Monthly Archives: February 2012

“Let the wild rumpus start!”

Summer break over … time to start the new school year!

Actually this is my third teaching day of the year and already the holidays feel like a distant memory. This year my allotment is VCE Literature units 3/4, VCE English units 1/2 and a yr 9 leadership program … so as a special treat for my VCE students I started the year by reading them a picture story book.

As secondary teachers we often underestimate the value of picture story books in our classroom and yet they can spawn some interesting theories of interpretation and stimulate creative writing. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak is (apparently) a children’s classic and one of my two all time favourite PSBs.

In Lit we are revisiting critical theory and broadening our background knowledge in preparation for our first text study, the film “Persepolis”. I read WTWTA and then asked the students for their immediate response (reader-response) … like, dislike, why? We  explored ideas around imagination, emotional state and reality (psychoanalysis) … parent – child relationships and power … the impact of social and cultural values then (1964 when it was written) and now (historicism) … and noticed patterns in words and images (structuralism).

Then I gave the students a couple of reviews and we began to develop the skills we will need for our first SAC (School Assessed Coursework) … identify the views of others, evaluate them against our own and use the text to justify the similarities and differences.

In English I have a class of 18 students, 16 of them are boys who would rather be on the footy field than in a theory class period 5 & 6 on a Friday. We are preparing to study our first text which is the film “Witness”.  So, I read WTWTA and asked them for their response. Then we began to analyse the meaning in the pictures … colour … size … light/dark balance … position of characters. Friday afternoon didn’t seem like such a drag … even the two who didn’t like the story could tell me why in writing by the end of the session!

We had fun … we could read and re-read the text easily within our time frame … practice the skills we will need for our assessment tasks.

Oh, and the other book is “Dragon Quest” by Allan Baillie!