Friday, 20 September 2013

The Truman Show - Character Analysis

I can't believe it is the end of a term already - this one flew by! I am disappointed in myself for neglecting my blog so much over the past term but am chalking it up to being in a new school and spending more time getting adjusted and finding my feet. So to end the term, I would love to share some of our character analysis posters with you. 

I was pretty proud of how lovely and colourful our display turned out. Students worked in a cooperative group structure to complete this task in which they needed to identify the personality, appearance, feelings/emotions, actions and famous last words of one of the characters from the film. They then took turns in presenting their posters to the class for the students to complete their character analysis chart learning about all characters in the film.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

One Year

It's been one year since I created this blog and I am overwhelmed with all the support and encouragement I've received in the last 365 days. I've posted over 100 times... an average of 1 post per 3 to 4 days which I'm quite proud of. I've also had over 26, 000 page views which is so much more than I ever expected. 

Thank you so much for a wonderful year and I look forward to another amazing year of posting on new secondary school ideas!!! :)

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Truman Show - Film Analysis

Our Year 8 English classes are studying "The Truman Show" for their film analysis unit. I actually love this movie which makes it even more exciting to teach. I think that film analysis units are great as students are exposed to a different form of expression. Students are often more engaged with films as it appeals to different types of learners also. 

Now, to "The Truman Show". Since this is a short unit, I am only spending one session on themes and one session on characters. This will hopefully lead into our assessment task quite well, as I am hoping to really scaffold that so the students can achieve success with it. Our unit starts with students viewing the film and then completing a series of comprehension questions while viewing to deepen their understanding. Although a lot of the themes and concepts in the film are quite easy for me to grasp as an adult, I feel that some of them need to be explained for the students to actually understand what is happening. Sometimes the little gestures or comments have deep meaning and thus need to be discussed. 

For our character session, we are going to do a character analysis in a jigsaw activity and then students will use that information to create a Facebook profile for one of the main characters of the film (this will be in another post once we complete this task). Students will work in groups to complete a character analysis for one character and then we will present and share to complete our character analysis chart. I hope this activity runs well and will post about it afterwards too.

New Fonts :)

I started to create some activities for my students this week and realised that all my fancy fonts had disappeared when my computer was reloaded. So I took some time this morning findings some cool fonts because they make worksheets all that much better looking and awesome! Who wants to do work on a boring looking worksheet... right? RIGHT!

It takes no time at all to download new fonts and a lot of them are free. Seriously, all you have to do is press "install". So here are some wonderful links to free and fancy fonts that are great :) :

Those are just a few links but I am sure there are many more!!!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

G.R.I.N - Getting Ready in Numeracy

One of my tasks over the past few weeks has been to design a new literacy and numeracy support program for my school. I have done heaps of research on programs currently being used in Victorian schools and actually got the opportunity to go and see some of these programs in action.

Today I want to talk about GRIN, also known as Getting Ready in Numeracy, a program designed by Peter Sullivan and Sue Gunningham. The GRIN model seems to have some positive successes in the different schools I have been in contact with. The model follows a format in which students are withdrawn for 15 minute sessions prior to their numeracy lesson. The focus of these sessions is on the language of mathematics. Students work on reviewing what they have learnt in their maths classes and then the GRIN tutor quickly addresses some of the concepts the students will be learning that day in their math classes. This in turn gives students greater confidence in their maths classes as they will already have heard some of the terms and understand the concepts the teacher is teaching. 

More information on the GRIN program can be found here:

I would love to hear some feedback on what other schools are doing for their literacy and numeracy support programs! This is just one of many that are out there achieving success. Essentially, my goal is to make sure that these students become more confident in their classes and are able to come out with the basic fundamentals that will help them achieve success. 

Friday, 2 August 2013

"My Place" for Teaching Year 9 Humanities

It is time for me to start sharing some wonderful activities I have run during the past few weeks. In the last three weeks, I have taught Year 9 Humanities, Year 8 Maths, Year 8 English and Year 7 English. It has been a learning curve but also a great way for me to use some old activities and strategies and refine them for a different age group. 

Last week, I ran an activity with my Year 9 Humanities class based upon the book "My Place" by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins. I have used this book before at the primary level when teaching history and was so glad that I was able to use it again. This book, if you haven't read it, is absolutely wonderful and can be used for practically teaching anything! It focuses on a house and tracks the owners of the house on a ten year basis. It starts in 1988 and each new page is ten years prior and is written by a person living in that house. It goes all the way back to 1788 (the year that Australia was settled). 

The Year 9 Humanities class I was teaching is working on a unit called "Sunbury vs. City" where students look at the community they live in and how they can make a difference. This is a cross between history, geography and civics and citizenship. For this activity, we looked at the skills of creating a timeline as well as investigating family history and what changes and remains constant over time. Students worked in pairs and were given one time period to investigate from the book. They needed to identify who lived in the house during that time period, what significant events were occuring to both the family living there and in the time period, and what locations were significant for the person living in the house (each time period has a map of the local community). Students then shared their findings with the class and we created a massive timeline across the room with the information. We were then able to identify when families moved out of the house, what stayed the same with the house, what stayed the same and changed with the neighbourhood. 

It was such an enriching and amazing activity as you could really see students making so many connections; between the time periods and the families, with the time period and historical events (e.g. WWI, Vietnam, Great Depression, immigration). I highly recommend that all teachers get themselves a copy of this book. It is full of colour and imagination and can be used to for all sorts of activities and to teach and lead some wonderful discussions. It is exciting to find such a fantastic book that can be used across the academic levels!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

10 Days - 10 Realisations

It have been two weeks of working at my new school so I decided to write a reflective post about the past two weeks. Below are some things that I have enjoyed, found interesting, or compared with other schools I have worked at:

1. Year 7 students are really young: I had a little bit of first day nerves and as soon as I saw the students, my nerves went away as I realised that most of the students I would be teaching are still kids. Thus, I could use quite a bit of my primary teaching skills with the middle year classes.

2. Year 9 students are the same in Canada and Australia: Since Year 9 is the first year of high school in Canada, students come in with a mix of attitude and apprehension (both excited to be in high school, but also go back to being the little fish after a year of being the top dogs). I guess I thought that year 9 students in Australia wouldn't have the same issues. Well, I have found that regardless of it is your first year in high school or not, Year 9 students are the same! It must be an age thing. It can sometimes be tricky to teach this year level as you are dealing with students moving from a pre-teen to teenager stage. So I am bound to use my charm and skills to work with my year 9's and get them on board!

3. Relationships, relationships, relationships: From when I first started teaching to now, one of the most important lessons I have learnt is that teaching is all about relationships. Whether it is a primary school class or high school class, students need to be able to trust their teacher and feel comfortable in their classes. My first week in the new school was tough as I had gone from knowing all the students in my year level (even those I didn't teach) and having such a strong presence with them, to starting fresh. I guess I wasn't prepared for that feeling and the huge realisation that I now need to build new relationships with my new students. Week two was much better as I became more familiar to the students and we have started to build an excellent working relationship. Some students who gave me a tough time in week one have become my biggest fans in week 2.

4. Time: High school teachers have less contact time and more planning time. I cannot stress how important it is for teachers to adequate time to plan and organise their classes. With this planning time, teachers are able to really focus on their lessons and create more engaging and exciting lessons for their students.

5. My height: Since I am teaching high school students now, I feel even more shorter than I did teaching primary school. I just need to maintain my presence in the classroom and everything will be alright!

6. Team teaching/planning: One thing I loved about teaching in a primary school was working so closely with my team to plan and teach lessons. In high school, the ability to work with other teachers teaching the same classes is far less. Perhaps this will be my challenge, to be able to work with other teaching the same courses to maintain consistency and to have professional dialogue and sharing of ideas to strengthen our course.

7. Support for Students: My new school (from what I have seen) has a great team of support staff that are there to work with students in addition to teachers. It is so important to have other staff members at the school that are able to assist students in both their academic and social success. Sometimes as teachers, it is difficult to give students the one-on-one attention that many need, so having a welath of support workers is wonderful to ensure that students are enjoying their schooling.

8. A library/resource centre: Oh how I love the library! Books, books, such wonderful things! In two weeks, I have read such a large number of novels for my classes.

9. Canteens: Canteen food is canteen doesn't matter where you are! (canteen = cafeteria for my North American friends)

10: I love teaching!: It is a little strange how excited I get about planning new lessons and finding cool ideas and strategies for teaching new skills. I absolutely love it, perhaps a little too much. Prime example: I am beginning my literacy and numeracy intervention program next week and needed to create my own timetable. Well I created three different ones, just because I didn't know which one I thought would be best for the students. Yup, that's me! Although teaching can get the best of you at times, I don't know what else I would rather do :)