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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.

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Dramatising One’s Own Story

13 Jul

As part of an upcoming drama study, I am keen for students to demonstrate knowledge of the dramatic conventions set for study by creating an additional act for Sally Mackenzie’s Scattered Lives in which they document a migrant experience drawn from their own family history.

To glean relevant information students will be set the task of interviewing parents or grandparents, thus building cross-generational connections.

Additionally, students will have to storyboard the experiences, and then put themselves in the position of director to decide how to best and most powerfully stage the experiences.

I think it would also be interesting to have students type, edit and refine their work so that it can be collated as a second edition of Scattered Lives that, perhaps, could even be displayed in the library or made available as an e-book for students to share with their families.

Dramatising Australian Stories

12 Jul

I am hoping to study Sally Mackenzie’s Scattered Lives with one of my junior classes next term.  Her play explores a range of migrant experiences.

As part of this unit I also want to show my students Africa to Australia, an interactive website exploring the experiences of African Australians.   I want my students to select one of the stories presented and re-imagine it as an additional act in Scattered Lives.  Through this activity, students will be able to broaden their understanding of the Australian experience while also demonstrating their knowledge of dramatic conventions.

Multicultural and Polyvocal Society

10 Jul

We have been studying the ways in which poetry expresses Australian voices.  Through our study we have moved from voices who seek to speak for all of Australia, to contemporary examples of marginalised voices.  Inherent in this shift has been a recognition that an increasingly multicultural society is also a polyvocal society.

What happens then when students are asked to listen to a speech in which a contemporary figure seeks to speak on behalf of the nation?  Some students start thinking about the pieces of the ‘Australian narrative’ that are missing, wondering why the speaker has glossed over them.  Others wonder whether the glaring omissions matter; after all, this speaker is really one of many voices that are woven together to express our identity.  A final group wonders why a contemporary figure has more in common with Paterson who, in the late 1800s, was a vocal contributor to the view that the epicentre of Australian identity is the outback, than with the advocates who proliferate the contemporary poetic landscape.

It was really exciting to see students engaging with this level of depth and insight!

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.

I am an Immigrant

7 Jul

A few years ago (Almost) Infinite ELT Ideas posted an image of a selection of crowd-funded displayed in the London Underground to combat racism and xenophobia.  This image was followed with the question, ‘What would you do with these posters in your classroom?’

I know I am a few years late to the party, but I would ask students to adapt this idea, creating their own posters with an image of an immigrant whose story we have studied in class.  Their posters could document the contributions of these figures (as the stimulus posters do), or they could be modified to reflect what we learn through those people’s stories.

This activity could work particularly well in a unit about Sally Mackenzie’s Scattered Lives which documents refugee stories, or perhaps connected to an interactive like Africa to Australia.

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.

Extension Activity #5

5 Jul

Yet another potential extension activity is to have students create a series of short narratives that respond to a shared event or experience.  Students could work collaboratively to decide the defining event/experience and characters.  Each student could then work individually to write a short narrative from the perspective of their chosen characters.  Students could then come together, engaging in peer review and editing activities to enable the different narratives to connect together into a coherent whole.

Best Books

4 Jul

I was reading Laura Randazzo‘s post entitled ‘The Best Book Ever?‘ in which she discusses America’s best-loved novels.  After reading the list included in her post, I couldn’t help but feel that there were some books which I would not have included, and others that appear to be missing.   This got me thinking: do others feel the same way?

I would like to ask this question of students in the school’s Book Club, asking them to work collaboratively to come up with a list of their top 50 books.  Perhaps, we could then work towards reviewing each of these books for the blog they are working on.  Additionally, we could use this as a way of gauging students’ interests, perhaps better tailoring our recommendations for reluctant readers.

A number of the students in Book Club are genre readers.  A spin off project could involve them compiling a list of the top 20 fantasy books, for example.  We could then combine this list with an illustration and make a collection of book marks that could be distributed to students with the next books they read in English class, thus encouraging wide reading.  In fact, students could even work on subject specific lists (sci-fi for science, books about the environment for geography etc), thus allowing other faculties to build students’ love of literature.

A Daring Suggestion

3 Jul

I recently stumbled upon an interesting blog post by The Daring English Teacher about poetry pairings.  I loved the idea of pairing classic poems with contemporary pop songs, using the newer material as a means of drawing students in to explore enduring values, ideas and experiences.

It could also be interesting to add a contemporary poem to the mix, such that students are making connections across three texts, perhaps a classic poem, a contemporary slam poem and a song.  This would allow students to develop their comparative skills while also meaningfully exploring the role of textual form and medium in shaping meaning.

This activity, in the form of pairings as proposed by The Daring English Teacher, could be used as a pre-testing activity.  Alternatively, with the additional text included, it could form the basis of an extension activity for a particularly able or engaged student.