Tag Archives: Journey

‘Viceroy’s House’

11 Jun

I recently watched Viceroy’s House, a film about the transition of British India to independence.  The film was beautifully made, utilising the difficulties of a love between a Hindu (Jeet Kumar) and Muslim (Aalia Noor) to represent the divisions in a nation that will need to be partitioned in order to realise dreams of independence.

I think the film could be an interesting partner for a study of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.  This pairing would be a particularly useful way of exploring how the relationship between protagonists illuminates broader social tensions.

It would also be a good related text for Year 11 AOS Journeys or Change.  In both instances, students would be able to analyse the experiences of characters and then connect this to journeys or change on a national scale.

‘The African Doctor’

25 Mar

I recently watched The African Doctor.  This film explores the experiences of a recently arrived family of Congolese descent as they seek to find their place in a rural village in France.

Although overly simplistic at times, the text engages with ideas of tolerance, acceptance, identity and communal action.  For these reasons, I think the text has the potential to engage students.

That said, I think I would be reluctant to study this text in isolation.  I think it would work best either as part of a comparative unit, or as a related text for AOS Journey or Discovery.

‘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.

AOS Journeys

8 Jul

A number of schools are looking to revitalise their Year 10 and Year 11 courses by introducing Areas of Studies that better prepare their students for AOS Discovery in Year 12.  A popular choice seems to be AOS Journeys.  With this in mind, I have compiled a list of texts which could be used as related material for a unit with ‘Journeys’ as the conceptual focus.  The list is not arranged in any particular order, and I will continue adding to it over time.

  1. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey (novel)
  2. The Ultimate Safari by Nadine Gordimer (short story)
  3. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (novel)
  4. Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You by Hanna Jansen (biography)
  5. ‘I am an African’ by Thabo Mbeki (speech)
  6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (novel)
  7. ‘I Have a Dream’ by Martin Luther King Jnr (speech)
  8. ‘The Manhunt’ by Simon Armitage (poem)
  9. ‘Refugee Blues’ by W.H. Auden (poem)
  10. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (autobiography)
  11. ‘Caged Bird’ by Maya Angelou (poem)
  12. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (novel) (or the film adaptation)
  13. September, directed by Peter Carstairs (film)
  14. Selected The Gods of Wheat Street episodes (television drama)
  15. The Secret Life of Walter Mittydirected by Ben Stiller (film)
  16. Cartography for Beginners‘ by Emily Hasler (poem)
  17. ‘Journey to the Interior’ by Margaret Atwood (poem)
  18. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (novel)
  19. ‘And of Clay We Are Created’ by Isabel Allende (short story)
  20. Cool Runnings, directed by Jon Turteltaub (film)
  21. For Colored Girls, directed by Tyler Perry (film)
  22. The Second Bakery Attack‘ by Haruki Murakami (short story)
  23. Americannah by Chimmamanda Ngozi Adichie (novel)
  24. All That I Am by Anna Funder (novel)
  25. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (novel) (or the film aedaptation)
  26. Grave of the Fireflies, directed by Isao Takahata (film)
  27. A Mighty Heart, directed by Michael Winterbottom (film)
  28. Girl Rising, directed by Richard E. Robbins (film)
  29. The Tempest by William Shakespeare (play)
  30. Hamlet by William Shakespeare (play)
  31. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (novel)
  32. Anzac Girls (television series)
  33. Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis (novel)
  34. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (novel)
  35. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (novel)
  36. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (novel)
  37. Meet the Patels, directed by Ravi and Geeta Patel (film)
  38. Inside Out, directed by Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen (film)
  39. The Testimony, directed by Vanessa Block (documentary)
  40. The Lie‘ by T. Coraghessan Boyle (short story)
  41. Lion, directed by Garth Davis (film)
  42. A Sheltered Woman‘ by Yiyun Li (short story)
  43. Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (novel)
  44. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba (memoir)
  45. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (memoir)
  46. ‘Home’ by Warsan Shire (poem)
  47. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (film or graphic novel)
  48. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (novel)
  49. Freedom Writers, directed by Richard LaGravenese (film)
  50. The African Doctor, directed by Julien Rambaldi (film)

Debating in the classroom

26 Apr

A recent presentation that I made at school has got me thinking about ways to incorporate interactive debating-style activities in the classroom.  Below are the ideas that are going through my head at the moment:

  1. A traditional debate.  Here, students are provided with a high modality statement relevant to what is being studied, divided into teams, and asked to research the topic.  One team argues in favour of the proposition, the other against it.  This could be an interesting mode of formative assessment, perhaps in the early stages of an AOS unit.  After building the field, a debate could be used to test students’ knowledge of the core concept.  Potentially, this activity could be revisited at the end of the unit in order to ascertain how well students can apply their knowledge of texts studied to ‘prove’ viewpoints about the focus concept.  I think this activity would work particularly well in a strong Year 10 class, or a strong Years 11 or 12 Advanced English class.
  2. A stakeholder debate.  As in a traditional debate, students are provided with a high modality statement relevant to what is being studied in class.  However, instead of attacking the statement from TWO sides, the statement can be engaged with from the perspectives of relevant stakeholders.  Each stakeholder is allocated time to present his or her opinion.  After all key opinions have been aired, each stakeholder receives another opportunity to speak.  At this point, s/he must engage with the ideas and allegations made by other stakeholders.  For stronger classes, there is also an opportunity for stakeholders (or an audience) to ask each other questions to clarify viewpoints.  This type of activity would work particularly well in a junior class (years 7, 8 or 9) where the topic covered relates to issues of social or community importance.
  3. Ping Pong Debate.  In this debate, ideas bounce around the room like a ping pong ball does during a game.  Here, the teacher throws a potentially controversial statement to the class.  The first student standing responds to that statement, either endorsing it or refuting it.  Once that student’s allocated time expires, the next student standing gets an opportunity to respond.  This time, the student can extend the response of the previous speaker or make a counter-claim.  When I use this activity in my class, I encourage students to structure their responses using the PEEL format (Point, Example, Explanation, Link).  If I were doing this activity with weaker classes, I would write the acronym on the board and appoint a student as ‘Captain PEEL’, tasking him/her with redirecting the speaker to address any missed elements.  This debate works well as part of a building the field activity when learning about a new concept.  It can also work well at the end of a unit if students are also required to utilise their knowledge of a text studied in their responses.  My stronger Years 9 and 10 classes in the past have previously enjoyed this activity immensely.
  4. Room for debate.   In this debate, students are required to move around the class room.  The teacher provides a topic for discussion.   Upon first hearing the topic, students have to move to one of three signs which have been posted around the room: agree, disagree, not sure.  The teacher then asks one student who agrees with the statement to provide a reason for his/her position.  Encourage students to use the PEEL structure when formulating their response.  As they listen to the student’s argument, students who are convinced can leave their positions and move to the ‘agree’ group.  Repeat, this time allowing a student in the ‘disagree’ group to speak.  Then, a student in the ‘not sure’ group has the opportunity to ask a question, one student from each of the ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’ groups must respond to that question.  The ‘not sure’ student must then move to the group whose answer was most convincing.  The aim of the game is to stop students from ‘fence sitting’ and encourage them to commit to a position.

Pairs of texts

31 Mar

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about interesting textual pairings for study as part of a comparative unit.  Many of my ideas are not suitable for my school context or the ability levels of my classes.  However, I do think that, in the right contexts and with the right classes, all could form the basis of interesting and engaging units.

  1. A Lesson Before Dying (novel) & To Kill a Mockingbird (film)
  2. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Freedom Writers (film)
  3. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  4. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Schindler’s List (film)
  5. Americanah (novel) & selected episodes of Black-ish (television series)
  6. A Monster Calls (novel) & Boy (film)
  7. A Monster Calls (novel) & Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (film)
  8. Anzac Girls (television series) & Poetry of Siegfried Sassoon (poetry)
  9. Bad Feminist (collection of essays) & For Colored Girls (film)
  10. Brave New World (novel) & The Crucible (play)
  11. Brave New World (novel) & Never Let Me Go (film)
  12. Brave New World (novel) & V for Vendetta (film)
  13. Briar Rose (novel) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  14. Briar Rose (novel) & Lion (film)
  15. Briar Rose (novel) & Night (autobiography)
  16. Briar Rose (novel) & Schindler’s List (film)
  17. Deadline (novel) & Dead Poets Society (film)
  18. Deadline (novel) & The Fault In Our Stars (film)
  19. Deadline (novel) & The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (film)
  20. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  21. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Hairspray (film)
  22. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Invictus (film)
  23. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Remember the Titans (films)
  24. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  25. El Deafo (graphic novel) & The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (novel)
  26. Etiquette and Espionage (novel) & Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (film)
  27. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & After the Storm (film)
  28. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & 11’09’01 (collection of short films)
  29. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & Lion (film)
  30. Face (novel) & The Intouchables (film)
  31. Fahrenheit 451 (novel) & Persepolis (graphic novel or film)
  32. Fahrenheit 451 (novel) & V For Vendetta (film)
  33. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf (choreopoem) & Mustang (film)
  34. Frankenstein (novel) & Frankenweenie (film)
  35. Frankenstein (novel) & Never Let Me Go (film)
  36. Frankenstein (novel) & The Rocky Horror Picture Show (film)
  37. Girl Rising (film) & Poetry of Maya Angelou (poetry)
  38. Hamlet (play) & Nutshell (novel)
  39. Hiroshima (novel) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  40. Life of Pi (novel) & Castaway (film)
  41. Lord of the Flies (novel) & Where the Wild Things Are (film)
  42. Lord of the Flies (novel) & The Hunger Games (film)
  43. Macbeth (play) & Selected episodes of Designated Survivor (television series)
  44. Macbeth (play) & The Dressmaker (film)
  45. Macbeth (play) & The Gods of Wheat Street (television series)
  46. Maus (graphic novel) & A Long Way Gone (memoir)
  47. Maus (graphic novel) & Night (autobiography)
  48. Maus (graphic novel) & Schindler’s List (film)
  49. March (novel) & Little Wome(novel)
  50. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (novel) & The Fault in Our Stars (film)
  51. Night (autobiography) & A Long Way Gone (memoir)
  52. Night (autobiography) & Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography)
  53. Night (autobiography) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  54. Night (autobiography) & Schindler’s List (film)
  55. Night (autobiography) & The Seven Stages of Grieving (play)
  56. Nona and Me (novel) & Looking for Alibrandi (film)
  57. Nona and Me (novel) & September (film)
  58. Of Mice and Men (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  59. Othello (play) & V For Vendetta (film)
  60. Othello (play) & Gone Girl (film)
  61. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  62. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Lion (film)
  63. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Maus (graphic novel)
  64. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Night (autobiography)
  65. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Schindler’s List (film)
  66. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Bride and Prejudice (film)
  67. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Bridget Jones’s Diary (film)
  68. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Mustang (film)
  69. Refugee Boy (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  70. Refugee Boy (novel) & The African Doctor (film)
  71. Refugee Boy (novel) & The Arrival (picture book)
  72. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Alex and Eve (film)
  73. Romeo & Juliet (play) & A United Kingdom (film)
  74. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Freedom Writers (film)
  75. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Hairspray (film)
  76. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Meet the Patels (film)
  77. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Mustang (film)
  78. Romeo & Juliet (play) & My Big Fat Greek Wedding (film)
  79. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Tanna (film)
  80. Romeo & Juliet (play) & The Fault in Our Stars (film or novel)
  81. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Titanic (film)
  82. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Viceroy’s House (film)
  83. Romeo & Juliet (play) & West Side Story (film)
  84. Scattered Lives (play) & Americannah (novel)
  85. Scattered Lives (play) & Freedom Writers (film)
  86. Scattered Lives (play) & Looking for Alibrandi (novel)
  87. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Peter Skrzynecki (poetry)
  88. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Selina Nwulu (poetry)
  89. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Warsan Shire (poetry)
  90. Schindler’s Ark (novel) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  91. Speak (novel) & For Colored Girls (film)
  92. Stargirl (novel) & Wadjda (film)
  93. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  94. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (memoir) & Queen of Katwe (film)
  95. The Color Purple (novel) & For Colored Girls (film)
  96. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (novel) & Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (film)
  97. The Dreamer (novel) & Billy Elliot (film)
  98. The First Third (novel) & Boy (film)
  99. The Fault in Our Stars (novel) & Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (film)
  100. The Help (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  101. The Help (novel) & Remember the Titans (film)
  102. The Help (novel) & The Blindside (film)
  103. The Outsiders (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  104. The Outsiders (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  105. The Outsiders (novel) & Yolngu Boy (film)
  106. The Rabbits (picture book) & Deadly, Unna? (novel)
  107. The Rabbits (picture book) & Poetry of Oodgeroo Noonuccal (poetry)
  108. The Rabbits (picture book) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  109. The Scarlet Letter (novel) & Easy A (film)
  110. The Skull Beneath the Skin (novel) & The Real Inspector Hound (play)
  111. The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  112. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (novel) & Hamlet (play or film)
  113. The Kite Runner (novel) & Big Fish (film)
  114. The Kite Runner (novel) & Boy (film)
  115. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  116. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Hairspray (film)
  117. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Poetry of Langston Hughes (poetry)
  118. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Remember the Titans (film)
  119. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  120. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & The Blindside (film)
  121. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & The Help (film)
  122. To This Day (graphic novel) & Wonder (novel)
  123. To This Day (graphic novel) & Face (novel)
  124. Vernon God Little (novel) & Elephant (film)
  125. Voices from Chernobyl (non-fiction) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  126. War Horse (film) & Poetry of Wilfred Owen (poetry).

REVIEW: ‘The First Third’

26 Mar

Until recently, I had not heard of Will Kostakis.  In fact, my decision to read his novel The First Third was an ‘anti-boycott’, a response to a much publicised decision by a school to revoke an invitation for Kostakis to address their students in light of the coming out announcement made by Kostakis on his blog.  To me, the school’s decision made little sense.  After all, Kostakis was to address students about his novel not his private life.

I am very glad I was prompted to purchase and read The First Third because it is a fantastic book!  The novel is a coming of age text, following the experiences of Billy as he navigates the complexities of school, love, family and friendship.

In this text, Kostakis does a fantastic job of representing the diversity and complexity of our worlds: for example, Billy and his family are Greek, Billy’s best friend Lucas is gay and has cerebral palsy, and Billy’s mother is a single mum.  The text also features an opinionated grandmother, and a family divided by interests and distance. To me, this world seems far more ‘real’ than some of the cookie-cutter type families represented in YA fiction and, I suspect, will thus resonate better with my students.

REVIEW: ‘Anna and the Swallow Man’

8 Mar

There are a number of novels, geared towards young adults, which are written about WWII.  As such, it is tempting to dismiss Anna and the Swallow Man as yet another one these texts.  To do so, however, would be a mistake.

Anna and the Swallow Man tells the story of the relationship between the titular characters.  Anna is a young girl who has been raised by her multi-lingual father.  One day her father is called to the university at which he works.  He does not return.  Anna finds herself alone and scared.

Well, she is alone until the Swallow Man finds her sitting outside Herr Doktor Fuchsmann’s shop.  In German, he asks Anna who she is.  She cannot answer; “she knew there was a version of ‘Anna’ that the Germans used for her, but it felt somehow wrong to say to this stern authority of a man that that word was who she was.  She was, just as much, cold, and hungry, and frightened…”  The man then switches to Polish, asking for whom she is waiting.  Again, Anna cannot answer; “It occurred to her to say that she was waiting for her father, but, in point of fact, she was not so sure of the truth of this anymore…”  Now accustomed to her silence, he tries a question in Russian and, finally, one in Yiddish.  It is the question asked in Yiddish, “Are you all right?” that prompts a flood of tears, not least of all because it “was the one question that, with certainty, she knew the answer to: She was not all right.”  It is in this moment that the destinies of Anna and the Swallow Man become intertwined forever.

Fatherless, Anna follows the Swallow Man out of the city, and the two embark on a journey wherein they attempt to survive the war.  During this journey, the relationship between Swallow Man and Anna develops and changes as each adapt to the other’s company and the realities of the war.

As flagged at the start of this text, languages are significant to the story.  This is apparent not only in the ways that key characters move between languages, but in the way that Swallow Man teaches Anna the language of ‘Road’ as a means of explaining how and why to behave while seeking to survive.

I found this to be a really interesting representation of the WWII experience and would recommend that it be read alongside a range of other texts which present factual and fictional representations of this historical event.

‘Living With the Enemy’

6 Jan

I recently viewed episode 3 of the SBS show Living with the Enemy.  The premise of the series is to have individuals engage with those who have ideologically disparate perspectives from their own.  The episode that I viewed focused on immigration, placing a Sudanese Australian and an Australian with right-wing political views together for a ten-day period.

I think this series (or select episodes of it) would be an interesting text to show to a Year 11 Standard English class as it would help them to understand the terminology and subject matter relevant to Go Back to Where You Came From.

I also think it would be an interesting text to show to a Year 9 or 10 class, perhaps as part of a bigger unit about the migrant experience.  Not only would it allow students to come to understand (and hopefully question) the documentary form, but it would present a real life representation of the tensions within our society.