Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Monday, 27 April 2009

She's a lady!

Today one of my students asked if she could do her individual project on Barack Obama, but as we spoke I asked her if she did not find it more interesting focusing on Michelle Obama. I do like President Obama a lot, and I am also fascinated by the first lady. She seems to "have it all", and in just a few months she has grown to be well respected and tremendously popular. The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten wrote yesterday that Michelle Obama is actually more popular than her husband, and that American women run to the fitness studios hoping to get biceps like her. Why has she become an idol and role model for American women in such a short time? How important is it for the President of the USA to have a popular lady by his side? "Behind every great man, there has to me great woman"?
Anyway, all people interested in the daily life of the first lady of the US might want to visit "Michelle Obama Watch" or "The Obama Family White House".

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Resources to be trusted?

When working on a topic and searching on the internet for information, one page leads you to another, and almost by coincident you can come across many interesting sites and articles. But sometimes, I wonder about the quality of what I find on the web. This morning, I just very quickly needed to check the years of the Anglo-Irish War, and a google search led me to some BBC-pages on the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence. The pages seem to be written according to the "Wikipedia principle". I would like to know more about these pages, as they promise to be "your guide to Life, the Universe and, well, Everything". Does anyone know anything more? Has anyone used these pages in their teaching, or maybe someone has actually written on of the articles? I would be happy to get some comments.

Photo: "Wired"

Monday, 20 April 2009

Preparing a project

The last thing on our "to do"-list with the students this year is a project. Our curriculum says that the student shall be able to "choose an interdisciplinary topic for in-depth studies within his or her own programme area and present this". At first this seems to be both an interesting task and an activity in which all of the students should be able to show themselves at their best. However, the last two years have shown that this is not always the case. Many find it hard finding an approach to their projects and end up handing in cut-and-paste essays on famous football players and film actors. Boring! My question is: how can we help our students come up with interesting topics for their projects? How can we teach them to actually do some kind of research rather than spending a whole lot of time copying from the internet? I have made a suggestion to a project outline, but would very much appreciate some tips and help from others improving it, and hence making the projects more interesting.

Photo: "Help"

In between correcting papers..

There has not been a whole lot of time for blogging lately. I guess all teachers recognise the feeling of despair when you have too many papers to correct and simply not enough time to get your head above water? I really hate those weeks (and there seems to be more of them every year!) when I have to spend every night and every weekend correcting termpapers! However, it can also be kind of an inspiration when I see that some of my students have actually taken the advice I have given them, and really done a great job on their all-day tests.

I guess correcting papers would not be such a burden if I did not have to plan all my lessons and teach the entire week at the same time, but that is life. Some weeks ago I told about planning how to deal with the troubles in Northern Ireland in class, and that I find it quite hard knowing where to put focus. Due to various circumstances, we have not come around to teaching this topic until this week, and in the last minute I made some adjustments to my original plan. Teaching English in the same group for five hours (5 x 50 minutes to be accurate) in one day, means that I have to make sure the activities are varied and that the students are given "food for thought" in various ways. As an introduction to Northern Ireland I played Sinead O'Conner's This IS a Rebel Song to the class, and asked them what they knew about Northern Ireland and the conflict there. Most of them knew quite a few things, and it felt great to see that they actually tried to explain what was going on, even if they really did not understand it all (who can blame them...). The students were then to work in pairs with the text called "13 questions on Northern Ireland" and U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (see here for more details on the activities), before I gave them a short lecture on some central historical events.

We finished off by reading the short story "The Sniper". I have used this text in class the last four years and it works every time. It might be that it appeals more to the boys than other stories and that they get more talkative, or it might just be that the students find the ending surprising and perhaps even shocking. Anyway, my exerience is that they really like to talk about this short story, and when asked to pick any story that they have read in school, quite many pick this one.
So much for Northern Ireland and this week's teaching. Sometimes when I correct papers Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by woods..." comes to my mind:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I am looking forward to running around in the woods soon!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

"A little madness in the Spring!

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown —
Who ponders this tremendous scene —
This whole Experiment of Green —
As if it were his own!

Poem 1333, Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Cooperation makes my world go round

Earlier on this blog I have told how much I appreciate cooperating with my colleagues, and how important team work is to me in my everyday life. The internet gives us the opportunity to cooperate also across boarders. My colleague Ingunn introduced the network "Del og bruk 09" in February, and already the network has almost 1000 members. This shows that people want to share and want to cooperate with others. For a long time, I have hoped to get in touch with teachers from other countries and to get some kind of network which can help me and give me information in my everyday life and work. My dream is also that I can get in touch with teachers in English-speaking countries that want our students to start communicating. I am therefore quite pleased that I have received comments and e-mails from England, South Africa, the USA and from every corner of Norway since I started writing this blog. Thank you, all! It is a great inspiration!

At the moment I am enjoying ten days off from work. Although I have piles of papers to correct, I spend most of the time outdoors skiing, playing with my children and really enjoying the beautiful spring weather that has finally come to our area. It feels great to unwind and to refill the batteries after a long and busy winter!

Happy Easter!