Sunday, July 17, 2016

Term 3 Year 8 - Second Week

Okay, I had to do a session on "Listening". And "How good a listener are you?" I told my students it was because this term's theme is "Listening and speaking" (The others are "reading" and "Writing"). This may be the case, but I don't know for sure that was what was intended by those who wrote this unit. It didn't do them any harm, though, to be honest, it was more like the Pathways - homeroom - subject than English, while in this morning's Pathways, the kids were given journals in which they were supposed to write about the things that happen to them, something that has in the past been a part of English, to get them writing by doing something that was easy for them. The closest I've come was in the blog posts, though there really hasn't been time to do it regularly and I have mostly used it for getting their work in one place.

Still. We did it and the kids co-operated and might even have enjoyed it. They started off with a survey on "how good a listener are you?" which I asked them to be honest about. It was like one of those things they have in a magazine, where you give yourself a score. Some of them were more honest than others. The student I KNOW has the most trouble paying attention gave himself a higher score than he really should have.

We discussed it. I even admitted that I'm not a very good listener myself. I told them that when I phone my mother every night I have a tendency to be reading while I listen to her and then she will say irritably, "I asked you a question! Didn't you hear what I said?"

I wrote on the board some of the ways we could improve our listening skills, using student suggestions, and asked them to write them into their books.

We will have to follow up on it at some stage.

I'd still like to be sure of the reason for doing that particular lesson!

The unit required reading some Australian stories and poems. Some of those suggested were in a book called Growing Up Asian In Australia, which we don't have in the library. I did have it in ebook, but you can't print out from an ebook, so I bought a copy on the weekend.  I found one of the stories was just too long to photocopy for a class and would probably lose their interest before we'd finished reading it.

In the end, we just read some poems. I chose two by Oodgeroo Noonuccal aka Kath Walker, one by Sean Wright on the subject of a massacre of Indigenous Australians and a couple of classic traditional poems - "Clancy of the Overflow" and MacKellar's "My Country". The first two were "No More Boomerang" and "Battle Of The Totems", a wry tongue-in-cheek complaint about the changes in Indigenous life and a funny one about her father's totem carpet snake which her mother hated and eventually got revenge on.

I'd hoped to have them write something before the end of the period, but there was another class in the library watching a movie, so hard to focus, and a couple of my students had headaches. We couldn't go back to the classroom because I had the EAL class to look after, so we just finished the poems in an office off the main library, discussed them a little and I showed them a picture of  the painting "Collins St At Five PM" which made me think of the last part of "Clancy" and I played a YouTube video on my iPad in which the elderly Dorothea MacKellar read her poem, with appropriate accompanying pictures.

We will have to do some writing on Thursday afternoon instead.


Julia Thorley said...

Part of a course I did recently on mindfulness involved excercises in listening. Turned out I'm not as good at as I thought! Being a good listener means being able to concentrate and block out distraction: maybe that was the point of the exercise for your students.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Yes, but it was an English class! I don't mind doing the occasional diversionary thing, such as teaching them some research skills, being a librarian, but this was part of the required English "scope and sequence". No explanations except the "learning intention" on the board which was "learning to listen".

Oddly rnough, I regard myself as a not very good listener precisely because I can focus all my attention on something I'm writing or reading, without listening to anyone. For kids, of course, that's a good thing, as some of them can't focus on their work, but it doesn't have anything to do with being a good listener.