Monday, 20 April 2009

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!


  1. Thanks for the reading tip! When dealing with the Troubles, I usually let my class read ch 11 in Eureka Street by Robert McLiam Wilson. That is an independent story in the novel, about an IRA bomb and innocent people's lives. Great read!

  2. Thanks for the tip. I'll check it out!