Tag Archives: invictus

Friday Five: Favourite texts to teach

Long time no post (as always)…

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.

  1. Tomorrow, When The War Began
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    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.
  2. The Princess Bride
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    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.
  3. The Outsiders
    2626920066_091dc0a914_zI 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.
  4. Invictus

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    yes, i know this is the actual event, not a picture from the movie.

    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!

  5. Guardians of the Galaxy
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    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…

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Friday Five: Happy Valentine’s Day to my true love (Day 76)

I personally am of the belief that you should spoil the person you love most every day of the year, and not just on February 14th. So for Valentine ’s Day this year I am giving to you all moments of deep, meaningful and true love for me: sporting related incidents. These are a tiny, TINY selection of sporting moments that have truly moved me, and that represent everything that I truly love about sport.

  1. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd win their first championship with the Dallas Mavericks at the end of the first year of Miami’s Big Three.
    This win had the added bonus of depriving LeBron and company of a championship, but I was surprised at how emotional I got when Dirk and Kidd took to the podium. Both players have always been on my “greatest to never win a title” list and I think I was just so floored to finally be able to watch them achieve something long deserved. Now if dear old Steve Nash had just stayed in Phoenix, this year may have been his year to get off that list!
  2. April 28th, 2012. 1:20 left in game one of the Bulls/76ers round one playoff series.
    I don’t even have words for this one. Watching it now still devastates me, and knowing what it meant to not just one team, or one city, but an entire world full of basketball fans that would now be deprived of watching one of the most deserving players get his chance to shine. My eyes are actually stinging now at the thought, and perhaps my biggest basketball related fear is that his career highlights are only ever going to be before April 28th, 2012.
  3. John Aloisi kicking the penalty against Uruguay that takes the Socceroos to the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
    This was the kick that sent millions of Australians back onto the soccer bandwagon (I will apologise ahead of time for calling it soccer, but unless they change their names to the Footballroos, it is easier). I remember watching this with my dad and even without knowing much about Australian soccer at the time, knowing that I was watching history. Even now seeing a clip of that footage, hearing the commentator yell “ALOIIIISIIII!!” gives me chills. It is just a phenomenal moment and lead to one of my favourite World Cups ever.
  4. Towards the end of Invictus (fictional, yes, but based on the incredibly inspiring and true story so I believe it counts) where the team visits Robben Island and then when the whole stadium erupts after the Springboks win.
    As a proud South African, even though I have no accent to speak of and have only spent a combined one year in the country of my birth, this movie just does something to me. The combination of phenomenal performances and rugby, and knowing that even now the Springboks are still the best team in the world, makes this movie full of really emotional moments for me. Fun fact: every time I watch Invictus I pick up a really odd South African hybrid way of talking for a couple of hours.
  5. The West Coast Eagles winning the 2006 AFL Grand Final. 
    2006 was a rough year for me, not just because it was my final year of high school, but because of a lot of personal stuff that was happening too. Someone else who had a rough start to 2006 was good old Benjamin Cousins. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in a diehard Eagles household watching a baby Ben Cousins play in the blue and gold from the min-90s, but I cannot stop loving him. So watching the course his season took from losing the captaincy, to being brought onto the podium by Brownlow Medallist Chris Judd to be the first to touch the premiership trophy was something truly special to me. In a truly tough year for me, I turned quite heavily to sport as my drug of choice and I will always remember this moment with a smile and a tear in my eye.

Like I’ve said though, there are about a billion other moments (watching the 2010 World Cup opening ceremony, Nadal fighting through back pain this year at the Australian Open, watching the Perth Wildcats win their first championship in ten years, the 2009 first round playoff series between the Bulls and the Celtics) that really hit me. I have a love for sports that any man is going to find difficult to replicate!

Hope you guys have a great Valentine’s Day! Me, I shall be watching basketball and getting ready for All Star Weekend.

Love,
Andrea