Sunday Sessions: Halloween Costumes

So in honour of Halloween I am going to do a post on Halloween costumes and why people choose what they choose.

Let me start with my experience of Halloween costumes over the past 2 years. I have a Halloween party coming up next Saturday and theme was dead musicians, so I will be attending as Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. That’s right, the famous rapping member of TLC. I will be dressing as Left Eye of the 90s with brightly coloured, oversized clothing, and doc martens with scrunchie socks. I shall post pictures after the event.

Last year I went to the same Halloween party as a Mathlete, that’s right, I don’t abide by the rules of women and Halloween. Apparently Halloween is code for dress as a slut and claim it’s a costume. My friend Mel and I had a conversation about this the other day, it went something like this:

Me: Why is Halloween code for dress like a slut?
Mel sarcastically: Oh I think I’m going to go as Snow White but my skirt is going to only just reach my ass and I will wear slutty high heels.
Me: Pretty sure Snow  White’s dress was full length.
Mel: Pretty sure she wore flats.
Me: How can you be running around the forest away from witches in heels?
Mel: I’m going as a cat.
Me: Hey Mel, you’re wearing underwear, what’s your costume?
Mel: Oh can’t you see these ears? I’m a cat obviously.
Me: Oh right, sorry, I was so focused on the fact that you weren’t wearing any clothes, I didn’t see the two small ears that make you a cat. A slutty cat. Continue reading

Sunday Sessions: Just a few words

So I haven’t posted in awhile. To be honest, I haven’t had a lot to say. I recently lost my grandma, and let me tell you, your grandma and your mum within 7 months of each other is no easy task to deal with so I haven’t really felt like writing much lately.

Today I’m just going to talk a bit about my favourite books and why they are indeed my favourites. I’m not much of a romance reader but I’m currently reading “One Day” by David Nicholls and is fast becoming one of my new favourite books but I’ll tell you more about that as I finish it off. What I will say about it is this, have you ever had a book that you start reading and just cannot stop thinking about? That’s what it is like.

One of my favourite books of all time is “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac. Is that cliche? Well either way I do love that book. I think part of the reason for my true love of this novel is that I read it at time in my life when I was going a little stir crazy. I was in my third year of UNI, looking ahead to another year at that place, not just any year, a year of a Masters Degree in Teaching, and life seemed like it was just one dull routine. I wanted to get out of there, I wanted to see the world, but I was stuck. Through Sal and Dean, I was able to escape the boring drain that was my day to day life at the time and I will forever love “On The Road” for letting me do that. I am also a big fan of realism and there’s nothing more real than a novel filled with characters who are endlessly flawed and not all that likable. Continue reading

Sunday Sessions: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I’ve said on many occasions that the choice of texts for year 12 students is as important as how you teach them. Having the year 12 class I did this year, my choices had to be made very carefully. I’ve already shared 2 out of the 4 texts my year 12s have studied, The Simple Gift and A Man with Five Children. The other two texts we studied were a selection of speeches by the likes of Martin Luther King Jr, John F Kennedy, and Indira Ghandi, and also the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Curious Incident) is a story that follows the character Christopher Boone. It was written in 2003 by Mark Haddon and has since won the Whitbread Book of the Year award and the Commonwealth Writer’s prize for best first book.

I think the thing that makes this book so good is that it is so different to anything I’ve ever read, or my students had ever seen. Christopher has autism, he is fifteen and is living alone with his father. We are told that his mother died in a car accident. Christopher needs routine, otherwise he can react very badly, and throughout the book, which is written in first person narrative, we begin to understand the way Christopher sees the world. Continue reading

Sunday Sessions: Where the Wild Things Are

Year 8 study a unit called Appropriation, my current year 8s just finished this unit, we studied Snow White and Sydney White. Last year however, I had an extension class and we studied Where the Wild Things Are the picture book and the film.

I have been a fan of the picture book ever since I was a little kid and I was surprised to see that most of the students had never read the book before and had not seen the new film version. I love both.

The picture book is short, and to the point. It was written and illustrated in 1963 by Maurice Sendak.  The basic storyline is that Max, a young boy, has a fight with his mum and gets sent to his room. While he is in there he takes an imaginative journey to the land of the Wild Things, though they are fearsome and huge, Max conquers them and becomes their king. However, as time goes on he realises he is lonely and homesick and returns to his bedroom to find his supper waiting for him. The overall moral of the story is don’t take your home for granted because in the end, it’s where you want to be. Continue reading

Sunday Sessions: A Man with Five Children

Hey, so I’ve been a bit absent lately, I was exhausted and then I was overseas so I am back with an awesome play for you guys.

Year 12 only have 6 more weeks until they graduate and need to sit their HSC. This is my first year 12 that I have taken through from year 11 all the way to the end. It is an emotional time, seeing the kids grow and be annoying in your class everyday for 2 years, and then having to say goodbye, almost certain you’ll never see most of them again. So for the final module of their HSC I wanted to do a cracker of a text, this came to me in the form of the play by Nick Enright, A Man with Five Children.

This play is based loosely on the concept of Seven Up, a British documentary that followed the lives of 7 children from very different backgrounds as they grew and changed. A Man with Five Children follows the lives of Gerry Hilferty and five Australian children who he films for one day a year every year from the age of 7 until 35. However, what we see is not only does Gerry film them for one day a year but he becomes extremely involved in each of their lives, some in a positive way, some in a negative way, but ultimately there are major consequences for these children as they become adults. Continue reading

Sunday Sessions: Coraline-The Graphic Novel

There are many benefits to working in a faculty where you have some freedom with your text choices. One of these benefits is that you can teach awesome books that the kids love, or in this case, awesome graphic novels.

I’ve been a fan of comics since I was younger, reading the underdog comics such as Robin, rather than Batman, and I use to read a lot of Simpsons comics too. I loved the artwork and the colour and also that it was something you could read quickly if you had a spare 15 minutes. When I got older, like 20s, I began reading Manga. I had watched Anime for many years, especially Pokemon and Sailor Moon, but I had never stretched to reading Manga. I now read two main series, Neon Genesis, and Full Metal Alchemist, with a bit of Deathnote here and there. I love it. I love reading it, collecting it and discussing it.

The final unit that we study in year 8 is a thematic study called Dreams. The kids really enjoy this because they get to talk about all different aspects of dreams, including the dreams we have when we’re sleeping, nightmares, but also the dreams as in what we want from our lives. It’s a good way to get them thinking about where they want to be in the future, what kinds of things they want to work towards, we look at setting small goals for them too, short term goals that they really want to achieve. By the time the end of the year comes around the kids are sick of being in the same class, they’re sick of school, they want it to be Christmas, and in the West where I teach, it’s really freaking hot. It’s at this time that I choose to look at Coraline-The Graphic Novel with them. Continue reading

Sunday Sessions: The Simple Gift

Last year I began teaching a bunch of misfit year 11s who were really only still at school because they didn’t want to get a job and didn’t want to face the real world yet, school was much easier. I began the year with 27 students, there’s one term to go for them and I’m down to 15. These 15 have come a long way, let me tell you. Not only have they become some of my favourite people, but they’ve become excellent English students. We’re talking students who originally D and E students who are now C and B students. They’ve gone from Bands 1 and 2, to 3, 4 and 5. They are amazing people and they have put in the work to not only become better people, but better students.

The choices for teaching HSC Standard English are slim to say the least. There are a lot of old texts on that list, ones which 17 and 18 year olds could not care less about, and I mean, some that even I couldn’t care less about. I believe choosing HSC texts for students is as important as how you teach them. So knowing my students, I chose very very carefully.

We began year 12 with our Area of Study, like every student across the state does, Belonging. The text I chose for this particular topic was The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick. It’s poetry prose. The kids just see it as a cool story that isn’t very long. This automatically appeals to them and believe me they loved this story. Continue reading