Heeding the call…

What did I learn today?

That there are signs in life that should be counted as ‘wake up calls’ and I had better damn-well listen to them.

There’s an inconvenient truism about teachers that we are very good at accepting the successes, but rationalising away the failures of our students.

Last night I marked some Drama projects and I was fairly happy with what I saw. Tonight I’m marking English essays and I feel much less buoyant. The problem is that about half of each class are made up by the same students. I could very easily rationalise away their lack of success in English, however if I’m to learn my lesson then obviously I need to start teaching  a few better lessons on this English topic!

Guess I’ve got some work to do for this term’s topic…

Following on from yesterday’s post, I had a brief email exchange with Jeff Hebert, the webmaster of www.heromachine.com and he directed me to this site (http://s15.photobucket.com/albums/a366/Glenn3/Say%20What/ ) as the source of many amusing comic book panels that make for fun little writing exercises to do with students.

I’ve used these in the past for boys in English as a way of getting them thinking about narrative structure in short, contained exercises.

The basic activity goes like this;

1. Get the student to look at the picture in detail and think about the character(s) presented, what they are doing and their relationship to a) each other and b) the place/situation they’re in

2. Ask them to think about what might have happened just before the events of the picture, and what is going to happen immediately after

3. Then write a short caption to fit the blank space in the panel that somehow alludes to, or contains all of that information in dialogue appropriate to the character that is supposedly speaking.

If you go over to www.heromachine.com you’ll see that Jeff runs a regular caption contest which is basically this activity but with an explicit focus on humour, and less explicit instructions for participants. I used to play regularly under a different online alias, and have even won his competition a couple of times as well, and I might just have to reconnect with that community again and get my writing skills back up to scratch!

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Filed under Reflections and Musings, Teaching strategies and resources

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