I arrived with optimism and I leave the same. I hope along the way to have added a little more than I have taken. I believe that I have left this T.W.I.S. (Tungwah Wenzel International School) community, all the more mentally and academically stronger. I feel like I am a much better person than when I arrived.
I recall meeting Mr Arturo Ruelas and Miss Ann Gaillard as the school community opened up for a scholarship opportunity for potential news students. I recall doing some due diligence before accepting the role, and an online interview during COVID-19 quarantine and feeling quite excited. I believe it was Jorge, from the then Murray’s F.C. that recommended me to the school. Joining a school with an experienced Head of School (France, Thailand, Oman, China, the Philippines and Japan) seemed like a no-brainer.
I must confess that the International Baccalaureate (I.B.) seemed very much like a pyramid scheme at first. The holistic approach seemed more sales package than education curriculum. My attitude to this has flexed and bent since those preconceptions. As Miss Ann explained on the first day of meeting, the programme and curriculum would be delivered with structure. This was a positive start.
I wish to convey my thanks to the community and staff at TWIS. I would also like to thank you for entrusting the education of your children to our school, during my stay. I noticed that we had a highly professional international teaching staff facilitating the best possible learning experiences for your children. Long may that continue.
I was happy and proud to be part of a team that persevered to provide an environment where children feel safe and secure to take risks in their own learning, as well as raise their game. They could challenge themselves to innovate and try new things. We, our diverse team, lived to help our students to be jolly and strong-willed members of the TWIS herd and community.
Throughout the two years, I experienced much and grew in my learning. I tasted a year of leading grade 4’s primary school, ably supported by Miss Jenny and a wealth of experienced specialist teachers like Mr Richard, Mr Lee and Miss Robin. Miss Cindy welcomed me with open arms to taste the Chinese classes and collaboration with Mr Oliver and Mr Esteban made for pleasant times.
Not only did I teach but I learnt a high-quality, challenging international curriculum through leaders and peers. We held Curriculum in Action days (days for parents to attend), assemblies (Celebration of Learning Assemblies), and parent information sessions (to help all grow in their knowledge and understanding of the varied curriculum). And a few hours swimming in Managebac. That online lesson planning and management system will not be missed. Not one iota.
On the final day, a few personal goodbyes were made and loose strings were tied. There was no pomp and ceremony. No future talk and bridges were not burned, I hope.
Words about the last week are limited. Here’s a few images of the stay. All published via DGTWIS.com or approved as appropriate, without identities being recognisable. That’s all folks. So long and thanks for all the fish. Next. Time to move on. But first, most importantly:
May the future be bright and wonderful for the students and staff at TWIS. All the best!
In June 2020, I left St. Lorraine Anglo Chinese School for two years contracted to T.W.I.S. Just like I left Dao Ming Foreign Language School in June 2017. As of Thursday afternoon, that’s me. Done. The China education experience draws to an apparent conclusion. But, who knows? Perhaps, the door is still left open and bridges remain unbroken. I’ll be back? Definitely maybe. Never say never.
“SO HERE WE ARE; AT THE LAST BROADCAST; HERE WE ARE; OUR LAST BROADCAST” – THE LAST BROADCAST – DOVES
So, what now?
Yours in teaching; yours is passion for learning; peace and love; yours truly and faithfully,
BBC’s under-rated and these days hidden gem of comedy radio is the show Just a Minute. The original host Nicholas Parsons had plenty of minutes in his lifetime. He ran the longevity of the show from 1962 to 2019, well into his 90s. The witty Lincolnshire-born presenter came from a town called Grantham, known for its infamous daughter Baroness Margaret Thatcher and Sir Isaac Newton. One famous for apples falling off a tree, and the former, a Darth Vader-impressionist for stealing milk from developing children.
Nicholas Parsons reportedly only missed around four episodes of the radio show, Just a Minute, between 2018 and 2020. Parsons was clearly caught slacking at the young age of 94. His good friend Gyles Brandreth, a regular show panelist stepped in for those occasions. Even into his 95th year, Parsons was active at a charity event, with the Grand Order of Water Rats.
The aim of the gameshow Just a Minute, is to speak unbrokenly on a subject for sixty seconds. Regular panelist (for 33 years) and comedian Paul Merton has mastered this skill. Evidence can be found on the BBC website, although you can’t say BBC because that’s repetition. No repetition. I repeat, no repetition. The rules of Just a Minute involve:
When the leader or chair person says start talking, or ends their introduction the competitor must speak immediately.
Try not to speak too swiftly. You may trip over your own words.
Don’t hesitate. Don’t speak slowly because… No hesitation. Nor should you acknowledge others speaking and that you’re going to go down another avenue.
A wide vocabulary is useful.
Deviation: changing the topic is ill-advised. That’s a rule broken. No deviation. Keep it on topic.
Don’t ask questions to the chair person or fellow panelists. That’s deviation.
To say, “um”, “er”, “ee”, “oo”, “ah”, “walla walla”, “bing bang” or “ahhhh” is to break the rules. See hesitation.
The listening competitors can challenge any broken rules.
Repeat only the words on the subject card, although it being a radio show. No repetition of other words. Even acronyms such as BBC, CCTV etc count as repetition.
Short words don’t count as repetition. e.g. I, our, we, the…
Let the opposition listen and challenge you. The chair person’s say is final but the panel may debate challenges in a friendly way. Rules are rules.
The game show can be adapted to be a fun end of year game. It would certainly encourage fluency and accuracy in thought to speech. The show created by the late Ian Messiter was caught day-dreaming and faced the cane, but could avoid doing so by speaking for two minutes on the class subject (he should have been listening to). So, in a sense, repeating the game in the classroom, at the end of the school year, is returning it to its origins. Without a cane. Thanks Mr Messiter! Interestingly, the creator’s son, Malcom, even presented the show on a televised version in 2012. Now, actress and comedian Sue Perkins hosts the regular radio panel show. In my humble this is essential listening to improve your skills of English and spoken ability. There’s no harm in trying. Sharpening the tongue is a skill of its own.
A recent e-mail at Tungwah Wenzel International School, invited teachers to reflect about their online teaching experience. Students were also invited to complete a similar survey. Reflection about enforced online teaching is important. The pros and cons of how effective classes were, when following government instructions, need discussion.
Being confined to a garden compound indoors and working remotely is like asking a fish to walk on land. Some species can do this, but they are rare, highly evolved creatures…
Online learning requires additional training to tailor classes in order to properly provide highly informative means and structures to students. Lost routines and structures make at seat teaching feel highly immobile and unfamiliar.
The duration of online classes were prone to technical issues and excessive screen-time for both teacher and student. One size does not fit all. Several students had access to some platforms but not others. Speed of internet varied.
Online learning requires students to focus and have self-discipline. As we know some students can work independently, and some have never learned this skill under supervision by adults or teachers. Fidgety students may have an extra abundance of materials to provide distraction. I found myself handling things in and around my desk. It’s damn hard to focus on a black mirror, without an episode of Ozark playing.
The comfort of home can be a huge distraction. Some MYP students haven’t gained the maturity to stop showing off, change their settings or abuse the systems. The convenience of location can be distracting. It can be too comforting and the draw for a student to reach for their pillow or slope away on the sofa can be all too tempting. And, that’s before fart noises. Or rude words. Lego too.
Thin walls between a neighbour’s house and my own allowed excessive drilling sounds. Thankfully, few sounds came from outside but the air conditioner sounded like an aircraft engine, in a relatively quiet room. Factoring in Panda the dog, occasionally invasive and ever seeking of attention proved tough. However, walking Panda at lunch time was a pleasant break.
Worry about other external factors, lockdowns, life, extra time on screens planning, possible and actual enclosure of self etc. also proved to fill my mind. Remaining entirely dedicated to teaching online, was not easy.
Few students requested one to one support, and those who e-mailed queries refused to answer the calls I returned. Also, my eyes needed a substantial eye break. So, trying to maintain contact was tough. Student engagement and involvement was sub-standard. Even, the most positive classroom students looked bored, dejected and worn out.
Miss Ann advised me to keep my books handy long before this online teaching spell. I’d carried them home daily and ensured my wireless-fidelity connection was ready. I’d looked at sites such as Padlet and other known online teaching platforms, used by online teachers. Few stood out, but I tried to vary tasks to incorporate tools used by successful online teachers.
Being able to walk the dog at lunch and having more choice of salads proved benefits of online teaching. Let’s hope this is the last online experience. Nothing can be a substitute for in situ schooling or reality as a learning experience.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 Nucleic Acid Tests to date (update).
By December 26th 2021, I’d experienced 35 NAT Covid-19 tests. For the remainder of that month,
January Nucleic Acid Tests: 1
February Nucleic Acid Tests: 3
March NATs: 9
April NATs: 15
It’s getting tedious… May Day, or Labour Day in China. 1 test already.
The Big Book of Literacy Tasks by Nancy Akhaven is targeted for grades K-8. As per the cover, it aims to give teachers 75 activities that are balanced and suitable for students to complete. This reference book is engagingly colourful, well illustrated and concise. It provides instructional plans that can be tailored or differentiated to the need of a teacher.
The book helps teachers to hand off the tasks to the student. It moves very much from, “I” to “You”. The book is well-structured to allow students to be challenged, and reduce teachers from dilly-dallying, which in an era of electronic media and distraction, helps a teacher try to engage a student deeper.
The author Nancy Akhavan, an assistant professor of Educational Leadership draws on her experience and dedication to professional development research to illuminate daily planning. The tasks can be divided into useful everyday skills, weekly practices and a few slightly more complex challenges. They are each applicable to reading circles, workshops or other literacy tasks. The book is loaded with tips, things to look out for and insights to allow English acquisition learners to progress into fully-fledged literacy learners. The author delivers far more than a lengthy book title.
This book offers Guru-like support, with practical advice and encouraging ideas that are easy to drop into the classroom. In a world often flooded by educational text resource, the bright cover with a climbing wall, Akhaven’s guide acted like a beacon for inspiration this week – and shall continue to be picked at until all is imparted and transferred appropriately.
As part of our language and literature class at Tungwah Wenzel International School, students have been assigned a piece of holiday homework. Students are investigating and exploring the question: What makes a life worth writing about?
The task is to interview someone who is accessible. The students have prepared for their interview in advance, and did so by brainstorming possible question ideas. Their mind map was created on software called Padlet, owing to the fact that 15 days of online teaching has made gathering face-to-face near impossible. The students must select a good subject (person) to interview. In this case, I suggested my Mum. As such, I volunteered to do the task myself. Great questions have potential to make good biographies, so many open-ended questions will be needed. On top of the answers, we’ll need to probe further to squeeze out the information. This first-hand information will help us all to understand the purpose of biography and bring a real-world taste to the subject content. Students have also explored biographies to generate their own questions.
This isn’t the interview. These are the possible questions. I won’t be asking about how many children my Mum has, how many siblings, or any other question to which I already know the answer. That’d be a waste of time. I can write about that in my own introduction.
When and where were you born?
Do you recall any stories about your birth?
What is your earliest memory?
Do you remember your first pet(s)?
Who was your inspiration in your childhood?
Did you have any nicknames?
What were you afraid of as a child?
Who were your first close friends?
What games did you like to play?
How did you spend your summer holidays?
Do you recall your grandparents?
Is there anything you’d like to share about your childhood?
How did your parents influence you?
What does the word family mean to you?
Do you wish you had been raised differently? If so, how so?
“Freedom!!!!”, shouted William Wallace as they drew the axe over his head. But what exactly is freedom, and how do we express it? Are freedom of speech and freedom of speech two different matters? What should we class as hate speech? How fine a line is the difference between abusive expression and creativity? How should be express ourselves to each other? Did Lenin come down the chimney at Christmas, for Marxists?
The 21st century is a time of flux for humankind. Was this any different for previous generations? Perhaps not. Civilisations have come and gone. Manners have been taught and unlearned. Nations have grown together and drifted apart. Wars have torn the fabric of perceived time and conscience into pieces, only for peaces and treaties to reaffirm calmness. Humankind’s communities and their individual personal breadth of histories have delivered humanity to a lens unique in time. Those discoveries, explorations, migrations and have led to a wider acceptance of expression. Gone are the chains of slavery, mostly.
The relationship to others through interconnectedness of individuals and civilisations offers both a global and local perspective of humanity’s varied interpretation of freedom of expression. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as ‘the power or right to express one’s opinions without censorship, restraint, or legal penalty.’
Freedom differs from place to place. As does expression. The homes and journeys an artist in Beijing, Tehran or Moscow may differ to that of an artist in Berlin, Paris or Manchester. Many so-called free countries such as U.S.A. will argue freedom is quashed in China, Iran, or Russia. Censorship to protect ideals, culture and people or nations is not a new thing. The word treason finds its origins in Latin. The Latin equivalent is traditio, from tradere (a verb meaning ‘to hand over’ or ‘betray’). Every empire or organised culture, since the dawn of mankind living in groups, has perhaps experienced the handing over of something to a rival tribe or clan. This was not a word invented for the two 20th century World Wars.
Democracy allows freedom of expression to grow and develop. Society can flourish based on access of information and hold those in power to account. From Emmeline Pankhurst and her suffragette movements to the formation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 19) laws, rules and legal systems have evolved to support voices. The systems and cultures surrounding criticism and opinion needs to be an environment supportive to a voice. There must be the right to assemble, gather and share. Libraries and print go hand in hand with allowing debate and discussion. Some western and civil countries, like Australia and the U.K., threaten the rights of protest and questioning. To remove the ability to stand together against something a person truly believes in, is not seen as democratic, yet democratic countries are doing just that. Football manager Sir Alex Ferguson frequently banned journalists who asked questions relating to footballer Ryan Giggs concerning a court injunction and his reported affairs. That was his right, in a democratic society. But, was that withheld information something that people should have had the right to talk and express opinions upon?
In 1982, the Chinese government passed a constitution that guarantees freedom of speech. They also have clauses to cover ‘subversion of state power’ and ‘protection of state secrets’ with imprisonment a tangible possibility for such threats to their state. Many find difficulties with China’s image of their interpretation. But, are democratic nations perfect in their treatment of freedom of expression. The UK has a long-standing tradition of censoring theatre, movies, and the press. Reporters Without Borders, an international independent non-governmental organisation that safeguards freedom of speech, added the UK in the top 24 of global nations. The British Broadcasting Corporation prides itself on being impartial, yet many criticise the corporation for a growing list of bias.
“The free expression of opinion—even of opposition opinion, I do not know if you are prepared yet for that much freedom here.” – H.G. Wells, having met Joseph Stalin in 1934.
“Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) is a term that has caused division in France and the wider world. Charlie Hebdo‘s magazine headquarters were attacked by extremists. The mass shooting on January 7th in 2015, by al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch perpetrators killed 12 and injured 11. They objected to the prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullah being drawn in cartoon style alongside a phrase translating to ‘all is forgiven’. The ripples of time gave rise to much attention including South Park influencing the ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day‘, and countless pieces of journalism that could raise questions about the safety of journalists.
Liberalism allows movies such as The Whistleblower be filmed, based upon true stories like that of Kathy Bolkovac to be told. The rights of the individual, their liberty and consent allow equality before law. The Nobel Peace Prize is nominated and awarded for such things. The continued debate of Confucianism philosophy keeps Kǒng Fūzǐ (孔子) relevantly rock and roll. Liberal thought continues to influence freedom of expression and finds its niche welcoming for continued proliferation.
“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” – Obi-Wan Kenobe – Star Wars: A New Hope
Censorship in media can take many forms. It could be substantial or partial. Whether it’s blocking Premier League football from copyright infringement or Tunisia hacking an individual’s Facebook account. Pervasive overseeing of the world wide web may require the use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Social media can often be a hotbed of freedom of expression and sharing of materials. The internet is full of information. Disinformation, misinformation (fake news) and malinformation can be used to cause harm or detriment to others. Much like putting your faith into a higher power, the believers, armed with false information may not intend to cause harm, but may muddy the waters and cause it nevertheless. Leaks, harassment and hate speech could follow.
“If you open a window for fresh air, you have to expect some flies to blow in.” – Dèng Xiǎo Píng (邓小平), reported by Torfox.
World War One and its poorly organised sequel World War Two saw a huge rise in hate speech between nations. Races of people were referred to as cockroaches. Something that history repeated in Rwanda, the Yugoslavian wars and probably happened long before The Great War was born. Discrimination has been around a long time, and sadly in the 21st century it does not appear to be disappearing anytime soon. Race (or colour) division: Kick it out. National origin is dividing. Age. Gender. Disability and ability. Religion. Sexual orientation. Animosity and disparagement has been targeting individuals and groups for as long as humanity has disagreed. Freedom of speech arms and disarms both sides of the divide. That’s where responsibility could glue together these problems.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” – Voltaire A.K.A. François-Marie Arouet [not just Spider-Man]
Nazi flags belong in museums as an example of what was, what went wrong and an alarm bell for the future. Students should be reflective – and caring enough to want to change the future, to avoid the negative history from repeating itself. Whether students at Tungwah International School (TWIS) or Chapel Street Primary School, or any other educational institution, the environment of learning is important. The right to seek information should be nurtured and encouraged in positive ways. Inquirers work towards being knowledgeable. Ideas can be received and expressed freely in the classroom. Thinkers should become communicators. They should remain principled and open-minded when doing so. Expression can allow balanced students to become risk-taking, by showing different shapes and forms. Likewise those who study should feel privacy keeps them from harm. Their freedom to learn must be a safe haven.
The street artist Banksy has been awarded great artistic freedom. Negatives of expression his work includes dissent towards his work. Peckham Rock was placed into the British Museum. Like all matters concerning freedom of expression and speech, the world is full of examples and sources to both support and offer facts about the subject. In explaining the subject briefly, a simple conclusion can be drawn. The debate of freedom of expression is open to interpretation and can be supported or argued against through varied means and ways. Research and examples can only stretch do far.
The notion of freedom of speech should be a fundamental global goal, both in democratic or autocratic societies, in order for change. The world is constantly changing and over a great period of time, evolution to adapt to ever-mobile conditions is a necessity. The mind must also progress. The Great Pyramid of Giza forms part of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Ancient World‘, factoring in a small region of the Earth. It completely ignores the far east, the northern areas of Europe, huge sections of Africa and countless other world places. There are examples globally of other wonder-worthy titles, yet these other ancient advances and constructs make a varied and broad set of cultural lists. Politics and idealistic perspectives shape views. Views need to be expressed. Expression is a tool of progress.
The ability to say no, or to filter our Twitter retweet opportunities is something embedded within our personal philosophy. We can each ask questions, perform reasoning and impart information and knowledge whilst taking into account values, the mind and the existence of others. Whether you aspire to be Malala standing up to the Taliban for education equality or Emily Davison jumping before a horse to raise a voice for women’s voices or Pepe Julian Onziema fighting for sexual minorities, freedom of expression will act as a tool for freedom of speech.
The following months are going to be difficult. The future is sat on a knife edge. The inevitable travel home for summer is not intended to be one way. The logistics, however, are impractical and almost unworkable.
A friend, Stephen, estimated costs for return to hit the best part of 5-6000GBP. God bless the economy seat options. I wonder if a seat in first class is much different. Others have mentioned 7-9000GBP. All those pounds could support a charity or something more worthwhile than a 30% occupied flight destined for China, far away from the intended city of stay. Even now China has no scheduled flights to or from the U.K. June is the loosely mentioned rumoured return. Even that was delayed from February. China isn’t ready for COVID-19 case increases? Well, it has flights to other countries with high caseloads. So, that doesn’t sound right. Political? Perhaps.
Regarding the next academic year, Tungwah Wenzel International School (TWIS) placed an offer to extend my stay there. I was touched and happy to receive it. Three years ago it would have been a great offer. The problem is that the world has changed. I had to place a counter offer. To commit to two more years here makes the uncertainty of return, high quarantine costs and extortionate flight prices untenable. If I’m supported and with understanding from my employer then all is good. Patience and planning will be key. If not; well, here lies uncertainty. The ball is in their court. I await their reply.
In the meanwhile provisional offers and begging messages are flooding in from LinkedIn, and an agent representative of a company offering Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) via ITT (Initial Teacher Training) in a school in Beijing. Doors are opening and hands are gesturing to come in. All this as the foundation for the Diploma Programme at TWIS is being laid and prepared for. A change of location isn’t something I desire.
I’m sat watching Gomorra, an Italian drama series deeply entrenched in the organised underworld of Naples. Currently, I’ve enjoyed a gritty trio of series and have the fourth installment under my scrutiny. As a fan of The Sopranos and its gripping characters from the get go, choosing to view Gomorra was a simple choice. Gerry, from Ireland, recommended this show for months on end. Many, especially in Napoli, argue the TV series (and spinoff movie The Immortal) glamorises violence and gangland culture but a viewer seeks entertainment. The script-writing is sharp and the direction flows. I thoroughly recommend the serial drama.
For now, I’m just planning a holiday to see family and friends. How I get back is anybody’s business. Whether I remain at TWIS now is debatable. I wish to stay but now that IB continuum has arrived, I know I’m easily replaced. Private education is all about the money. And money is cold and unforgiving. Just like COVID-19. It’s there, dividing and conquering. In these days, living without money is like trying to live without COVID-19. You’re in a bubble, isolating all. Outcast.
I read a few chapters before bed. I carry a book in my pocket almost religiously. I aim to have books on my desks and near my bedside. The bookshelf I have is full to bursting despite attempts to forever re-home unwanted texts. If I can read on a walk, at lunch or between classes, I do. It has always been my way. Reading is a lifelong pleasure and habit. It helps me to feel relaxed and whenever I have felt tired, alone or under the weather, reading has been my medicine and friend.
Having a to do list is seen as normal in many households. Why not create a list of texts and books to read? Mine keeps getting longer. It never reduces. That’s the joy of reading: there’s always something new to expand your horizons. I find my television and movie viewing list also remains quite lengthy. By being balanced and principled, I can reduce my screen time in favour of reading. I often use TV as a reward for completing a reading target.
“One of the greatest gifts adults can give – to their offspring and to their society – is to read to children.: – Carl Sagan (Scientist)
I recall the joy of Mum and occasionally my Dad reading to me when I was a child. Those bonds and memories never fade. As a child I listened to it as we shared a reading habit development together! Such quality time is essential for reading habits. I recall how my Mum used to log when I would start and end a book. There was a list of great books we read together, those I picked up at school and some I had read all alone. Reading can instill self-esteem.
“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” – Kate DiCamillo
The library was a weekly excursion. It was a few hours outside of the house to explore new worlds from the pages. And, on occasion, Mum would ensure I had a special trip to buy secondhand books or new books from stalls at Manchester Victoria railway station. There, I’d often find books that gripped my attention and make me want to read. Not everything read must be a masterpiece. Those books would make for a wonderful day or hour here and there. Having a day, every month set aside just for reading has become a way to slow the pace of life down and enjoy new works. Mum gave me lots of choices for reading. That’s important. What interests me may not interest you. You can recommend reading materials but giving a child a chance to pick will always work best.
“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.” – Roald Dahl
The below is a huge draft that will be edited and chopped probably into less than 150 words, or maybe just a handful of sugar, or likely whichever earns me the most coffee cups. It all started when Miss Hannah in marketing asked me to create something for social media in relation to holiday reading. I immediately wanted to share Roald Dahl. Then, I thought about international mindedness, books with messages and genres that leave your heart tickling. Of course, there are many mainstream examples and some are quite well-known, but that’s the magic of a good book – it cannot stay shut! It fails to remain quietly shut in a dark corner of a room. Books cry out for attention. They’re living breathing monsters that grip you, hug you and leave sloppy kisses on your cheeks. So, that’s the introduction to the opener below.
“I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.” – C.S. Lewis
Do you remember the first time you opened a book and it truly grabbed your attention? Perhaps that text took you away to a whole new world. Maybe that story whisked you off on a never ending story. Certainly the protagonist had your attention. You were hooked! You find yourself nose-deep in the book, living and feeling the words! Breathing in a rollercoaster ride or feeling the love from the rows and rows of the word beneath. Importantly, age groupings are never always accurate. Students read and write at various levels of ability across age and year groups. It’s important to differentiate to an appropriate reading level. It is worth noting that opening new books may not prove too challenging, however, it can always awaken a part of a new imagination.
“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Whether you’re an avid reader or a book guru, books such as The Animals of Farthing Wood (Colin Dann) can stick with you for life. Reading about characters such as Tintin and adventures such as The Lord of The Rings can shape our expectations of movies or provide us with hours of conversations amongst thinkers and friends. As we reflect in life, we’re often granted opportunities to communicate our recommendations. Here are a few books to get you going.
Emerging readers: Kindergarten & PYP levels 1-2 / grades 1-2 / UK nursery school or years 1-2 (5-7 years)
Books at this level should be packed full of sight words, colour and invention. A trio of examples shall follow. The Reverend W. Awdry wrote Thomas the Tank Engine and friends. His 26 stories were aimed at his child Christopher. It must have worked because later on, son followed father, adding a further collection to the series! Eric Carle was a colourful writer, creating a list of books as long as my arms and legs (which are very long indeed). The Very Hungry Caterpillar is an iconic place to start reading his works: “One sunny Sunday, the caterpillar was hatched out of a tiny egg. He was very hungry.” Janet and Allan Ahlberg are no strangers to children’s fiction. This married couple worked together for over two decades. Funny Bones, Mr Biff the Boxer, and Kicking a Ball.
“Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!” – Betty Smith
At these ages students are now working out how to segment words using phonics and recognising an increasing number of sight words. They’re differentiating homonyms whilst learning to love books. Read daily and often with your kids now and they should develop at their fastest! To that mind look up the following books: All Join In (Quentin Blake – one of the greatest and most distinctive illustrators of all time); Peace at Last (Jill Murphy); The Runaway Wok (Ying Chang Compestine); Mr Wolf’s Pancakes (Jan Fearnley); Owl Babies (Martin Waddell & Patrick Benson); Suddenly (Colin McNaughton); Grumpy Frog (Ed Vere); Oi Frog! (Kes Gray & Jim Field); The Squirrels Who Squabbled (Rachel Bright & Jim Field); Flotsam (David Wiesner); Guess How Much I Love You? (Sam McBratney); Slow Loris (Alexis Deacon); I Want My Potty! (Tony Ross); Dear Zoo (Rod Campbell); Meg and Mog (Helen Nichol and Jan Pienkowski) and so many more… (further inspiration can be sourced here).
PYP 3-5 / grade 3-5 / UK years 3-5 (7-9 years)
Flat Stanley, penned by Jeff Brown, tells the story of a boy squashed by a bulletin board. His newfound flatness allows him to slip under doors like a piece of mail. He can even fly like a kite! This story series has been around for more than fifty years. The authors six original stories have inspired a catalogue of stories by other authors. There is also the Flat Stanley Project which brings together an awful lot of people around the world. Jackie Chan approves of it.
“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” – Lemony Snicket
Anything from the collections of Dr Seuss, A.A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh), Astrid Lindgren (PippiLongstocking) and Roald Dahl should capture attention at this age. René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo‘s Asterix the Gaulseries can open up new frames as to how a story can appear. I would recommend this following group too. The Nothing to See Here Hotel (Steven Butler); The Bee is not Afraid of Me (Fran Long & Isabel Galleymore); King Kong (Anthony Browne); Dilly the Dinosaur (Tony Bradman); The Diary of a Cat Killer (Anne Fine); Mrs Cockle’s Cat (Philippa Pearce); The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark (Jill Tomlinson); Where The Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak); Mr Majeika (Humphrey Carpenter); How to Train Your Dragon (Cressida Cowell); The Sheep-Pig (Dick King Smith’s book was made into the movie Babe); Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White); The Iron Man (Ted Hughes) Cliffhanger (Jaqueline Wilson); Peter in Peril (Helen Bate); Coming to England (Floella Benjamin) and other great books for PYP3, PYP4 and PYP5.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
MYP 1/2 / grades 6-7 / UK years 5-6 (9-11 years)
“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries.” – Descartes
After developing imagination and experiencing adventure, books tend to favour realistic fiction and serious topics for older students. At this age, books open doors into many new worlds and offer insights into many other cultures. Encyclopedia-style texts lure in the curious and student inquirers. Hard-hitting and dark stories sit between classics and familiar friends of the literature world. Look up: The Boy At the Back of The Class (Onjali Rauf); Illegal (Eoin Colfer – think Artemis Fowl); Abomination (Robert Swindells); The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien); What Katy Did (Susan Coolidge); The Chronicles of Narnia(C.S. Lewis); The Borrowers (Mary Norton); Silverfin (Charlie Higson’s young James Bond series) and so on.
“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place, you can install a lovely bookshelf on the wall.” – Roald Dahl
MYP 3/4 / grades 8-9 / UK years 7-8 (11-13 years)
“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” – Groucho Marx
Recently the language and literature class tackled Bridge to Terabithia by China-born Katherine Paterson. This novel became a Disney-adaptation. Few students favoured the movie over the book. Books have often been adapted for the silver screen, the television or the stage. A great checklist to read and then watch can include the following: Madame Doubtfire (Anne Fine); The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton); The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon); The Day of the Triffids (John Wyndham); The Hound of the Baskervilles (Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes); The Plague Dogs (Richard Adams); The Woman in Black (Susan Hill); Watership Down (Richard Adams); and The Giver (Lois Lowry).
“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn
MYP 5/DP / grades 10+ / UK years 9+ (13+ years)
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin
At this age level, the vocabulary is expanding with new words dropping down like rain. Students are better armed to scaffold and learn these familiar unfamiliar phrases and terms. Using their decoding techniques they can swiftly move through lengthy text. The classic The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and Maus by Art Spiegelman are fine examples of texts that would sit well on a student’s bookshelf. Students who watch movies such as Dune and Jurassic Park, should at this point, now be lifting the text that inspired these movies. The respected authors Frank Herbert and Michael Crichton have sizable and diverse reading catalogues suitable for those who claim to be knowledgeable. Writers and readers alike should explore diverse texts, such as: This Book is Cruelty Free (Linda Newbery); Atonement (Ian McEwan); Long Walk to Freedom (Nelson Mandela);Touching My Father’s Soul (Jamling Tenzing Norgay). I would also thoroughly recommend Paddy Clarke Ha, Ha, Ha by Roddy Doyle and William Golding’s Lord of The Flies because by now a rounded reader is a communicator of text. Just ask the students of language and literature at TWIS. Further reading suggestions can be found here and there.
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” – C.S. Lewis
Tired of heavy paper books? Do your children favour electronic devices? Try a popular e-reader like Kindle or Kobo. They may be devices that are limited, but that’s the beauty of it. Why worry about bad eyesight or distractions? There are stacks of available titles, some free and many can be read from .PDF documents. Many are portable. The anti-glare screens and lack of blue light make most devices unobtrusive to eyesight. Some even have onboard dictionary features.
Consult your librarian or find a suitable booklist, then check off or list how many books you have read! Be principled!
Many of us are traditional and favour paper because of the smells and textures, as well as the tangible aspect. We like to touch things. Make sure the next thing your son or daughter touches is one that reaches back and captures their heart. On top of that, books exercise brains, and to quote Roald Dahl, “If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.” There you have it. Read it. Read it all. Read everything! I read everything. I read every little thing. That’s not true. I wish I did. I’m still working on it.
Whisterpoop. Verb. A small smack to the upside of the head.
How much giving did you give this last year? Did you your all? I gave as much as I could but I still feel that there’s more to give. Give or take. This year though, I feel it is harder and harder to hit my next gear, let alone my top gear! Extra energy and motivation are needed.
A student, Chael, asked me if I was leaving TWIS (Tungwah International School) in summer. Even if I was, I could not answer it clearly. It was a little shocking. As my language and literature students tucked into pizza, viewed Jurassic Park and finalised their presentations, I questioned Chael on where his question came from. He said that he read it on my blog. I told him, truthfully, that I will visit family and friends in summer – but returning to China, at the minute, is close to impossible due to the costs. Hopefully things will change to allow people to return to China from the U.K. Still, it is pleasing to know that students don’t want you to leave.
Dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin are neuropharmacological substances that we release. This trifecta dose produced happiness. The brace of Lauren’s pizzas and snacks accompanying class were short-lasting blasts of happiness after a hard week, with online curriculum in action video audiences (as parents) and other bits and bobs, adding to a tiresome environment, swamped by local COVID-19 outbreak worries and demands. Other ways to produce the trio of neuropharmacology releases include holding a door open, giving a gift to a friend or volunteering. Giving time to others or a cause is so often underrated.
I am receiving the radio show Wordaholics from the year 2012 via BBC Sounds. The distinctive and linguistic voice of writer Gyles Brandreth has been on TV and radio for years and I long hope he continues. We all need a veteran to learn from! As I study classroom management skills to try to get those pesky grade 7 and 6 students into better order, I find the sound of radio quite relaxing. That and some select poetry between the reading. Beats thinking about the next COVID-19 test!
March 2020: arrival in China at Guangzhou International Airport
3 [nose (both nostrils & throat)]
risk or reason
March 2020: Xihu, Dongguan, quarantine
6 (on arrival, day 1, day 3, day 7, day 10, day 14)
March 2020: arrival to Changping, Dongguan
relocation to community
The times between April 2020-May 2021:
4 (21st December; 5th & 8th April; 25th May;)
collect passport in GZ; visit SZ
4 (21st; 20th; 9th; 7th)
1 (13th @Zhangye station)
travel: Shaanxi; Shanxi; Ningxia; Gansu; Yunnan.
2 (5th; 3rd;)
return to school
admitted to hospital/unrelated to pandemic
4 (7th; 12th; 18th; 25th)
2 (17th; 4th)
2 (28th>; 26th*; 25th>)
4 (8th>; 9th>; 11th>; 12th*; 13th>; 14th>;)
outbreaks in Dalang, Changping & Humen, Songshan areas of Dongguan
NAT Tests log – to date [* gardens/> at school]
Which is better? Giving, or receiving? In the case of having the NAT (Nucleic Acid Test), I can’t imagine shoving the swab into thousands of people a day to be any good. It certainly is no fun to receive. One test this week caused some light bleeding to my throat. I didn’t have a sore throat before, but afterwards for two days, I had a tender throat. Bloody COVID-19!
Can all knowledge be expressed in words and symbols? Well, that’s a question that is highly contestable. Welcome to Acronym Park… International Baccalaureate Organization hereon referred to as I.B. Then, there’s A.T.L. (Approaches to Learning)… and a few more. As I started to write this I started with the title Theory of Knowledge (T.O.K.): An I.B. Experience before joining the course. Here we look at knowledge – whether through words or symbols… or other.
Workaholic Rainbow Yuan attended a workshop firing questions at us, giving her respect and building our trust to create an environment of sharing. She was there to support our teaching team (now as students) with any concerns, and to share experiences. She set us a target and the below workshop goal:
“This workshop will prepare educators to teach the Theory of Knowledge (ToK) in a manner that supports the IB philosophy. The IB philosophy is encapsulated in the IB mission statement and aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, caring and internationally-minded young people wherein ToK plays a central role.” – from a presentation by Rainbow Yuan
What is T.o.K.? It covers 12 concepts: evidence, certainty, truth, interpretation, power, justification, explanation, objectivity, perspective, culture, values and responsibility. Within the I.B. course of Language & Literature…
Theory of Knowledge – could and should be titled epistemology. It’s a major offshoot of philosophy. The list of famous stars to touch on the study (-ology) in epistḗmē include Aristotle, Ayn Rand, Susan Haack, King James I (after Scotland handed him to England in some sort of union) and R. Sentwali Bakari (Epistemology from an Afrocentric Perspective: Enhancing Black Students’ Consciousness through Afrocentric Way of Knowing). They’ve all contributed to the field and certainly the field has contributed to them (and their legends).
IB education pushes the A.T.L. skills creating resilient lifelong learners with an international outlook that extends learning into living. It blends education into post-education critical thinking. The continuum flows from primary education to middle and diploma programme years into later life. The purpose of TOK (Theory of Knowledge) is to give university preparation and rounded questioning skills. The application of “knowledge as a map” mimics and prepares students long in advance for university final year self-study. It builds a buoyant foundation.
The first learning engagement involved creating a single sentence summary (nota bene, n.b., sibilance set specifically to this scheme) of the I.B. ATL skills: A.T.L. skills crucially develop and recognise skillsets for lifelong learning and empower students to be self-sufficient, whilst remaining community innovative (for tomorrow).
What else do we need for international-mindedness? Challenges, obstacles, examples, exemplars and many other words could be added to the list below:
Global values; Culture; Multilingualism; Beliefs; Identity;
Identity is important to international-mindedness in that local and regional dialects or languages, or cultures should never be seen as inferior. Equality is key to allow students a level playing field to open dialogue. Without this powers shift and create imbalances. Those imbalances lack sustainability and change is a known constant. Change is inevitable. Respect for positive advancement or reactive reversal and proactive innovation whether in science, politics or English literature. None of this is possible without recognising unique identities of people and culture.
Four connections to the core themes could include: scope; perspectives; methods & tools; & ethics. They tend to be controversial and have multiple views or angles. Fact checkers and those who favour propaganda may have polar angles of their selected lens.
The I.B. T.O.K. course [see an example of a course outline] has an internal assessment by exhibition to show how T.O.K. manifests in the world around us. The course is comprised of knowledge and the knower; optional themes (32 hours combined); and areas of knowledge (50 hours). The course has tutoring time that equates to a century of hours. It then has an externally-audited essay to complete the 100 hour course.
Drawing upon specific examples in our learning experience we actively involved role-play with a strange family dynamic. Our three parents, Mrs Jamie, Mrs Nem and myself as a grandparent or guardian placed questions to a duo of teachers, Ms Hamida and and Mr Jason. Their job was to sell the course of T.O.K. to prospective parents with an explanation using objectivity, perspective, responsibility, culture and values.
A further role play allowed us to choose a question, expand on it, make it better and counter it. From that we presented it, shared it and questioned other teams. The subjects covered history (Cold War origins), Mathematics (big data), science (vaccine ethics), and the arts (Haute couture).
Essay question examples include: Can there be knowledge that is independent of culture? / Does it matter that your personal circumstances influence how seriously your knowledge is taken? The crux of these questions imply that the answers are debatable and contestable. The explanations must be questionable. They can be broad brought down to a shorter interpretation.
Coca-Cola Clear featured in one learning engagement convinced me that now I not only misunderstand knowledge but also have problems understanding what coke is as a drink. Perspective changes of brands, deepfake in ethics and scope, and methods and tools of technology throughout through fake and legitimate advertising create a bucketful of questioning and theory of knowledge.
In conclusion, I feel more aware of how the nature of knowledge can be construed. These can be personal whether remaining the same, adjusted or cast aside. On reflection, T.o.K. is an opportunity to create a project-style learning to prepare students for the university environment and demands. It gives independent learning a scope to flex its hypothetical muscle through query. There are even Walt Whitman poems used as examples to evoke T.O.K.
Who owns knowledge?
The owner of knowledge remains the informed and the adaptive consumer of knowledge who chooses to share this knowledge for a greater good. Or not.
What makes a good explanation?
Alignment of relevant themes allows conceptual questions to be given satisfactory answer pairings. The question may be loaded with variables like the word ‘good’ or ‘explanation’ or even ‘makes’ – each can be interpreted quite openly. The original message or information should be conveyed and interpreted with clarity. However, bias must be removed to allow an explanation to be heard. Many questions can be loaded with biased emotional and political themes, e.g. “to what extent does the Palestinian wall affect Palestine and Israel in international relations, social and economic ways?” It isn’t a straightforward question to ask, “What makes a good explanation?” The image selected below could equally be shared or discounted as an explanation of the question above. There’s normalisation, legal disagreement, acceptance of fertile land being grabbed by a dominative nation, ghettoisation, and numerous other matters on the negative flank of the wall. On the flip side, walls stop people and things being a threat and also can hold back perceived dangers. They could create labour opportunities and force dialogue about why a wall is there in the first place.
How to create a T.o.K. question – the perfect recipe:
Add a spoonful of “to what extent does” or “how far can we”. Stir in a sprig of theory.
Blend with words such as expert, belief, certainty, justification, culture or faith. Alternatively you can add generalisation, authority or bias.
A pinch of evidence, truth, experience can also be dropped in when you whisk in a helping of indigenous knowledge for added flavour.
Cook on gas mark BLOODY HOT°C and ensure reliability is stirred in gently.
Fry imagination in a deep and boil romanticism in a milk pan until sense bubbles lightly.
To reveal the baked realism, we must ask ourselves, “How far can we reason with empathy?” Following that stewing, perception shall become fragrant and surrealism will be present when dipping a spoon into a broth of abstraction.
When beating an egg to allow empathy, question how do you separate apathy without a spatula? The answer of course is to use reason like a knife.
Go to the oven shelves and slide faith and illusion from the originality of memory to create a jelly for the icebox within your refrigerator. Use emotive language to confirm that ethics is piping hot throughout.
When stir-frying natural sciences with human sciences it is important to allow history to swell and trickle into oral memory.
With religious knowledge slice and crack communication as sensations for later, adding to inference into a salad spinner. Use a grater to weed out confirmation bias and allow adequate translation from culture to vested interests.
The concept of cooking is dependent on the use of one’s intuition to use emotion, theory and objectivity to deliver a product of stereotype straight from the passatutto food mill to a casserole pot. It is counter intuitive to chop by pepper pot when global thinking dictates a potato masher can apply adequate subjectivity.
Of course, of the above cooking instructions are subject to fallibility of interpretation, which can be found in the cookbook located by the paradigms of authority. From oral memory, exclaim pleasure at the explanation of rationalism. The steam of verification will rise with introspection. How trustworthy is the classification in intuition when it is laid out on a platter for the visitors of the buffet systems.
Following this, a few questions can be raised, , perhaps in mathematics (or not) such as: How much do…? Does the…? Who determines…? Is it…? What contributes…? How important to…? If you feel…? What relation…? Can we…? What is…? How does…? What role…? Should…? Are values…? How certain…? How reliable…? Does the…?
TRUST MY VALIDITY. I may remember more by talking gibberish! I have methods. I have values.
Further stuff to cram in your bonce for explaining the game:
Today’s writing is from a guest. My best friend Danny Rudyard had been asked to write a speech for one of many forthcoming memorial services for Remembrance Day. So, here it goes, the passionate words and writing of my best mate (written in the picturesque Copeland Borough village of Parton):
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am Danny Ridyard, I am a Soldier and adopted Partonian. Here’s a little history on me, so you know where I’m coming from. I served 12 years in the British Army starting as a tank driver, aged 17. I progressed through the ranks to command my own Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank. I gained numerous instructor level qualifications and completed 4 combat tours across 2 war zones. I fought in Operation Telic and Op telic 7 in Iraq And Operation Heric 16 and 17 In Afghanistan.
And I have a question for you: What is a War Memorial?
In our case it is an Ornamental gothic Cross, Made of Rubislaw grey granite. So, is it just stone and mortar stacked in a corner of a field that will remain forever England?
Absolutely not. I would argue that like many things in life, a memorial is much more than the sum of its parts. First and foremost, it is a symbol. A symbol of the tremendous sacrifice made by the community that was and honoured by the community that is Parton and Moresby.
It is a focal point for us all to honour those that came before us, those that answered our nations call to stand up to oppression and tyranny. The miners, the green grocers and the educators that became soldiers. Became the defenders of what so many of us now take for granted.
These 51 names you see before you belong to 51 husbands, fathers and sons of Parton and Moresby and like the monument that bears their names they are more than the sum of their parts they are their deeds; they are their courage, and they are rightly remembered by their nation on monuments across the length and breath of the country.
But more personably they are remembered by their successors in the community in which they lived and loved. This monument is not just a monument – it is our monument and it is every ounce the symbol it was built to be 100 years ago.
When you join the British Army you swear an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty The Queen, her heirs and successors. And in principle agree to live by a set of values these are known as ‘The Values and Standards Of The British Army’. They are remembered by the mnemonic ‘CDRILS’. They are:
Respect for Others
These soldiers raised from our community that are remembered on our memorial will have sworn identical oaths, albeit to The King, they would have lived and ultimately died by these values and standards. I believe that we, as a community, can lay claim to these values, we have for 100 years, shown the Courage and the Discipline to maintain our monument, demonstrated the Respect for Others and shown the Integrity of our community by attending annual vigils and I know we will strive to continue the Loyalty to our forebears and through the sacrifice of our time and treasure we can show our Selfless Commitment.
By ensuring our monument is maintained and rejuvenated so that the sacrifices of our communities’ past can continue to be honoured by our present community and though our actions, the generations that follow us can be inspired to live up to the same, hard won, values and standards.
Our monument Reads: ‘This stone was erected by the inhabitants of PARTON & MORESBY’ Lets take a moment to digest that. It wasn’t a ‘mandated’ subscription organised by government that raised our memorial up. It was the ‘us’ of Parton and Moresby. It was the literal occupiers of, in some cases, the houses we now call home, they were the men and women that lived in Parton and Moresby, men and women like you and me that no doubt had a personal connection to the men that bore the names listed on our monument and keenly felt their absence. And they showed the strength of their character by handing down this legacy of memorial not for themselves but for those that gave their today for our tomorrow.
For our monument also reads:
They went to their duty; Young, strong & brave; They gave their lives for others; Themselves they could not save. FOR FREEDOM’S CAUSE.
That last bit is wrote in capitols and is surely an indication of how strongly our community holds the virtue of freedom. Thank you.
“I finished the last half of Lord of the Flies in a single afternoon, my eyes wide, my heart pounding, not thinking, just inhaling….My rule of thumb as a writer and reader–largely formed by Lord of the Flies–is feel it first, think about it later.” – Stephen King, author (It, The Mist)
William Golding’s Lord of The Flies is a text visited by GCSE students both at home in the UK and their iGCSE counterparts around the globe. The striking cover of the Deluxe Edition released in 2016 by Penguin Classics really stands out. In fact, looking at the numerous editions of this novel, and there are a good span of releases, all the covers tell their own story and draw you as a reader to the opening of the covers. Not that you should treat a book by its cover. I guess the students of grades 6-8 selected this cover because of the visual. It pictures a character looking like a watermelon had exploded during his evening snack time. The introduction by Stephen King and foreword by Lois Lowry were too modestly placed to catch the eye.
I must confess that during my secondary school days of Reddish Vale High School, that our English classes did not visit the works of William Golding. However, I was vaguely aware from friends at other schools of the works. In fact, I made a point of reading it within the confines of the old Levenshulme Library. Because, it was a time when The Lost Boys movie was talk of the town, I’d often muddle the two tales but oddly I had never watched the vampire teenage horror movie.
Luna displayed detailed writing and explained her views accordingly. The introduction was relayed in a clear presentation. This allowed future teaching to be differentiated to her specific needs. Understanding the significance of phrases and descriptions, Luna has explained her answers clearly. Students were given the chance to collaborate and exchange views. During this opportunity Luna listened both carefully and gave her views in response using text-appropriate examples. Luna’s interpretation of the island from the Lord of The Flies was detailed, annotated accordingly and she could orally relay the symbolic locations within. When creating timelines of the story’s events Luna used a clear format, added comments and kept the work clear. Luna worked tirelessly to complete the revision activities in a way befitting the final unit exam. Luna displayed a sound understanding of the questions presented to her. She gave her efforts to the challenge and now needs to check the marks available and how to details the answers accordingly. If six marks are made available then three sentences with appropriate details and conjunctions is likely the minimum expected.
May used strong vocabulary and detailed writing with reference to the text Lord of The Flies. Her understanding was clear and set out in an organised fashion. May was able to orally discuss her following of the work with her classroom peers. May discussed many questions and possible answers in a small group before expanding her confident findings to the entire class. She went further in asking questions of her answers that led her to a deeper reflection of the novel, Lord of The Flies. From May’s interpretation of the island from the Lord of The Flies it was clear that she takes pride in her artwork. The neat and carefully set-out work allowed little room for misunderstanding. May’s use of timelines was varied and detailed, often using quotes and key points. May completed the revision tasks to a high standard ahead of the unit examination. For May to give suitable chances to gaining fuller marks, she must look at the point weighting and try to suitably apply points to each mark available. Overall her written answers are well structured and feature good levels of reference to the key text and her experience.
Nathan covered the key points of the early chapters and was unafraid to voice his opinion. He often placed questions about the predicament the characters within the story faced. He formed a good hypothesis about where he believed the plot would lead. Nathan could at times show his distaste towards the novel but he would also justify this well. The vocabulary-heavy text of a book written in a different land and time gave him opportunity to cast his answers, heavily coated in his thoughts. Nathan created a clear outline with finite detail throughout his map of William Golding’s imagined island. He explained the symbolism throughout and discussed his reasoning with peers. Nathan used timelines to good effect and displayed the relevant information accordingly. Nathan displayed an impassioned view within his review of the unit. Nathan must pay attention to the marks available and decide how to weight his answers accordingly. Extra paper had been made available. Not double checking the meaning and rereading a question cost Nathan 6 marks, which was highly unlike his previous work. He completed a clear and well organised exam paper with reasoning, opinion and clarity throughout.
Gabriel selected appropriate vocabulary and details for his initial analysis of Lord of The Flies. He confidently organised and produced text to support his views. Talking to write has helped him to set out his work well. Gabriel’s focus on the text fluctuated from a passionate advocate of the writing to that of someone who dislikes the descriptive content. His answers attributed the base points and did not shy from opinion. Firstly Gabriel made a draft of the island taken from William Golding’s novel Lord of The Flies. From this he neatened up and slotted his work together into a pleasing final output, full or relevant detail. Gabriel favoured an expanded format of timeline, rich in detail with appropriate quotations from the novel’s dialogue. Gabriel’s revision work was clearly drawn together and his use of comic illustrations was welcomed by the teacher. Gabriel must give all his attention to the marks available. This will allow him to decide how to weight his answers appropriately. Extra paper had been made available but was not requested.
Henry used a calm and steady tone to relay his outline of the early chapters within William Golding’s Lord of The Flies. He set his work out clearly and asked appropriate questions to his peers. Henry reflected the answers to match the questions using simplistic formats and clarity. He would benefit in the future from adding a little more passion and widening his vocabulary usage. Henry explained the symbolism of the island and went further by logging the symbolism within his notebook. He created a key to his work and could orally explain his positioning of the island’s features, referring to the novel throughout. Henry created numerous timelines at several stages of the novel and worked well to explain this to his peers. He led by example, sharing an exemplar of what was expected. Henry’s linear and concise writing in preparation for the final unit assessment was both careful and considerate to the need. To allow Henry to give attention to the marks available he must decide how to weight his answers appropriately. Extra paper had been made available but was not requested. Large gaps will cost marks.
Benny used his inquiring nature, his confidence and his collaboration skills in ways to support his early understanding of the novel Lord of The Flies. He has utilised his enthusiasm and curiosity to good effect, often displayed within his writing style. Benny’s timing at writing answers needs a little more urgency, however his spoken preparation work has been second-to-none. He articulates his thoughts with clarity and even questions them appropriately to refine his final work. Now, he needs to take more care in presenting those words on paper. Benny created an island with aid from researching the internet for other interpretations of the island’s shapes and features. He extracted and explained his choices, and noted several common representations led to a pattern. A little neatness goes a long way and Benny’s strive to turn cluttered work to tidy output was noted as a sign of his progression throughout this unit. Benny’s writing preparation for the final unit assessment was a little light in volume but his work to date has been adequate to show his overall understanding. Benny should give all his attention to the marks available. This will allow him to decide how to weight his answers accordingly. Extra paper had been made available but was not requested. Unlike other formative assessments Benny did not detail as in depth as before. He can do so much more. Next time he will deliver with more gusto.
Chael is laid back in character but hit his understanding. With a little more effort and careful checking he could develop clearer written interpretations of The Lord of The Flies. He is often highly enthusiastic and energetic, but requires a little more focus. Chael could deliver more. He must take more care in writing and checking his output. At times he can orally present a fantastic set of findings, but the material delivery of such words is mostly absent. More differentiated writing practice will allow him to develop. Chael researched island shapes, land features and attached them to his understanding of William Golding’s island. He noted the features mentioned in passing, as well as the central landmarks of the story. After some encouragement Chael set out a clear and detailed timeline of events. To the teacher it seems that Chael can fire out words like a machine gun, however, it is also apparent that he needs encouragement in checking, checking again and reviewing. This will reduce Chael’s potential final reflection content. Chael must pay attention to the marks available and decide how to weight his answers accordingly. Extra paper had been made available but was not used. The strength of his answers is smooth and clear, but he would benefit from using quotes or reference points.
Kingston has a very relaxed attitude to classwork and must understand that production of work is completely different to oral relaying of a text such as The Lord of The Flies. Whilst he said this was his second visiting to the text, he must understand that reading for pleasure and reading for deeper analysis and understanding are far removed from one another. Kingston sometimes is shy and unassuming. His opportunity to talk and prepare is frequent amongst the classes, yet silence stunts his chance. He must engage fully and find those word in his soul that are crying to get out. He is more than capable. Pick up a pen! Kingston needed pushing to complete this task. Finally at his own pace he completed a basic outline. He could explain the features and common landmarks of the island but did not write these down in his notebook. With encouragement he is capable of a good output. Kingston needed pushing to create and explain his chosen chapter of events. He produced the work after the deadline and needed support from classmates and the teacher to finalise his work. Kingston did some revision work but he is certainly capable of much more. Between not completing homework, some choice comments within his answers and a distinct feeling of idleness, Kingston has given less than all his efforts to this summative test. The teacher shall be setting targets and goals with Kingston to allow him to reach his full potential.
Each and every one of us are teachers. Whether we have bad grammar, a bad grandma or are just plain bad, we can and we do teach. WE all pass something on!
What are we teaching? We’re passing on our habits, manners and cultures through stammers and scammers. We’re inspiration personified and electrified. We’re terrified by teenagers and hormone-ragers. We’re stood-up cowering yet courageous.
We’re teachers, preachers, passionate thrill seekers, and seekers of new, old and bold ways for all our long or short days. We look to heavens, travel to Devon, eat mustard from Dijon. Off we go. Gone. Gone. Gone.
We’re walkers and talkers, hip hop loving, beat box popping, Beastie Boy dancing and prancing, warts and all stabbing, pistol packing, trigger happy, backwards slanting, lazy crazy kinds. Some of us, like parachutes.
We come in all shapes and sizes. Tall, broad, as thin as a sword, looping-swooping PE teachers with all the muscular features, and smiles. Loads and loads of smiles. Shining beaming radiant teeth under a variety of hair styles, or none. Fashion isn’t for everyone, but teachers, we have our own flair for fair and compare. We really give a damn.
To the Mr Meherans, the Tony Macks, Frau Hodges, Miss Hopkins and Mr Jones of our world, we salute you! Of course, I could list more, but that’s a register, and right now is time to read, plan and prepare. Another day, another dream in the wide world of the imagination dream.
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module Four – Individual Oral Assessment
IB Course Creator Tim Pruzinsky started his introduction video by saying this final module would be unique and no easy task. Armed with a floppy left arm (following my second installment of the COVID-19 jab yesterday) and a nausea (last weekend’s sickness has caused my appetite since to be largely under the requirements of a half-giant), I set on my studies. To baldly go… (shiny-headed pun intended)
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module Three – Assessing the Higher Level Essay
What is a 4?What is a 5? The line between the two is foggy and at times completely a blur. So, here, I use the benefit of the doubt. My reasoning is simple. The overall piece was well written, clearly thought of in detail and delivered in an informative way. I still had some question. So, I went looking. I found that Calvin and Hobbes ran from 18/11/1985 to 31/12/1995 as a daily comic strip in the U.S.A. and across the world. I’ve certainly never stumbled on this strip, despite it landing in over 2400 newspapers! Humour, satire, politics, and family life mix well with philosophy and judging by the Wikipedia write-up, a dozen of so academics have touched on it too.
Understanding & Interpretation
Broad understanding of Calvin & Hobbes. Strong appearance and understanding. Clear persuasive interpretation. Some focus on satire shows deeper interpretation. Implications of text explained well bit could have had more detail. Demonstrates a passion for the text. Reference use is strong. Portrays the comic’s intent and purpose well. Line of inquiry allows for development &/or relevant/focus. Some openness of interpretation may be conveyed from the chosen language features of the student’s works. Who, when, what and how answered. The why is a little under-supported.
Analysis & Evaluation
Graphic aspects needed a little further contextual depth. Would have benefitted from more language analysis. Consistent flow with convincing analysis. Insightful analysis of the text. Is the reader intended to be active or an observer? Clear that: Language + style + technique = meaning. Evaluation of author’s choice clear & concise. Further development of points possible. Accurate use of technical terminology.
Focus & Organization
Organised/cohesive, but a little complex. Integrated example usage. Adequate development of a line of inquiry. Paragraphs clear and linear, however some back and forth to the appendix is needed.
Clear and well-chosen. Appropriate register (effective/concise). Vocabulary strong and supportive. Literary terms deployed. Grammar usage largely accurate. Some sentence structure errors.
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module Three – Added Extras (Extended Essay)
Firstly, the score weighting is different to previously marked papers, so it allows for flexibility in awarding a final mark. Deciding between a score from four or five is tougher than that of one from six or twelve. An in depth extended essay offers more chance to digest and deconstruct before reviewing and offering feedback. Overall, it is much more demanding. However, for candidate and examiner the process is more exacting and testing. It isn’t a short time task! A cup of steaming cappuccino was required!
Focus & Method (a reader should see the beginning to the end)
Effective speech chosen. Culture/context/target language show connection. In depth analysis versus that of a broader range of speeches. Good usage of secondary sources as way of support. Displays good intelligence.
Knowledge & Understanding (a reader should be informed)
Social/political understanding of the speech fully demonstrated. Subject-specific terminology deployed. Primary and secondary sources support context. No digression. Public opinions over-generalised?
Critical Thinking (a reader should see thoughts)
Research, analysis and evaluation evident and of a high value. Exploration of the speech could have been furthered more accordingly (to gain full marks). Concentrating their interpretation would be of more benefit to the writer.
Presentation (a reader needs it to be clear)
Clear. Some over-general citation use.
Engagement (a reader should be engaged)
Initial topic starts and is abandoned. Further two topics engage deeply. Candidate’s voice lacks full bite.
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module Three – Reflection
How can you use the assessment components, the learner portfolio, and more, to help achieve the IB mission?
Papers one and two offer opportunities for student encouragement and development. Each offers skillsets for life. The IB learner profiles can be explored and reinforced. The issues of identity, culture, class, environment and representation, amongst other matters can be explored through non-literary and literary study. Literature is a rich vein for exploration. It offers voices and opportunity to use effectively the approaches to learning skills. Drawing a connection beyond the non-literary and literary gives rise to language exposure and expansion.
Through paper one students can explore global issues across a broad range and bring them to the classroom for debate. Global thinking inquiring minds can be founded within the realm of paper one.
Paper two has a traditional feel to deliver in a form of written communication. That. construct must include balanced analysis, evaluation and be organised in a way that shows complete organisation through good time management and and thorough language use.
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module Three – Reviewing Examiner Marked Papers
Understanding & Interpretation
Demonstrates full literal understanding. Insightful interpretation. Fully supported/referenced to text.
Analysis & Evaluation
Convinced analysis of textual/visual features. Supports how features/choices shape meaning. Effective use of website provision.
Focus & Organization
Coherent organisation of analysis. Growth shown from writing’s beginning to end. Conclusion is strong. Supports itself.
Clear/carefully selected language. Adequate register/style. Accuracy in vocabulary, grammar and structure. Ideas expressed clearly enough, but could benefit from more oomph. Some grammatical endings likely prevented full marks.
Understanding & Interpretation
Demonstrates full understanding of literal text, when combined with visual text elements. Individual aspects highlighted.
Analysis & Evaluation
Conveys meaning & evaluation of features. Highlights choice of word use; drawing details; story development; character choice.
Focus & Organization
No focus on the story’s moral. Paragraphing very clear.
Appropriate use of terminology for graphic novel/comic strip formats. Notes inconsistencies. Some tough misuse of punctuation. Tenses/clauses incorrectly used.
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module Three – Marking Rewards Content
Before tackling this, I hate red pens. I refuse to use red pens. I like to highlight in sky blue, what needs to be praised. I use orange (or pencil) to draw attention to something that needs reflection and evaluation. I use pencil where corrections can be made. So, my marking is looking to reward what happens to stare outwards and not what is missing. Marking should encourage students and not destroy their confidence.
Knowledge, understanding & Interpretation
Shows knowledge about works. Evidence of narration. Experience of characters evident. Comparatives used. Contrasts clear. Evident connection. Linked clearly to the question. Generalisation overpowers specific areas of closer comparison.
Analysis & Evaluation
Includes textual features. Analysis connects technical features to texts. Analysis shows connection of different perspectives. Evaluates the chosen text. Encourage use of explicit answers. Encourage analytical terminology.
Focus & Organisation
Not very smooth in flow. Few conjunctions in use. Focus seems to lack sharpness. Overall Conclusion: vague. Sentence length and structure needs revision. What exactly is etc?
Some repetition of key points. Some repetition of key points. Register appropriate. Some spelling, punctuation and grammar faults. Proofreading would have removed these errors. Encourage a wider range of vocabulary and terminology. Lacks evaluation voice.
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module Two Wiki
Notes: It is important to use questions: WHO / WHEN / WHAT / WHY / HOW / WHICH / DO / DID / etc.
Identity Who is Boris Johnson? What was his political background? How did he rise to power? What roles did he have? How do you measure his success? Based on your analysis of several magazine and newspaper covers, is it possible for you to comment on his character? To what extent do these covers reflect his identity? Has he stylised his approach to that of Sir Winston Churchill? Communication Political parties and their members need communicationmethods. A voice within a newspaper column can have a great effect on the potential electorate. Every word is carefully written, edited, drafted and calculated. How do people remember words from speeches? How do people see written text and compare this to spoken dialogue through various sources? Culture Negative campaigns and advertisements are characteristic of certain cultures. Some cultures take these techniques much further than others. § How do texts in this unit compare to the election & political culture in your country? § Are they more negative or less negative than what you are used to seeing? § How are trends in negative advertising changed over the years in your country? Why is this?
Political landscape – battles of power
Area of Exploration
Readers, writers, texts What are the different ways in which people are affected by texts and their attached imagery? Time and space What is the influence of cultural contexts on how texts are written and received? Intertextuality: connecting texts Which diverse texts have features in common?
How are notions of political power constructed by the media? (Local, regional or international influence?) How do newspapers play a role in shaping public opinion? (Or, to try to remain unbiased?) How do politicians use language to persuade voters? (Or to dissuade?) What kinds of debate techniques and argumentation fallacies are common in televised and political debates? (Is it civil? Or, closer to that of a talk show? Or, akin to that of Jerry Springer?) In what ways do politicians use language to tear down their rivals? Is it respectful to the viewing audience’s collective maturity and intelligence? Respond to non-literary texts to demonstrate an understanding and develop a personal interpretation (Paper 1)
1. Gather ten political figures on different magazine or newspaper covers. Review the presentation, first impressions and back-up their opinion using the material evidence. 2. Observe a debate video. Discuss their answer. Refer to their arguments. Discuss fairness and tactical language usage.
What aspects of this activity resonated strongest with you? How could I have improved this Non-Literary Unit of Study inquiry? Has anything changed the way you look at the world? How important is it to know what is fair or unfair? Is there an aspect you would like to explore further? Why?
Created by: Ahmed, Acton, and Olivia. Published at: INSERT LINK Submitted to: IB PD website on 21st JUNE 2021
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module Two Reflection
“How did your thoughts about what you might teach change based on the TOK debate?”
The debate opened up new avenues of exploration, exposure to other influences shared by other teachers around the globe and created a wider lens to look at teaching options. The wider the scope of texts, the broader the issues that can be covered in comparative assignments.
“What is your role in creating an internationally minded literature syllabus?”
Turning negatives into positives, examples of adversity can be shown to create inspirational and deep characters. I believe I can highlight equality and inequality as a stepping stone from their comfort zones to the wider world around them, using relatable issues and examples. Trying to make students feel part of something or connect is a challenge and one that needs to be handled compassionately with complete empathy, and not through a patronising lens. We’re not trying to feel sorry for others. We can relate and encourage critical thinking and higher order thinking that seeks change for the better. We don’t want every issue or problem to overshadow the mood and emotion of study.
“Do you believe it is more important to teach canonical works or a diverse set of texts? Why?”
Diverse foods create good tongues. Diverse music taste influences good listening skills and music knowledge. Diversity in reading creates a reader that can handle texts from numerous countries, cultures and backgrounds.
“And finally, what are you most excited about teaching and why?”
I am most excited to get students lifting new unfamiliar texts, through their own choice and confidence. In turn, I want to see each student set unique challenges and bring their own interests, choices to the classroom.
creativity: how does the listener understand the meaning of a song and its lyrics; How are we affected by texts in varied ways?
literary text: music lyrics
time & space
Free choice 2: Tash Aw
why & how do we study language and literature?
literary text: prose fiction/novel
non-literary text: websites
readers, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
non-literary text: opinion columns
readers, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
non-literary text: magazine and newspaper covers
readers, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
pre-21st century; 20th century
non-literary text: public information texts
readers, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
pre-21st century; 20th century
non-literary text: propaganda pamphlets
readers, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
pre-21st century; 20th century
non-literary text: advertisements
readers, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
non-literary text: blogs
readers, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
non-literary text: self-help guides
readers, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
non-literary text: photography
readers, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
various (some translated)
non-literary text: speeches
readers, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
various (some translated)
non-literary text: quotations
readers, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
The Levellers were chosen for their breadth and depth of lyrics. I absolutely agree that I would be focusing on an exploration of the lyrics (as a form of poetry) more than any other aspect. The subculture of music videos, album art, posters, and instruments representing voices would supplement a non-literary body of work.
“Your daddy, well he died in the Falklands; Fighting for another man’s cause; And your brother he was killed in the last war; Now your mother’s, well she’s lying home alone” – Another Man’s Cause, The Levellers
There are songs within their 12 (or so) album catalogue that cover topics like human rights (food roof family), refugees (The Shame), peace (Exodus), anti-war (The Recruiting Sergeant), the 1917 Étaples Mutiny (Mutiny), homelessness (Cardboard Box City), identity (England My Home), nuclear trouble (Belaruse), being human (Julie), inequality (Dirty Davey), class and humanity (This Garden), a dived world (Generation Fear) and huge range of emotions, personalities and periods of time. There are many songs that mark a journey and an exploration of the individual. Some are simple. Some are deep.
“My father when I was younger; Took me up on to the hill; That looked down on the city smog; Above the factory spill” – One Way, The Levellers
The indie folk rock genre that The Levellers have inhabited for over three decades. They formed their own festival in opposition to the increasing numbers of festivals of a highly commercial nature. At first I was thinking about bands that are highly accessible like Coldplay and U2, but then I thought why not go off the beaten track?!
“The year is 1991, it seems that freedom’s dead and gone; The power of the rich is held by few; Keep the young ones paralysed, educated by your lies” – Sell Out, The Levellers
The Levellers were formed in the 1990s and were not afraid to speak and sing the truth. They’ve been on a musical revolution for over three decades. They edged on the fringes of pop in their early days but have found their home more across genres than any other British band. They have likely influenced more musicians disillusioned by the commercial and closed state of the music industry. Their lyrics have been heard by musicians, writers and poets. The alternative scene to as establishment has a voice that can echo far. This is a band named after a political movement during the 17th century, formed in the years of the late William Shakespeare’s growing influence (on the English language).
“They’re sending in the elite, complete with guns; To advertise the way to go; Faxing through the fax to make it clear; That they’re the ones who know” – Liberty Song,The Levellers\
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module Two Theory of Knowledge
Canonmeaning (1): a general law, rule, principle, or criterion by which something is judged. Or meaning (2): the writings or other works that are generally agreed to be good, important, and worth studying. (Meanings interpreted from the Collins, Cambridge and Oxford dictionaries)
Module 2 mission:
I: theory of knowledge debate about the canon, the prescribed book list, and international-mindedness. Before building the course: What do you believe? Note: conceptual/flexible/international-mindedness core values (IB mission; allows freedom and exploration). Must be a connection between course of TOK and Language & Literacy.
Questions that spring to mind are:
Is there a difference to gaining knowledge from literacy, language or other methods of learning?
What do we actually learn through the study of text?
Is there a scientific method to language and literacy study?
What is the purpose of non-literary text and why is it often compared to fuller literary text types? How is it best to interpret these different forms? Any clinical ways to explore them?
Who understands and comprehends a text best?
Do clashes exist in interpretive strategies? How can you review such diverse viewpoints?
The word canon brings to mind William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot, or Mark Twain. Homer, Geoffrey Chaucer, Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney and many others make up a largely male list. Jane Austen, the Brontë family, Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Gaskell often make the list to offer a feminine perspective. Gwendolyn Brooks is the only writer of a different racial group that I recall reading in secondary school. That was because Mr Mack, my year 9 English teacher, loved poetry and wanted us as students to understand the world beyond England.
Western writers always appear elevated over often-so-called new world, African, Asian or other regional writers. I have found myself in China, reading translated pieces by Kǒng Fūzǐ (孔夫子) or as he is known globally, Confucius and trying to follow Sūnzǐ (孫子) or Sun Tzu, so I can relate to Chinese students trying to master Shakespeare or other works set and written in a different world! For me, text without Confucius and Sun Tzu needs to be accompanied by the interpretation of other writers. Canon writers are predominantly the popular and classical writers that A-Levels and GCSEs have covered. Those modelled courses and their American and Australian equivalents have travelled through international schools to far flung places and huge populations like India and China. It surprised me on arriving here in Dongguan, China to see Jack London’s Call of The Wild and O. Henry’s The Gift of Magi. The latter is on my reading list but struggling to find its way off it. I found it odd that English classics had more perspective than translated versions of domestic Chinese literature. Surely, writing an essay on such relatable matters would boost comprehension of western writing interpretation?
IB curriculum schools open doors to places around the globe lesser known. I wandered into a class earlier this year themed around Persepolis. Inspired by this choice in MYP, I found a transcript of writer Marjane Satrapi’s Chicken with Plums translated from French to English. I introduced the lesser graphic edit to my PYP Grade 4 students. Later, one of the students advised they had seen the movie and didn’t know there was a book! We were there and then led to Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence (Doris Pilkington AKA Nugi Garimara), and Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner – under slight edits to remove scenes unsuitable for ten year old students! A unit of inquiry about migration, refugees and where we are in place and time had been connected, all because of one literature piece’s indirect influence.
I’m a firm believer in diversity and multicultural integration. I’ve seen first-hand the horrors of divide, but also the beauty and magic of inclusion and togetherness. Access and exposure to literacy and language has the power to close divide and bring people closer. It can open discussion and encourage dialogue or understanding. Remake a Shakespeare play as a movie or live action theatre by all means, but make sure those watching know their stories and the stories that are relevant today.
Increasingly there is an element of pick and mix to reading texts. Newspapers, online media, word of mouth, social media and movie adaptations are highlighting international writers, giving readers chance to develop international mindedness. With that young learners are blessed to have education bodies and influencers that can modernise and expand Prescribed Reading Lists. Context that can easily get lost to the wrong audience should not be overlooked or ignored. It should be connected and explained.
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module Two Learning Engagement
“What are the three things you want to make sure you do when you design your own course?”
Having reviewed the concepts that underpin the syllabus content, I began to unpack the course syllabus. Below is a work in progress. I am creating my tailored course outline to reflect the flexible nature of IB teaching and learning. Through freedom of design and under continual improvement, I hope to have a course outline ready for use and continued modification to enhance my learners and their learning experiences. I want to ensure that students can connect through their own identities, cultures and find a suitable perspective. The students must be offered a place to display their creative talents and all texts must represent both popular and obscure examples. In short, trio of design demands must engage, inform and educate in a natural flow.
CONCEPTS (underpin syllabus content)
Reading a text, for a student, or by a student, will see them make their own narrative and perspective. They may imagine the voices and characters, each in differing ways. They may imagine a deeper backstory or be influenced by movie or television adaptations. They may connect the characters to previously explored texts. This is normal. The writer and the reader each place part of their identity within the story. Sometimes the author doesn’t make reading easy to follow or understand. Their identity can bend, shift, change and be quite complicated. This complexity can make an understanding difficult to follow. Reading across texts may even deepen that mystery – or paint a clearer picture. Reading texts by James Herriot or Colin Dann gives a reasonable interpretation and insight into the writer’s background. The World War II fighter pilot, Roald Dahl, may be clear in some of his closer autobiographical books, but his children’s texts are far further from his life experiences. Or, are they not? Readers will have their own interpretation and it’s important to know that diverse responses to perspectives are possible.
JRR Tolkien penned the epic ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of The Rings’ books. These works and his other compendium of titles reflected his life story in some shape and form. He was born in an independent nation the Orange Free State (now part of South Africa). The landscape of the African continent was complex and difficult. Family circumstance saw his widowed mother move to England. Place names from his upbringing, a spider bite, the tragedy of World War I and countless other stages of his life influenced his writings. Here was a man propelled into his first job at the Oxford English Dictionary and fell in love with language. His translation of ‘Beowulf’ showed considerable international mindedness, a theme that slips in and out of his Middle Earth adventures. Beliefs, values and attitudes shape a writer. They target an audience willing to lift open the pages. Quite often the writing follows a similar style to that read in the years before it. A connection between the familiar and the new is important for a reader. Does text reflect where it was formed and when? The place and time of a text can often be acknowledged from the feel of the text.
Imagination is key. Creating something and engaging it has to be in reach of the reader. The writer’s role within a text is to paint a canvas vividly enough to make the words leap from the page. The often written cliche about transporting the reader to another place is important. Interpretations can take multiple forms and transcend that of a simple text. The writer and the text will be heavily original in ideas, shapes and forms. Originality will make a work stand out.
Both non-literary and literary text have the problem of getting their message across loud and clear. Does the writing aim to convey a message to the reader? How can the writer know that the reader will see the message? The audience must be assumed to be in on the writer’s previous works, or of a particular kind that can easily access the text. Some readers may struggle to follow the messages hidden or directly thrown at them from the text. Some may ignore the bias of a message and value their own views more highly. Cooperative readers may follow more closely, but even so, text meaning is not always definitive.
Authors can also write in ways that do not follow their views in any shape or form. They may take the role of devil’s advocate just to sell more books, or open a debate. This is one example of literacy devices available to writers that readers may or may not be aware is being used on their perception of a text. The reader may or may not bring their own complete perception which clashes with the views in the text. Before you know it, there’s critical thinking, attention and a discussion as the reader tries to interpret the text. What will the end result be? Will it influence the reader or not?
Intertextuality: the connection and relationship across texts, especially that of literary ones. One text can lead to a heavy influence on the next text. Sometimes it is the creation of new ideas from one text to another. Some texts may follow one another, across authors, or not. Some may be reimagining or taking elements of a story into their own works. C.S Lewis penned ‘Perelandra’ which is often cited to be a reworking of John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ and the biblical ‘Book of Genesis’. Some texts will influence a reader changing their perception of reality. Reading Michael Crichton’s ‘Congo’ as a teenager opened my mind drastically to interspecies communication and in later years whilst volunteering at a zoo, I found myself communicating with an orangutan, like you do. Potentially, personal interpretations can be hugely transformative.
Some texts are abstract. Some are relatable to reality. Some are every step between. Accurate reflections of reality, potential futures, to artistic imaginings are central to a reader connecting the text to meaning. The form and structure of the story must connect between both the author and the reader. The largely popular space soap opera epic ‘Star Wars’ started out under the pen of George Lucas. His dog, an Alaskan breed would find itself as a relatable humanoid representation in that of the character, Chewbacca. Throughout his writing he represented characters using human touches.
With the above in mind, the course can be further dissected and placed in the required syllabus areas of explorations. They can be supplemented by the Prescribed Reading List.
AREA OF EXPLORATIONS
readers, writers text
#0.1 Why do we study language and literature? #0.2 How do we study language and literature? #0.3 How does text affect us? [Use real world examples] #0.4 How does text affect us? [Use variety] #0.5 Meaning: constructed, negotiated, expressed and interpreting #0.6 language use variation: text types/form/genre #0.7 Building confidence through structure #0.8 Non-literary and literary differences #0.9 Language & literature: an introduction. #1 Breaking down the complex #1.1 Text type: style & structure – the affect on meaning #2 Investigate texts, the various forms & types – pay close attention #3 What choices do writers make to communicate meaning? (e.g. images, sounds and words) #3.1 Texts: an insight? Form a response #3.2 Texts: a challenge? #3.3 Personal vs. academic responses #3.3. expand your response #3.4 metacognitive awareness #4 What role do readers make to understand meaning? (e.g. images, sounds and words) #5 The role of creative language. #6 How does creative language relate through literature? #7 The power of texts/perspectives #8 Linguistic and literary messages: what are the authors communicating?
time and space
#A social capacity: connect to community, culture & history (advertisements, poems, etc) #B variety of cultural contexts (places, cultures, times; insights?) #C Do texts reflect or refract our world? (Is there a social or political agenda? How do we approach older texts? Still relevant or obsolete?) #D How do cultural conditions affect language? (Any representation of social, political and cultural concerns? Do meanings and impacts change over time?) #E How are cultural conditions a product of language? (Bound by societal framework and the implications? Do they represent cultural practices?) #F How is identity and culture influential to how text is received? #G Explore cultural and historical perspectives (Open, plural or cosmopolitan?) #H The role of text to oneself, local and global connections (Does it provoke influence of raise questions?) #I Is a text complex or dynamic? (Is there a hidden story of reality?) #J An exploration of the author’s background (historical events, narratives in terms of critical reception; is it important?) #K Who is the author’s audience? Obvious or unapparent? #L The intricacies of relatable places and times across generations and boundaries (Is a society or identity represented reflected in language use?)
Relate: past to present. Engage: literary & linguistic traditions. #i Connections between text and audience (ideas and traditions in respect of diversity; is a classic text still valid?) #ii Making a comparative (deeper appreciation; how can different perspectives highlight an issue, topic ore theme? Can a comparative and an interpretation be transformative?) #iii Unique characteristics and complex systems as a connection (Similarities & differences? Can diverse texts share points of similarity?) #iv How to and when to openly discuss your interpretations (create a critical lens; expand on a meaning; question it; what’s your view? How does a system of reference evolve over time?) #v Mode & genre of text, literary form, chronological development, topic or concept, debate or theoretical perspective. Do texts deviate from literary forms and genre? Why? How?
“What two principles of course design spoke to you personally, why, and how will you use that to design your syllabus?”
Integration and variety will enhance interest. I believe as a teacher our heaviest influence sits in these two areas. Students are mostly familiar with autonomy and accountability. These should be well-trod paths across IB subject areas.
COURSE DESIGN PRINCIPLES
Students can connect, compare and contrast across multiple texts. This can include translated texts and those in an original target language. The traditional canon and the voices of emerging voices can strike a balance to form a varifocal view of the world at large. The bigger the lens, the deeper the understanding? The text students are exposed to should reflect global society, local society and multiple cultures. The protection and preservation of texts should be side by side with literary forms, places times and most importantly voices. Is less more? Or, is in terms of literary form more diversity essential for diverse understanding? Linguistic and language evolution is ongoing, and tied to literary developments. Students must understand that they are the master of their own exploration. Their individual selection of texts will open new doors for others within the classroom cohort. “Variety is the spice of life” – William Cowper, British poet.
A learner profile needs more than reflection. How can a student look at each current and previous text to form a connection? Do students need to form spider webs and mind maps to draw and illustrate connections? Will as Minecraft-style virtual map help relate and show their connections? Lines can be drawn across areas of exploration and through the seven concepts. Organisation skills will be needed throughout.
Everything should connect. Compartmentalisation has little value to complimenting the study of multiple texts. Inherent, context-related and comparative text studies should be integrated to demonstrate to students that references from outside of the classroom cohort’s own research are relevant and supplementary to their development.
Why is integration important? Oral assessment / Paper 2 – meaning elaboration required.
“Integration happens when all your parts of your being are in harmony.” Amy Leigh Mercree, author.
Students must be empowered. They’re the keepers of their destiny. They prepare their likely routes of study individually. They work towards assessment, formative (self-assessment and peer-assessment will encourage evaluation skills) and summative. They must make decisions with care. They will need pushing through positive encouragement. A variety of materials and access to research tools, the right syllabus components, how an assessment is made, and full scaffolding support (in the case of students new to the IB or international schooling). A teacher’s role is to guide and ensure texts are appropriate to the short-term and long-term study at hand. Is the text connected to the concept or issue? “I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.” – Rumi, Persian poet
Academic honesty. Whole class awareness of the course requirements. A plan of action that is clear and achievable: the pathway to assessments. Individual assessment components must be used on a sole occasion, keeping it fresh and balanced. “Simplify, slow down, be kind. And don’t forget to have art in your life – music, paintings, theater, dance, and sunsets.” – Eric Carle, author and illustrator
“What one question do you still have about the philosophy or the practicalities of designing a course syllabus?”
I want to think mainly in terms of reflection:
Is my course fit for purpose? Are all the outcomes specific, attainable and measurable? Does the content and method match the outcome? How well can students achieve the necessary outcome? How can I make the course a better fit for the differentiated learner? Are my course syllabus learning outcomes reasonable in relation to the contextual issues? Are all the outcomes going to be theory-based or will it be possible to draw on transdisciplinary skills to highlight skill-based outcomes?
I should hope any student on the course has a level of English that’s appropriate but I’m willing (as is the school) to intervene and develop that level. The level of interest is something I half-worry about. Parent power in China is strong. Some students may feel pushed into the more traditional areas of education and lose sight of their personal interest. A student studying English, here in Dongguan (China), is often a source of pride to family and face. Developing and maintaining an interest in era heavily flooded with video game, social networking and other distractions takes time and patience. As a teacher we must adapt and evolve with the times. Discouraging a student will only create a barrier. How can we integrate their other interests to reinforce interests in literature and language?
“How did your thoughts about what you might teach change based on the TOK debate?” The understanding that knowledge is a reconstructed or constructed representation as opposed to a perfectly symmetrical mirror image of life and reality.
“What are you most excited about teaching and why?” Engaging students in their time and place and uncovering their viewpoints. Watching as they evolve confidence in understanding the viewpoints of others. I’m excited to help our learners at TWIS develop inquiry and critical thinking skills alongside literature and language. I hope that they can recognise the value of reflection, transferring their skills into other disciplines. Explorations should be shared. Are we told by the author to read their text in a certain way? Can we choose to interpret their work in terms of our own cultural assumptions? How do communities of students, academics, teachers or other groups view a text? The same? Differently? Constructing knowledge around text will be enjoyable. Meanings shared are often enlightening.
As a teacher the challenge is monumental. Explaining things sometimes lost in translation will be challenging. Exploring how a text may have been written for a completely different audience (ethnicity, location, time etc) will determine how open-minded a learner can be. Perhaps, there will be absence of an international viewpoint that can be explored. Charlie Hebdo,a French publication known for satire have experienced extreme examples of how an approach to place and time could be considered divisive and unhelpful in international outlooks and mindfulness. Poets, bloggers, cartoonists, and journalists must all take careful approaches. The learner too. They are each subject to their interpretation techniques.
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module One reflection
Is the learner profile relevant?
help teachers build rapport
deepen a teacher’s professional relationship with their learner(s)
connect support levels and buddy peers
allow informed planning
allow a teacher to observe a student’s perspective more closely
allow for suitable timetabling
allow teachers the chance to create a relevant scaffolding of learning
determine classroom layout
develop tutoring support through differentiation
allow group and class participation
Information is not static. It moves. The student’s profile is a record and guidance for new teachers.
Pertinent information such as interests can be aligned to teaching.
Highlight strengths and needs
Allows supply and cover teachers a fairer insight into the individual
it can be a document, a portfolio, a combination of digital and traditional forms
Formal or informal
Can contain conversations, questionnaires, video interviews etc
A place for their aspirations & passions
To inform discussions between teaching staff, parents and guardians
Insert things they dislike and wish to avoid
Document life experiences, people, pets, moments of inspiration or importance
Highlight what they do when help is needed
Exemplars selected from other sources that guide the student
Select appropriate curriculum material/support
Help develop maximum engagement
Provide assessment data
Explore the profile’s purpose
Review snd evaluate the profile format
Two-way process between the teacher & the learner
A chance to show inclusion of all in the learning journey
How does the individual adapt?
What tools and/or techiniques and/or technologies do they favour?
A chance to express themselves
Have their own say
To I.B., or not to I.B.?
There are numerous forms of education systems and curricula out there. The University Admissions Officers Report 2017 may argue that A-Levels are in-depth looks at specific avenues. Many will have you look at US, Australian, or British curricula. The International Primary Curriculum is reportedly the fastest growing primary school system on Earth. So, as a teacher, a parent or a potential student, it pays to do your homework in the form of research. Which methods best fit you? Differentiation in learning is also about knowing when a system of study will or will not suit your learning style or method. Cost, demand, class size, location, and a plethora of other factors need to be taken into account. If a student or parent aspires to have holistic, rounded, international minds after primary, middle years and diploma years, then IB is the way to go. A range of skills as opposed to the ability to answer exams may help.
Native and foreign languages are encouraged with IB formats. Whereas, a language must be chosen separately in the AS- or A-Level formats. Students usually opt for 3 to 4 A-levels, but can take more. Obviously more subjects will equate to more homework and class time. That could also create more clashes in a timetable. The base AS-Level can serve as a foundation, paving the way for the A-2 Level which give the final result and grade. Their grading ranges from A* down to E.
The IB system is comprised of six subjects. There are academic cores (TOK: Theory of Knowledge), Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity, Action & Service (CAS). Optional subjects are plentiful and the opportunity to attempt Higher Level study is available. Points win prizes and diplomas are issued based on overall points gained. University entry, e.g. UCAS (The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) in the U.K. requires a number of points earned. Overall, feedback via independent websites and student reviews indicates that students feel they’re better equipped at university. One student’s experience of course differs to another student’s feel. Perspective is key.
Close language analysis: what’s the point?
Words matter. Phrases matter. How you teach it and convey the comprehension of all text matters. Writers convey and highlight messages in their text. How your comprehension interprets this message matters. Figures of speech, idioms, sentence structures, tone of voice, choice of words and other techniques need to be clear. Literacy and language need good communication to avoid messages losing meaning or creating problems! We, as analytical thinkers, must decode and reconstruct the meaning. We must be able to say what it is about and the possible effects of the text.
To make all students and teachers aware that interpretation of knowledge is important. It is fundamental to ideological thinking. It is key to understanding bias, valid or not. It offers the chance to retain, revise or reject bias. Critical reflection is encouraged. Knowledge and knowing are there to be questioned and explored. With knowledge and exploration, it allows students a chance to apply it to real-world scenarios. The whole subject must be passed. Without it, then no certificate of diploma can be awarded.
An introduction to the curriculum/framework of primary (those 3-12 years old) years programmes within the I.B. schooling systems.
dominant vs oppositional reading
highly dominant first page spread; second page is dominant also, with a slightly toned-down aggression
TOK (Theory of Knowledge) is assessed through an essay (1600 words) & by an oral presentation. It’s a broad spectrum reflection on what knowledge is, how it happens and why we know is what we know. It must argue how we know what we state to know. It’s a mandatory test within the I.B. Diploma Programme (D.P.) central core. As a student, you will need a broader mind. Arguments are presented to teachers.
Question and answer style format. Adopted the role of interviewer and interviewee. Some bullet points and linked sources included to break down the monotony of paragraphed answers. Highlights I.B.’s interweaving style of teaching and emphasis
words or phrases have a highly charged connotation/ the effect on the reader
“Theory of knowledge guide intended to guide the planning, teaching and assessment of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) Theory of knowledge (TOK) course.”
curiosity, creativity, ability to reflect, stimulating, challenging, nurture, foster a lifelong love of learning (also smooth alliteration), transdisciplinary, investigating big ideas, gifted, special,
words or phrases demonstrate the ideological perspective of this text
“Theory of knowledge guide TOK teachers are the primary audience, although it is expected that teachers will also use the information in this guide to inform students and parents about the subject.”
Aimed at parents and guardians.
Bertrand Russell (1926) invented the term Theory of Knowledge. The 8 areas of knowledge are mathematics, natural sciences, human sciences, arts, history, ethics, religious knowledge systems, and indigenous knowledge systems.
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Close textual analysis of the I.B.
I.B. Mission Statement:
“The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.” (Source: https://ibo.org/ accessed June 2021)
#1 “What ideological biases exist in the IB mission statement and how do you know this as a reader?“
Is education equally accessible to all? Do the elite get independent and private teaching with more ease? How many governments support IB teaching? Do regional governments back the IB system and methods? Is the IB system open to all, or to the few?
The notion that the target market is those classified as young. There is an assumption that people want to make peace. Some cultures and societies do not want other teaching methods placed to their population. The statement refers to international organisations, notably governments and schools. It implies that other systems of assessment and international education are less challenging, however, it acknowledges that other ways of life and education may also be right. These other methods of learning are other ways and means to continue life-long learning. The statement that it ‘encourages students across the world…’ is bold and clearly implies the IB backs its words up with statistical analysis. Social, intellectual and cultural bias could be implied from the first and third sentences of the statement. Similar to some countries not wanting an external influence on domestic education, it could be said that tolerance or understanding may also be subject to different perspectives. Marginalised and threatened social groups may not be treated equally within one kingdom. The paragraph on the whole highlights that nations and continents are connected, and more than ever, we as a race of people need to communicate and get along. Yes, there are many ideals, but aspiring to be better for everyone is a very human trait.
Cognitive verbs form the first half before the latter becomes less preachy, more clinical. The persuasion blends into intrigue and overlooks nationalism in favour of internationalism. The standing of populism, separatism and divide from internationalism shows this debate has plenty of room for the IB system. Isn’t together as a species for the preservation of the planet a better way to be than selfish ways?
Preferred (or Dominant) Reading
An audience follows the direction of the media or writing in a way that was pre-calculated by the writer.
The viewer or reader must make their own decision, be it in whole or partial agreement to the message of the writer. It is quite often a partial agreement.
The audience are not expected to swing their views in favour of the writer or the message of the produced text/material. Complete disagreement is expected.
e.g. An advertisement in a magazine triggers the reader to use a discount voucher or follow social media channels
A documentary, TV programme or show, or a movie.
A political broadcast aimed at one party’s members but not the opposition following.
#2 “What is the dominant reading of this text and what might be an oppositional reading of the IB learner profile?“
Looking objectively through eyes that imagine that I have never encountered the IB system, I can see a few cases against IB learning. An oppositional reading may be one whereby a student or parent has been sold A.P., IGCSE, Cambridge Pre-U, or the BTEC National Schemes. The traditional AS- and A-Levels of the U.K. may be favoured due to their longevity and global usage. Advanced Apprenticeships, NVQs and T-Levels are other such alternatives. The world is fluid and these days, more than ever, with global uncertainty in the shadow of COVID-19 and political disagreements, mean that IB faces a challenge, like all education methods. Online teaching, isolation, illness and worry are barriers that prevent smooth collaboration and transition without dedication and focus. Education attitudes change and idealising every problem is far from, erm, ideal. And, as the semester crack on, there are stories of IB students weighed down by too many essays, from too many subjects. Are students reflecting too often and in too much detail on too many common sense matters? Should students and parents ultimately share their perspective of the IB system and its benefits, rather than the IB itself?
Dominant wording such as ‘integrity’, ‘honesty’, ’empathy’, and ‘compassion’ are qualities that many people aspire towards. These hard-selling words sit alongside people’s curiosity. We’re a species that asks questions, over and over again. And when we get answers, we seek more questions. For many questions start to fade, but there’s always a group of people asking more and more questions, continuing through their lives. We develop. We grow. We exercise our minds. We expand our knowledge. We express ourselves. We think about how the world works. We explore who we are and where we are in space and time. Consciousness gives us appreciation and we use it in empathic ways. The IB school appears to be a garden and source of higher learning. It shows a student who is an ideal: the champion of learning. A student who is hungry to excel, has drive and uses resilience to battle through studies. The IB method can’t create a ‘Super Student’ in a red cape with a blue suit, but it can stand students in the right position to know which tools to use, and when. Each will then be capable to use their best qualities and maintain their learning efforts throughout life.
#3 “What is the tone created in the aims and assessment objectives, how does the author create it, and why?”
Aims are presented clearly. They’re fed to the reader as a list. The assessment objectives are clear and again placed in a bullet-point list to allow clarity when reading. It has a dynamic shift using active words. Engage. Develop. Communicate. Foster. Collaborate. It screams of hands-on learning. Key skills are set out, and with that the scaffolding of the student’s eventual endgame assessments. Target acquired?Lock on and engage.
For a young learner it allows imagination and gives meaningful descriptive words to appeal to those who likely have at least one of the 10 IB learner profiles, even before they’ve encountered such things. There’s an emphasis on motivating a keen student, that shows at some stage they must ‘analyse and evaluate’ their own studies. Great responsibility awaits the learner seeking independence. A student can develop their own journey of learning.
#4 “What words or phrases have a highly charged connotation and what is the effect on the reader?“
All throughout you can celebrate learning. Who doesn’t like a celebration?! Did somebody mention learning? This key word appears in phrases throughout the text. Learning celebrates meaning. Learning means an open and inclusive classroom. Learning is for life. Learning processes are cyclic. Learning is a doctrine to develop purpose, culture and the environment of the classroom. These paraphrases give various simultaneous overtones and undertones, e.g. that of lifelong learning/It brings people together/be part of it.
The word democratic empowers people and perhaps those in more closed systems may be sold on the idea of governing themselves or bringing revolution to learning. It also implies that the teacher is not the be all, end all autocrat of traditional classroom environments. It says to the reader that they can command their own seas, and a voyage is possible (on the way to a pre-guided syllabus assessment). The student, however, will feel empowered.
#5 “What words or phrases demonstrate the ideological perspective of this text?“
The phrases allow creative minds to wander and focus. There’s an emphasis on connecting whilst taking responsibility. They allow outside the box thinking to dream of situations beyond the walls of a learner’s classroom or school. They encourage community, caring and service to others in active ways. It is an open invitation to think bigger than a page in a writing book. Inevitably there will often be students who carry causes or concerns to the classroom. The word empowers returns again. It gives them a chance to think of a way to rectify or influence change, even if it’s simply drawing attention to a concern that is lesser talked about. The examples serve to inspire and tap into the emotional level of a reader. It introduces projects as being possible and plausible. Contextualising opportunities gives ample opportunity for educational analysis, in a way that students participate. How can the learner create a more superior world? Can they start that process in their early days of the IB?
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): ATL (Approaches to Teaching)
“Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”Find pages 60-66. Read them, digest them and share them in a way that has meaning. “What is your criterion behind some having a higher or lower priority?“
The below positions can be interchangeable dependent on a student’s needs. It’s important to differentiate and tailor tasks to a student’s needs. A student will be better equipped for inquiry work, if supported by peers and collaboration. This will iron out any doubt in a student’s mind. Inquiry can lead to putting those questions into a context (locally, regionally and globally) through real examples and exemplars. From that a conceptual understanding can form. Finally assessment should follow, whether formative or summative. All areas of approaches to teaching and learning are essential but to knock down any barriers to learning is a sounder starting point. Remove the barrier and forward progress can be made. Leave the barrier and growth will not come.
Teaching designed to remove barriers to learning.
Teaching based on effective teamwork and collaboration.
Teaching based on inquiry.
Teaching developed in local and global contexts.
Teaching focused on conceptual understanding.
Teaching informed by assessment.
Further thoughts: The weight of importance in all six aspects are near equal, but in reality little is equal. So, I believe they are better thought of the form of a mode continuum (Gibbons 2003). This popular profiling can help us to show the understanding and needs of students, with respect to their development and targeted progression.
Additional thoughts: Following my own look and thoughts of this challenge, I found that other students on the course had similar ideas but also preferences on their own take of the ATL positioning. Perhaps a central title with arms spread equally and outwardly like a starfish is more appropriate. There’s a bigger picture at play in context, conceptual understanding and assessment. However, the removal of barriers, creation of teamwork and direction of assessment need to be in place for the latter three aspects.
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): ATL (Approaches to Learning)
“What is your order of importance for the approaches to learning?“
From the beginning of any course, students may or may not be new to one another. Communication is key to a smooth study. They must be able to talk with, e-mail or write to one another, or their teachers. Ineffective communication may lack social skills. The two are very closely related. Likewise, self-management links to thinking and research. Can all truly be prioritised over others? Not really, due to the fact they’re interactive and they’re dynamic. Essential agreements between students mean that they set their boundaries and regulations for study. Without that there would be an unclear pathway of communication. Social skills allow good communication, but good communication takes social skills. Holistic learning systems are like a dessert jelly. They shift and wobble to the needs of the learner. Self-management requires prior learning and knowledge. Not every student comes from the same background. The social and communication skills of a class allow self-management to filter through. With this skill in place, then thinking and research has a firm base to take part. Basic thinking is a natural skill, to take it further it needs inquiry and research. Research, like in real world scenarios (e.g. vaccine makers and pandemic preventers) takes the thinking of others and combination of all of the above skills.
“Thanks, Acton. As we proceed in the workshop, you’ll come to appreciate how fundamental visual literacy is to our course. Your choice to incorporate a visual interpretation when you respond is a good model for others — and will be a valuable practice in your teaching. Students are invariably familiar with the maxim “a picture is worth a thousand words”, but that’s a very superficial starting point to the broader examination of the interplay of image and text, how one can complement the other, or offer a nuanced interpretation of a single point etc. The authorial / creative choices behind the creation of an image is something we’ll explore often with our students (in photos, ads, documentaries, films, tv shows etc).” – Marie Baird, IB Diploma Teacher
“Thanks John. I like the idea of using this as an icebreaker early on … something you might share with students at the end of Week 1 or 2, after you’ve gone over various components of the course. It’s a good way for students to focus in on areas where there still may be uncertainty, questions outstanding, etc. Also a good prompt to have students consider ‘why did Mr Acton use this (or that) particular symbol or icon here?’ (discussions pertaining to authorial choices are always fundamental to our study of any text).” – Marie Baird
1. Begin by writing a bit about yourself: where do you teach? What’s unique about your IB situation? Let others get to know you. Write whatever you want others to know about you.
I joined the I.B. candidacy school of TWIS in Dongguan, against the run of traffic. As I sat in quarantine, having returned to China (on the last possible day before a border closure in March 2020), I figured my job interview was not going to happen. It was due three weeks prior and there had been no response, because everyone had bigger things to worry about. So, I dropped one last e-mail & WeChat message to the principal of TWIS. Video interviews followed. The ball was rolling again. I was excited because the opportunity allowed for holistic teaching methods.
After transfer from my previous school, I realised that I was in a school facing the candidacy process and with many teachers stranded in other countries. Immediately, online meetings and collaborations allowed us as a team to perform effectively and deliver a clear near-uninterrupted school year of teaching. We’re less worried by a nearby outbreak in the city of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, because we know we can adapt and perform during this new norm.
2. What is the most pressing question you have about the Language A: language and literature course?
Actually, two matters arise that I wish to address:
How has this course managed to remain in touch with technology and changing social attitudes to literature and language?
How can the course better support those who require an English intervention programme to better enrich their comprehension and vocabulary skills?
3. How can you develop positive online professional relationships for the workshop and beyond?
We’re each more linked than ever through LinkedIn/Facebook/Weibo/Twitter and so on. Many channels like Xoom allows video calls. E-mails are simple enough. They’re the hassle-free electronic pen pal of the world right now. Meeting teachers at seminars face-to-face and via online courses can be invaluable. I remain in contact with university friends, first aid class companions, teaching colleagues and my door is firmly open. I read somewhere that teachers teach teachers. I couldn’t agree more.
4. What does a successful outcome look like for you after this workshop? List three things you want to achieve.
Diverse literature syllabus. Balanced literature and language course formation (creative v analytical. Enhanced teaching method strategies, specific to this course.
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Portfolio worksheets
“Thanks John. There’s lots going on here, and at first it felt a little confusing, but when viewed in tandem with your “learner portfolio template” it all makes good sense. I’ve not seen a blog suggested before as an LP format, and I’m not sure if it would be the most appropriate of platforms for the demands of the Learner Portfolio (given the need to offer substantial organisational capabilities for 2 years). But in other respects the blog format accomplishes a great deal, particularly in terms of introducing students to their teacher as an individual, and as a means to demonstrate how organic our thinking and learning can be.” – Marie Baird, IB Diploma teacher
“By encouraging teachers to explore the widest possible array of text types, authors/creators, issues. You’ll see in Module 2 as we take our first look at the syllabus, that no (or very few) restrictions are placed on us in terms of course design — rather we are invited to design a course that takes into account our context, our students’ capabilities and interests, and invites and welcomes multiple interpretations and perspectives.” – Marie Baird, IB Diploma teacher (6/6/2021)
“Thanks John. I like the idea of using this as an icebreaker early on … something you might share with students at the end of Week 1 or 2, after you’ve gone over various components of the course. It’s a good way for students to focus in on areas where there still may be uncertainty, questions outstanding, etc. Also a good prompt to have students consider ‘why did Mr Acton use this (or that) particular symbol or icon here?’ (discussions pertaining to authorial choices are always fundamental to our study of any text).” – Marie Baird, IB Diploma teacher (5/6/2021)
“Thanks Acton. All good here. Just one query to note — in your IO you used The Levellers as a non-literary text (if I’ve understood correctly) – ie their music video. Here though you seem to be including them as a literary work (ie as lyricists – with a study of their lyrics only). Either of these options is possible (as they are not PRL and therefore designated as ‘literary’). However, you would need to make the choice clear to students. If they are studied as multi-modal texts, then they are non-lit (a BOW). If they are studied only as lyrics (a sub group of poetry) then they are a literary choice. And with that, you’ve completed the requirements for our Cat 1 workshop. All the best as you implement your course — I hope the candidacy phase is nearing completion and you can put your plans into action soon!” – Marie Baird, IB Diploma teacher (29/6/2021)
“I too like your concept questions, Acton. I have been considering for a while this ideas of teaching texts as part of an inquiry. The questions you have included give me a better idea on how to do this. Thank you!” – Amy Climpson, teacher (15/6/2021)
“Hi Acton, When I think about the questions you will focus on, I saw once again how well the works you chose fit the criteria. Thank you” – Banu ÇELİKEL Yildiz, teacher (15/6/2021)
“Hi John, I found your text choices really interesting – so many are unknown to me but it seems a versatile choice offering a lot of unique perspectives which is great! I also like the idea of a unit that explores language change, especially through Shakespeare. This really could open students’ eyes to how we as humans create meaning and are in control of language: a great foundation for all kinds of analysis. I think it would be interesting to see an overall topic for each unit (perhaps this is something you have in mind already!) to better understand the links between texts and also the types of GI your students might consider for the IO.” – Erica Inman, teacher (29/6/2021)
“I’m really impressed by the amount of thought and energy you have put into coming up with a meaningful topic. The detail, especially regarding the press reviews and further reading are useful springboards to encourage students to flesh out their knowledge and this approach could very well make a positive difference to the final mark. However the non-literary text, although chosen from a BOW still has to focus on a single piece i.e. one video, picture, set of lyrics. You are referencing the whole Levellers BOW and from what I understand, I don’t think that’s possible. I wish you would hone down that aspect and focus one just one, then I think it would make an excellent IO. In the 10 points, it might be useful to make a few explicit references to the GI too. cheers Neville” – Neville Attree, teacher (29/6/2021)
“Thanks, Acton. As you’ll have noted I try to focus on one or two elements in each person’s contribution here (different elements, as much as I can) — so that there’s maximum learning from others’ work. Your post is quite comprehensive but I’ll limit my comments.
GI is clear – perhaps a further focus – representations of displaced persons – artists using their art as a vehicle for protest
Extracts — you’ve provided the non-lit (music video) perfectly — lyrics and screen grabs. (The lyrics run to 43 lines, and we have a 40-line limit, but here’s an example where discretion tells us it’s wise to run to 43. Remember to tell students to add line numbers: SO much value in terms of time saved in the presentation and follow-up discussion.)” – Marie Baird, IB Diploma teacher (30/6/2021)
“The intention of having the extracts is so that students don’t have to memorize quotes — they have the text right before them (and before the teacher, too). Thus, it’s not necessary for the student to use valuable bullets in quoting from extracts (which are there in hand). Perhaps you did this so that we here in the workshop could follow your thinking? if so, thank you. But tell your students to use their bullets for content, key vocab, shifts / way points.
You’ve provided a wealth of other resources you’d use for contextualization etc. We can make double use of this kind of resource if we use the review (for example) as well to study it as a non-literary text type (a text type students might well encounter on their Paper 1). Have students look at 2 or 3 reviews of the same subject (eg The Levellers new album) and consider how bias, voice, intended audience etc shape meaning. (This all has relevance for Paper 1 success.) You’ve included another possible music video (by a different group / performer?). Why not use this for trial IO practice (giving students the chance to work with the form — multi modal text / music video — and thus ‘protecting’ your Levellers BOW for the authentic IO).
Thanks for a good pairing and all your thinking — this BOW seems ready to go!” – Marie Baird, IB Diploma teacher (30/6/2021)
Anything else goes below here:
English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): General notes
The course is available for students at both standard and higher levels. The higher level is a study of 6 works and lasts about 240 class hours. The standard is 90 hours and two works less in length. The material works must be broad in spectrum, representing literary forms, time periods and places.
“What are your key expectations for this workshop?”Language changes. Literature evolves in meaning and interpretation. It keeps us on our toes, thinking and learning. I expect to enhance my personal critical thinking; collaborate and develop my personal appreciation of literature (and the surrounding language). I expect to encounter a variety of aesthetic or stylistic forms. I expect to find ways to unlock cultural differences to help deliver a deeper appreciation to young learners in the near future.
To support study on this course, students will encounter non-literary text. These bodies of work will include a wide variation in format. Students are to be enabled to deep think, use higher order thinking skills to give an analysis that is critical, shows understanding of culture and context. They must determine a meaning. What is the purpose of the text to the audience? The students will take their assessments through formal examinations, oral and written coursework and other spoken activities. Two essay papers will be taken: A comparative response to two previously studied texts; and then one analysis of a previously unseen, and unto that point, unknown text. Transferring those study techniques will come into action at that stage. Practice to performance. The inevitable coursework for higher level students features a 1200-1500 word essay on a previously studied text.
“How familiar are you with the subject of this workshop?” Language covers all forms of expression that allow communication. It can be written or verbal. Literature is the written form of language. It’s the words to painting in an art gallery. If a song has lyrics and they’re written down, then it sits alongside poetry. Unlike language, literature is always written.
Students are attending this online course from as far afield as Russia, Canada, the U.K., the U.S.A. and China. That’s one heck of a lot of land surface, and a fair old electronic journey. All connected students. Each together on a journey. The COVID-19 pandemic allows opportunity. We can’t stand still. We each must remain engaged, involved and collaborate from offices, school and apartments. At this moment I’m typing in a tent. A Friday night wander into Dalingshan Forest Park (Dongguan, China) seemed like a wise move.
“How would you describe yourself as a learner? What helps you to learn best?“ I like to read, survey varied sources, research using a selection of articles and books before hitting the interweb for accountable sources and also gap-fillers.
To allow storage and to manage this I.B. exploration via a home page, I have a link for Announcementsand one for the Resource Library. There’s an interactive forum too. Tomorrow, I’ll print off the Language A: Language and Literature Guide, first exams 2021. Blue, purple and yellow highlighters at the ready. Then, I’ll swing by the downloadable samples and have a gander at them. I am just reading THE ROADMAP for a more clear pathway to complete and collaborate my way to the end of June. Any questions, I can drop here at Burning Questions. Where else?!
I watched a video by Tim Pruzinsky and followed his designed workshop first steps. The take home being that I am a student and I need to create exemplars. Time to test my approaches to teaching and learning (ATL).
Exploration (make connections between texts?; reflect on their own responses; practice; preparation area; early introduction; increases in importance; evidence – think academic integrity; reports; experimentation; with creative writing; form, media and technology; insights; record of responses; create guiding questions)
Transdisciplinary learning (beyond the classroom investigation); diverse; monitored; created independently; students can use digital or old-fashioned paper (choice); orally: link global issues, representation of different or similar perspectives;
Portfolio allows self-assessment of skills that lack confidence; keeps a running record; which text types will be a challenge? Monitor progression of Paper One/Two attempts. Reflect on challenges posed by essay writing.
Grouping of common themes; explore similarities and/or differences (build an awareness of the multiplicity); any significance; record references and quotations. Which works match the questions they may face?
224 words shaped so many bedtime reading sessions. Bedrooms around the world were greeted with a heart-warming tale of growth, albeit through humour and a spot of seemingly obesity. The story has radiated like the light from the moon, from pages in over 60 languages to beaming eyes looking at the colourful intricate nature of the tale.
“That’s something I learned in art school. I studied graphic design in Germany, and my professor emphasized the responsibility that designers and illustrators have towards the people they create things for.” – Eric Carle
Eric Carle didn’t just write that one book of course. His designs, illustrations and words have appeared in numerous texts. Having dropped his first drawings in 1965, Aesop’s Fables for Modern Readers (Peter Pauper Press), the new-to-the-scene and relatively young illustrator was spotted by educator and author Bill Martin Jr. One red lobster in an advertisement led to a lifetime of colour and creation.
“We have eyes, and we’re looking at stuff all the time, all day long. And I just think that whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important.” – Eric Carle
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was an award-winning book collaboration with the late author Bill Martin Jr. Thereafter cardboard editions, die-cut holes, inflatables, plastic pockets and multiple versions of artwork with words began to grow and filter from Eric Carle to the world. Countless children have lived and learned through rhyming picture books and used string in one of his many creations.
“One day I think it’s the greatest idea ever that I’m working on. The next day I think it’s the worst that I’ve ever worked on – and I swing between that a lot. Some days I’m very happy with what I’m doing, and the next day I am desperate – it’s not working out!” – Eric Carle
The story of the story-teller is ever more remarkable. This was a man, who his wife Barbara Morrison, strongly believed had held a form of post traumatic stress disorder. He’d dug trenches on the dreaded Siegfried Line of a World War II battlefield. He’d seen death at first hand, aged only around 15 years of age. But then, darkness turned to light over the years: “One Sunday morning the warm sun came up and – pop! – out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar.” Okay, it wouldn’t have been that simple, but Eric Carle refused to bow down and give in. Years of toil brought his mind to a place where writing was permitted. An audience was earned. From Germany in World War II, he returned to his country of birth, the U.S.A. and found his way from Syracuse to the New York Times as a graphic artist.
“Let’s put it this way: if you are a novelist, I think you start out with a 20 word idea, and you work at it and you wind up with a 200,000 word novel. We, picture-book people, or at least I, start out with 200,000 words and I reduce it to 20.” – Eric Carle
Via stints back in Germany, for the U.S. Army (during the Korean War) he went on to be an art director at an advertising agency. His collage techniques, rich in hand-painted paper, featured layers and slices of vivid imagination set out as tiny pieces of artwork. Nature and wonder have set tones throughout his simple stories. These stories have been warm and inviting, and give hope to children, especially those new to schooling and education.
Papa, please get the moon for me is a tale of great importance in my opinion. It shows us that imagination is wonderful, even if it is breaking something seen as impossible. Whoever told me that Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny weren’t real, or anybody for that matter, that breaks the dreams of a child, deserves a good long look at themselves. Reality and imagination can sit side by side, otherwise Neil Armstrong, or Elon Musk or Celine Dion would not be around. Ability and knowledge need the company of spark and dream – and that’s where imagination grows.
“They are deceptively simple. I admit that. But for me, all my life I try to simplify things. As a child in school, things were very hard for me to understand often, and I developed a knack, I think. I developed a process to simplify things so I would understand them.” – Eric Carle
As I sit typing words and reading about Eric Carle’s history, I recall flicking through glossy covers of his books, and the joy as my face beamed when I discovered a translated copy in Hengli, Dongguan. That beautiful familiar white cover with a caterpillar and a red apple missing a mouthful, all slightly imbalanced, as if to say, and to appeal, that things aren’t always neat and tidy. One day when COVID-19 passes and the world is a little more tidy, I dream to fly to Amherst, Massachusetts to see the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. That would be as good as finding another Uroballus carleion a trip to Hong Kong. The Caterpillar Jumping Spider’s Latin name is testament to the reach and pull of a world class picture book writer.
“My father used to take me for walks in the woods. He would peel back the bark of a tree and show me the creatures who lived there. I have very fond memories of these special times with my father and in a way I honor him with my books and my interest in animals and insects.” – Eric Carle
Good evening from China to your morning, afternoon or evening, or night or day…
The topic task is differentiation. Twenty words (at a font size of 28, my favourite number) per slide is a target. I need 8-10 slides. The presentation will take twenty minutes or so, alongside my translator Junny or Nicole. I’m nervous about making this stand, but my duties at Tungwah Wenzel International School (TWIS) are varies and help me develop. Next week sees two days at a seminar in Shenzhen and from June I’m studying online again… until then here’s my draft copy of text to accompany the presentation.
Good parents want children to grow. You’re all eager to see your kids go from strength to strength. Your kids need to feel, to learn, grow and taste success. We can all share a journey together. That journey is getting the most out of your kids, both now and in the future. We can help develop a clear and positive pathway for beneficial and tailored learning.
As a modern and international school, with all the latest methods, we know that students come from various backgrounds and exposures to language. Our task is to provide different routes to gain further understanding. We can do this in the same classroom, through homework or via specialist areas within the school facilities.
Differentiation is a means to tailor learning instructions to meet the needs of individuals. The contents, the processes and the products can be differentiated. These can be coupled with changes to the learning environment. Flexible grouping and ongoing assessments make this approach an overall success.
It’s a framework and philosophy that allows provision of diverse teaching within or across multiple grades of teaching. It gives scope for students to progress at various speeds, with suitable framework to bring them up to and beyond the target speeds of their learning.
CONTENT – British music band Public Service Broadcasting have an album titled Inform – Educate – Entertain. This is a mantra we can take to students to acquire content, enrich with processing, deconstruct, reconstruct and construct ideas. It must make sense. We develop teaching materials alongside assessment methods that match students and their individual abilities.
PROCESS – Plants need a variety of conditions to grow. Flowers only blossom at certain times. Culture, grasp of language, reading comprehension, gender, motivation, ability or inability, lack of interest or actual interest, awareness or preconceptions, style of learning, bias, the weather, the heat, the endless heat, etc can be barriers or they can be tools for teachers to latch onto and adapt their learning styles. Variety is the spice of life. Let’s act with it, and not against it!
PRODUCT – The classroom is our mission room. The launchpad of learning needs to be ready for lift-off. Students need to feel included. Different expectations may be needed for each class, with each student set realistic tasks that must be completed to a satisfactory effect.
LEARNING ENVIRONMENT – Classrooms need to be accommodating. They’re a proactive place to use varied learning methods. Optimal growth as a learner is essential. The days of ‘one size fits all’ are gone. The classroom environment can be turned to an advantage. Students may support each other in. paired-reading, comprehension or competitive tasks alike. Behaviour can be managed to give a safe and supportive surrounding.
Through pre-assessment, continued formative assessment and final summative assessment, the essential feedback dialogue between student, parent and teacher becomes a tool for improving the student’s overall study needs. We will focus on a student-centred instruction that is fair, challenging and champions an engaged student.
Differentiated instruction gives a lift up steps in the staircase of life that is education. It helps students move towards independent learning from various starting points. Growth is key. Skills and knowledge must be in tandem with widening a student’s range of interest, monitoring their progress and always drawing effective ways to learn. Students and their classes will better reflect a teacher’s understanding. You as parents will see that students gain solid roots, strong trunks and start to bloom in their development.
New benchmarks and targets can be set time and time again. Parents share their perspectives and teachers deepen the all-round feelings of a students. Interests can be aligned to tasks and changes over time can be discussed openly. A full and final picture can be seen of an end product that all wish to see: progress.
Thank you kindly for your time.
From the official TWIS WeChat communication (and my words):