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Archive for the category “English”

An Area of Study quickie

I’ve written about this before. At my place, we do a task where students read aloud 300 words of their own writing then relate it to ideas about Discovery and their texts.

Here’s the latest version of our task: HSC_AoS_Task_One_Asst_Notification_2016

There’s a couple of differences from our past task. Most notably, we’ve built in some concepts, some possible visual stimuli and insisted on third person writing. I’ve left this in Word so that people can make adaptations for their own context. I know that there are other people out there using other models – the viva voce, for example – but this is the one we’ve settled on here. Because it values the creative we think it’s a worthwhile addition to the course as a whole.

And would this be a good time to mention that getting rid of the Area of Study might not be the best idea in the world?

Dystopian SF revised, with activities

I’ve made some small revisions to Come Unto These Yellow Sands. The new version is here: Come unto these yellow sands revised
I also had a request for a version without f-words. Yes, I know, there were only two. But fair enough. So here’s the no f-word version: Come unto these yellow sands no fs
Lastly, just because I’m planning to use it with my Year 9, I went ahead and put together some Literature Circle activities to support group reading and responses. I’ll leave this in word rather than pdf’ing it so that it can be more easily chopped about – but please respect the copyright on this. Yellow sands activities
I’ve had some really interesting responses to the play – that’s where a couple of the changes came from – and it’s good to see it getting some use. Have fun. Let me know how it goes!

Countdown 2015! The Improving Writing presentation

Jasper m beastI’m presenting tomorrow at the English Teachers’ Association’s Annual Conference. The presentation is an update of my work as a literacy consultant. For those who’ve seen it before, my presentation is based on a course I developed for an across KLA audience but I have adapted it several times for different KLA’s, student audiences, different contexts and different delivery timeframes.
Previously with English teachers I’ve used John Foulcher’s ‘Summer Rain’ as a related text but I’ve moved to The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, which is better suited to discovery.
The presentation’s meant to cover a number of bases. It’s meant to in the first case provide information and strategies for teachers who are less familiar with grammar and literacy within English. It’s also meant to give teachers in schools who have to work as part of literacy committees some information that will help them move their schools away from narrow, NAPLAN-based approaches to literacy. Finally it’s designed to continue the conversation. I’ve suggested a range of practical strategies designed to improve students’ writing and outlined a framework that structures the process. But I know that others will take this in their own directions; I encourage you to do so.
The PowerPoint for Friday’s presentation is here: Improving Writing ETA Nov 14 v4
The handout I prepared included my article from last year’s mETAphor, Issue 3. Members can download this from the ETA’s website.
I also included some sample paragraphs to start the conversation. These are here: jasper morello paragraphs v5
Elsewhere on the blog you’ll find previous versions of this course should you wish. Or you can just get in touch. I’ll see a large group of you at conference tomorrow, I’m sure.

Discovery, The Speaking Task

I’ve written a few other times about speaking tasks we’ve tried with different years. This is really a follow-up. My faculty has written its new Discovery task. Here it is: HSC_AoS_Asst_Notification_2015
As you’ll see, it’s following the pattern we’ve used before. Students begin by reading 300 words of their own writing, usually an excerpt from a story. This is a story they’ve written in controlled conditions so that there’s a minimalisation of the chances for plagiarism. They are then required to link this back to their prescribed and related texts in a six minute talk with (if they wish) a visual presentation to support their work. Nearly all of them do this, of course.
I’ve left this as a word file so that others can take it and use it if they wish. As usual, please acknowledge the source of this activity in any public forum.

For those who asked – The Crucible

I’ve spoken at ETA events on The Crucible a couple of times and built up a prety mean old PowerPoint on it. Here it is: Belonging Crucible Marsden lec 2013.

There’s a lot of material in here that is copyrighted, so please take care to acknowledge copyright owners if you use this with a class. My favourite part of the PowerPoint is the images of the set, from Stuart Marshall’s 1997 Belfast Lyric Theatre production. It’s built from large, moveable planks that look rough-sawn – a reflection of the Pilgrim community’s development at the time of the play – and as the world of Salem breaks down they become disorganised and chaotic. Very clever.

For those who asked: Ways into advertising

Have a look at the image below.

Gender in ads

I sourced this from the ‘Information Is Beautiful website’ about four years ago. It shows the frequency of words in ads for children’s toys aimed at boys; Hot Wheels, Nerf guns, Beyblades – those sort of ads. Yes, I know that wordle’s a bit old hat now but this is a good example of where it’s at its best. I started here, then asked students what they thought would be the biggest on the wordle for toys aimed at girls? If you’d like to know the answer, click here. gender in advertisements

What I then asked students to do was to choose a toy advertisers had aimed at one gender and swap it to the other. They had a choice of forms to present but a number chose video. Unfortunately the best video I have isn’t in an uploadable form! Hmm might be time for a video upgrade on this blog. But if I told you it was a skateboard aesthetic film about what boys liked, featured a lot of explosions and Zhu Zhu pets doing extreme stunts…


Speaking task alternatives.

This is part of a continuing series. Some might say an on-going saga. But I think it’s worth sharing the latest thinking in my staff on speaking tasks.

Here’s the one we’ve just finished writing: T1_Yr 10_Social_Justice_Asst_Notification_2014. Naturally it comes with a couple of extras, like a scaffold and a marking criteria: T1 Yr 10 Social Justice digital presentation Scaffold 2014, T1_Yr 10_Social_Justice_Marking_Criteria_2014

It’s our attempt to keep mixing it up when it comes to speaking tasks. We’re very happy with our Stage 6 tasks, where we have students reading their own creative writing aloud and reflecting on their own writing, with support from a visual presentation if desired. In case you’ve missed it previously, here’s one of them: 1. HSC_AoS_Assessment_Notification_2014

The great thing about this task in Stage 6 is that it formally values the creative side of the syllabus and encourages students to see it as an essential part of the course. And, of course, it values the part of English that a lot of us love – the creative and the imaginative. However, we didn’t want our Year 10 task to be a ‘lite’ version of the HSC task.

Year 10 have just finished their speaking task – it went over exceptionally well, probably because we did have an authentic audience in mind and encouraged students to speak directly about issues that matter to them. The opportunity to pre-record before presenting, or to present a digital video, was taken up by about thirty students and prevented a lot of the refusals and melt-downs we’ve seen in the past.

So we’re very happy with this one. Hopefully you’ll be able to use this to inform your own practice! If you’ve got a better alternative, please share!

Orwell’s 1984. Some Critical material

I’m following up on the ETA’s Module A day on the weekend and as promised, here’s some of the reading material I used to prepare my talk. I’ve also included some images. Here’s the Empire map!

Empire map

Now, I’ve attempted to scan these so they still work as a pdf but I may not have been completely successful. But here goes.

First off, here’s something Neal Endacott had tucked away from the 1970’s. It’s from an old Scoutline – those of a certain generation will remember Scoutlines – but it’s very quick and easy. It has a refreshing certainty to it, as well. ‘There he learnt to hate imperialism and pity the downtrodden and exploited’ – that kind of definitive statement that gives a good sense of how Orwell was perceived in a ’70’s context: Orwell Scoutline

Here’s a couple of interesting sources from on-line locations. I’ve included the url so you can track them down yourself. The first is from sfsite, one of my starting points for any sf texts. The second is from a University site. It has a very clear analysis of the ‘did Orwell predict the future?’ debate: Orwell Neil Walsh SF site

Now this is more just for interest. It’s an article from The Guardian about Orwell’s composition of 1984. Engaging and interesting: Orwell Guardian article

More stuff: here’s Ben Pimlott’s Introduction to 1984. This is the one in my edition but I know that it won’t be in everyone’s, and I particularly liked it: Orwell Intro Pimlott. And here’s some straightforward explanation of content: Orwell Storgaard

Understanding the complexities of Orwell’s politics can be a challenge, so here’s something on that:  Orwell Laurenson. Last of all, here’s an article that pushes out a few more challenging ideas: Orwell Donoghue

And just so I can show off, here’s the watch I used in the presentation. Pocket Watch

It’s my 1905 Waltham, an American movement in an English case. From the 1880’s, the US was making watch movements faster, cheaper and better than the English equivalent. If I’d thought of it, I would have included a picture of my roll-top desk from the same time – also American, because American mass production was producing faster, cheaper, better American Oak office furniture as well.

Macbeth Resources – for those who asked

I’ve had a couple of people ask about Macbeth resources recently, so I’m sharing some original stuff here. I have more on my shelves and in my bookmarks, of course. I’m particularly fond of my old copy of Brian Keyte’s Macmillan Shakespeare Macbeth but that’s been out of print for about ten years… and I never used all of it, just selected scenes and activities.

What I particularly like about it is its emphasis on stagecraft. Where should the Doctor and the Lady-in-Waiting be when they view Lady Macbeth? How can you stage this effectively? I find this to be a good way into the scenes – particularly as stagecraft choices reveal and are driven by the language.

But here’s some original resources. First off, a reader’s theatre script that I use when I’m introducing the play. Acting out Macbeth is the first part. Here’s the second half: Acting out Macbeth Part 2.

I also had fun searching various sources of images and crunched them together in this PowerPoint that follows up on the reader’s theatre. There’s a couple of activities on here – one is a ‘which scene is this?’ activity that asks students to identify from the image which part of the play has been photographed. The second is a compilation of ‘three witches’ images. There’s a huge variety of visual styles that can really drive students to think creatively about presenting Shakespeare. Macbeth in pictures! 

As usual, please acknowledge your sources if you use these activities – and if you improve upon them, please share!

Viewing Metropolis

The new restored version of Metropolis is a gem! I’ve been watching this as part of the Metropolis 1984 project and I can’t get my head around just how effective it is with its original orchestral score. MetropolisI’d only seen it in snippets before, or with the Moroder score in that fairly awful colourised version. With the full symphonic score it’s a real experience – recommended. I can see I’m going to have to find a big set of speakers and a decent viewing room for year 12 when we watch it – popcorn may be involved! Roll on, 2015. (For non-teachers I should explain that our prescribed text list in NSW has a new version that begins then.)

Oh, apparently the restored version is still available through all the big commercial DVD outlets – worth spending the $15 for the better sound quality, I reckon.

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