Archive for category english

This is why more English teachers should write a blog!

English teachers who blog

I’ve just come home from the AATE 2012 national conference in Sydney. It was exceptionally energising to spend two whole days and nights talking face-to-face with people in my PLN, as well as getting to know my colleagues better and meet new people.

One of the sessions that I spoke in was a panel discussion on being a teacher that blogs. Here is a piccie of me with the other panellists @Darcy1968 and @BiancaH80 with our chair @melanne_k:

Darcy, Kelli, Melissa and Bianca

Darcy, Kelli, Melissa and Bianca

Why we need more voices online

There are so many things I would love to write a blog post about, based on ideas I heard or conversations I had at the AATE conference. BUT – I know I won’t get a chance to write about them all! So, the first reason that more teachers need to blog is to literally get more of these ideas recorded:

  • Andrew Burn outlined a ‘3Cs’ model of media literacy – Cultural, Critical, Creative. How does this differ to other models of literacy (e.g. Green’s 3D model, Luke & Freebody’s 4 Resources model)?
  • Bianca’s presentation on Project Based Learning emphasised the role of assessment. I have also found this to be very important, have others?
  • Gillian Whitlock from UQ presented some really interesting ideas about humanitarian perspectives on literature and children’s writing. She showed refugee writing from Australia and artwork that had been created to memorialise the refugee journey. Definitely someone in Queensland to talk to or hear from again!
  • The hashtag #5bells was used pretty successfully as a conference backchannel, I thought! What can we learn from this and how can we improve the experience for 2013 in Brisbane?
  • Vivian (@vivimat78) did us all a big favour by collecting many of the #5bells tweets via storify…this is super helpful and valued, as hashtags are no longer searchable, after a time period, and we don’t want to lose all that great sharing!
  • Vivian also coordinates the #ozengchat twitter chat and edmodo group. What relationship might exist in the future between AATE and #ozengchat? How can/do they support each other?
  • We got to say so much to each other in real life (IRL)! Talking uses up soooo many characters! Face-to-face conversations are fun 🙂
  • Hip Hop – OMG Adam Bradley was convincing. All the copies of his ‘anthology’ book sold out, and so many people left the keynote ready to exchange their cardigans for hoodies… In response I’ve started a Twitter list: trust-me-i-m-cool for teachers looking for Aussie Hip Hop links. One love!
  • I found the closing keynote by Bill Green and Jane Mills to be quite problematic. I understand their point to be that linguistic frameworks have taken over the analysis of ‘the visual’, and that ‘cinephiles’ understand film in a much more ‘visceral’ way. I don’t agree. I think this contrast is weird, given the way I cry like a baby when reading some books, and (I believe) can successfully understand the moving image, thank-you-very-much. I usually love Bill’s stuff, but would rather have heard about his theories on ‘spatial literacy’ than be told English teachers are inadequate at teaching film…wrong crowd for that idea bill and jane, wrong crowd indeed.

I’m sure there is more, but these are the big ideas that I would ideally tackle in the next couple of months. Who will help me? (Will it be you?)

 

Don’t do it for me, do it for you!

In the panel that we did, quite a few people wanted to talk about how to get more people commenting on their posts. This is a good question, and our suggestions included:

  1. Comment on other people’s posts so that they come and visit your blog
  2. Let people know you have written a post by putting the URL up on Twitter (you’ll need an account)
  3. Use categories and tags wisely to help search engines find your post

However, I really do believe in the power of reflective writing for learning, and I encourage any new blogger to write posts for themselves as much as for an imaginary audience. It’s OK to talk to yourself here!

Think about it – how many times have you tried to convince a student to do a piece of reflective writing for homework, because you know the benefits it will have for their learning? Writing up your experiences on a blog can have the same benefit for you! The mere process of deciding “what will I publish information about this time?” will put you more in touch with the successes and obstacles in your practice, I really do believe this.

So that’s the second big reason. Start a blog for yourself, because if you haven’t yet, then I think you need to.

If you think you “can’t find time to write anything, ever”, then making time to do this will hopefully help you see ways to make time for other things too. And don’t worry – the blogging police aren’t going to arrest you if you don’t add anything for 3 months!

 

And because all good things come in threes…

The third reason why more English teachers should start a blog is because teachers who blog and share their resources are usually friendly, generous and just plain fun to hang out with.

And the more we share our work and resources, hopefully the more time we can put back in to spending quality time with our students, friends and families x

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Coming to Voice

Looks like the theme for this blog at the moment is VOICE!

A little while ago I was alerted to this excellent production of student work from South Western Sydney, and I’d like to share it with everyone here on the blog.

Coming to Voice is a collection of ‘literary videos’ from students at Sir Joseph Banks High School. The video production by Westside is 5 minutes long, and showcases an innovative layering of student stories, voices, and animation:

Coming to Voice from BYDS on Vimeo.

From the press release:

Thirteen students from year 7 worked with the Chief Editor of Westside Publications, Michael Mohammed Ahmad, to develop writing that was then animated by 2012 SHORTCUTS film festival winner Vinh Nguyen.
The literary video, called ‘Coming to Voice’ will be screened at an assembly at Sir Joseph Banks High School and will also be launched on the BYDS website as a new web series on August 23rd.

Digital stories, literary videos etc.

BYDS (Bankstown Youth Development Services) seems to have a range of resources relating to the local community on their website: http://www.byds.org.au/ including oral history and photomedia materials. I’m so glad that these kinds of digital arts-based resources are flourishing!

When I talk about ‘digital stories’ or ‘digital narrative’ with teachers, it can be hard to explain the possibilities for the genre. There is of course the Daniel Meadows school of thought that advocates for 2 minute, 12 frame, voice-only digital biographies. The digital storytelling project at QUT uses a similar form.

I think the folks at BYDS have cleverly carved out a different kind of genre here for what they’ve produced – a “literary video”. As the students are reading their POETRY, the production is not quite of STORYTELLING. Could they have called them “digital poems”? Perhaps. But that might distract from the multimedia nature of the production, and the way that animation and video shots add meaning to the piece.

Literary videos… I like it! Thanks for sharing Mariam!

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Voices from Elsewhere…

I was recently directed to the Wheeler Centre website to take a look at the speeches and talks they had available to view and download.

Finding out about the Wheeler Centre was very interesting…did you know that Melbourne is one of UNESCO’s ‘Cities of Literature’? The Wheeler Centre was established to celebrate this:

Melbourne has a new kind of cultural institution. The Wheeler Centre – a centre dedicated to the discussion and practice of writing and ideas. Through a year-round programme of talks and lectures, readings and debates, we invite you to join the conversation.

Their slogan is ‘Books. Writing. Ideas.’

Isn’t that wonderful?

It wasn’t long before I found a resource that drew me straight in – I am a big fan of Nam Le’s collected short stories in The Boat and even set the book on our ETAQ Book Club list this year!

If you also like books, writing and ideas, please enjoy this 10 minute talk by Nam Le, on the theme ‘Voices from elsewhere’:

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Why English teachers join professional associations

In 2010 the English Teachers Association (NSW, Australia) celebrated 50 years of operation and service to members.

A DVD was released to members, with reflections from past and present ETA leaders. It is an excellent record of the history of the association and provides invaluable insights for new teachers!

I was surfing YouTube when I found that the ETA had uploaded the first section from the DVD onto the web. Here it is, roughly 8 minutes, on a range of teachers’ first involvement with the ETA:

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Literature v literature

I always spell literature with a lower case ‘l’. Unless having to use title case forces me to do otherwise, and even then I only do it grudgingly, preferring to write the whole word in CAPS. ‘Literature’ is not a proper noun, no more than the words ‘music’ or ‘drama’ or ‘visual art’ or ‘sociology’ are. No, ‘literature’ is a field of study, as vulnerable to attack, redundancy and dissolution as any other. ‘Literature’ is not like ‘The Bible’, it is not one definable thing. It is not like ‘Shakespeare’, it does not have a personality nor is it an old friend. It is a field, a part of the landscape that is identifiable, but that can also shift and erode or be crowded out, given enough time. It is important, oh yes, like an atomic bomb, or a legacy – but it is not a proper noun.

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Storify – ACARA Senior English subject drafts #ozengchat

On 19th June I shared the role of leader/discussant with @vivimat in the 8.30-9.30pm Tuesday #ozengchat stream that takes place on Twitter.

The topic: the draft Senior English subjects proposed by ACARA.

You can check out the ‘Storify’ made by Vivian to see all of the tweets from the discussion that night collected in one place:

If you haven’t yet found where to download the draft curriculum documents from, here is the URL: http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/draft_senior_secondary_australian_curriculum.html

Consultation on these documents ends on 20th July, 2012 (THAT’S SOON!) You can contact your professional association to ask if you can add comments to their response, or lodge your own response at the ACARA consultation website: http://consultation.australiancurriculum.edu.au/ (you will need to register first).

Some interesting comments made during the #ozengchat were:

  • That an ‘English Literature’ (EL) course would flow nicely into university study
  • That the EL course did not look significantly more difficult than the ‘English’ (E) course
  • That the assumption is that in NSW, the current Standard course aligns with ‘English’ while the current Advanced course aligns with ‘English Literature’ – but this is not at all the case
  • That bridging the gap between Year 10 and Year 11 & 12 needs a stronger focus
  • That the proposal to organise Senior English into semester-long units seems to align with what currently happens in Western Australia…but we’re not sure where else (?)
  • That the local state/territory bodies would still be responsible for assessment and examination; i.e. many did not realise that the NSW BOS would still be responsible for setting the HSC reading list
  • That English Studies as exists in NSW (non-ATAR course) filled a big gap – the hope is that ‘Essential English’ (EE) turns out to be like English Studies (or English Communication, a similar course in QLD)
  • That English would likely remain mandatory in NSW, and people wondered why it was not so in other states/territories

There is so much more to talk about when it comes to the proposed Senior English subjects!

I hope to have a new post up soon with some of my personal thoughts about the drafts. In the meantime, if you’ve been thinking about (or wondering about) the curriculum ACARA has proposed, drop a comment here – let’s chat about it!

[View the story “#ozengchat for June 19th 2012” on Storify]

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AATE / ALEA 2013 National Conference

This year in Sydney, as with last year in Melbourne, AATE and ALEA are holding separate national conferences.

Despite promises to myself earlier this year to go to less conferences, I’ll be heading along to both 🙂

The ALEA National Conference, which is about to be held in Sydney from 6-9 July, has already sold out all available places (Well done to Lisa Kervin, the conference convenor!) I’ll be sticking my head in on the last day of this conference to hand out promotional material our conference in Brisbane…it’s hand over time, baby!

The AATE National Conference will be held a little later this year, from 3-4 October. I’ll be there with Five Bells on, presenting a workshop with Bianca Hewes on ‘Success, obstacles and ethics in online teaching’ as well as on a panel about teacher blogging. I’ll be joined on the panel by the likes of Bianca, Troy and Darcy, so you know it’s going to be a power-session; not to be missed!

Once these two conferences are wrapped up, it’s next stop: Brisbane 2013!

Our website won’t go live until after the hand over in July, but there is a Facebook page you can like and Twitter profile you can follow:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/englishliteracyconference

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/EngLit2013

We’re working like crazy to get the Call for Papers and everything else ready for the launch, but here’s a sneak preview of things to come:

…will I see you in Brisbane in 2013?

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Next Stop: AERA! and AARE, and AATE…

When you have a research paper to present, choosing the right conference to take it to is important.

I have long been affiliated with the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE). When I first started out as a postgrad student, I used to go to their conferences to present papers, and I even was elected as student rep. to the Executive Committee.  I also had one of those awful experiences of being a small fish in a giant pond, and having only three people turn up for me to deliver my paper to.   Devo’d…In the end I ultimately stopped being involved in AARE because I needed to narrow my focus and concentrate on English curriculum teaching and scholarship.

Since then I’ve been going to the annual conference of the Australian Association for Teachers of English (AATE) – every year since 2004!  And this year is no exception – I’ll be in Melbourne for the AATE conference in December (will you?).  Only, for the first time in awhile, I’ll be heading to the AARE conference too, in Hobart the week before.  With more skills in networking under my belt, and a clearer direction for engaging with the ‘special interest groups’, I’m feeling really positive about reconnecting with AARE and sharing my PhD findings there.

For me though, as far as big, generalist conferences go, AARE was always plenty big enough – and having developed an instinct to narrow my scope rather than broaden it, I didn’t think I would ever attend the EVEN BIGGER, EVEN BROADER, international ‘annual meeting’ of the American Educational Research Association (AERA)

But, attend it I am!

Both the paper and group session I submitted have been accepted to AERA 2012, which will be held in Vancouver in April next year:

Curriculum Change and Resistance: Challenges Identified During the Implementation of An Expansive State English Curriculum.

This paper presents the findings of a doctoral study that undertook a content analysis of a corpus of curriculum texts, news reports and case interviews with teachers during a period of curriculum change in the Australian state of New South Wales.

Producing the young citizen in texts of families, neighbourhoods and nations

This session critically analyses popular fiction, nonfiction and television texts for children and young people focusing on sexuality, sexual safety, bullying and heroism. Each of the selected texts can be understood as a pedagogical apparatus that works to instantiate children and young people as particular subjects and objects of knowledge. (with Gannon, Lampert, Bethune and Gonick)

So, let’s count ’em up: AATE and AARE in December; I already went to ALEA and IFTE earlier in the year; AERA in 2012.

That’s FIVE amazing conferences in 12 months!

And one BUSY girl :/

Totally worth it 🙂

(By the way…’what’s with all the four letter acronyms starting with A’, I hear you ask?  Tell me about it!  Took the first year of my research degree to decipher this shiz!  And the kind of ugly websites of AERA and AARE…you can tell all of their energy goes into research!)

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REVISION

ONTONOLGY

ASCETICS

DEONTONOLGY

TELEOLOGY

Revise.

Foucault's Nietzschean genealogy: truth, power, and the subject By Michael Mahon

and…Heidegger paraphrashed: It is not that we first begin from an inner subjective sphere (a la Descartes) and from there go out to meet things in the world; rather, we are always already ‘outside’ among things. (Kisner, W. 2008: ‘The Fourfold Revisited’)

Sheesh. Philosophy. Any ideas anyone?

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EXCURSION!

I’m planning my first University excursion 😀

With my small class of six students studying their Grad. Dip. in Education (secondary English), I will be heading into Brisbane city to attend events that are part of the Global Poetics Tour:


Slam poets Jive, Ken and Mahogany will be slamming into Brisbane for the Australian Poetry Slam competition, which has its second Brisbane Heat on Friday 9th September.  I think that’s the event we’ll be going to…although the Sunday event also looks pretty appealing: Black Star Tribute ‘Words or Whatever’ at the Black Star Cafe in West End.

I wonder what event my students will choose for the excursion – we make the selection in tomorrow’s tutorial!

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