Pendragon’s Heir by Suzannah Rowntree (2015, Bocfodder Press)
I have always had a fascination with all things Camelot – Guinevere, Avalon, The Lady of Shallot, The Grail Quest. So when this book came up in my BookBub email I was intrigued. Combining Camelot with a Narnia type-story pretty much hits all my buttons, so I eagerly started it a few weeks ago.
This gripping adventure captures the magic and scope of The Chronicles of Narnia in a story sophisticated enough for mature readers. Blanche Pendragon is dragged from Edwardian England to the time of King Arthur… and discovers that Camelot’s fate may depend on her.
I have been having an awfully hectic kind of day, and then remembered this from my dear Holly. I think I like the idea of Thursdays being gruesome, but mostly because it is giving me only one day a week on which to have a whinge. I tend to over-whinge, so it’d be good for me to limit myself. Although I suppose I should really go the other way, give myself something to be grateful for in the face of a gruesome day. Yes, that’s probably wiser.
SO today, even though it has been particularly gruesome, at least I have this face to come home to:
My year 8 class is currently studying a book that I studied when I was their age, and we are all loving it so much that I started thinking about the other texts that I enjoy teaching, and that I have (in my short career) used with a range of year groups and schools.
Tomorrow, When The War Began
My year 8 class is in the middle of a comparative essay assessment for this text. We read the book, watched the TV show and the film over the last five weeks (plus school holidays). TWTWB is a novel that I really got into when I was in high school, and it is a book (and series) that is so unique in its plot, writing, characters, themes and issues. That idea of “what would you do if your country was invaded” is something that should seem inaccessible to teenagers today. But the way that John Marsden tells the story of Ellie and her friends is so compelling and vivid, so emotional and raw and above all else real, that I think it uniquely appeals to teenagers. The group of characters all have their flaws and are so different that I think everyone can identify with at least some part of a character. I used to live near a local airport, and whenever I read book one and then heard the planes flying at night, i would freak myself out so badly!
This is also a series that I can never put down; once I read the first book I often read the other six within the week, and the same happened when I was teaching the book this term – I spent the first week of my holidays engrossed in guerrilla warfare and teenage terrorists.
The Princess Bride
My year 8s looked at this movie at the start of the year, looking at characterisation, genre and film conventions. I adore this movie, and (selfishly) as a teacher I don’t like to teach texts that I don’t know or like. So when the opportunity came up for my year 7s last year to start looking at narrative conventions and characters, I had the idea to show them this movie. They loved it, after complaining at first that it was sure to be an old black and white movie, if it was made in the 80s.. I got them to do a character analysis on how one character in the story changed as a result of the events in the movie, some of them crafted some exquisite responses!
I have also read the book, which quickly became one of my all time favourites as soon as I started reading it.
The Outsiders I first read The Outsiders when I was in year 10. I was amazed that such a seminal, rite-of-passage text that resonated with my male classmates was written by a girl no older than I was (at the time). Since then, I have used that text with my mostly male, disengaged classes. I have found that they identify with at least something in the novel, whether it is the loyalty and devotion of the three Curtis boys, the hero worship of Dallas Winston or the lonely bravado of Johnny. I think The Outsiders is a book that you could study on many levels; whether it is to introduce themes and issues as I did this year with a hard year 10 group, plot and conflict with my year 9s last year or parallel characters and debating with my year 9s in my first semester of teaching.
The Outsiders was one of the first books that I remember reading in high school that I know have had lessons stay with me into adulthood. It was Ponyboy and Johnny that I turned to when facing my first novel study with my first “smart” class, and it is the lessons that they taught me that I try pass on to my students.
This one is a bit more personal for me. I saw this movie with my brother and my dad at the movies, and I left crying and proud to be South African. As an English text though, I think that Invictus has a lot to offer. It explores issues of racism, class systems, sports, politics, history and civics. I first used it with a hard year 10 class last year, and they looked at it more as a film study, with issues and themes the main focus. My year 10 class this year was very similar. We had previously watched a documentary called Pacific Warriors (my class has a lot of rugby specialist program kids) looking at the issues of inequality and funding in sports. I think the kids get a lot from Invictus, from looking at a moment in history and events that seemed too unreal to be true, to being able to watch a good sports movie.
I also like to teach it because it allows my students to get to know me a bit better. My family lived through a lot of the circumstances in the movie. My granny was a great hockey player who was not allowed to represent South Africa because of the colour of her skin, my mother was a great ice skater who was on her skating team as one of the “token” two coloured girls, and my grandpa would constantly talk about how great Madiba was. The movie is very real for me even though I have never really lived in South Africa, and I think lets my students see me as an actual “person” with a history and heritage that I am proud of. We also have a giggle at me being near tears at the end of the movie EVERY. SINGLE. TIME i watch it!
Guardians of the Galaxy
This one less as a “study” text, more as an “end of term” text. I have shown this movie at the end of terms since it came out, and every single class i have shown it to (8,9,10,12s) have enjoyed it. I adore it, and i think it’s perfect in its quirkiness!
Hope your Friday is less chaotic than mine! Would love some suggestions for go-to English texts, my tendency to stick to the familiar can at times be limiting…
I had a rather good school holiday break. I caught up with friends, went to a few new events and was able to recharge for the new term. Definitely didn’t do as much school work over the break that was necessary, but again, my own fault and something that I will work hard to catch up on this week (thank goodness for DOTTS and being part time!)
Probably my biggest news of the last few weeks (pretty sad, I know, ha) was that I made the decision to get a puppy! I finally realised that hey, I am a grown adult who no longer needs permission if she wants to get a puppy. Except, you know, the permission of the owners/real estate agent of where she is renting.
I have a general list of the breeds of dogs I would like, but I think what’s most important is a dog that I connect with. I’m not saying that if I connect with an St Bernard that I will take it home (unfortunately while I have always wanted one, my yard is much, much too small) but that to me is more important than it being a pure bred anything. At the moment I’m looking at bulldog/spaniel sized dogs; big enough to hold its own and be a good cuddle, but small enough to fit through the existing pet door at my house (as well as small enough that she won’t get bored in my little yard). I’d also like her to be resilient enough to be able to be home alone; as a teacher while I do get regular holidays I am at school roughly 7.30-4. I had the idea that when I do get a dog, I would get it at the start of school holidays so I have that two weeks (or six weeks depending) to bond and get her acclimated to my house and me.
One of the ladies at work brought her ruby King Charles Cavalier in today, and I have fallen in love with her. Her name is Chewbacca and her fur is exactly the colour of Chewbacca! One of my best friends has had Boston terriers and bulldogs for years so I’m used to them as well (on my list, but NOT those ridiculous tiny French bulldogs that are in vogue of late). My grandpa had a Pomeranian that only passed away a few months ago at the age of 16 and while she certainly was a feisty little dog, I don’t know if that was her or if it was the temperament of the breed.
My oldest friend is a vet nurse who has a gigantic heart that wants to take home all the sick animals that come into her clinic. She has been waiting for me to get my own pet for as long as I’ve known her (which is almost all my life, literally. I do not actually remember not knowing her!) and when I told her that I had a cat (technically housemate’s cat) that I picked up and everything, she thought it was the funniest thing ever! M knows me as an animal-friendly person who has never really had a pet of my own. We had a budgie and hermit crabs when I was younger, and I was always at M’s house with her dog, cat, rabbit, fish and birds. Her cat in fact was the only one that I willingly pet and was affectionate towards; when I was little I pulled the tail of my cousins’ cat who reacted accordingly (with claws) and ever since I have had a healthy respect and distance towards cats. Tom, my housemate’s cat, is an attention seeking sook who wants to be the centre of the universe so when I first started going to my friend’s house, Tom would make himself familiar to me, sometimes against my will! He would curl around my legs, jump up on me, rub himself on me. I remember one time I was lying down and all of a sudden BAM! Cat on my face. Now that I live with him he quite literally is my child., with all the attention and care I give him. When I first moved in he would pat his paws all over me and my stuff, and when I asked about it J said that Tom was “claiming [me, I’m] his mother now.” Which, awww, but for someone who was decidedly NOT a cat person, Tom has turned me into a cat person. Or perhaps just a Tom person. Either way, it has gotten to the stage that I know I will be more upset over Tom moving out than my best friend/housemate J moving away from me.
BUT getting back on track. My vet nurse friend M is very excited to come puppy shopping with me, though she also said “I’m super excited for you and it’ll come when the time is right. You’ll just be so smitten with her wherever she is”
So whoever she is I know I will be super excited. “Puppy” has been on my birthday and Christmas lists consistently every year. Not every year when I was a child, every year including this year. I’m very excited now about the possibilities and having a new fur baby. And definitely not Googling “are frangipanis toxic to dogs?” instead of working. Definitely not.
Hit me up with great puppy breeds, or tips. This frangipani thing is flummoxing!
The power went out at school yesterday, leaving more than 1000 teachers and students suffering in a 40+ degree day with no air-conditioning.. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the pleasure of being around young adults during hot weather, but there are two things main things to know:
My final unit of university consisted of integrating various ICT (Information Communication Technology) into my teaching. We learned how to use many, MANY different tools (I must have signed up for at least 15 different things in the space of a week) but each and every one of them were fascinating to me. I found that I could use almost all of them in my own teaching, and that I wish I had done this unit before I went on my internship (when I was supposed to!!) because there is so much to be mined out of these tools in the classroom.
One of the more fun ones that I have been playing around with is Wordle. This is pretty much similar to the Tag Cloud here on WordPress in that you input a list of words and the online program generates an awesome looking word cloud graphic showing you which words and terms come up the most. In this instance, I put in the URL of my blog (you can do this as long as the site has an Atom or RSS feed) to see what I talk about most.
Apparently I truncate my posts quite a lot, and really talked about the newest Hobbit movie! http://www.wordle.net/create
Fantastic tool to play around with, and not just for school. This ICT unit has been one of the most fascinating over my many years of studying, and I’m hoping to use them to create resources and programs while waiting for that all important Employment call. Hope you guys have a great week!
It's useful being top banana in the shock department.