Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Kid Lit

I am currently trying to devour as much adolescent fiction as possible before I return to school and begin doing the 'book talk' for year 7 and 8 library classes. I want to make the most of this opportunity to develop a pretty decent understanding of this area of my practice, which I think is a bit lacking at the moment. I know my harry potters and my philip pullmans and my margo lanagans (my two most recent new loves) and I know what was around when I was fifteen, but I don't really think that is going cut it anymore. I love talking to my students about what they're reading, and the more I know, the better I'll get at it. I love recommending a book to student in the library and watch them sink into a cushion and begin to devour it.
The problem is that the librarian that I am filling in for has a better grasp of young adult fiction than anyone I've ever met. I don't know how she does it- she knows her library and every book in it like the back of her hand. I know that I don't have a hope of living up to that, but I want to give it my best shot. Hence wishing that one could read an entire novel by simply placing one's hand on the cover until the words unstick themselves from the pages. Hey presto, one book down- next! I've tried it- it doesn't work. I have a feeling that the Inside a Dog website and I will become very well acquainted, as I try furiously to keep up with my reading.

My list for the hols:

I'm going for the 'eclectic' approach. I'm currently reading this:

which I am enjoying, particularly the use of musical imagery in the voice of one of the narrators.

But I really want to be reading this:

and especially this

Unfortunately, the students must have beaten me to it, since I couldn't find them on the shelf. ;)

Monday, June 19, 2006

pictures of words

A scarlet letter

P o E M - Lankershim Arts Center

Cimetière Montparnasse S p.e.r.i.o.d p.e.r.i.o.d

scattered seed-pods

There were sea-horses and mer-men

and a flat tide-shelf,

there was a sand-dune,

turned moon-ward,

and a trail of wet weed

beyond it,

another of weed,

burnt another colour,

and scattered seed-pods

from the sea-weed;

there was a singing snail,

(does a snail sing?)

a sort of tenuous wail

that was not the wind

nor that one gull,

perched on the half-buried


nor was it any part of translatable sound,

it might have been, of course,

another sort of reed-bird,

further inland;

inland, there was a pond,

filled with water-lillies;

they opened in fresh-water

but the sea was so near,

one was afraid some inland tide,

some sudden squall,

would sweep up,

sweep in,

over the fresh-water pond,

down the lilies;

that is why I am afraid;

I look at you,

I think of your song,

I see the long trail of your coming,

(your nerves are almost gone)

your song is the wail

of something intangible

that I almost

but not-quite feel.

- "The Poet", H.D.

I want to write with this kind of mystery...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Looking forward...

At the moment it is difficult to stay focused on my thesis (even though I am getting closer and if I keep at it I will have it written soon) because the thought of returning to teaching in a month's time is distracting me. I am returning to a fantastic load (year 10 and 11 literature, year 10 English and some classes in the library delivering the wider reading program). On a version of the timetable a month or so ago I was going to be teaching year 8 English workshop (an 'intensive' program for students who find some aspects of English a bit challenging), which I was looking forward to because it is a small class and I was excitedly thinking of new things to explore with them, such as digital storytelling, which would be manageable in a group that size and a potentially fabulous experience for them.

Unfortunately, on the latest version of the timetable this class clashes with year 11 lit, hence picking up the wider reading program for the librarian who will be on leave. I'm really glad to be part of the wider reading program though, because what could be better than chatting to kids about what they're reading? It will give me the incentive to really broaden my knowledge of what is out there in adolescent literature at the moment, too, as this is an area of my practice that I would really like to develop.

Very excited about finally teaching year 11 lit, too, after making the wrenching decision to put this on hold to take some leave at the start of the year. They've been incredibly good to me- I'm lucky to be getting this class back, and feel badly for the teacher who is really enjoying these students and is having to pass them back to me. He will be a great support, though, and I know a few wonderful people I can/will ask for advice. I am beginning to feel the pressure of living up to the good work that has already been done, while at the same time wanting to explore some of my own ways of doing things.

So, lots to look forward to...

...teaching literature... teaching the only year 11 class, which means I can dance to the beat of my own drum... having another go at blogging in the classroom (hopefully with more success this time around)... playing/experimenting with students and some wonderfully fun social software resources, like this, this, this, this and these... chatting about 'the kindness of strangers', tygers, 'janeites', and the prodigiously wealthy... reading books on soft, plump cushions... getting the school creative writing mag up again, and hopefully satisfying my vision of turning it into a creative arts e-zine, complete with podcasts of students reciting their own poetry, recordings of school bands (established and subversive), photos of artwork, films of student media projects, short stories (yes, well, ok, this vision might take until next year- probably safer to start small)... turning this blog into something a little more dynamic that is a more complex, interesting reflection of my teaching self... and teaching again (sigh)...