I am excited at the prospect of teaching Year 10 English next year; the first time since 2006.
The NSW Board of Studies has been instructed to abolish the School Certificate and there are great opportunities for teachers, with the extra time suddenly available, to be innovative in their approaches to programming for the 2012 cohort. The English faculty at our school will continue to meet in coming weeks and we are keen to try some new approaches. Already – via my email list of English teachers, Twitter and Facebook – excellent programs and units are being shared by enthusiastic, connected colleagues.
This post roughly sketches some ideas needing development in the coming weeks and months. Hopefully, with your assistance, we can share resources and develop ideas.
Perhaps our classes can connect?
Boys currently in Year 9 have an opportunity to volunteer for my class. They will be briefed re: the ideas outlined in the rest of this post so they will know what they are stepping up to do. I am the deputy principal responsible for this cohort and have been sounding out some students about what would really interest them. Jamaine is enthusiastic about making machinima, Tarak is keen on exploring game-based learning and virtual worlds; several other students are prepared to take the risk, in ‘the deputy’s class’, as we have gotten to know each other well over the last few years (in my office)
Each student will have a laptop, wireless access and a favourite micro-blogging tool throughout the course. Every boy will have a blog, as will the teacher, with a class blogroll. We will write often, learn about creative commons and how to create and share images. The philosophy at the heart of Project Based Learning will be an approach this class will explore. MOODLE is our school LMS and may be used as a repository (if needed).
We will use WordPress, Edmodo , BlogEd, Microsoft and Adobe software. Adobe Captivate is a preferred way to have students share expertise, teach, learn, assess – it is a great metacognitive tool. I will evaluate the potential of Minecraft (+ reality of the filter) over the holidays.
Rough ideas for new units include:
- ‘Can Cyborgs Write Poetry?’ (poetry; poetic techniques; philosophy; short stories; machinima; film)
- Telling the Truth? (critical literacy; media; bias; sensationalism; conspiracy theories; authority; perspective; opinion; sources; HSC AMOW; telling ‘shit from clay’; lyrics, documentaries; news; film-making)
- Genre (horror, fantasy and science fiction) including contributing to fan fiction sites
- Personal Interest Project (negotiated and personalised learning)
I particularly like Bianca Hewes‘ unit, inspired by Dean Groom, ‘Can Cyborgs Write Poetry?’ and thank her for sharing. I have no need of the excellent content but the title is just golden, helping me frame a range of other ideas that were lacking a skeleton. I have read most of Philip K Dicks’ novels and philosophic musings and feel sure Year 10 will get a taste of these, very likely enjoying, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ and Blade Runner.
Our set novel is likely to be Cory Doctorow’s, ‘Little Brother‘, freely available in a huge number of formats under a creative commons license. However, one of the goals for the course is that students read much more passionately – and often – in genres of their own interest. DailyLit is a great resource.
What do you think about the idea of running all these units simultaneously? This will potentially enable a more personalised program as boys focus on composing and creating in the area they feel most stimulated. We could really negotiate some personal learning space. Is it your experience too, that a well-sequenced and explained programming can be deadly dull for boys, as they work their way throughout text-types and tests, assessments and schedules? Of course, being organised, is an absolutely essential life skill and one that 15 year old boys are, stereotypically, not likely to possess. I can smell opportunity in this approach with a fair degree of danger to be wary of too.
Students still need to be graded based on the ‘descriptors‘ and online portfolio of the students creative output will be an important indicator of their achievement. A variation on Pechakucha will give an opportunity for students demonstrate both their oral skills and powers of visual representation in an assessment situation.
I am passionate in insisting on students producing polished writing. Spelling and punctuation are essential, especially as much of their work will be published online for authentic audiences. Students will have the opportunities to compose essays; book, film and game reviews; machinima; blog posts; documentary films; game walkthroughs; traditional and new poetic forms; short fiction pieces; fan fiction and videos.
This award-winning, machinima version, of WB Yeats, ‘An Irish Airman Forsees his Death’ in many ways sums up the kind of learning I would like to occur in our class next year. I want students to create, to be stimulated and be able to access traditional literary experiences in new ways. Lost Generation is another example of the poet adapting their ideas to new forms for new audiences. I thought I might open the year with it. What do you think?
What ideas are you/your faculty pursuing in the Post-SC world? Do you want to collaborate?