Archive for September, 2010

Fun with Romeo and Juliet

I’m marking my Y10 English students’ Romeo & Juliet writing portfolio work … some of it is fantastic … here are a few examples:

Romeo & Juliet Act 2, Scene 4 graphic novel adaptation

Romeo Montague’s Facebook page:


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Term 3, week 10

Last day of term … thank heavens! For some reason this term has been really hard going, probably because I spent the last holidays gallivanting around the States rather than resting up and preparing for the term ahead. These holidays I seem to have amassed a massive amount of things on my ‘to do’ list … marking internals, getting my appraisal folder sorted, getting reports, etc. I suspect it’s not going to be much of a break, but two weeks without students is something.

It also occurs to me that I’m 7/8ths of the way towards being a ‘proper’ teacher. Wow. Time flies …

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Term 3, week 9 (“They say cut-back, we say fight back!”)

I am not sure whether going on strike is part of my professional development as a provisionally registered teacher, but here are some photos from today’s industrial action.

Protesting from 7am to 9am on Tamaki Drive. Lots of toots of support, and a few 'birds' from disgruntled white males.

I really had to resist the temptation to get a placard that said "Hey Obama, Bring Back The Wire".

We are (mostly) women, hear us roar, in numbers too big to ignore.

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Term 3, week 8

Today was a mufti day. It was nice to see all the junior students looking like normal human beings for once.

My now (integrated) 10/1 English class is doing some great work. I’ve given them an open ended task sheet based around Romeo & Juliet – they have to produce:

  • A newspaper article about one of the incidents in the play, a comic book adaptation of a scene (either hand drawn or using PlasQ’s wonderful ComicLife application)
  • A 160 character TXT message summary of the play’s plot
  • A diary/blog entry from the point of view of one of the minor characters
  • A Facebook/Myspace/Bebo page for one of the characters

Despite one student telling me their dad thought the task was ‘stupid’, I think it’s actually really great … lots of room for creativity and critical thinking, and it really forces the students to examine the relationships and motivations of the characters in the play. Some students have really run with this, and appear to be producing some incredible work. I’ll post some of it here once I’ve collected and marked it all at the end of the term.

Year 12s are (mostly) working well on their horror films, and my Year 13s are … well … probably the less said the better. I’m getting annoyed with their lack of commitment, constant absences, and seemingly everything taking priority over Media Studies. I had hoped that the mostly terrible results in their practice exams might have been a wake-up call, but I’m not sure … grrrr.

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Term 3, week 8

I spent the weekend in Christchurch. In an earthquake. I am currently dining out on my stories of disaster tourism, and have fielded a bunch of invitations from ┬áSocial Studies and Geography teachers, asking me to share some stories. It’s nice to be a minor celebrity at school …

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Term 3, week 7

I’ve talked a little about my ‘difficult’ year 10 learning enhancement class over the course of this year. Of all my classes it has been the most consistently difficult to teach, and probably the least rewarding in terms of student output and student/teacher relations. Without wanting to delve too much into it, there’s been little buy in from the students, which has meant that I feel like I’ve been expending vast amounts of energy of a small group of students who just aren’t very interested in being at school. Students who, truth be told, often have bigger (scarier) stuff going on in their lives outside of school. I can hardly blame some of them for their lack of engagement, but, still … it’s been hard work.

Thankfully, it’s apparent that it’s not just me having these issues – my teacher aide, as well as their core science and maths teachers – both far more experienced that I – all state that this class is the hardest they’ve ever taught. Not, I should stress, because of any particular behaviour issues (although there are behaviour issues) but mostly because of the inertia in the class. There are only about two of three students actually interested in working, learning and improving, and twice as many expending huge amounts of effort trying to avoid work – “I don’t have a pen”, “can I got to the toilet”, “can I get a drink”, “I don’t have my book”, etc. It’s exhausting.

Anyway, things came to a head a few days ago in a PD session. Given that the class can regularly be as small as six or seven students on a Wednesday or Thursday morning when the class runs in period 1, senior management, in consultation with the head of Literacy and the Heads of Houses, has decided to dissolve the class and integrate the students into other Y10 English classes. I’ll be absorbing three students into 10/1 (which should be fine, I think) and will be relieving in that timetable slot for the rest of the term. A decisive move, but hopefully an ultimately successful one …

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