Tag Archives: ICT

Extending students

15 Dec

As planning begins for next year, I have started thinking about ways to better challenge and extend my capable students.

Students in Years 9 to 12 are all expected to bring some kind of electronic device to school to aid their learning. As such, students in these grades can be extended through the creation of study aids that benefit them and the class.  For example, they can create topic-specific Kahoots and Quizlets which can be used to test student knowledge of texts and techniques.  These students could also contribute to a class wiki (or similar), collating relevant information in one place to ensure student engagement with existing material.

My junior students, however, do not have regular access to technology.  As such, some other plan needs to be put in place.  Does anyone have any ideas?


Keeping up with the Capulets

10 Dec

I was looking for Romeo and Juliet theatre reviews to include in a unit of work for Year 9 next year when I stumbled upon an article entitled ‘Romeo and Juliet: Keeping up with the Capulets‘.

The title triggered a flicker of an idea… task the students with creating a trailer for a Shakespeare inspired reality TV show.

Romeo and Juliet would, of course, become Keeping up with the Capulets.  Macbeth lends itself to a perverse interpretation of Survivor, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, perhaps, could become season 3 of MTV’s ‘Are you the One?’

The Pitch

7 Dec

Inspired by the television show The Gruen Transferone of my Year 9 classes has been tasked with ‘selling the unsellable’.

In order to kick-start their thinking, I showed them a series of extracts from The Gruen Transfer segment ‘The Pitch’.

We began exploring the proposition that ‘We should invade New Zealand‘.  Students enjoyed both advertisements, and talked intelligently about the different approaches.

We then looked at advertisements created to sell the idea that ‘We should support child labour in Australia‘.  Again, students were captivated by the different approaches.

Students will use these ads, and the commentary around each, to guide and inspire their own advertisements.

Musical heroes

26 Oct

My Year 7 class is studying a unit entitled ‘Heroes’.  As part of this unit they are watching The Princess Bride.

For their assessment, they  will select ONE character from the film that they view as heroic and create a short (30 second to 2 minute) piece of music that represents the heroic qualities of their chosen characters.  They will then be required to explain how their composition represents the heroism of their chosen character.

The hope is that my students will be forced to critically reflect on how one represents heroic qualities.

Sounds of the Gothic

26 Aug

As noted yesterday, one of my Year 9 classes will be looking at distinctively Australian Gothic texts.  In order to help them to better understand that idea of an Australian influence, I am keen to give them an opportunity to create a distinctively Gothic soundscape.  They would need to create a Gothic base, and then add ONE quintessentially Australian element to make create an Australian Gothic sound.  That sound might be the rustling of gum leaves, the rhythmic thud of a bouncing kangaroo, the wail of a didgeridoo – it is their choice.  Once the soundscape is created students must justify their choices and explain why the completed soundscape is representative of the Australian Gothic.

Unit idea: Ballads

10 Jul

For their poetry unit, my Year 7 students will study ballads.

I will begin the unit by introducing them to some examples of ballads (‘Clancy of the Overflow‘, ‘The Highwayman‘, and ‘The Shooting of Dan McGrew‘).  Using a provided graphic organiser, students will work in small groups to read each of these poems and note down key characteristics (rhyme scheme, stanza length, subject matter, etc).  They will then try find points of commonality between the texts in order to ascertain the conventions of this particular form of writing.

This will be followed by a class discussion in which students share their thoughts and create a master list of conventions.

Next, we will pick one the poems and go through it in detail, noting and discussing the effect of identified features.  To help students appreciate that the poem tells a story, students will create a storyboard of the key ideas in the narrative.

ICT OPTION: Once the key ‘plot points’ have been identified and mapped, each group will be allocated one plot point to focus on.  Using the technology available at the time, students will create a visual and (if desired) aural representation of their allocated plot idea.  These can then be strung together in a PowerPoint presentation/Mentormob playlist to present a multimedia representation of the poem.

The point of this unit is to (a) familiarize students with the conventions of this particular poetic form, and (b) get them writing their own ballads.  Inspired by this lesson sequence, I will then show students a series of short animations (maybe this one, and this one).  We will work on breaking down these animations into key plot points (much like was done with the poem).

Then, I will divide students into groups, allocate each one of the animations, and explain that they will be writing a ballad that conveys the story of the animated short.  To assist, I will give each group a starter stanza.

For their assessment, students will be required to (a) produce the ballad, and (b) write a reflective statement which summarises what they learned about ballads and what it was like working in a group.

At the end of the unit we will have a presentation day in which students present their ballads to the class.


Helena’s interview

6 Jul

As mentioned previously (here and here), I am using my Year 7 A Midsummer Night’s Dream unit to teach my kids about different types of texts.

So far, we have looked at a news paper article.

I plan to start next term exploring interviews.  For the purposes of learning  the skills, we will focus on the argument between Hermia and Helena while in the woods.  We will spend our first lesson exploring the form.  Ideally, I will have  students read some example transcripts and try come up with a list of conventions themselves.  Then, I will explain that they are going to work in pairs.  One person will pretend to be Helena, and the other will be the interviewer.  Together, they will brainstorm some possible questions and answers.

For the second lesson I will take them to a computer room.  There, they will use Google Story Builder to create a transcript of the interview.  Here is an example that I created earlier.

My kids have demonstrated a decent ability to work collaboratively (some do function better in same gender groups) and they have responded well previously to computer tasks.  The only challenge will be finding an available computer room!

Integrating text types into a Shakespeare unit

16 Jun

My Year 7 students have just started A Midsummer Night’s Dream and they are ridiculously excited to be studying Shakespeare.  A number of students asked for this to be a drama unit.   I would like to oblige as much as possible.  However, it is English, and they also need to do some writing.  I thought that to keep it interesting and exciting, I would use the unit to introduce them to a range of text types.

I think the first section of the play we will examine is the part of Act 1, Scene 1 in which Theseus explains to Hermia that she should marry the man her father wants or be killed.

First, we will read this section in class, getting students to play the various roles (drama).  As we go, we will seek to explain the narrative.

Then, I will explain to students that we are going to pretend that we are reporters.  We are reporting on these events as if the law which requires a daughter to marry the man of her father’s choosing or face death is real.

I will either provide students with a pro forma, or give them some examples of articles and see if they can figure out the conventions.  Then, they will write an article for the Athenian Times reporting on the events noted in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  If there is a computer room available I will book that, allowing students to create authentic looking articles, perhaps using a template sourced from this site.

Mapping Macbeth

21 May

A discussion with my Year 10 class today revealed that they did not want to experience the story of Macbeth unfolding.  Instead, they wanted to understand the narrative before unpacking the text.  Accordingly, next lesson I will work on familiarising them with the story and characters.

To familiarise them with the narrative, I will run a variation of this activity.  I will get students to explore the language of the play and then situate their quotations in the narrative.

Then, I will provide students with some information about the characters in Macbeth, and get them to map out the relationships within the play.  I will encourage my students to use Mural.ly as it gives them flexibility to add to their mind map as the unit progresses.  Here is an example (incomplete) mind map about the characters in Macbeth and how they interrelate. I think I will allow students to work in pairs, thus enabling them to bounce ideas off each other.

Orientations and complications

20 May

My Year 7 students are part way through a creative writing unit.  We have painstakingly practiced hooks and descriptive writing, and students are familiar with the elements of a narrative.  Accordingly, it is now time for students to start putting that information together into a story.

Ordinarily I would create an example orientation with my class and then divide students into groups and give each a scenario, challenging them to come up with strong narratives.  However, I will miss my next Year 7 class and it is not fair to require another teacher to model the skill.  It is also not fair to subject another teacher to the noise levels produced by my students when they do group work.

Accordingly, I have pre-prepared an orientation and complication that responds to one of the scenarios that I have set for my students.  It is attached here.