self-characterisation and social identification.

It would also be worthy of inclusion in a ‘Coming of Age’ unit as it charts both the protagonist’s growing awareness of his social surrounds as well as his community’s growing awareness of the political and social landscapes in which they exist.

It would also be interesting to study this text in a unit about migration or refugee experiences, perhaps in combination with Boy OverboardGirl UndergroundThe Arrival and/or some newspaper clippings.

‘Boys Without Names’

4 Mar

I recently read Kashmira Sheth’s Boys Without Names and loved it! I think it appealed as it is a narrative about resilience, strength, friendship and family.  In this text, Gopal is separated from his family and has to survive in challenging circumstances.  He also needs to be build relationships with a group of boys in the same predicament as himself.

I think this text would be particularly well suited to a Year 7 or 8 class.

‘Ha’penny’

1 Feb

I recently read Alan Paton’s short story ‘Ha’penny‘.  Although told simply, it is a profoundly moving narrative about a young boy’s desire for acceptance, belonging and a family of his own.

This would be an interesting text to study as part of a unit about identity; students could focus on how individuals construct themselves in relation to others.

It would also be interesting to study in relation to belonging.  There, the focus would be on the yearning for acceptance, the lengths gone to create connections and the circumstances in which belonging is achieved.

In addition, the text offers an interesting perspective on journeys, offering opportunities for students to explore the journeys of Ha’penny, the narrator and Mrs Maarman.

Speaking skills

27 Jan

A recent discussion regarding how to prepare for a public speaking competition got me thinking about the importance of being able to verbally communicate ideas with clarity.

With this in mind, I am toying with providing some of my junior classes with a speaking topic when they enter the class room.  They will have the first three minutes of the lesson to silently brainstorm ideas and map out a one minute speech.  I will then pick two students at random to present.

I think this activity will be valuable as a settling activity.  I also think it will be useful to help students build clarity and confidence in preparation for later speaking tasks and life in general.

 

Ping Pong Sales Pitch

20 Nov

One of my junior classes is about to embark on a unit in which they hone their persuasion skills.  As an opening activity I want to play a game that I have termed ‘Ping Pong Sales Pitch’.

In this game, students are provided with basic information about an exciting new product.  The first student standing is given 1 minute to use AT LEAST ONE persuasion technique to convince someone to buy the product.  The next student standing can extend that point, making their pitch using a different persuasive technique, or offer a new reason (supported by persuasive technique) as to why the product should be purchased.  This pattern continues until the pitch ideas are bouncing around the room like an out of control ping pong game.

This game would be a good follow up to a class discussion of Have I got a book for you!

‘CLICK, CLACK, MOO’

15 Nov

I have been on a picture book buying spree and happened upon an awesome text entitled CLICK, CLACK, MOO – Cows That Type.

The text begins with a group of cows who like to type.  They annoy the farmer by spending all their time at the typewriter.  They then start making requests.  These requests multiply, with the cows typing notes on behalf of their fellow animals.

I love this book!

I think it would be great as an introduction to Animal Farm as it explores ideas about agency.  For this same reason, it would be an interesting introduction to units exploring activism and identity.

A Funny Recipe

27 Oct

I often find it quite difficult to get my students to articulate the features/conventions of a particular genre.  To make the activity more interesting I recently asked my students to create a recipe for a sitcom.  To do this they had to identify a selection of ingredients, outline the process for combining the ingredients and specify how long and in what manner that finished product should be cooked.

The activity, predictably, elicited a number of humorous additions.  Lines that I particularly enjoyed included:

  • “One large bowl (or hyperbole) of exaggeration”
  • “Roast in oven for 22 minutes”
  • “One can laughter”

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.

‘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.