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Reading can be fun – find your passion!

Quote-Haruki-Murakami-If-you-only-read-the-books-that-everyone-else-is-readingThis term we are going to focus on reading but I know that some of you are unsure about reading.  I love reading so I find it difficult to understand that people don’t like reading so you may just have to help me!  However, I have a son who hated reading….. until he found a book and a genre that he was passionate about and now he loves reading. I would love to help you find your passion.

So I have a couple of questions I would like you to answer to start us off. Use the comments space below to post your responses.

  • Why do people read?
  • Where do you like reading?
  • If you don’t read, what might encourage you to read and where might you read?
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Micropoetry

Well girls, your poems today were fantastic.  I loved the way that you got involved and really engaged in the activity.  These were the pictures that I gave you and the Haiku and Twitter poems you wrote.

four images in a collage, top left is graffitti on a wall, top right is a butterfly feeding on a pink camellia, bottom left is a sunset over the ocean, bottom right is a view of a cathedral and old city walls.

Bright colours glistening
Floating in the summer breeze
Life full with beauty

Fluorescent Colours
Exploring perfect flowers
so small and fragile

 
The day was old,
the clouds were flowing over the
tall elegant brick buildings
as the wind blows the trees lightly

 

Sun begins ascent.
Red rays dance into ocean
the waves start to stir

 
Sunset’s reflection
He with brushes and paint
the ocean he creates

 

Empty hallways full of gloomy darkness. Brick walls are faded brown stones. At the bottom no one hears the prisoners yelling for help to get out. The view is outstandingly beautiful. The windows are as old as a bristlecone tree. There are so many different parts you get lost. This place is so old it has become abandoned.

Shimmering Sunrise
Over the horizon and
Over Golden sand

 

Colours spiral around like the waves in the sea
Eyes stare at me like a tiger surrounding its prey.
Colours play with my mind and pull me into a mysterious world.

 

Enchanting ocean
Shimmering beautifully
Night’s song soon begins

 

Colours mix in wind
glooming bright sky shining down
flowing in a bowl

 

Blue sky hovering over head
white bubbles floating in the wind
Crunchy grains underneath my souls
hair flying in the Lord’s CO2

#28daysofwriting Day 1

Hi girls.  I have just signed up to the challenge to write on my blog every day for 28 minutes for 28 days.  #28daysofwriting.  I wondered whether we might do something similar. It doesn’t matter what you write about.  You could talk about how your day has been, tell a story, describe a family member who inspires you, a new friend you have made at Dio, your first impressions of Dio a film you have seen or your favourite place.  What matters is that you write for 10 minutes every day for 10 days.  There, that’s not quite as daunting as 28 days is it?

So who is up for the challenge?  If you are, create a Google Doc and call it #10daysofwriting and then each day open up that doc and write.  Make sure you date each entry.  If you want to add pictures you can. Share the document with me and anyone else you want to share with.

Welcome 9AJ!

DSC09702Welcome 9AJ of 2015! This is our bookclub – a place to share what we have been reading and to celebrate the work we are doing in class. My first challenge to you is to tell me what you have read over the summer holidays. Don’t worry if you are not a big reader and you haven’t read a huge novel. Think about anything you have read; maybe you have read a novel, maybe you read magazines, perhaps you conversed with your friends on Facebook, Snapchat or some other social media site, or do you play social computer games where there are instructions to read, are you a budding chef and needed to read recipes or a blogpost to know what to do, any of these things is reading. So let us know, and who knows, you may inspire someone to read something different.

Ten Minute Stories

We have had some fun over the last couple of weeks with “Ten Minute Stories”.  There are heaps of websites out there on which teachers and writers have shared creative writing strategies which I have tried out with you.  Thank you for participating so willingly – I know that some of you find it hard being put on the spot and having to come up with something creative in such a short time frame.

Today we used a prompt from “Writing Prompts” .  tee-shirt writing promptHere are some of your ideas: (unedited!)

My T Shirt would be a magical T-shirt that could make me have magical powers e.g. flying, being invisible shape shifting. The T-shirt would have writing on that says “I’m magical”on the back of the shirt it would be rainbow coloured allowing it to change due to my shape-shifting. It can also change into different types of shirts e.g. tank tops singlets even a dress and pjs. All of the superheroes would be jealous of it and when i die it all the villains would dig up my grave and steal my T-shirt but it would never come off because it has a secret code to unlock it and an amazing security system way better than the banks even!! My T- shirt would also be bulletproof , fireproof and nuclear bombs would be scared of it .  My T-shirt would be invincible forever!!!!     Jaime

I would wear a large  grey t-shirt. I would wear this t-shirt because it is plain and comfy it will go with lots of things you can dress this t-shirt up or down. I would chose this t-shirt over any other because if you were to wear a small t-shirt you would grow out of it with a large one it will last you a lifetime. It chose grey as my colour because if it was white you would see the dirt and stains and grey will go with lots of clothes and you wouldn’t see the dirt . Also a nice large baggy top is comfy to wear and comfy to sleep in. Also during my life i might add some colour or something special to it to remember that time of my life so this t-shirt would also have some remembrance in it to.    Georgia

My top can change from one thing to another. I change it when I want, wash it, dry it and it will never break. With changeable colours, patterns and and pictures it is all my t-shirts in one. I chose this top as it goes with anything and everything from p.j’s to my school uniform. Blue, pink and orange or red with spots. Stripes, hearts and spirals my top has it all I could want.  When I grow it grows with me and when I start to shrink my top will still fit. This is my always changing, never breaking, forever amazing top.      Victoria

My tee shirt would have a popcorn background with a picture of a worm on it. It would represent me because I would be the worm and the green would be the world, so it would represent how big the world is and how small i am. I would chose this shirt and not another because i really like the colour green and I love worms.  I would also have a quote on the back that says if you can believe it you can achieve it. This quote really speaks to me because it gives me motivation everyday. This tee shirt washes itself sort of like a cat does so that it is always clean.  Tindra

If I had to wear a t shirt for the rest of my life it would be a plain black t shirt. I would wear this t shirt because you can wear it with anything. I would wear this t shirt because black t shirts will never go out of style. On the bottom of the t shirt it would be a big frill. If I wore a fluro yellow t shirt it would not look good with my favourite bright orange shorts!!!! My t shirt would be a fast drying material so when I took it off to wash it would dry fast. Black t shirts also make me feel very happy so I would be happy for the rest of my life.  Sophie

If I had to wear one T-shirt for the rest of my life, I would wear a magical T-shirt that has sleeves that go up and down depending on the weather. When I am hot, I can roll up the sleeves and when I am cold I would roll down the sleeves. It would be rainbow colours that change depending on the mood I am in, and it would be just that colour. The colours would fade from dark to light (top to bottom), but the actual colour fading would be the one that would change. It would be my size to start with, but then grow bigger and the sleeves would get longer when I grow taller.  The T-shirt also changes if I am playing sport or want to be fashionable for an event. You can sleep in this T-shirt because it changes fabric to whatever I want it to be.This T-shirt is water proof, fire proof, nuclear-bomb proof because who knows what I might need to beware of in my future.  I would choose this T-shirt because it is adjustable and changes with the weather, mood, time and activity I am doing.  Laura

Creative Writing

painting of trojan horseSo, another step into the unknown; the murky journey of the short story full of fantastical, wandering story lines, abrupt plot twists, over elaborate descriptions and unbelievable leaps from one scene to the next.  I love storytelling, it is the most powerful form of learning there is.  Language has developed from the oral story telling of past generations, cultures have evolved and taken on their identities as a result of the tales passed on from elders to their mokopuna and on again. We are who we are because of the stories of the world.  Who doesn’t remember sitting on a parents’ lap lost in the imaginings of the stories they were read?  I recall crawling into my parents’ bed with my three sisters on weekend mornings to cuddle up with my Dad as he told us the story of the fairies who hid in a huge wooden horse to conquer the goblins who were overpowering their kingdom.  We begged for it over and over again and asked for more and more embellishments.  It was only much later that I realised that the fairies’ wooden horse was actually the Trojan Horse!

Anyway, I digress.  Cultures are built on myths and legends which help us make sense of the world around us and how it came to be.  We thrive on real life stories – just look at the number of reality TV shows, soap operas that tell the stories of “real life”, and who hasn’t stopped to say “Oooh! Have you heard about ….?  We are fascinated by people, by stories, by questions, by answers, by imagination, curiosity and invention.

So, we have embarked on story telling.  In the last week of term we explored 5 Card Flickr with interesting results as already outlined in a recent blog.  I was lucky enough to spend some time with Alan Levine when he visited New Zealand at the end of September and talked to him some more about digital story telling.  I only wish I had more time to explore the possibilities but we have made a start.  This week we used an idea I heard about as I was surfing the internet.  Unfortunately, I didn’t make a note of the webpage so apologies to the initiator of this idea.  We have called it #storymakers and the idea is that one of the class (this time it was me, just to get them started) puts a starter sentence into a Todaysmeet.com room and then everyone else continues the story until it ends.  It’s a bit like the party game when you have to go round the table and keep the sentence going.  We started with “One day I discovered a magic button….”

a red sparkly button

We had great fun and it was interesting to observe how you “developed” the story – some of you got a little bit carried away and relied on “waking up from a dream” when someone “killed’ the character off.  I think it was challenging for you to have to think of the next line quickly and it was a quite a public forum although less public than having to say the next line out loud in an oral context.  I wonder how we could encourage the flow of the story without you having to do it so much under pressure?  I wonder if that would lead to more thoughtful ideas?  I am sure too that some of you were embarrassed and were put outside your comfort zones because either you didn’t know what to say or you felt that what you wanted to say wasn’t good enough.  Resorting to “crazy” ideas provides a “cover” of sorts, doesn’t it?  Maybe we could build the story over a lesson whilst doing other activities?  You could just keep an eye on the “Tweet” stream and see when it is your turn, or jump in when you feel ready…?  Ideas to ponder…  It was great though to see you all engaged and prepared to have a go, though.  So, good on you and let me know what you thought of the activity in the comments.

After the story was “finished” we read it out and we talked about not being able to rely on “it was all a dream” to get out of strange situations and also developing the characters as the story develops. It is clear to see what has been in the news recently … and interesting also to realise that we can only write about what we have experience of and that we can only bring our own perspectives of our understandings of those experiences to our writing too.  I know that a different group of people with different experiences would bring their own perspectives to this starter and the story would be completely different.
Here is the transcript of the story; (unedited)
One day I discovered a magic button ….
it was a blue sparkly one and it was hiding in my room
The button was circular and had a diameter of 7cm
It looke like it hadnt been seen in 100 years
It open a magical portal
but i didn’t go through
I just stood there looking at it, but then I heard cheerful music so I decided to take a look inside
but i slipped and ended up falling in a meadow
The meadow was filled with bogtrotters and nymphs
In the distance I saw a group huddled together and curiosity had the best of me
I started running over to the group and I suddenly tripped over and face planted in bogtrotters poo.
I thought really gross because it was all over my face, some went into my mouth and it tasted like shampoo
And then in the far distance there was a big BANG!!!!!!!
I then realised that I had Ebola and I died.. But then I woke up!
after dying i was really tired, and hungry so i went for a sleep and started chewing my own hand in my sleep.
I woke up and I was a new person named Bella ………. who was a princess.
I ended up being a prince….
Then out all of a sudden pineapples rained down from the sky and a lion roared in the distance…
I looked over to where the roar had came from and saw a pride a lions
They came running towards us ready to kill their prey
All of a sudden there was a baboon on the rock holding a baby cub with two other lions.it was the lion king
but I blinded them with my lightsaver and ran away
Ahhhh Sabena mamma he manana
all of a sudden everyone that i had been in contact with died and so did the animals because i had ebola.
and then in the distance I saw a man. i married him
We had a pineapple themed wedding, but then he died the next day from my ebola
the reason why i wasn’t dying because i was an immortal ebola zombie victim i had depression because i was the last living man on earth
I awoke next to the magic button, laying in a hospital bed really dying of Ebola.
I survived, because i got the magic curer from the bogtrotters
Lol, jk I’m still standing here looking at the portal. It’s kinda hurting my eyes fml.
I suddenly woke up to a holt. It turns out I was sleeping in rehab because I am Hillary duff.
THE END

Creative Writing


This week we started “creative writing”. Can you “start “creative writing””?  Surely it has to be spontaneous, from the heart,  rising from within ….? Anyway, it is the next “Unit” in our English programme, so we will do what we can…!  I have a feeling that you are going to be good at this girls!  Judging by the language in your formal essays you are itching to get those creative juices flowing and use adjectives and your imagination to the fullest.  I think though, that we do have some work to do with regard to some sort of plausibility!  Never mind,  it is the end of term and if we can’t go a little wild now,  when can we?

A few weeks ago when we started speech writing I introduced you to Pecha Flickr, a tool created by a guy named Alan Levine (@cogdog). You enjoyed the randomness of the images generated when we put in a theme and rose to the challenge to speak for 20 seconds.  This week we tried 5card Flickr,  another of Alan’s tools.  This was to get you thinking about telling stories in another way.  Making connections, building transitions,  sequencing and developing ideas and language.

It is always interesting, as a teacher, planning lessons:  I have an idea of what I want the outcome to be,  I decide on an activity, I devise it and then I have to be prepared for you to surprise me and turn it completely on its head!  It is not always easy and I know that you threw me this week when you didn’t quite do what I expected.  But I have learned to go with the flow, build on the moment and take the learning opportunities as they arise.  We ran out of time and energy this week (it is the least week of term, after all) but we will come back to 5card Flickr next term.  Meanwhile,  here is your amazing and very wacky story! (unedited!) Why not let me know what you think of the Flickr tools?  How else do you think we could use them to help you build your skills in English?

Five Card Story: The Revenge of the Alpacas

a Five Card Flickr story created by 9AR


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by Serenae


flickr photo by Serenae


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by bionicteaching

One day, there were a bunch of six year old sailors. They kidnapped a young boy called Jimmy. Jimmy was italian with blonde hair and abs. He had a tan and got all the girls. Jimmy was in love with a young girl called Tiana, one of the six year old’s older sister, this made them mad. They saw a poisonous leaf on the edge of their boat. Jimmy touched the poisonous leaf and immediately dropped dead! His crewmates had no idea what to, do so they did what they always did when someone died out at sea. They dumped him in the harsh, stormy sea and the waves encased him in a watery coffin. His lungs filled with salty poison.

After they put him in the sea they all went for dinner in the beach town and they had spaghetti and eggs.

When they were having dinner they saw a body wash up on the shore. They all screamed in horror and spilt their eggs and spaghetti. They were all very sad because it tasted so good and cost them 3 chickens and 5 wooden spoons.The 6 year old irish sailors ran away at 15 miles an hour!

Plot twist! Jimmy woke up, he hadn’t died but he was now riding on a tsunami and then he woke up! It was all a dream! Then he realised he was drowning he tried to swim to the surface but a tiger shark thought he was pretty hungry so he ate the boy. THEN HE WOKE UP AGAIN OMG. Then a pack of alpacas came and ate him. They tore his limbs off and ate them. He died; it turns out he wasn’t dreaming after all.


Book recommendations

a selection of books

One of the activities for your Wider Reading challenges is to read a book that someone else has recommended to you and then briefly comment on it.  Please comment on this post to say;

  • What you have read
  • Who recommended it
  • Whether your enjoyed it
  • Why / Why not?

Why should we read something that somebody else recommends?  I know that I often get stuck in a rut of genres.  I love crime and thrillers and could read them endlessly.  Often I go for them in the library or the bookstore because I am comfortable with the names of the authors and the predictability of the story-lines.  They are easy reading.  I sometimes don’t have the energy or the time to browse through and read the blurbs of all the other books.  And books are so expensive, I am reluctant to buy a book written by an unknown author, of a different genre in case it turns out that I don’t like it and I have wasted my money!  However, having a book recommended by someone makes choices easier and makes me more willing to take a risk.  Sharing and borrowing books makes sense.  Maybe this week we could build our own library in the classroom of books that we have already read and don’t want cluttering up our space any more? Or, if you don’t want to give a precious book away,  you can lend a book to a friend knowing that they will return it once they have read it.

I challenge you this week to bring a book to school that you think someone else will enjoy, tell them about it and lend it to them.  I also challenge you to read outside your comfort zone …

“I have a dream….!”

sunset kapitiWell girls, you have blown me away with your speeches!  I loved listening to you presenting the well-crafted speeches you wrote based on your chosen themes from the texts we have studied this year.  “Dreams” was a popular choice and inevitably many of you chose Martin Luther King’s famous words in your speeches.  But determination, fear, family, relationships, identity, purpose, our place in the world were all things that you spoke about and you all found interesting ways to illustrate your ideas and found examples from real life that were relevant and applicable.

I know many of you were nervous about speaking in front of your peers but you overcame your fears and put into practice the determination you talked about to overcome those fears, and your identities certainly came through strongly.

I asked you to assess your peers as well.  This is not an easy thing to do but I am impressed with the perceptive comments you made and how honest and professional you were as you took on that role.  As well as assessing a classmate, I also asked you to assess your own performance and consider what you think you did well and what you feel you could focus on for improvement for the next time you make a speech.  Those assessments are reflective and mature.  I think, maybe, that some of you are harsher critics of yourselves and each other than I am!

Great work, girls!  Have a good rest over the holidays.

Learning to explain

800px-Le_voyage_dans_la_lune_drawingSo, we are well into Term 3, “I am Not Esther” is done and dusted but the themes of the novel are not. Some of them come to the fore in this term’s focus which is a film study. We have watched the film “Hugo” based on the novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick. We are now well underway working on activities that help us to explore the characters, the story and the themes of this wonderful film.

Working at their own pace on activities is all fine and good, but some slip under the radar and are not always challenged to produce under pressure. So, this morning they were challenged. They chose two of several quotes from the film. I divided the class into two halves and each half took one of the quotes. They had 15 minutes to brainstorm the quote and consider four questions;

  1. What it meant?
  2. How it related to the themes in the film?
  3. Why it was important?
  4. Give examples to illustrate your ideas.

One person in the group was at the whiteboard making notes of the suggestions from the group, one person was a scribe on a shared Google Doc and organised the notes from the board into a table in the doc. (one of the groups worked quite well with two scribes to help each other keep up with the pace of the discussion).  One person was nominated as the speaker.  They were to argue the point that their quote was more important in terms of illustrating the themes of the film in a two minute speech.  As the rest were making suggestions, making notes and scribing they pulled the ideas together into a well-constructed speech.  

It was quite clear as I observed that one team was much more organised but I reserved judgement.  However, it was equally clear, once we listened to the speeched that the organised group was the most effective.  As soon as their spokeserson finished speaking the other group chorused; “oh, they win!” 

This was our opportunity to reflect and debrief which they did very effectively.  It was heartening to see how engaged, they had all been during the process.  Great work, girls. I hope you enjoyed the activity.  Maybe you could add a comment below to say what you learned from the activity and how we might be able to improve it for next time.