Tag Archives: Lesson idea

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Extension Activity #3

30 Jun

It is important for students to have a keen awareness of purpose and audience.  As such, it could be interesting to have students re-imagine their set text in a different form for a new audience.  What would Romeo and Juliet look like, for example, as a suite of poetry for a teenage audience?  What would The Dreamer look like as a picture book designed for a year 1 student?

 

Extension Activity #2

29 Jun

Another possible extension activity is to have students create a writing portfolio in response to a text studied in class.  They might, for example, a letter to the editor to defend particular language/textual choices, create a travel brochure related to the novel’s setting, and also write a series of diary entries that enable examination of characters’ innermost thoughts.

A suite of writing would allow students to express themselves in different forms, thus adding interest.  Additionally, it would allow me to differentiate, easily, thus enhancing the capacity of each student to express him/herself.

Engaging the disengaged

9 Apr

I am hoping to be able to spend some time this year developing more engaging and innovative learning activities for some of my more disengaged students.  Here are some of my ideas thus far:

  • Create the pitch for a musical adaptation of the Shakespearean text we have been studying.  Which elements of the text would you retain, which would you change?  Who would you cast and why?  Write the song for a key scene in the play.  Create a storyboard outlining the plot.  Produce a costume for one of the main characters.
  • Write the next chapter of the novel we have been studying.
  • Re-write a section of the text from the perspective of a secondary character.
  • Re-imagine the poem we have studied as a narrative/conversation/feature article/persuasive speech.
  • Transform the poem we have been studying into a spoken word poem.  Justify your performance choices.

If you have any other good ideas I’d love to hear them!

Subverting Fairy Tales

28 Oct

I have recently read Kissing the Witch (Emma Donoghue), a collection of interlinked short stories which subvert well known fairy tales.

I wish I had read this a little earlier as one of these stories would have been a good addition to a recent lesson sequence about subverting fairy tales.  Inspired by the three tales told by the monster in The Monster Calls, I decided to examine texts that incorporate some fairy tale elements but subvert or challenge others.

To illustrate the point, we engaged with a picture book retelling of The Three Little Pigs and a FANTASTIC short story entitled ‘There Was Once’ by Margaret Atwood.  After this discussing these and making connections to A Monster Calls, I asked students to select a fairy tale and subvert it.

Together we brainstormed some amazing ideas, framing our potential points of challenge or subversion as a series of interlinked questions.

  • What if the bears trespassed in the home owned by Goldilocks?  What if she was home?  What if she had a gun?  New bear skin rug?
  • What if Belle has taken the Beast from the wild?  What if the animal rights advocates found out?
  • What if Pinocchio was a real boy?  And a minority?  And he lied to the police?
  • What if Snow White’s experience of a poisoned apple prompted her to pursue an organic farming venture?
  • What if the witch in Hansel and Gretel was involved in human trafficking?
  • What if Cinderella was told from the perspective of one of the stepsisters?
  • What if Aladdin needed a visa to travel to a whole new world?
  • What if the Emperor was arrested after engaging in public nudity?
  • What if the Princess in The Princess and the Pea did not discover a pea beneath her many mattresses?  What if she discovered a handgun, or drugs?  What if she was undercover detective?