Archive for June, 2008

and for Act II…

I’ve been working on a short unit of work to do with my year 9 class next term once I’ve finished with the Video Games unit. I’ve decided that I’m going to run a ‘taster’ course in online tools that can be used to create or publish their work. We’re going to look at blogging, podcasting, uploading to YouTube and sourcing sound and images that can be used under a creative commons license.

I’ve decided to link both units together under the banner of ‘making meaning’ – weeks 1-5 will be based on how video games make meaning, and weeks 6-10 will look at making meaning online.

While students will work in small groups of 3-4 for the video games unit, they will work in pairs for the unit on making meaning online, to author their own blog. I’m going to be fairly prescriptive with what I want each blog to contain. Here are my current thoughts:

Students work in PAIRS to create a blog to publish their own compositions which must include:
• Central blog with a weekly post on class work or homework task, posts must include hyperlinks
• Widgets including at least admin, latest comments, categories and blogroll listing other students blogs, and other links
• A page for published poetry (including an image added for illustration or visual symbolism)
• A page for at least one published short story (embedded as a downloadable document)
• A page for published multimedia (embedded from YouTube)

Looking back over this list I see the requirements could seem a bit arbitrary, but I envisage that each of the required ‘pages’ will be linked to a series of weekly classroom activities/workshops.



Cool English Teacher

Thanks Scott.  A little close to home indeed 😉

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Video Game Unit with PS2

I have finally gotten around to getting a printed quote from my local games retailer for TWO pre-owned black PS2 consoles.  Now I can get the cheque drawn from school and with the pink PS2 I am also getting next week, finally have enough equipment ready to begin my Video Games Unit with year 9 next term!

I am planning a short, 5 week unit for my Gifted & Talented year 9 class based around video games.  This will be the first time I have taught Video Games in school, and if it is successful it will form the basis of a forum I am running with Darcy at the ETA annual conference.

What I currently have in mind is a series of lessons for the first 3 weeks where students hear a mini lecture and participate in class discussion before breaking out into structured ‘workstation’ activities.  I will probably only give these ‘mini lectures’ one in every two lessons – each time we focus on a new aspect of the unit.  Three weeks will give me 15 x 80 minute lessons, in which I would love to cover:

  • video games as a legitimate ‘text’
  • genre in video games
  • gender issues (gendered avatars, worlds, audiences, marketing etc.)
  • violence in games & classification systems
  • video games and the media
  • games and fan fiction

In the final 2 weeks of the unit I was thinking of getting the students to develop their own games-related research questions.  They would use the 2 weeks mixing independent work on their research question with the composition of a range of set pieces of writing based on the games they had played in class or at home.

So, any ideas for what I can teach?

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HSC blog runs red hot at assessment time

Well, perhaps ‘has more of a soft orange glow’ than ‘runs red hot’, but one thing is for sure and that is that over the long weekend, with an assessment task scheduled for Year 12 on Tuesday, the blog got a fair few hits, as well as a few comments. Woot! As well as this I had students emailing me their practice responses so I could give them feedback via email (using Track Changes in their actual Word document, and 2-3 point form points of feedback in the email body).

I know the students really appreciated having the feedback at point of need. I think I have fairly clear boundaries with them, and they always seem to be very mindful of sending me things at the last minute. One student emailing me an essay on Sunday afternoon wrote:

I’m SO sorry for the late e-mail. My nets been down. It’s totally alright if you don’t get a chance to mark it… Well, take care now.

My online experience with my senior classes has been so different to that of my Year 9 class. While the Year 9 students seem intrinsically motivated to contribute to a space that they feel a kind of ownership over (even though I moderate the blog), Year 12 these days will only blog if it is for Homework, or when they are panicking about an assessment.

I wonder if these different motivations are a reflection of their ages, or the context of their study (HSC is a very stressful year and there are great demands on the student’s time)? Or, I wonder if a class that was introduced to blog-based work in the junior school would be more receptive to blogging in senior school.

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New Year 9 blog

Recently I made a new blog, this time for my Year 9 class. It is a gifted & talented class, and I am having the most fun time teaching them! They are a really nice group, great to have a conversation with, and there’s a lot of mutual respect in the class.

In today’s class we booked library computers and they all went onto the blog for the first time. Unlike some of my older students who at times can be a bit reluctant and ‘too-cool-for-school’ to participate in blogging, this class really loved the site. Each of them signed up for email subscription updates, or their own username and password, or both!

It is great because there are quite a few quiet achievers in the class, and already I’ve heard more from them on the blog this afternoon than I do sometimes in a whole lesson!


Technorati & Twitter

In the past couple of days I’ve joined up to both Twitter and Technorati, as usual without a firm idea yet of how I might use them…

Technorati Profile


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Whose blog is this anyway?

Starting your own blog is supposed to be such a simple process – and technically speaking it is.  But so far everything that I’ve started online that was supposed to be ‘mine’ (blogs, wikis, social networking profiles etc.) has ended up over-thought and under-used.  Well, from my perspective anyway!

I’ve started this blog because I have a lot of things happening – teaching, research, professional development – and instead of trying to treat them separately I want to start exploring the way they intersect.  Rather than writing on different topics for different audiences or contexts, I’d like to use this blog as a melting pot for all of my interests.

So…feel free to comment or add me to your blogroll 🙂

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