Tag Archives: Non-fiction

‘Killing Kennedy’

17 Jan

I recently stumbled upon an engaging interactive site about the life and death of JFK.  I think this text could function as a pathway to exploring JFK, his life and his presidency in the history class room.   Given the split focus on JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald (who later went on to assassinate JFK), it would also be an interesting means of introducing perspectives and showcasing how different individuals can interact within a multi-modal framework.


‘A Long Way Gone’ and ‘Freedom Writers’

16 Nov

For a while now I have been posting text pairings on my blog.  I tend to update it once I read or watch something new, hoping that one day I can draw from the list and teach something really exciting, engaging and thought-provoking.

I wanted to take some time out from adding to the list, instead explaining why I think particular texts would work well together.  Some of these options I have tried in my own classroom, others I aspire to teach one day but have not yet had to right class with which to test them.  I hope by explaining my thought process other teachers may have the right class with which to take the leap and might be inspired to try something new.

A Long Way Gone  is the autobiography of Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone.  This book explores mature content but in a reasonably accessible way, making it the perfect choice for a mainstream Year 10 class.

Freedom Writers is a film that explores the power of relationships both within and outside of gang culture.  It highlights the role of education and strong relations to change the trajectory of lives.  Again, the content is mature but the presentation is accessible, making it a good film to pair with A Long Way Gone.

You could engage with both the texts around the idea of relationships and the forces that inspire/compel loyalty.  It would interesting to make comparisons between the experiences of child soldiers and those of gang members.  This particular comparison also enables meaningful engagement with notions of innocence and responsibility as well as charting courses towards redemption in various forms.

Reading to Write

4 Sep

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the new stage 6 English syllabus.  In particular, I have found myself unable to stop thinking about the new Year 11 unit ‘Reading to Write’.   In this unit students are offered opportunities to “undertake the intensive and close reading of quality texts,” using these to “develop the skills and knowledge necessary to appreciate, understand, analyse and evaluate how and why texts convey complex ideas, relationships, endeavours and scenarios” (Stage-6 Advanced English syllabus document).

Below are a selection of texts which I think could offer some interesting opportunities for engagement.  I will add to the list as I come up with more ideas.

‘Our Stories’

8 Dec

As noted previously, I had hopes of putting together a documentaries unit that engaged with a range of shorter texts.

One of the texts that my students explored was ‘Tattooed Lawyer‘ from the SBS series ‘Our Stories.’  We used this text as a means of discussing the type of content that can be included in a documentary.  We also discussed the role played by voice overs, location shots, action shots and direct-to-camera narration in conveying an individual’s experiences and identity.

Language and Gender related material

3 Oct

I cannot stop thinking about the different types of texts I would introduce students to as part of the ‘Language and Gender’ elective in Extension 1 English.  As such, I have started to compile a list (see below).  I plan to keep revisiting and updating this list as new ideas come to me.

  1. The Bluest Eye (novel)
  2. Beloved (novel)
  3. Americanah (novel)
  4. ‘Girl’ (short story)
  5. The visual album accompanying Beyonce’s Lemonade
  6.  Girl Rising (film)
  7. Poetry of Maya Angelou
  8. Poetry of Warsan Shire
  9. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (autobiography)
  10. Bad Feminist (collection of essays)
  11. The Twyborn Affair (novel)
  12. Annie John (novel)
  13. Quiet‘ (spoken word poem)
  14. Anzac Girls (television series)
  15. Call the Midwife (television series)
  16. The Help (film and novel)
  17. Love Child (television series)
  18. House Husbands (television series)
  19. Black Eye‘ (spoken word poem)
  20. Spear‘ (spoken word poem)
  21. I think she was a she‘ (spoken word poem)
  22. Real Men‘ (spoken word poem)
  23. She Said‘ (spoken word poem)
  24. Macbeth (play)
  25. ‘One Word’ (short story)
  26. The Color Purple (novel)
  27. Mr Selfridge (television series)
  28. Scandal (television series)
  29. Bush Mechanics (television series).

Documentaries with a twist

1 Oct

I am keen to help my Years 9 and 10 students to broaden their knowledge of the world.  To do this, I hope to run a unit about documentaries.

However, instead of selecting one documentary which we will study as a class, I hope to put together a selection of short documentaries which students can engage with.  In doing so, I hope to be able to showcase a variety of perspectives, cultures and religions and thus help me students to understand the true multicultural nature of our nation.

By showing a selection of shorter documentaries, I am also hopeful that I can create opportunities to discuss with my students different ways of representing experiences.  This, in turn, will enable discussions of editorial and production choices, thus engaging students critically in how texts are constructed.

Civil Rights

13 Jul

I recently watched an episode of Foreign Correspondent about the Black Lives Matter movement.  It was really interesting to learn about the movement and to see it framed as an extension of the Civil Rights movement.

I think it would be interesting to study this episode alongside other texts spanning from the Civil Rights movement to today.  In particular, it would be interesting for students to make comparisons with Martin’s Big Words (a picture book), ‘Diallo’ (spoken word poem), ‘Even if it gets to 104 degrees’ (poem), and ‘I Have a Dream’ (speech).  Students could also source newspaper articles and documentaries of their own.

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)

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) & Girl At War (novel)
  4. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  5. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Schindler’s List (film)
  6. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Poetry of Siegfried Sassoon (poetry)
  7. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Poetry of Wilfred Owen (poetry)
  8. Americanah (novel) & selected episodes of Black-ish (television series)
  9. A Monster Calls (novel) & Boy (film)
  10. A Monster Calls (novel) & Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (film)
  11. A Monster Calls (novel/film) & Frankenstein (novel)
  12. And Then There Were None (novel) & Selected episodes of Trapped (television series)
  13. Animal Farm (novel) & Selection of episodes of House of Cards (television series)
  14. Anzac Girls (television series) & Poetry of Siegfried Sassoon (poetry)
  15. Bad Feminist (collection of essays) & For Colored Girls (film)
  16. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  17. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (novel) & The Dreamer (novel)
  18. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (novel) & The Kite Runner (film or graphic novel)
  19. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (novel) & Wadjda (film)
  20. Becoming Kirrali Lewis (novel) & Boy (film)
  21. Becoming Kirrali Lewis (novel) & The Kite Runner (graphic novel)
  22. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & Americanah (novel)
  23. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & Selected short stories of Chinua Achebe (short stories)
  24. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & Desdemona (play)
  25. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & God Help the Child (novel)
  26. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & Kissing the Witch (novel)
  27. Brave New World (novel) & The Crucible (play)
  28. Brave New World (novel) & Never Let Me Go (film)
  29. Brave New World (novel) & V for Vendetta (film)
  30. Briar Rose (novel) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  31. Briar Rose (novel) & Lion (film)
  32. Briar Rose (novel) & Night (autobiography)
  33. Briar Rose (novel) & Schindler’s List (film)
  34. Deadline (novel) & Dead Poets Society (film)
  35. Deadline (novel) & The Fault In Our Stars (film)
  36. Deadline (novel) & The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (film)
  37. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  38. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Hairspray (film)
  39. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Invictus (film)
  40. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Remember the Titans (films)
  41. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  42. El Deafo (graphic novel) & The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (novel)
  43. Etiquette and Espionage (novel) & Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (film)
  44. Exit West (novel) & Romeo and Juliet (play)
  45. Exit West (novel) & The poetry of Selina Nwulu (poetry)
  46. Exit West (novel) & The poetry of Warsan Shire (poetry)
  47. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & After the Storm (film)
  48. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & 11’09’01 (collection of short films)
  49. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & Lion (film)
  50. Face (novel) & The Intouchables (film)
  51. Fahrenheit 451 (novel) & Persepolis (graphic novel or film)
  52. Fahrenheit 451 (novel) & V For Vendetta (film)
  53. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf (choreopoem) & Mustang (film)
  54. Frankenstein (novel) & Boy, Snow, Bird (novel)
  55. Frankenstein (novel) & Frankenweenie (film)
  56. Frankenstein (novel) & The Iron Giant (film)
  57. Frankenstein (novel) & Metropolis (film)
  58. Frankenstein (novel) & Never Let Me Go (film)
  59. Frankenstein (novel) & The Rocky Horror Picture Show (film)
  60. Frankenstein (novel) & The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (novel)
  61. Girl Rising (film) & Poetry of Maya Angelou (poetry)
  62. Hamlet (play) & A Monster Calls (novel/film)
  63. Hamlet (play) & Nutshell (novel)
  64. Hamlet (play) & The Lion King (film)
  65. Hiroshima (novel) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  66. King Henry IV, Part I (play) & Selected episodes of House of Cards (television show)
  67. King Henry IV, Part I (play) & Selected episodes of Scandal (television show)
  68. King Richard II (play) & Selected episodes of House of Cards (television show)
  69. Life of Pi (novel) & Castaway (film)
  70. Lord of the Flies (novel) & Where the Wild Things Are (film)
  71. Lord of the Flies (novel) & The Hunger Games (film)
  72. Macbeth (play) & Selected episodes of Designated Survivor (television series)
  73. Macbeth (play) & The Dressmaker (film)
  74. Macbeth (play) & The Gods of Wheat Street (television series)
  75. Macbeth (play) & The Kite Runner (graphic novel, novel or film)
  76. Macbeth (play) & Selected episodes of House of Cards (television series)
  77. Macbeth (play) & Selected episodes of Scandal (television series)
  78. Maus (graphic novel) & A Long Way Gone (memoir)
  79. Maus (graphic novel) & Night (autobiography)
  80. Maus (graphic novel) & Schindler’s List (film)
  81. March (novel) & Little Wome(novel)
  82. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (novel) & The Fault in Our Stars (film)
  83. Night (autobiography) & A Long Way Gone (memoir)
  84. Night (autobiography) & Girl At War (novel)
  85. Night (autobiography) & Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography)
  86. Night (autobiography) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  87. Night (autobiography) & Schindler’s List (film)
  88. Night (autobiography) & The Seven Stages of Grieving (play)
  89. Nona and Me (novel) & Looking for Alibrandi (film)
  90. Nona and Me (novel) & September (film)
  91. Of Mice and Men (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  92. Othello (play) & Desdemona (play)
  93. Othello (play) & Gone Girl (film)
  94. Othello (play) & New Boy (novel)
  95. Othello (play) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  96. Othello (play) & V For Vendetta (film)
  97. Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Girl At War (novel)
  98. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  99. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Lion (film)
  100. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Maus (graphic novel)
  101. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Night (autobiography)
  102. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Schindler’s List (film)
  103. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Bride and Prejudice (film)
  104. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Bridget Jones’s Diary (film)
  105. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Mustang (film)
  106. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & The Wedding Plan (film)
  107. Refugee Boy (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  108. Refugee Boy (novel) & The African Doctor (film)
  109. Refugee Boy (novel) & The Arrival (picture book)
  110. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Alex and Eve (film)
  111. Romeo & Juliet (play) & A United Kingdom (film)
  112. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Freedom Writers (film)
  113. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Hairspray (film)
  114. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Meet the Patels (film)
  115. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Mustang (film)
  116. Romeo & Juliet (play) & My Big Fat Greek Wedding (film)
  117. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Tanna (film)
  118. Romeo & Juliet (play) & The Fault in Our Stars (film or novel)
  119. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Titanic (film)
  120. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Viceroy’s House (film)
  121. Romeo & Juliet (play) & West Side Story (film)
  122. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television show)
  123. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & The Green Bicycle (novel)
  124. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & The Kite Runner (novel or graphic novel)
  125. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & Wadjda (film)
  126. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & Poetry of Warsan Shire (poetry)
  127. Scattered Lives (play) & Americannah (novel)
  128. Scattered Lives (play) & Freedom Writers (film)
  129. Scattered Lives (play) & Looking for Alibrandi (novel)
  130. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Peter Skrzynecki (poetry)
  131. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Selina Nwulu (poetry)
  132. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Warsan Shire (poetry)
  133. Schindler’s Ark (novel) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  134. Speak (novel) & For Colored Girls (film)
  135. Speak (novel) & The Scarlet Letter (novel)
  136. Stargirl (novel) & Wadjda (film)
  137. Station Eleven (novel) & A Midsummer Night’s Dream (play)
  138. Station Eleven (novel) & Hag-Seed (novel)
  139. Station Eleven (novel) & Never Let Me Go (novel or film)
  140. Station Eleven (novel) & The Tempest (play)
  141. Stolen (play) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  142. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  143. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (memoir) & Queen of Katwe (film)
  144. The Color Purple (novel) & For Colored Girls (film)
  145. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (novel) & Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (film)
  146. The Dreamer (novel) & Billy Elliot (film)
  147. The Drover’s Wife (play) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series).
  148. The First Third (novel) & Boy (film)
  149. The Fault in Our Stars (novel) & Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (film)
  150. The Handmaid’s Tale (novel/television series) & Never Let me Go (novel/film)
  151. The Help (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  152. The Help (novel) & Remember the Titans (film)
  153. The Help (novel) & The Blindside (film)
  154. The Outsiders (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  155. The Outsiders (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  156. The Outsiders (novel) & Yolngu Boy (film)
  157. The Rabbits (picture book) & Deadly, Unna? (novel)
  158. The Rabbits (picture book) & Poetry of Oodgeroo Noonuccal (poetry)
  159. The Rabbits (picture book) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  160. The Real Inspector Hound (play) & Selected episodes of Trapped (television series)
  161. The Real Inspector Hound (play) & And Then There Were None (novel)
  162. The Scarlet Letter (novel) & Easy A (film)
  163. The Skull Beneath the Skin (novel) & The Real Inspector Hound (play)
  164. The Skull Beneath the Skin (novel) & Selected episodes of Trapped (television series)
  165. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (novel) & The Drover’s Wife (play)
  166. The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  167. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (novel) & Hamlet (play or film)
  168. The Kite Runner (novel) & Big Fish (film)
  169. The Kite Runner (novel) & Boy (film)
  170. The Queue (novel) & Animal Farm (novel)
  171. The Queue (novel) & Brave New World (novel)
  172. The Queue (novel) & Fahrenheit 451 (novel/film)
  173. The Queue (novel) & Nineteen Eighty-Four (novel)
  174. The Queue (novel) & Persepolis (film/graphic novel)
  175. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  176. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Hairspray (film)
  177. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Poetry of Langston Hughes (poetry)
  178. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Remember the Titans (film)
  179. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  180. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & The Blindside (film)
  181. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & The Help (film)
  182. To This Day (graphic novel) & Wonder (novel)
  183. To This Day (graphic novel) & Face (novel)
  184. Vernon God Little (novel) & Elephant (film)
  185. Vinegar Girl (novel) & The Taming of the Shrew (play)
  186. Vinegar Girl (novel) & 10 Things I Hate About You (film)
  187. Voices from Chernobyl (non-fiction) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  188. War Horse (film) & Poetry of Siegfried Sassoon (poetry)
  189. War Horse (film) & Poetry of Wilfred Owen (poetry)

Disney and Diversity

22 Oct

As noted previously, I have plans to engage my Year 7 class in discussion about the relationships between gender and heroism.

I also think it would be interesting to discuss the other groups that are marginalized and/or ignored when creating fictional heroic figures.  As such, I might ask my students to consider an article about a petition to create a Disney Princess with Down Syndrome and a series of images portraying Disney characters who are disabled.

The current working plan is to have students use the article and images as inspiration for a discussion and/or persuasive piece as to whether or not organisations like Disney have a responsibility to create heroes who represent/reflect the qualities of the wider population.