Thursday, 26 March 2009
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
- Brick Lane
- A Home from Home
- A Pair of Jeans
- My Son the Fanatic
- How I was taught to be a proper English schoolboy
- An immigrant story
- Generation conflicts in Asian families in Great Britain
- Born abraod
Sunday, 22 March 2009
This week I have also planned to continue working on multicultural Britain. The film last week was a success, and this week it is time to look at some facts and figures concerning immigration to the UK and how multiculturalism affects the British society. As I have said before, I have had some problems finding up to date-information on the topic, but hopefully we will manage by the resources available. My idea is that the students are to work in groups of four preparing a presentation on multiculturalism, hoping that a group activity will keep most of them busy and forcing them to read some of the texts I have picked out for them.
Last stop on this week's agenda is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Most of the students have managed to get hold of a copy of the novel, and it is time to start working on it. Knowing that reading is not the favourite occupation of many of the students, I believe it is necessary to give them time for reading at school, at least in the beginning. I suppose most of the students will find that reading the novel is not all that hard, and therefore I want them to do a close reading of at least parts of the book. My colleague Ann gave me the idea of letting the students pick out central paragraphs in the novel and then to explain their choice. I have therefore planned this rubric for them, and I will introduce it before they start reading so that they know what to put focus on. My colleagues Anne and Kjetil also suggested that we put focus on the characters and Anne has prepared this rubric in which the students have to fill in information and reflections on the various characters we meet in the novel.
My guess is that I have more than enough activities to fill the days this week, too, and that I have probably tried to squeeze too much into one day. My main goal, however, is to present activities that will engage my students in various way, and that they feel that they have actually done a good day's work by the end of class.
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Monday, 16 March 2009
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
The last couple of days we have seen that the conflict and the trouble in Northern Ireland have not come to an end. Since Saturday two soldiers and one policeman have been murdered, and there is much unrest in the Ulster region. The Continuity IRA, a dissident republican group, today claimed responsibility, saying that "as long as there is British involvement in Ireland, these attacks will continue."
For years I have tried to really understand what this conflict is all about, and though I believe I have managed to see some of the lines, I find it really hard teaching this to my students. First, I find that they do not have enough knowledge of British history to understand how the problems could have started in the first place. Second, I believe that most Norwegians think that the conflict is just about religion and that you can simply say that Catholics and Protestants disagree on how Northern Ireland should be governed. How much should we teach them? Do Norwegian students have to know all the details about the conflict, or should we just try to give them a simplified version of Irish history? I have often used the textbook Passage's "Thirteen Questions about Northern Ireland" to be a good starting point when teaching this topic. This text gives answers to many of the questions that the students have, and it helps correcting misconceptions. I like to present more facts than there is in this text, but for some students these thirteen questions will suffice. For those who really want to go in depth on the topic, I believe this BBC page is a place to start. Here you find information on all the central events and people involved, and the page is well structured, so finding what you are looking for should be fairly simple. I have also browsed through a couple of pages on the internet, and I guess both BBC's history page and infoplease.com can be used, at least when preparing for the lesson.
I still have a few days left before putting focus on Northern Ireland in class. I guess I must wait almost until the last minute before I decide my approach this year. After all, it would not make a whole lot of sense talking about history only when the situation is as it is in the region at the moment.
PS! Please take the time to listen to Sinead O'Conner's beautiful song "This Is a Rebel Song". It is really worth the time!
Monday, 9 March 2009
One of the competence aims for my students is to be able to "explain the main characteristics of the development of English from an Anglo-Saxon language to an international world language". Earlier this year we put focus on colonisation and how English became a world language. This week, however, our focus has been on how English developed from Old English into the language we know today. When preparing for this class, I came across this timeline on a BBC-page. This is quite informative, even if it takes some time clicking into all the different objects on each page, and I really like that it has some examples of how the various variants of English sounded like. I also used a page from Gyldendal's book, Experience while working on this topic in class (click "Global English" and then you will get to texts and activities). What I like with both of these pages is that they engage the students, and that they present the information in more than one way. I know that many of the students find it a bit uninteresting learning about how the English language has developed, and that some of them therefore do not read the information as carefully as I wish for. In order to make sure they heard it all once more, I gave them a lecture dealing with the same material that they had already read. In this lecture I have tried to make it quite simple and not give too many details, and I have also tried to give examples of central texts from various literary periods. I have published my power point presentation at SlideShare, and I have also posted in below for those who would like to have a look.
At the end of the day I asked my students to do a "Find someone who...", in order to make them rehearse the material. "Find someone who..." is quite simple actually, and it engages the students and gives them some energy. What you do is that you prepare a sheet with questions like"Find someone who can tell you about the Celts", "Find someone who can name the cases in Old English", etc. The students then walk around in the classroom trying to find someone who can actually help out. The person who gives away the information has to sign the sheet, and the owner of the sheet then has to move on to find someone new who can answer the next question. When they have had all the questions signed, I usually spend some time going through the questions in class, and the idea here is that it is the one who has signed the paper who has to answer, not the one who owns the paper.
I will probably not spend a whole lot more time on the development of the English language this year, but I just want to include a couple of web pages which might be useful the next time I work on the topic. The first one is from EnglishClub.com and it gives the short-short version of the development. The second article is written by Philip Durkin, Principal etymologist at the Oxford English Dictionary, and here he has chosen five events that all participated in shaping the English Language.
I do not expect all of my students to give a detailed account of how English has developed from being an Anglo-Saxon language into being the language number one in the world today. My hope is, however, that the texts that they have worked with this week can give them a better understanding of what English really is.
Other years, I have used Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" when working on gun control. This year, however, I have not found the time to do so. I have nevertheless shown this presentation of American history taken from the film.
Under is a list of more articles on this topic. Some of these articles are a bit old, but they can still work as a point of departure in discussions and for giving more information.