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Mapping Australian Poetry

7 Apr

I am in the process of putting together a unit of work that explores changes in the Australian voice over time.  This unit will require students to explore key examples of Australian poetry and to understand how these poems are shaped by social, political and cultural contexts.

I think it will be helpful for my students to have an understanding of Australian history (in broad and general terms).  As such, I want to show them this interactive timeline.  Hopefully students can use this as a reference point, along with specific information about the poets whose work we study, to develop their capacity to discuss the contextual frameworks that inspire and inform texts.


8 Jan

I have spent a lot of time recently looking for poetry that voices social issues.  As part of this search I happened upon CJ Bowerbird’s ‘Clicktivism‘.  This is a wonderful spoken word poem that explores the ways that society engages with issues and causes.

I would like to use this poem as part of the introduction to a unit about the poetry of social change.  I would use it as a means of triggering student discussion about how individuals can make a difference in the world.

The poem is also an interesting text to use as part of the Society & Culture course in order to help students understand how technology is changing the way we engage with our society.

TIME to talk about gender

1 May

Better responses in Society and Culture assessments and exams are supported by real world examples.  Below are two commentaries on TIME Magazine articles which may be of use when seeking to discuss the complexities associated with gender in our society.

The first is an article by Candice Chung, which discusses responses to TIME Magazine’s decision to cover an issue with an image of Hillary Clinton’s pant suit-clad leg and a small man handing off the heel of her sensible shoes.  Particularly interesting in Chung’s article is discussion of the connotations of this image and how the cover has been interpreted.

The second article is by Effie Mann, and discusses TIME Magazine’s decision to cover a magazine about the 100 most influential people with a picture of Beyoncé in her underwear.  Here, discussion centres on the differences between how men and women are represented on the cover of TIME Magazine.

More texts for a unit on gender

27 Apr

I wrote the other day about representations of women, with a view to one day reviewing all my posts and putting together a unit that required students to engage with how gender is represented in our society.  I still have not figured out how the unit will sit together, but I do have another two texts to potentially include.

The first is the ‘Ban Bossy‘ campaign website, which aims to draw attention to the differing expectations and judgments made of girls and boys.  In the words of the website:

When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.

The second is an opinion piece by Kasey Edwards, which explores her view of the representation of assertive girls and her response to the Ban Bossy campaign.

As a side note, the ‘Ban Bossy’ website would also be a great resource for Society and Culture as it explores an attempt to challenge gender norms.

React to pop culture

24 Nov

As part of their course Society & Culture students complete a series of case studies.  One option that can be selected at HSC level is ‘pop culture’.  As part of their study of pop culture, students are required to track continuity and change over time and understand how people interact with their pop idols.

One interesting way of helping students to understand that different generations may view pop culture differently is to show them some episodes of the React series by the Fine Bros.

For example:

The ‘Question Time’ segment of React videos is also a really great way of illustrating how to conduct an interview.   Whole class deconstruction of a React video could be followed by small group deconstruction to ensure that students understand the features of an interview.  To demonstrate understanding, students could stage and film their own episode, co-opting students and teachers at their high school.  The results from the student-conducted interviews could then be used as part of a lesson focusing on analyzing qualitative data.

Infographics made

5 Nov

I have spent the last couple of days test-driving free infographics creators, hoping to find one that is easy and intuitive to use.

One platform that I tried was  I selected a template that would allow me to create a fancy looking mind map.  While I think could have created something similar on PowerPoint in half the time, the drag and drop approach to creating infographics is quite appealing for classroom use.  Students will enjoy the fact that creating something that is professional looking is relatively straightforward.

The other inforgraphic creation tool that I quite liked was  This one seemed a bit better suited to numerically inspired presentations, and in this sense does not really fit well with the types of thinking and material that is common in English classrooms.  That said, I think it could be an interesting tool to use in a History or Society & Culture class when students need to represent quantitative data such as population statistics, access to socially valued resources or primary research findings.

Society and Culture Revision

23 Oct

With the HSC Society & Culture exam fast approaching, it is time to review the arsenal of available study resources.

Society & Culture has a unique vocabulary.  One way to revise this is to create a Quizlet.  I have blogged about this previously, however, what I discovered 10 minutes ago is that Quizlet allows students to revise using games rather than just flash cards.  Next time you are revising, you might want to check out the ‘scatter’ or ‘space race’ function.  Here is an example Quizlet created with the assistance of an actual Society & Culture student.

I have mentioned Mentormob previously, and how I have used it to digitally collate concept-specific resources for my Society & Culture students.  For example, here are folios about Gender, Technology, Culture and Multiculturalism and Work and Leisure.

In conjunction with one of my Society & Culture students, a has been created (here).  The purpose of the timeline is to convey the changes to Rock ‘n’ Roll as a popular culture over time.  The timeline is pretty general at the moment, however it does provide a good general background to the case study of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Let’s create a quiz

23 Oct

Quizlet facilitates the creation of electronic flashcards that can used to supplement student study.  It can be used as a teacher-directed tool (teacher creates the flashcards) to test student knowledge, or as a student-directed tool in which students use the flashcards as an extension of their notes/a mechanism for testing their peers.

In English, Quizlet can be used to revise key ideas/quotations in poetry (see this example).  In History, it would be a great way of revising vocabulary, or checking knowledge of dates/key battles.  For Society & Culture students, this can be a ‘fun’ way to keep on top of subject specific terminology and definitions.

Quizlet can also serve as a way of introducing the concept of study skills to students.

Communities of learning

19 Oct

In the clip below, John Green, author of beloved teen fiction including Fault in our Stars and Looking for Alaska, talks about the importance of learning communities as a mechanism for supporting, facilitating and encouraging learning.


While this TEDx Talk was not necessarily directed at teachers and educators, I think we can nonetheless learn from it.  In particular, we should be thinking about ways of creating dynamic learning environments and fostering communities of learning which encourage students to explore their interests and bring that learning back to the classroom community for discussion and debate.


Where is home?

3 Aug

As you have no doubt gathered, I am a massive fan of the TED Talks.  They are short, informative, often inspirational and a fantastic stimulus for classroom discussion and/or student reflection.  Another plus is the versatility: often these talks have application across multiple subject areas.

A great example of this versatility is Pico Iyer’s TED Talk entitled ‘Where is home?‘ Iyer’s talk can be used in the English classroom when studying AOS: Belonging as the talk canvasses the different ways, and places to which, we can be said to belong.  Framed within a broader discussion about racial, cultural and national identity, this talk is particularly apt for students in our increasingly multicultural classrooms.  This same talk can also be used in Society & Culture as way of helping students to probe the connections between persons, environment, culture, ‘race’, heritage and identity.