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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.

Pairs of text everywhere!

5 Mar

Recent updates mean that my list of paired texts now has over 100 options!

New additions include:

  • After the Storm (film)
  • A Monster Calls (novel)
  • A United Kingdom (film)
  • Boy (film)
  • Face (novel)
  • Lion (film)
  • Queen of Katwe (film)
  • Tanna (film)
  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (film)
  • The Intouchables (film).

‘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.

 

More Updates!

26 Jan

I am continuing updating some of the lists that I have posted previously.

I am pleased to report that I have now updated the Distinctive Voices related text list.  There are now over 30 examples of Distinctive Voices related texts.

I have also updated my Pairs of Texts post.  It now contains over 90 suggested text pairings for a range of different high school grades and contexts.

I would love to hear in the comments sections if any of these texts have worked for you or your students.  I would also love to hear if you have any additional suggestions for me to add to the lists.

‘Wrong Channel’

20 Jan

I happened upon ‘Wrong Channel‘, a short story by Roberto Fernandez.  This very short narrative centres upon an error of interpretation.

This would be an interesting narrative to use with students as an example of humour and effective dialogue.

It would also be valuable as a writing prompt, encouraging students to speculate as to what happens next in the narrative.

Fresh Comedic Talent

23 Nov

My Year 8 students have been studying sitcoms, with a focus on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  After spending a lot of time discussing ideas, I wanted to move to a discussion of language.

To do this, I first asked each student to come up with a potentially humorous scenario and write that scenario on a piece of paper.  Then, I collected these scenarios, and redistributed them so that each pair of students had a scenario.  Finally, I asked each pair to come up with a funny exchange that engaged with the provided scenario.

A number of my students found this task difficult, struggling to construct witty exchanges.  As such, we had to discuss HOW humour was created through language.  After a discussion of stereotypes, subversion of expectations and diction students were better able to tackle the task.

 

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!