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Archive for the tag “English (Advanced)”

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?

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.

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.

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.

The Metropolis/ 1984 Project.

I’m starting work in the next few weeks on a major project for the new text lists in NSW. As part of a comparative study of texts and contexts, students for the 2015 HSC will be able to compare text and context for Lang’s Metropolis and Orwell’s 1984.

I’m going to use my blog as a collection point for resources I find useful or relevant to the project. This will need to be curated, I’m sure. there’s so much out there on both texts and not a lot of it is useful. But I figure it’s worth having a central point where I share the thoughts, ideas and resources as I go along. Eventually all of this will inform my work on the English Teachers’ Association’s writing team for the project and the lectures and so on I’ll be preparing.

 So here’s my first site that is worth a look: It’s from Michael Organ at the University of Wollongong. A nice, comprehensive republishing of reviews from 1927 along with a compendium of artwork and a lovely detailed referencing of other useful material. http://www.uow.edu.au/~morgan/metroa.htm.

This is my starting point. I’ll let you know how it all goes!

Dodging the ‘essay on legs’. The speaking task question.

I’ve stolen the phrase ‘essay on legs’ from Sam Schroder, who used the term on the ETA facebook page. I like it because it’s a great summary of the problem: since the introduction of the new senior syllabus at the turn of the century we’ve been looking for decent alternatives to the highly formalised, analytical speaking task.  

Even as someone who has spent a lot of their career as a public speaking and debating coach, I have to say that I’m glad to see teachers looking for a range of engaging and relevant ways of delivering speaking tasks. I don’t have all the answers here. I see value in the live presentation and in the recorded one, the one with audiovisual support and the one without, the collaborative and the individual…

What I can do, though, is share my school’s response to the speaking task question. At our place, the speaking task is part of the Area of Study. This gives us the opportunity to assess the formal presentation at the end of Term 4, when there’s more flexibility in the timetable.

The task we do gets students to read out three hundred words of their original writing and then comment on how it reflects their learning about ‘Belonging’ It’s a common task across Advanced and Standard, delivered in panels of about eight students. Visual presentations – PowerPoints, Prezis – are recommended as a strategy to increase audience engagement. Students not only get the task, they get a model presentation. Here’s the task: AoS Speech Belonging Creative HSPA

How do they go? Well, here’s a sample. English sample AoS creative speech. This student chose to do a PowerPoint with their speech and it was a particularly good one. It’s here: Imp writing Belonging speech pp. Lastly, when I worked with this student we talked about what he needed to do to lift this work towards a top band response, so here’s some ‘feed forward’ work: Feed forward practical example English. (This was written with a view to working with staff so it includes a copy of the task and my notes as well as the improved response.)

I’m looking forward to Sam’s presentation at ETA to see what else is happening out there in terms of moving speaking tasks into this century. But in the meantime, there for your consideration is what we do. We have found this much more engaging than the former ‘essay on legs’ practice – and much more engaging. Students seem to enjoy hearing each other’s writing! Who would have thought, eh?

Revising Area of Study Section 2

Yesterday I was working with a school revising Paper 1,Section 2 of the HSC. In the presentation I tried to address the particular problem that students don’t know specifically what to do to ‘study’ for this section. I’ve put all the resources from the workshop into this post

There’s ideas from a range of sources in here. Tony Britten is big on building scenarios, so I’ve included that as a preparation strategy. Lizzie Chase’s Raft, River, Rainbow resource (available here: http://www.raftriverandrainbow.com/) is intended for junior years but I’ve found that it’s excellent for explicitly reinforcing knowledge about the craft of writing with Year 12. The graphic is from the Whitlam Institute’s What Matters site.

For the workshop, I prepared a practice paper that had texts but no Section 1 questions. It’s here: AoS Section 2 Practice

Here’s the PowerPoint: AoS Writing Workshop Regular readers will notice that it’s adapted from ones I’ve delivered in the past. This one’s specifically AoS focused.

Just to make life a little easier, here’s the Writing Craft cards from Lizzie Chase’s Raft, River, Rainbow resource.  Raftriver Writing craft

As usual, I’m putting what I do out there so that it can be used and improved. Let me know how it goes.

Have fun!

Othello Resources – for those who asked

My favourite Shakespeare book is Norrie Epstein’s The Friendly Shakespeare. It’s amusing, readable, comprehensive… exactly the sort of book I wish I had at university when I was studying Shakespeare. Here’s a little sample: epstein_othello[1].

It’s a while since I taught Othello but I think that for Preliminary it’s worth going with the dramatic approach. I have trouble staying away from reader’s theatre with Shakespeare. For Macbeth I have a whole PowerPoint of production images that I’ve sourced from the net. They tell the story in pictures from a range of productions. Great for initially reinforcing plot and character but then it builds into an activity about meaning and interpretation.

I’ve always enjoyed teaching Shakespeare but I’m not a fan of the idea that he’s ‘timeless’. The explanations that take account of his very different appeals to audiences across time are more to my liking. I think I heard John Bell put it this way: ‘Shakespeare’s plays survive only if they can speak to us in ways that other plays cannot.’ That may not be the exact quote – but it’s still a good starting point!

Fun with New Prescriptions

I’d forgotten what a lot of fun it is to play with the prescribed text list, imagining possible combinations and trying out different patterns to see what happens. What if I do this? What if i do that? What do the annotations say? 

I rapidly filled up about five photocopies of the course requirements planner.

 And I was thinking: is there a better way to familiarise myself (and staff) with the new list?

 So I’ve had a go at doing just that. Here is my colour-coded New Prescriptions Mix-n-Match game: New Prescriptions mix n match. The idea is that you print this on a colour printer, laminate, slice and dice as needed – then use it in a staff meeting, or just leave it on the table in the staff room for people to play with.

 I’ve put time into this particularly because I found that my own efforts kept drifting back to ‘safe’ choices – texts I knew, units I’ve taught – and I wanted to get myself thinking in new directions with the prescriptions. Can I put together a pattern of study where I haven’t taught anything before, for example?

 I’m also aware that some staff may not have had to look at this particular piece of planning in anything except a cursory way for a while and may benefit from a ‘refresher’ on course requirements.

 Before you ask – no, I didn’t do one for Standard. Advanced took me long enough! But if any of you want to put one together and share it…

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