Monday, January 30, 2006

What are we doing when we teach English?

I'm sitting here at school on the morning of the last teacher preparation day before the students come back. I really love the energy of the new year. There's lots of discussion among teachers about texts and ways into them. There's a sense in the air that we won't do things just the same this year as we have in the past. We're planning the first few lessons of the year with the new students and of course returning students, and we're thinking of ways to convene communities of enquiry in our classrooms. I have loved listening to Paul Allison's podcasts with his students as they go about this activity back in September. He recorded his students as they sat in a circle after having interviewed a partner with questions such as what their favourite tv show or other entertainment is, their favourite music and sport, what they did in the summer and something that nobody else knows about them. He recorded the students as they introduced their partners and it was quite moving to listen to this activity and compare it to the times that I have done it in my classes. Despite being in different hemispheres students have the same range of issues and ways of approaching school tasks. I enjoyed it a lot.
The first text that my Year Eights will be investigating is the film Fly Away Home and I hope to set the class up with blogs as they make meaning of and discuss the themes of this text. In Year Nine we will be doing Literature Circles again and once again I will be collecting data for my Masters project. I'm really looking forward to that. We had our Faculty meeting on Friday and as an opening reflection before getting onto the business of the meeting we discussed "what we think we're doing when we teach English". The teachers wrote their thoughts in 10 to 15 words and we will be looking further at this in the next meeting. I'll keep you posted.


  1. Hello, just wondering if the film is based on the book by David Malouf?

    Have a great teaching 2006, Jo!

    I hope the girls will start their blogs sharpish. I'm interested in the notion of literary circles, we had those back in grade 4 at my school and I thought they were the best thing since sliced bread. Even reluctant or low-level readers can have something special and insightful to say about a book, and you learn how to value and challenge that.

  2. I'm looking forward to hearing what your staff has to say about what it means to teach English. I've been struggling with that for my entire (albeit brief) career.
    I think I always will.