Posts Tagged ‘english’

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 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 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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Term 3, week 3 (part II)

One of my best (and – can I say favourite?) students last year had Asperger Syndrome. Apparently she spent the first two years at school locking herself in a room in the Special Education unit, and only really became social once she started going to and then helping out at the library. By the time I met her, at the beginning of year 13, she had adapted well to school life and, despite some minor anxieties (always the first to class, always sitting in the same spot, not liking it when I rearranged the furniture etc.) had made friends, socialised well, etc. She and I hit of off really well from the very beginning of the year and we’re still in touch.

I’ve dealt with a bunch of students on the Asperger/Autism spectrum and, generally, I tend to hit it off with them. Being someything of an obsessive myself, and, possibly having an undiagnosed case of Dispraxia (my parents took my to a doctor as a child for being ‘clumsy’ when I was young, and I fit most of the other physiological symptoms) I tend to relate.

However, this term I’ve encountered a student who I have found really really draining. He is a year 10 student who has a severe case of Asperger Syndrome, but has only recently been diagnosed. He’s perfectly pleasant on a one-to-one basis, but pesters me constantly to help him, gets obsessed with totally irrelevant things (like, for example, badgering me with questions about Y13 English, despite me assuring him time and time again that I don’t teach senior English) and is generally a really draining presence in the classroom, if only for the amount of time I need to spend managing him. Were I to respond to every single question he asked, I’d probably spend about 90% of class time dealing only with him. He desperately needs a full-time teacher aide, or else some sort of CBT.

I’d love to develop some strategies to dealing with him because, well, he’s a nice boy, and I really want to help him do well in English this year, but not at the expense of having to ignore the rest of my class in the process.


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Term 3, week 3

Note to self: despite being rated M, Shakespeare in Love contains possibly a few too many sexual references/scenes to show to a (fairly immature) Y10 English class. Cue mutual embarrassment for all concerned.

10/1 seem to be really enjoying my Shakespeare unit so far … a lot of them are also studying Shakespeare in drama, so there’s a fair degree in overlap which means I can deal with big picture stuff and let the drama teacher make them learn lines. For 10/3 I’ve decided to use the novel Holes by Louis Sachar – a collegue to taught the Y10 LEC class last year said that it worked really well with her class, plus there are loads of resources online, a good novel, etc. Right now we’re starting by actually reading the novel – well, I’m reading it and they’re listening attentively. I actually really enjoy reading out loud, and the class seems to be lapping it up for the moment. For a class that has been quite agitated and unsettled for the first part of the year, being read to seems really settling. (And: confession – I’ve never actually read the book before, so it’s a good opportunity for me.)

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Term 2, Week 3

I’m teaching an advertising unit, Having spent the best part of two and a half weeks talking about various advertising/propaganda techniques, I got the class into a computer lab to search of examples of “good” ads on the internet. Turns out at least half the class didn’t actually know the difference between and ad and a picture. Amazing. (Sample conversation: “Is this an ad, mister?” “No, it’s just a picture of a hamburger”.) I am not sure what I have learned about this, pedagogically, but … ummm … sometimes a picture of a hamburger is just a picture of a hamburger.

For some weird reason, there was an outbreak of ghetto-style in the grounds of School X. My Thursday duty is usually incredibly dull, patrolling the grounds around the school carpark. Today there was a massive club of students, and something resembling a fracas. Remembering Brian Marsh’s advice (“Walk towards the problem”) I wander over the encounter a hip-hop battle between two gigantic Y12 students. Fair enough, and all OK, were it not for the fact that the song they were singing was NWA’s Fuck the Police, and that the kids were all jumping around getting really hyped up chanting East Side! East Side. White wannabe gangstas from the suburbs = epic fail.

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Term 3, week 6

Today I tried a one-off problem solving/thinking skills activity with my Y9 students, as a break from the novel study they’re doing. The task was the brainstorm problems at school (of which they came up with a multitude, obviously), pick one, and then solve it. The agreed upon problem (with a bit of nudging from me) the the lack of lockers/amount of stuff they needed to carry round, so they designed a bunch of potential solutions. There was some quite high level thinking going on, particularly from Alex and Miro.

Clare and Milton happened to descend on my class during this lesson. They seemed pretty amused by the whole process.

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