Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A McLesson in McWords

Today's word is Simile. defines a Simile as.... 
sim·i·le   [sim-uh-lee] 
a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, as in “she is like a rose.” Compare metaphor.
an instance of such a figure of speech or a use of words exemplifying it.

The BFF and I enjoy this ad. 
I decided it had to get on the blog.  In case you are wondering... the video will give you a better idea of what a simile is.  

Who’d have thought that even McDonald’s can teach you something?  I knew Ronald McDonald was good for me.  This video gives both examples and non-examples of similes in a context that would be familiar to nearly everyone. Oh yeah, the other word of the day is desseverage

Applications for Education

1.         Use the video to “hook” your students at the beginning of a lesson about literary devices. Talk about examples and non-examples of similes and then compare and contrast these to metaphors.
2.      Revise the concept of similes.  Watch the video as a class.  Give students a transcript of the ad and ask students to highlight the similes.  They could also mark (with a different colour) the non-examples of similes.
3.      Making this into a bigger project: you could ask students to write a script in the same style as the video.  Students could choose a familiar product to write about in pairs and then act out to the class.
4.      After watching the video, ask students to choose a familiar topic to write a list of similes about and to keep their product a secret.  When finished students could read their lists of similes to each other in small groups and see if their group can guess what the product is.
5.      Extend your students.  After learning about all the literary devices, watch the video and ask students what literary device is being used.  Then, ask students to write a script to advertise the product using literary devices other than similes. 
6.      More extension. After watching the video, and writing similar texts, discuss WHY the advertisers chose this literary device.  Discuss the purpose, audience and structure of the ad.  Work together to analyse and deconstruct the choices made by the “authors” of the video

There is so much that can be done with a two minute advertisement in the classroom.  I haven’t even got started on comparing advertising over time (you can access McDonald’s advert videos from 1970-present on YouTube).

Have a Wonderful Wednesday! 

Monday, October 29, 2012

LAUGH, ESCAPE, THINK with Steven Herrick

My reading adventures over the past few weeks have seen me visiting some old friends.  I already mentioned that I cleaned out the works of Steven Herrick from the school library.  I am combining a few themes to tell you about a few of the Steven Herrick books I have been enjoying lately.    


Love Poems and Leg Spinners is a verse novel about class 5B.  Illustrated by Steven’s son, the book is written from the perspective of five year 5 students.  Topics cover teachers, lessons, games, playground conversations, families and religion.  The world through the eyes of 10 year olds provides quite a chuckle for me as a grown up.  I read a few of the poems to my year 8 class and they actually cracked a smile. 


I believe I may have covered this topic in the past, but I will quickly remind you that reading is my escape hatch.  The world is so much better when my head is in a book.  A Place Like This screams "escape" from many angles.  The story follows Annabel and Jack who have to escape their safe suburban lives to see they’ve really lived. The poems are written from the perspective of all the characters and Herrick seamlessly morphs between voicses.  When I read A Place Like This, it felt like I was watching a reality show and the characters were telling me what they were thinking and feeling as the action unfolded before me.  We see people of different ages choose between escaping or not.  It is an interesting read. 


I have probably covered this theme in the past as well, but I will say it again.  Reading is Thinking and true engagement with text requires and stimulates thought.  Reading Verse Novels over the recent weeks has led me to think about Steven Herrick (as an author and a person). He reveals much of his upbringing and experience in his books.  There are so many similarities between Herrick’s main characters.  I began to make connections between the experiences of the characters and I can see Herrick’s history in them.  But, the significant thought is that of returning to verse writing.  I love writing poetry.  I would like to try my hand at more free form verse and I think I can learn a great deal from Steven Herrick’s style. 

Next Week will be November! I will be covering the NYR Theme: Cry.  This will probably be the first time I manage to cover the theme in the same month. 

Happy Monday and Happy Reading! :D

Friday, October 26, 2012

Favourite Blog for Aussie Poetry

I am fairly sure that my regular followers know how much I love poetry.  Let's not forget Poetry Month. So, you will not be at all surprised at the idea that the "Aussie Poem A Day" blog has made it to my favourites list.  

A very clever person has started a Word Press blog in celebration of the National Year of Reading 2012.  Each day, followers are treated with a poem by an Aussie Author.  Poems are tagged by Author and are organised by theme.  I only just discovered An Aussie Poem A Day this week when I was researching (okay, I was googling) authors for upcoming blog posts.  That's right, I'm forward planning.  So I am still EXPLORING the site myself.  

Stand alone resource pages are also attached with links to Poetry on Screen and Poetry in Action.  Don't forget that poetry is meant to be read and really, to be performed.  Make sure you check out the performance poets on YouTube as well.  


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thank a Teacher

World Teachers’ Day 2012

Tomorrow is World Teachers’ Day so my thank you is for my colleagues and the teachers who (this is really soppy) “inspired” me to take up my chalk and teach.  But today I am going to tell you about apples.  I have mentioned the tradition of “the apple for the teacher” before.  But you need to read this. 

Last week, I was having one of THOSE days.  It was only period one and I had already dealt with projectile hats (hitting me in the back) and stress balls and slinkies.  The electronic roll marking system was down.  During the spelling test two of my boys were chatting and when I reminded them that in LNP we “use our manners” and “do tests” and “do our best” and they needed to stop talking.  One of them looked at me all innocence and said “is this a test?”
So, the test was over and I was battling through the lesson plan and pointing to the next task on the board when one of the boys (we will call him the Nice J) walked to the front of the room and hugged me.  Yes, he hugged me.  I was standing at the front of the room talking to the class and all of a sudden this 13 year old boy had his arms around me.  I didn’t hug back.  I did, however, say, thanks “nice J” can you return to your seat please.  “I’m sorry, Miss,” he said as he returned to his seat. 

Now, I need to explain something.  If you are not a teacher, you might not know this already.  

When teachers look upon their year 8 class for the first time they know that behind those cute little puppy eyes there are teeth sharper than the great white in jaws. 

Okay, we can move on now. 

The class continued as it had begun and I continued to duck projectiles and count up detentions.  I’m a good teacher, really I am.  For the last 10 minutes of my year 8 lessons I read aloud to the class.  Our current text is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I was reading to them as usual and most of them were settled and listening intently.  MOST OF THEM! When I couldn’t compete with the noise, I stopped and used my best evil eye.  (Did I mention that I really am a good teacher?).  I would then return to reading.  I was describing the physical appearance of a Golden Ticket Winner when Nice J walked slowly to the front of the room, placed a granny smith apple on my desk in front of me, and walked calmly back to his seat. I finished reading and stood at the door to farewell the “little gems” as they left.  I whispered a thank you to the nice J as he passed. 

I hope you take the opportunity this week to thank the people who have taught you something.  Teachers give to their students every day and while we don’t always show it, we really appreciate it when someone notices. 

Happy Teachers’ Day!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Honest Words

Wednesday is upon us and therefore it is time to explore the wonder of WORDS.  I often discuss the meaning of new words I’ve encountered.  Lately I have been thinking particularly about what words mean and the truth that may or may not exist in the things we write.  
Stand-up Comedian, sitcoms and average “Joe’s” all bemoan the complications of sarcasm and modern text based communication.  For example; How do you convey sarcasm when texting? What emoticon do you use to show you are rolling your eyes?
Sarcasm and Facetious comments are often difficult to decipher.  If the correct intonation is not utilised in the delivery of the comment than those listening may not realise that the speaker is not serious.  There are many people who do not understand sarcasm.  These people don’t hear changes in tone of voice or facial expression.  While we often think of such people as being socially inept, I no longer believe this to be true. 
The fact is, that the use of facetiousness or sarcasm is a “dangerous” way to interact with others.  When a writer or speaker uses irony or sarcasm to infuse a bit of wit into their text there is simply too much risk that the message will be lost in translation.  But do not fear, my dear, I have a solution. 

Actually, Dr Seuss has a solution.  He shared it with us in the book Horton Hatches the Egg through the words of Horton the elephant….

“I meant what I said, and I said what I meant.  An elephant’s faithful - one hundred per cent.”

Consider how much easier life would be for the Sheldon Cooper’s of this world if we all decided to be like Horton.  Try it for a day.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Stop the sarcasm.  Think before you speak.  You might find that there are far fewer misunderstandings in your life simply because no one is wondering what you meant. 
I know I am living in my own little world.  But I like it here. 
Words can mean many different things, so be sure to choose them carefully so you are not misunderstood.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

10 Things I've learned about Hospitals!

  1. Polo shirts (collared T-shirts) are the new “uniform” standard for wardsmen, and even nurses.  So if you are visiting your Dad in hospital and wear a polo shirt with a “logo” on one side, the registrars will wonder why you are sitting on a patient’s bed with your feet up and interrupting his conversation with a nurse. 
  2. Patients welcome news, any news, when they are stuck in bed for days on end.
  3. Nurses know what they are doing and they deserve an enormous serving of respect.
  4. It pays to have extra of everything… straws, plastic cups, bottled water, tissues and wet wipes.
  5. It pays to learn the names of every doctor, nurse and auxiliary staff member you meet. 
  6. Saying please and thank you and being patient will get you further than a cross word.
  7. You will always have to wait!  So be prepared… puzzle books, novels, magazines and letter writing helps to keep your mind active.
  8. Hospital can be a scary place.  I do my best to smile as much as I can when I am there.
  9. Great stories are told in hospitals.
  10. Whether you are the one in the bed or you’re visiting, you will inevitably spend some time in hospital at one time or another, so relax and let it happen.  It really is the best way to handle it.  
That’s that then. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

NYR 2012 Themes: EXPLORE

The October Theme for National Year of Reading is EXPLORE.  This one proved quite a challenge for me.  Despite reading the guiding notes on the website (click on the link above), I didn't know what or how to explore this month.  As usual I asked the BFF... because she says that she knows everything.  Then she says "I don't know" so that is nice and confusing for the medicated person.  LOL!

The BFF suggested that I look into choose your own adventure books.  I replied to this quite negatively, as I have a slight problem with this genre.  I am not at all decisive and I end up reading all the possible "optional" twists and turns and then I forget which one goes with which and I completely lose the plot of the story.  I also have a problem with the authors of these books.  It seems to me that they have a problem with "decisiveness" as well.  I can't blame them for that, but pick a path people.  If you want it to end differently, then don't be so lazy... write another book!  

I shouldn't criticise really.  I have never tried to write a "choose your own adventure" kind of story, which proves that I don't really understand what kind of undertaking it is.  I like to relax into a book and let the author tell me the story.  But I guess that is just me. 

The theme notes suggest EXPLORING another genre this month.  I settled on Science Fiction because I have enjoyed Science Fiction television recently, but never actually read a Science Fiction Text.  This is what brought about my "just bite the bullet" impulse purchase of The Ultimate Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  But as you know, while I was waiting, I ended up rediscovering an old favourite of mine, Steven Herrick.  I explored more "Verse Novels" this month and I started to explore my school library a little more extensively.  This time around, I was looking for books that could peak my interest and give me something light and fun to read.  I found it on the "H" shelf of the Fiction Section and the poor kids don't have any Steven Herrick left to read for the moment.  

Sometimes it is interesting to skip into a different genre every now and then.  I know what I like (most readers do) but I also like to feel like a "kid in a candy store again".  But for me, when I was a kid, I loved to visit the library and I read anything and everything available to me.  I was ready to explore practically anything.  I have read Mills and Boon Romance, Twilight, Babysitters' Club, John Grisham, Nora Ephron, Tom Clancy, Steve Martin, Wendy Harmer, Political Satire, Comic Collections, Junior Fiction, Picture Books, Autobiographies, Fact Files, World Record Books, Education Journals, Music Textbooks, Young Adult Fiction, Magazines, Newspapers and the list goes on.  As a young reader, I loved to hide in the library and found friends among the the paperbacks.  It didn't matter what the books were about, or who wrote them, if it was readable, I wanted to read it.  That is the best way to learn how to be a better reader and the best way to learn what you like to read.  

So, my advice for October, is to get out and explore.  Read.  Read some more.  Don't dismiss it out of hand, but give it a go.  Read something new.  Read something different.  Read to explore the world beyond your work and your lounge room and your family and your friends.  Read to explore the world of words.  Just Read.  

Happy Reading, Happy Exploring.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Oh Dear, What a Week!!!

On Monday I shared a link to a Melina Marchetta interview on KBR.  I hope you enjoyed it. 

This week has been busy with school, but also with friends and family.  I went to the movies with Mr One and now Mr Six is, as I type, sleeping in my bed!  He needed to feel special, which of course means a sleepover at M's place.  So, I have lots to tell you about that, eventually.  

Last Thursday, I mentioned the Professional Development that I was asked to present and the difficulty of finding time in three busy schedules to organise it.  We managed a few meetings, although I had a few very stressful nights and a weekend of staring at a blank laptop screen.  In the end it all sort of worked out and here we are now.  I have to present the PD again next week, and I have a few changes to make before then.  But for now, I'm leaving it be.  

One of the good things that happened this week was the arrival of my book order!!! Yippee!! I ordered The Ultimate Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy (all 5 books in one volume) and I couldn't wait to jump into it.  But, alas, I have had quite a bit on my "brain plate" for the past week and it has sat patiently on my bedside table since it arrived.  

I have been reading a few Steven Herrick books to tide me over.  Steven Herrick mostly writes verse novels which are a much easier read, although each poem contributes towards the storyline.  I'm always thoroughly entertained by verse novels and intrigued by how it is done.  I like to write poems, but I can't make one poem fit with another.  I have to admit I haven't really tried that hard, but still. 

Anyway, Steven Herrick got me through and he still is.  So, Poor Mr Adams will have to wait a little longer.  I need the laugh and easy read that comes with Herrick's books.  Don't get me wrong Mr Herrick has written very serious verse novels (and regular novels) but I tend to head towards the funny ones.  

I don't have much else to say right at the moment, except, Stay Tuned.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Kids Book Review: 12 Curly Questions with author Melina Marchetta


The theme for August was QUESTION.  I don't know about you, but, when I read, I inevitably end up thinking about the author.  I always have a million questions (maybe not a million) to ask the author. Where was your inspiration? Are these characters based on people you know? Why this story? How long did it take you to write this book? And that is just for starters.  Most Book Review websites make a great effort to post author interviews.  I must admit, that I enjoy reading author interviews far more than book reviews! 

Kids Book Review is one of the blogs I follow to keep up with children's literature.  I love Melina Marchetta and I had to share this interview with you.  Click the link below.

Kids Book Review: 12 Curly Questions with author Melina Marchetta 

If you are wondering, Melina Marchetta is the author of Looking for Alibrandi which was made into a movie in 2000.  If you attended secondary school in Australia during the late 1990's you were probably required to read Looking for Alibrandi, but if you weren't, someone you knew was.  I hope you enjoy reading Melina's direct answers.

Classroom Applications: instead of requiring a "book review" from students, ask them to write 10 questions they would like to ask the author.  Alternatively, they could write an interview (including both questions and responses) of a main character in the book.  When students are encouraged to pose their own questions they are far more likely to engage in a text than when they are given a list of questions to answer.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Favourite Author on a Favourite Blog

I love Kids Book Review (KBR) for keeping up with the latest in kids literature.  The site has competitions, book reviews, author interviews and information about children's literature and library events. 
The other day I saw an interview on KBR with one of my favourite children's and young adult authors, Jackie French. In case you are wondering; she wrote Diary of a Wombat among several other books.  

Click here to see my previous blog post about Jackie French.

Click here to see the Jackie French Interview on KBR. 

On Monday: Another link to a KBR interview with Melina Marchetta and a note about the QUESTION theme of NYR12.  

Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Surprises and Small Mercies

So this morning I was sitting in the staff briefing wondering why on earth I was not in bed and the principal was rattling off a list of upcoming dates and events.  There was the staff meeting and the football competition and the year level assemblies and contract teachers staffing meeting.  Then she mentioned the Professional Development Sessions that start next week and I froze. 

Surprise probably isn't the right word for it, because I already knew that I was leading the workshop on Literacy and Numeracy this term.  I thought I had a bit more time to think about it.  Alas, I have little more than a week.  AAAHHHH!!! 

This means that I have to find time to meet with the Numeracy Coach and Deputy Principal.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to get three people with clashing timetables into the same room at the same time?? We have to plan a two and a half hour professional development course... scary! 

Now I have had a little rant and got that out of my system let’s talk about what I am thankful for today.   I am thankful for the ladies in the office at my school.  I am thankful for supportive colleagues and team teachers.  I am thankful for the school librarians who are always happy to help.  I am thankful for the BFF and her random giggling at nothing (well, maybe not nothing; maybe a text on her phone).  I am thankful for students who are actually responsive to the activities in my class.  I am thankful for my Dad.  I am thankful for Nanny’s stew!  I am thankful for Mum and her driving.  I am thankful for clean sheets, folded clothes and teddy bears. 
I am more than thankful for ice packs!

Funny Story: I wrote the date on the board Monday period 3… the wrong date (Sunday’s date).  Despite  the fact they would have written the correct date twice already, the kids copied it down and did not notice my mistake or correct me.  HHHMMM Is this funny or sad?  I’m not quite sure. 

Friday tomorrow!!! Woohoo!! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Are you textist?

The National Year of Reading 2012 is encouraging "exploration" in reading this month.  I was exploring the NYR12 Love2Read wiki and was quite intrigued by an article titled "What is Reading?" It was quite good.  The best thing about it was this line...

"All reading is reading no matter the format.  Don’t be textist about format, or length of work, or context of reading."

This week, the word is TEXTIST.

In this context TEXTIST refers to the attitude that reading is not reading if it doesn’t apply to a book or a “real” text.

Urban Dictionary claims that TEXTIST is the word used to describe a person who dislikes a font colour. 

TEXTIST refers to the way people think reading text messages or facebook walls or magazines or catalogues isn’t real reading.  But it is real reading.  If you are using reading strategies you are reading. Texts come in many shapes and sizes and we shouldn’t discriminate.  Got it?!

Don't be Textist!  Read something, anything and relax.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ten Things for Back to School

Do I look ready to go back to school?
This week we return to school after our two week Spring vacation.  I have actually been away from school for three weeks as I spent the last week of last term at the hospital with my dad.  I spent a large amount of the two weeks prior to that, visiting the hospital as well.  Therefore, my desk is a mess and I am not functioning at my best just yet.  But it is essential that my desk is fixed before I leave on Friday afternoon.  If I have to stay the weekend at school I will.
I thought I’d devote today's 10 things to BACK TO SCHOOL ESSENTIALS.  This is a teacher one I'm afraid.  Perhaps a non-teacher back to school list could be for another time.  Anyway, these are the things that I have either purchased or checked that I have ready for this week's inevitably return to the classroom. 
1.     Comfortable shoes: I haven’t worn proper shoes for at least a week and my feet are quite miffed with me when I am pulling on the runners in the morning.  But they are far more comfortable than heels.

My "comfortable" shoe
2.    Chocolate: I had to stock up.  There are some days when I just need a piece of chocolate. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, if you hadn’t already worked it out, I’m a comfort eater. 
3.    Pepsi Max: some people drink coffee, I drink Pepsi Max.
4.    Pens, pencils and other miscellaneous stationery.  It is time to do a check and stock up.  May I also add, if you are a parent or guardian of a kid in school this is a time for you to check that all the supplies are stocked up as well.  Just because we are heading towards the end of the year, does not mean we don’t need pencils any more.  In fact, term 4 is probably the busiest and we will be working right up to the last day!
Check that the stationery will last until the end of the year.
5.    Library/ Other book for interest: it might seem crazy that I would be grabbing for some recreational reading when it is getting busy so early in the term, but it is even more important now.  Recreational reading gives me a chance to “not think about it” and just be.
6.     “Healthy” snack food: mostly pre-popped organic popcorn, crackers, cheese and nuts.  Gotta have something to nibble on when the mid-afternoon munchies hit.
7.     Fresh pillowcases/ tea towels: I have a kitchen area in my classroom/ staffroom and while I try to stay on top of the laundry, it doesn’t always happen.  The new term is a perfect opportunity to bring to school freshly laundered tea towels and of course a new pillowcase for my nap area.
8.     Plastic cutlery, cups and plates.  It might not be great for the environment, but in the early weeks of term (and the late weeks for that matter), it helps to know that you don’t have to do the dishes in the staffroom before you go home.
9.     A brand new pair of socks.  You can never have too many pairs of socks in my opinion.
They have to have stripes or polka dots.  
10.   Hair cut, manicure, pedicure, eyebrow wax: essential beauty treatments.  I always try to get on top of these during the holidays and make sure I’m looking quite glamorous by the time I return to school.  Before I know it we will be packing up classrooms, archiving work samples and handing out reports.  When all that is over I will look at myself in the mirror and realise that I haven’t had a chance to go to the hairdressers since my last holidays and it will be next to impossible to get an appointment before Christmas Day.  If I have to endure one more Santa photo with a mono-brow and wolf-like nails, I think I might die!
Oh Dear! It is only day two and I’m already desperate for a day at the spa!  Oh well, only 10 weeks to go! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

National Year of Reading 2012 Themes

I have been promising National Year of Reading Content for about 10 months now.  Finally, I'm going to share with you the monthly themes that were laid out by the NYR organisers to steer activities and social network conversations.  Special supporter book clubs, twitter feeds and facebook comments have been focusing on the monthly themes.  I, on the other hand, have been writing fast and loose when it comes to themes and just been doing my own thing.  I'm such a rebel, hey!?

January was THE AMAZING READ: I think the idea was to get us readers to open up, so to speak, about the "book" that totally amazed us.  I don't really know.  I should probably find out before I try to write more about that.

February was LAUGH: This one I get!  Humour makes everything a little more bearable.  So what do you read when you want to laugh? What makes you laugh?  What is the funniest book you have read?  Why do we head for the comedy?  I could talk about this one for ages!

I'm thinking.....
these glasses don't work very well.  
March was THINK: ouch.  Thinking makes my brain hurt, but apparently if there is no pain there is no gain.  Reading is Thinking.  If you didn't know that, you didn't know what the real experience of reading can be.  What do we read that makes us think?  How does reading impact on your thinking? Reading is Thinking.

April was FEEL: I get this one too!  Reading can provoke any number of feelings and I think the organisers wanted us to share what we feel when we read and why and how.   That's April in an Easter Egg.  LOL I’m so funny!

May was ESCAPE: which I think I may have accidentally written about before.  We all know that reading is escaping from the real world and I don't think I need to say much else about that.

June was DREAM: and I have to say I am not sure what to say about that.  I will say that I often dream of curling up on the couch with a good book.  I also dream of my castle that I will have custom built when I am rich and famous and it will have a library spanning at least two levels *sigh* :D

July was DISCOVER: and you have to do that for yourself.  If I told you what that was about you wouldn’t be discovering it, would you?! No, you would be taking the discovery of another and claiming it as your own and that is not true discovery.

August was the month to QUESTION.  We often read to find the answer to our questions.  But does reading ever cause you to Ask Questions?

September was only a few days ago and apparently was the month to GROW.  Reading grows your brain cells.  True Story I read it on the internet.

October is this month and the theme is EXPLORE.  I will tell you more about this one later. 

November will be dedicated to CRY and we can all look forward to that one.

December will have the theme “LOVE2READ” and I think I have already covered that one too. 

Everyone knows how awesome I am and we are going to do an entire year of “reading celebrations” in a little more than two months.  Get on board people We are going to catch up on the old themes, jump into the current one and head towards the future.