Tuesday, August 12, 2014

8A Podcasts Rocket And Sparky!

Republished from Livejournal

  • Yesterday morning, 8A completed podcasts. They weren't brilliant, but they worked. Thing is, I never have more than fifteen anyway, because the rest are in ESL class. Yesterday, four were absent, two were on yard duty, one was on in-house suspension, two had to be sent off to sub school for sheer rudeness(but only till they had finished reading and rehearsing the play), one had to accompany them there. At one point, I looked around the library and saw SIX KIDS! But the two badly behaved boys returned and got some recording done. One of them was actually quite a good Eddie, the hero/heroine of Rocket And Sparky, a play based on Edwina Harvey's short story of the same name... Except his group ruined their otherwise not-bad podcast by inserting swear words. I don't know why they did it except it seemed a good idea at the time, because as soon as they had finished, they admitted to me that they had added swear words and I probably wouldn't like it. 
  •  I listened and they were right, I didn't like it. I didn't yell. I simply looked reproachfully at the ringleader and told him how an otherwise good podcast had been ruined and what a shame, because I had written the role of Eddie especially for him(well, I did hear his voice in my head while I wrote, anyway - "Eddie" was originally a girl, but I have a mostly male class)He looked shamed, deleted the podcast and called out, "Okay, everyone, let's have another crack at it." There wasn't time, unfortunately. I may have to find a lunchtime when they can do this.

    Two other boys did a good job, except they had to take on all the roles and one of them in particular sounded the same whatever part he played. At one point, the other boy was reading a dialogue between two characters without changing either voice. But he had the nous to begin with an introduction explaining who was playing what.

    The three girls did quite a good job and when I showed them a YouTube video of a camel bleating they kept it to play on a second iPad when Rocket was on. How clever! The others just read the script.

    So it worked, sort of. I got even the difficult kids to record - I suspect the swearing was a last-minute idea. That group actually came up with a silly but amusing bit of music with a camel theme to play at the beginning - Rocket is a camel and the setting is a desert. Their podcast would have been the best of the three if it weren't for the swearing. They used the script, they just stuck in extra - and I think they were already sorry when they told me.
    This was in response to being ordered to "teach a play". And finding nothing of interest in our few battered class sets. And writing my own, using a friend's story.

    Who would have thought, when I started teaching, that you could do this sort of thing? High technology was showing slides. Maybe we could have recorded a play but there would have been one old, battered school tape recorder.


    Oh, and Edwina Harvey wants us to see if we can sell the playlet to the NSW School Magazine. I'm pursuing it. If it could entertain a difficult Year 8, why not a Grade 6?

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Further Adventures In Year 8

Remember that student who got working when I gave him something he thought he could do? Two weeks and I haven't had to yell at him. Yet. Fingers crossed. It's an ongoing thing.

Last week, I started with the play thing. We were told that according to a document called "Scope and sequence" we had to teach a play. What play? Any play. But all we had were those dreadful, shabby class sets - and the only one I could remotely live with was lent to another campus for the term. And I wasn't even sure what we were supposed to DO with the play. Teach it as a text? Just read it? Make them do their own? None of these were possible with the supplies we had and my students, some of whom are simply too shy to read aloud and others who won't take it seriously.

I wrote my own. And got the kids to read it with the original short story on which it was based. Who has time to do something original? And then I got them to practise it and play with Garage Band, so they can do it as a podcast. I hope I can get them going on Monday to actually DO the podcast. They really seemed to enjoy it.

Fingers crossed!

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Experiments In History Classes

I have a number of students who just can't cope with Year 8 work but aren't listed as integration students or funded as such. Even where they are, we have a limited number of aides to help. I wish I knew why we're receiving funding for more students and there are fewer aides, but there you are.  I have to make the best of it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I do sometimes corner one or another of our aides, who are all kind people who know their jobs very well, and ask for an opinion of a piece of work I've prepared for a particular student.

In this case, the student was a very difficult young man who has a way of running around the classroom doing nothing except socialise and claim that he "helped" another student who has done a decent job of his own assignment. Occasionally he has found a picture, but that was it.

Something had to be done. I prepared a simplified version of one topic, breaking it down into instructions, but even that was too hard for him and the running around the classroom continued.

Last week, desperate, I did it again, even simpler. The topic was The Black Death. I supplied the   questions, eg "Another name for the Black Death was..." There were about six questions. I told him that I'd like him to answer the questions, looking them up on line, then use the answers to produce a poster or PowerPoint with illustrations he could also find online. I had showed them to an  aide, who said that yes, it was a good simple piece that he should be able to do.

Breakthrough! He set up his table among the shelves in the library, where we were, to prevent his friends  from distracting him - I kept shooing them away for him, telling them he was there because he wanted to be -  and got to work. I did have to help him with a couple of the questions, but he was more than willing. Well before the session was over, he'd managed to produce about three quarters of  a decent PowerPoint! I suggested a couple of illustrations to go with it. He completed it next lesson.

You see, everyone wants to succeed. He's naughty because it distracts his teachers from noticing that he just can't do the work. Given a chance to succeed, he did.

And it could never have been done in the tiny classroom that class calls homeroom. The library is big enough that he could  hide from those who would stop him from succeeding. That's something else I've learned. 

I don't know if I can do it again - this is trial and error, mostly error - but I do know that I was
blissfully happy afterwards.