Sunday, March 18, 2007

How to 'sex up' English studies

Maybe by facing up to my recent difficulties in blogging I have to a small extent started to overcome them. I certainly have a few ideas due to recent reading and reflecting. My last entry on the use of IBWs attracted a really useful comment with several ideas I want to try out. One of them was, “You can also cut out pictures with a great deal of accuracy using screen capture at the board. Great for taking a character into a new context. Enormous potential for bringing the power of art into the study of literature.” There's more like that. Thanks heaps, Marita. When listening to a podcast by Vicki Davis last night I was again inspired by one of her ideas about 3D worlds that she had discussed on her blog (maybe I’m more of an auditory learner). I’ve had a bit of a look and I think it seems to have great potential although I am concerned that it may take a lot of time to become proficient. It would be great for exploring literary settings for novels and other texts we study, giving students experiential knowledge of a sort.

Another thing that I have been reflecting on is the challenge of making English exciting, as we say at my school “sexing up English”. We have noticed that students doing certain subjects will give up lots of their own time to create excellent projects and put other things like English on hold. We wondered why. I had a chance to find out the other day. Steph, a student in my year eleven English class was buzzing with suppressed excitement.
She sighed at the work in front of her: “I just can’t think about this now.”

Naturally, I replied, “What’s on your mind?”
“I’m always like this after Studio" says Steph (Studio Arts for the uninitiated). "I can’t concentrate on anything else for the rest of the day."
I asked, deeply interested by now, knowing I was about to be let in on the secret, “why?”
“He (the teacher, Anthony) talks so fast, he tells us ideas about this way of doing the project, “or you could do this or that.” There are so many ideas and they’re just so good. I don’t want to forget anything because I know I’m going to want to think about them more, I just have to write them down so I don’t forget.”

I just know there’s an answer here somewhere. Is it the fast pace, the quality of the ideas, the intrinsic excitement of creation? Maybe it’s the personality of the teacher, or a combination of all of these? It’s like this with blogging sometimes for me. Sometimes I feel just so full of ideas I can’t settle to anything until I’ve at least noted them down. I know how Steph feels. I just don’t know how to get the same quality of excitement in my classes. It’s definitely what I’m looking for.


  1. Yes, passion has to do with it, but I think that you could harness that same excitement by letting your students do a cross-curricular project with him!? What if you took the book you are learning and came up with a cross curricular project to express their learning to augment a paper?

    We use these a lot (but not enough) and the teachers say it is good to see the kids excited -- it is really the cool technological tools that they are excited about and honestly, I think it may transfer to any subject they use to express creativity about using those tools. (Of course there are some kids to hate them as well - just as there are some kids who hate to draw!)

    Great post!

  2. IBWs? Intercontinental ballistic whiteboards? That should sex up the classroom ... or the neighbourhood ;)

  3. Adrian11:03 pm

    Just found your blog - awesome reading! Please keep it up :)