Tag Archives: Lesson starter

Speaking skills

27 Jan

A recent discussion regarding how to prepare for a public speaking competition got me thinking about the importance of being able to verbally communicate ideas with clarity.

With this in mind, I am toying with providing some of my junior classes with a speaking topic when they enter the class room.  They will have the first three minutes of the lesson to silently brainstorm ideas and map out a one minute speech.  I will then pick two students at random to present.

I think this activity will be valuable as a settling activity.  I also think it will be useful to help students build clarity and confidence in preparation for later speaking tasks and life in general.


Abstract portraits

29 Oct

As noted previously, my Year 7 students are looking at heroes, heroism, and how heroic qualities are represented. In order to stimulate their creativity and prompt some deep thinking, I posed this quest as their settling/’do now’ activity:  Imagine that you were creating an abstract portrait of a hero in The Princess Bride, what colours, textures and shapes would you include and why? The idea is that students reflect on the way qualities can be represented through different media.

(W)rapping up Macbeth

18 May

Want a fun way to wrap up the story of Macbeth and test students’ understanding?  Try this YouTube clip!

As an added bonus, the fact that it is a rap is a nice link back to the ‘Hip Hop or Shakespeare?‘ game.

Shaking up Shakespeare

17 May

I have mentioned previously that I teach students who are not overly enthused by the prospect of studying Shakespeare’s plays.  Accordingly, I am making it my mission to change their minds.

Years ago I discovered this gem; it is the story of Hamlet told in the style of Facebook news feed.  I always show this to the HSC students that I tutor as a way of helping them to understand the chronology of the play.

I recently stumbled upon a FANTASTIC Macbeth related resource on the same site.  Amusing entitled ‘Macbeth and Macduff get into an argument over semantics‘, it presents a conversation between Macbeth and Macduff that explores the last of the witches’ prophecies.  In this humorous exchange, Macbeth argues that Macduff cannot kill him as he was “born of woman,” while Macduff argues that he was “untimely ripped” from his mother’s womb and therefore not “born of woman” in the technical sense.

I would like to use this exchange as a way of getting students to better understand the significance of language choices in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

I would also be keen to appropriate this idea, getting students to pinpoint parts of the play where meaning is debatable or unclear, and asking them to invent an imagined conversation between characters as they seek to clarify meaning.

Hip hop or Shakespeare? (the worksheets)

3 May

A few days ago I wrote about a plan to play a game with my students entitled ‘Hip Hop or Shakespeare?’

I have found a few moments to gather the relevant quotes together and have created two worksheets.  The first is a Romeo and Juliet version of ‘Hip Hop or Shakespeare?’ [HANDOUT QUESTIONS – Hip hop or Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet edition)] and the second is a Macbeth version [HANDOUT QUESTIONS – Hip hop or Shakespeare (Macbeth edition)].  These worksheets are intended for years 9 and 10 respectively.

If you do download these worksheets to use in your classes, please leave a comment and let me know how the activity worked.  I am keen for feedback before I try these activities on my students.


‘I wanna hear a poem’

2 May

I wanna hear a poem‘ is an amazing spoken word performance by Steve Colman.  It is powerful, exciting and would be a fantastic way to get students excited about different types of poetry and a wide range of subject matter.

Incidentally, the use of the poem as a hook/introduction is not new.  Colman was the first performer in episode 1, season 1 of Def Poetry.

If I were using this poem in one of my classes, I would follow it up with an activity which gets students thinking about why they wanna hear a poem.  This activity could be run as an individual thinking task, or students could work in groups to create lists, diagrams or even poems.


29 Apr

After listening to Akala’s Tedx Talk the other day, I Googled The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company and found this awesome Macbeth rap by Mc Lars.  To be honest, I think part of the reason why I love it is because it is called ‘Rapbeth’.

I am not really sure how I would use this in a lesson… maybe as an intro to the “fair is foul” section of the text, maybe as a way to introduce themes or narrative… I don’t really know.  I do know, however, that I kind of love it and really want Year 10 kids to experiences the nerdy awesomeness that is ‘Rapbeth’.

No red ink!

19 Mar

Someone on Edmodo recommended No Red Ink as a useful tool for teaching grammar.

The creation of tasks for students is intuitive and quick, you can create class groups and you have discretion to assign a task to a whole class or just select students.

I am going to test drive it on a mainstream year 9 class.  I will report back.

Grammar Quizzes

8 Mar

It is a New Syllabus requirement that grammar be taught in our English classrooms.

GrammarBook.com offers a range of resources that can assist teachers to teach grammar.  Helpfully, it also includes a series of quizzes which can be used to test students’ knowledge.

Postmodern Jukebox

10 Feb

I recently stumbled upon Postmodern Jukebox on YouTube.  In essence, they take popular songs (such as those by Beiber, 1D and Pitbull), and re-imagine those songs in different musical genres.   A great example of what they do is their Doo Wop version of Pitbull’s ‘Timber.

As an introduction to appropriation, I would be keen to play the original version of one of the songs covered by Postmodern Jukebox, followed by the Postmodern Jukebox version.  After allowing the students to listen, I would explain that the second song is an appropriation of the first.  Students would then be challenged to come up with a definition of appropriation.