What am I?

I breathe deeply yet have no air.

I shuffle and jiggle not in a chair.

I play hard, read well but do not share.

I’m round, long and not a fair fare.

I’m the riddle that you tweak and fiddle.

I’m the sound of the tinkling-rinkling piddle.

I’m the puzzle that at night you diddly diddle.

Giggle all you want, I’m the wink at the tiddle.

I’m the value of the bat’s shadowy wings.

I’m the voice the icy valley sings.

I’m the rhyme at a time that brings.

I’m all manner of great abundant things.

Scribbled whilst trekking in 2017.

The Finale (Act I)

Parent page: IB Learner Profile

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)

Utterly the Higher Level!

Parent page: IB Learner Profile

Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes

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.

CriterionExaminer marksExaminer reasoning
AUnderstanding & Interpretation5/5Broad 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.
BAnalysis & Evaluation4/5Graphic 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.
CFocus & Organization4/5Organised/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.
DLanguage5/5Clear and well-chosen.
Appropriate register (effective/concise).
Vocabulary strong and supportive. Literary terms deployed.
Grammar usage largely accurate. Some sentence structure errors.
Total18/20

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!

CriterionExaminer marksExaminer reasoning
AFocus & Method (a reader should see the beginning to the end)5/6Effective 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.
BKnowledge & Understanding (a reader should be informed)5/6Social/political understanding of the speech fully demonstrated.
Subject-specific terminology deployed.
Primary and secondary sources support context.
No digression.
Public opinions over-generalised?
CCritical Thinking (a reader should see thoughts)9/12Research, 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.
DPresentation (a reader needs it to be clear)3/4Clear.
Some over-general citation use.
EEngagement (a reader should be engaged)5/6Initial topic starts and is abandoned.
Further two topics engage deeply.
Candidate’s voice lacks full bite.
Total27/34

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.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

Parent page: IB Learner Profile

Who watches the Watchmen?

English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module Three – Reviewing Examiner Marked Papers

Part One

CriterionExaminer marksExaminer reasoning
AUnderstanding & Interpretation4/5Demonstrates full literal understanding.
Insightful interpretation.
Fully supported/referenced to text.
BAnalysis & Evaluation5/5Convinced analysis of textual/visual features.
Supports how features/choices shape meaning.
Effective use of website provision.
CFocus & Organization5/5Coherent organisation of analysis.
Growth shown from writing’s beginning to end.
Conclusion is strong.
Supports itself.
DLanguage4/5Clear/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.

Part Two

CriterionExaminer marksExaminer reasoning
AUnderstanding & Interpretation4/5Demonstrates full understanding of literal text, when combined with visual text elements.
Individual aspects highlighted.
BAnalysis & Evaluation5/5Conveys meaning & evaluation of features.
Highlights choice of word use; drawing details; story development; character choice.
CFocus & Organization5/5No focus on the story’s moral.
Paragraphing very clear.
DLanguage4/5Appropriate use of terminology for graphic novel/comic strip formats.
Notes inconsistencies.
Some tough misuse of punctuation. Tenses/clauses incorrectly used.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes – Latin for: “Who will guard the guards against themselves?”

Module 3: Paper II: One try.

Parent page: IB Learner Profile

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 & InterpretationCriterion A7/10Shows 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 & EvaluationCriterion B8/10Includes 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 & OrganisationCriterion C4/5Not 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?
LanguageCriterion D3/5Some 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.
Total marks: 21/30

EDIT: Following the above work, I was allowed to read the below (which gives more guidance):

Non-Literary Unit of Study

Parent page: IB Learner Profile

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.

ConceptIdentity
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 communication methods. 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?
Global issuePolitical landscape – battles of power
Area of ExplorationReaders, 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?
Assessment ObjectivesHow 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.
Non-Literary textsMagazine covers
Front pages 
Debates (ITV News: Corbyn v Johnson) (BBC Newsnight: Johnson v Corbyn debate analysis) (Johnson declines debate) (Debate regarding Bexit deal)
Ads (Love Actually parody) (12 Questions) (Greenpeace: Wasteminster) (Boris vs. Obesity)
Overview & ProcedureText typesHow to develop activities / expansion ideas / Links to TOKthings to consider
An introduction.

See column 4.

Link to oral exam: YES/NO.
Video 

Social media source

News feed

Article

magazine piece

Speech

Transcript
Discuss the connection between:

Discuss the relationship between:

Compare the differences between:

What/how do we differ between right & wrong?

How do we know information is clear and accurate before voting at an election?

Do politicians lie?

How can you be certain your vote counts?

What are objective facts?

Is there an appeal to emotions in order to shape public opinion?

Do we have an ethical obligation to understand political issues/events/global issues?

Should language be simplified for the benefit of voters or the general public?

Should language and campaign materials be fact-checked and cross-referenced before being made public?

Is misinformation legal?

How far does freedom of speech go before it becomes libel?
audience

diction

mode

genre

register

rhetoric

purpose

linguistic relativity

stereotypes

receptive

interactive
images below belong to the publication title (as per their cover) – these are selected from Der Spiegel / GQ British edition / The Mail On Sunday magazine Live / The London Magazine / Elle / Panorama – Canberra Times / Time / The Sunday Times magazine / The Big Issue / New Statesman / The Guardian Weekly / The Spectator / Daily Mail / Private Eye / The Economist / The Philadelphia Trumpet
Wrap-up/reflectionWhat 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?

Review examples (1) (2) (3) (4)

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.

Syllabus construction

Parent page: IB Learner Profile

English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module Four Syllabus Construction – (draft II)

English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module Two Syllabus Construction – A checklist for language and literacy (draft I)

See Guide, pages 20-21. Use: Prescribed Reading List.

HIGHER LEVEL (6 works)
STANDARD LEVEL (4 works)
conceptsplace* (3 / 2)period*
(3 / 2)
literary form*
(3 / 2)
Areas of Exploration
PRL (English) 1: William ShakespearerepresentationEngland/ Europe16th/17th centuryliterary text: poetryreaders, writers & texts
PRL (English) 2:
Nurrudin Farah
perspectiveSomalia20th/21st centuryliterary text: prose fiction / dramatime & space
PRL (translated) 1: Persepolis & Persepolis II (Marjane Satrapi)Cultures & identity: How does a text bridge a cultural boundary and create an insight? How do we approach texts from different times and cultures to that of our students?Iran
/France
/Austria
21st centuryliterary text: graphic novelsconnecting texts
PRL (translated) 2: Hanqing Guan / The Ballad of Mulan, anonymous / Njal’s saga, Óþekktur höfundurcommunication: How can texts offer multiple perspectives of a single issue, topic or theme?China/
Iceland
13th century; 4th century onwards; 12th-14th centuryliterary text: drama / poetry / prose fictionreaders, writers & texts
Free choice 1: The Levellerscreativity: how does the listener understand the meaning of a song and its lyrics; How are we affected by texts in varied ways?UK/ Europe20th/21st centuryliterary text: music lyricstime & space
Free choice 2: Tash Awwhy & how do we study language and literature?Malaysia21st centuryliterary text: prose fiction/novel
variousallglobal21st centurynon-literary text: websitesreaders, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
variousallglobalvariousnon-literary text: opinion columnsreaders, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
variousallglobal20th/21st centurynon-literary text: magazine and newspaper coversreaders, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
variousallglobalpre-21st century; 20th centurynon-literary text: public information texts readers, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
variousallglobalpre-21st century; 20th centurynon-literary text: propaganda pamphlets readers, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
variousallglobalpre-21st century; 20th centurynon-literary text: advertisementsreaders, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
variousallglobal21st centurynon-literary text: blogsreaders, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
variousallglobal20th/21st centurynon-literary text: self-help guidesreaders, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
variousallglobalvariousnon-literary text: photographyreaders, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
various (some translated)allglobalvariousnon-literary text: speechesreaders, writers & texts; times & space; connecting texts
various (some translated)allglobalvariousnon-literary text: quotationsreaders, 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\

Module II: Theory of Knowledge &

Parent page: IB Learner Profile

English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module Two Theory of Knowledge

Canon meaning (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)
1identityReading 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.
2cultureJRR 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.
3creativityImagination 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.
4communicationBoth 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.
5perspectiveAuthors 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?
6transformationIntertextuality: 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.
7representationSome 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
1readers, 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?
2time 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?)
3intertextualityRelate: 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
1varietyStudents 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.
2integrationA 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.
3autonomyStudents 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
4accountabilityAcademic 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.

To I.B., or not to I.B.? [Wrap up]

Parent page: IB Learner Profile

English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Module One reflection

Is the learner profile relevant?

help teachers build rapportdeepen a teacher’s professional relationship with their learner(s)connect support levels and buddy peersallow informed planningallow a teacher to observe a student’s perspective more closely
allow for suitable timetablingallow teachers the chance to create a relevant scaffolding of learningdetermine classroom layoutdevelop tutoring support through differentiationallow 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 needsAllows supply and cover teachers a fairer insight into the individualpersonalisation
it can be a document, a portfolio, a combination of digital and traditional formsTHISISABOUTINDIVIDUALS
Formal or informalCan contain conversations, questionnaires, video interviews etcA place for their aspirations & passionsRecommendationsTo inform discussions between teaching staff, parents and guardians
Insert things they dislike and wish to avoidDocument life experiences, people, pets, moments of inspiration or importanceHighlight what they do when help is neededExamplesExemplars selected from other sources that guide the student
Select appropriate curriculum material/supportHelp develop maximum engagementProvide assessment dataExplore the profile’s purposeReview snd evaluate the profile format
Two-way process between the teacher & the learnerUnderstandingA chance to show inclusion of all in the learning journeyHow does the individual adapt?What tools and/or techiniques and/or technologies do they favour?
A chance to express themselvesAddress assumptionsSkill setsHave their own saySupport transition

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.

Optional challenge: Further analysis

Parent page: IB Learner Profile

English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Further textual analysis of two I.B. documents

IB Theory of Knowledge Guide Module 1Parent Pack FAQs About The PYP
purpose of textTo 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 readingmostly dominanthighly dominant first page spread; second page is dominant also, with a slightly toned-down aggression
tone created/reasoningTOK (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.
Other notesBertrand 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.N/A

Close textual analysis of the I.B.

Parent page: IB Learner Profile

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) ReadingNegotiated ReadingOppositional 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 channelsA 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?

ATL (Approaches to Teaching & Learning)

Parent page: IB Learner Profile

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.

1Teaching designed to remove barriers to learning.
2 Teaching based on effective teamwork and collaboration.
3Teaching based on inquiry.
4Teaching developed in local and global contexts.
5Teaching focused on conceptual understanding.
6Teaching 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)

1Communication skills
2 Social skills
3Self-management skills
4Thinking skills
5Research Skills

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.

On reading other student’s works and their ideas, I really liked Amy Bosnich’s Adobe Spark presentation.
Feedback“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

Learner Portfolio.

English A: Language and literature (Cat.1): Portfolio task

Module One (2/6-8/6)
The Learner Profile
Notes
Analytical writing
Formative Approaches to teaching and learning (ATL)

Close textual analysis of the I.B.
Five questions:
I.B. Mission Statement; I.B. Learner Profile; Course Aims and Assessment Objectives; Standards & Practices; Creativity, activity and service.
Summative

Populating as we go.

C
r
e
a
t
i
v
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writing
HERE IT WILL BE, WHEN IT IS HERE

Talk to me.

Feedback“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

You need to be yourself.

Projects &/or alternative assessmentsAlso important.
A bullseye activity is a great way to explore a global issue. Imagine an ear bud. To you, it may be of use to clean your ear (individual) but then how do you dispose of it? Are there family rules about ear bus uses? How does the community see an ear bud? What are the city regulations on ear bud disposal? How has ear bud use been affected by regional hotel environmental laws? What problems do ear buds prevent to global pollution levels?

Voices.

ReflectionIt’s important.
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

Introduction worksheet for student learner portfolio. Features spaces with prompts and areas to trigger investigation or prior knowledge mind-maps of different text types; Electronic information space (as the portfolio will be analogue); gently stresses that learning is a journey and the portfolio is a pathway to the outcome. Can be used as a classroom ice-breaker early on. Customisable.
Feedback“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 Announcements and 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).

the key study chapters are as per below:

Module One (2/6-8/6)
The Learner Profile
Notesapproaches to teaching and learning (ATL)

Greater sense of confidence in class?

Module Two (9/6-15/6)

Learner Portfolio Educator

“Space of development”

“Formative”

“Autonomy”

“Authentic journey”
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)

Notepads, art books, post-it notes on a small board, reading logs, web based e.g. Padlet (2), OneNote 2, Moodle, PowerSchool Digital, Adobe Spark, blogs, other such ways.

Non-Literary Unit of Study
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;


Syllabus construction
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?

How to tackle a beast

Module Three (16/6-22/6)
Assessing student work
Assessing student work: Paper 2 marking.

Looking closer

Module Four (23/6-30/6)
Close textual analysis of the IB
Notes

Greater sense of confidence in class?

AssessmentPaper OnePaper TwoProjects
Higher Level (6 works/240 hours) paper reviewAssessing the examiner’s marking.Assessment under review.Individual Oral Assessment example exploration (Close textual analysis of the IB)

Feedback

ReflectionSelf-assessment (self checking your own progress)

Module one reflection.

Module two reflection.

Module three reflection.
Peer (suitable audio recordings)

Pool and identify ideas.
Teacher (personal valued feedback; challenges overcome; challenges to overcome)Feedback & Evaluation (critical analysis – exploring possible meanings)

A little extra:

Optional ChallengeModule One challengeAlternative
<object class="wp-block-file__embed" data="https://acton28.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/ib-guide_language-and-literature_may2021update.pdf&quot; type="application/pdf" style="width:100%;height:600px" aria-label="Embed of Language A: language and literature guide
Language A: language and literature guide
Download

Jargon:

AOE = Areas of Exploration (there are 3)

ATL = Approaches to Teaching and Learning

BoW = Body of Work

IBDP = IB Diploma Program

IBEN / MyIB = IB Educators Network (accessible once you are employed in an IB school)

IO = Individual Oral

LE = Learning Engagement

LP = Learner Portfolio

PRL = Prescribed Reading List

TOK = Theory of Knowledge

TSM = Teacher Support Material

Trail of blood.

Heartbreak was never the aim of the game.

Not was collating the rest as conquests.

There wasn’t intentional slurry to bring worry.

Only the trail of blood said he should.

Be more careful and less wasteful, more tasteful and less hastened and dull.

His heart still longed for the romance that never gonged.

The sound of dreams slipped from his seams.

Hope bound to him and wound around his frowned face. He drowned.

Tears leapt from his eyes to skies like waterfalls hitting ledges and wedges of rock. His shock.

He clinged to hope, like a rope ascending a tough slope.

If it happens, happenstance will make it happen. If not, then now what?

Mistakes, shakes, and high stakes versus mountain walks, sea swims and great lakes.

Life goes on. Life. Goes. On. It goes on. And on. And onwards he goes.

Wishes tied to the wind.

A prayer for the fairy sits in the wind;
From my whispers the words are thinned.

She floats on high waiting for its arrival;
What the prayer speaks could be truth or survival.

Only when it arrives to her glow;
will she know, and so go, on to the great show.

Wishes you’ll be here with me; give joy to melody.

Wishes we can share song pleasure of song; throughout the day, night and all along.

Wishes you will want my words and self; bringing days, weeks, months and years of health.

A wish is a terrible thing to waste; so here it goes without haste.

The breeze sails after light dimmed; wishes tied to the wind.

Vaccinated.

It wasn’t so sharp. I didn’t feel the coldness until it withdrew. The tiny fierce syringe shot inside like the wind blew.

The liquid vial, so small in hand. The nurses steadiness and readiness. One swift move, into a groove, of my skin. That’s it. It’s in.

Social Security pays for the ways that give days to this phase that ends slays. With every jab and prick, the world gets closer. Closer to open doors, walked floors, airplane snores, and many less bores.

My arm became heavy, unsteady and a weight I just carry. The doctors, the nurses; and the once-upon-a-time they married, but not now; the lost souls lost deep in books; the young who cast withdrawn looks; the babies and toddlers who haven’t yet seen grandpa and grandma; the grieving and the upset beyond feeling; we’re all getting closer.

The new norm is now. The now is new. The normal normality of the norm is here as a dawn. We could slink away, sink today or sail that way. Lay down your fear. A new beginning is near.

Drowsy side effects mean you feel. If you feel then it’s real. If it’s real then here’s the steel. We’re stronger than before and living longer what’s more. So, take the first hit. Go back for the second stab. Curl up after, roar in laughter. Stay bright, feel right and let go of uptight. The new now is the norm that is is next to you. Let’s go.

Dear Wendy

Best laid plans fall apart. Follow the feeling that leads your heart. Throw your full mind, and you will find. It, it, it, there’s something out there.

What it is I do not know, wish it’d clear and then show. Open a door, give me for sure. It, it, it. There’s something out there.

With a tickle in the finger, this itch does linger. One telling thought, is all it ought. It, it, it. There is something out there.

The words softly spoken, could well be the token. The wish had been heard, and with it a word. It, it it. There is something. Out there.

The eyes they do see, they imagine what could be. It could be the one, one I thought had gone. It, it, it. There is. Something out there.

I wonder if it’s a mutual feeling, to feel on the ceiling. Wanting to know for sure, if I’m at that door. It, it, it. Is there something? Out there?

If the wall can be broken, words can be spoken. I can lay down my head, and slip off into bed. It, it, it. I’m sure something is out there.

Loosely put.

His hands grip around my throat. He’s strangling me. Trying to choke my last breath out. I struggle. Twisting and turning. I try to raise my left open palm upwards to force his vice-like grip to release me. I slap. No change. I use both flailing hands. Nothing.

Still he pulls his chest towards his hands. My throat trapped between his intended route. I slide and writh but I get nowhere fast. I twist my aching legs, trying to backwards kick his kneecaps. Anything. Any little hope. He grabs tighter. I know I don’t have long left. My throat is burning. Every gasping breath I take could be my last. I push my body forwards trying to open a space between his chest and arms. The Steel-like bicep is sweating on my neck. I open my mouth wide forcing little air in.

I’m beyond desperate. I feel woozy and clouded. My brain is losing a battle. He slides a few millimeters along my throat. That marginal gain gave him the extra he needed. He already had the upper hand. I feel his chest muscles stretch and tighten. He takes a tired deep breath. One heavy pull and I resist the extra force. He loosens his grip by the slightest of pressures. A budgie feather in a fight fit for an ostrich. Can I escape now?

Say what?

Killing mosquitoes is like mowing the lawn. Cut the down and they are quickly replaced.

Homework never ever truly ends. Every job requires you take a little home and bring much back.

For every reaction, there is a positive and negative result. I told you. I TOLD YOU SO!!!

Wherever you go, you always take the weather with you. A lack of atmosphere would be free of weather.

The book always lands butterfly up. Why. would an insect be a cover feature?

Two birds, one stone, and something about glass houses. The early bird must be catching worms. Again.

Leave no unturned stone alone. Better bad company is together than turned over.

I don’t remember many sayings or idiomatic phrases. I’m an idiom idiot.

notes found from 2017

The departed.

The bereaved have a particular look about them. They look flushed of colour. All their facial expressions drain away. One day they’re happy go lucky and full of vim; the next they’re a mix of grey pastels on tainted dull canvas. Their ears droop in tune with their frown. They look tired and out of focus. Loss is evident across their face. Their words are spoken slower and they take longer to stand up. They don’t bounce around looking for coffee and they certainly don’t race home on their bicycles.

I never know how to act around them. Do I stay the same? No. Not at all. Things are no longer the same. Loss is not a gain. I show my empathy but it never feels enough. I don’t want to say too much, but I do want and try to show I care. It’s not easy. Nothing ever is. Their loss is a challenge. My challenge is simply to be there for them, in the littlest of tiny small kind of ways.

How do you cope with loss? How do you act when someone departs? How many tears are too few? Or, too many? Is silence the treatment? Does that kind of loss ever truly fade away? How long does it take to recover? How many words need speaking? How does memory remain? How can I not forget you?

The dead don’t care. Maybe they did, before they left. Maybe their spirits go to heaven, Elysium or into the clouds. I can’t say. I’m no expert on the afterlife. Maybe they do care now. Or do they live on in us? Perhaps they flutter between the molecules and matters that make life? Could they be the vacuum of space? Or compost bringing life from waste?

I don’t want to feel what they feel. I don’t want to act differently or awkwardly. I don’t want to ask too many questions. I don’t want to forget the dead.

May you all rest in peace.

Phone home.

Don’t look down at it. Too late. Don’t flip the camera to reserve. Oh, you’ve done it. Does everything need photographing? The way you’ve angled the camera to catch the fire extinguisher and your slightly edited face is exquisite. Just the nine photos. Each one like a time lapse with barely perceived difference. How thin exactly is your face? It looked a bit different an hour ago, a week back, some months ago.

How many moments did you fill? Is that video the same as someone else’s video? Pucker those lips up. Take a selfie. Snap! Snap! Snap! Take the photo from over there. No hazard there. Precarious overhanging places are fine too. Passing traffic? No need to look. Step out backwards. Drivers can swerve. Beeps are loud but you don’t hear it. Focus on your phone.

Cycling the wrong way up a busy road, in the nearest lane to the pavement kerb, and head down on our phone? Don’t worry. You could see beyond the cyclist going the right way. You could. Stay against the flow of the traffic though. Let the right do the right thing. Heck, even parallel ride with a friend. Both be on phones. You’re got it.

What conversation is needed? Look at your phone. Disengage from those with you in the group. By all means, one of you ramp up the volume. I wasn’t listening to my friend anyway. Perhaps some sounds of games will dazzle my mind. Go on. Some shooting sounds? Ideal. Money and other jingles. All at once? Perfection.

Is your child walking into a dangerous situation? Our won’t see. Your head is facing down. That black mirror is playing a video of a kangaroo hugging a panda, or mushroom in a bunch of flowers, or was it a video ending in canned laughter? The point is, your toddler has walked away. Too late? Hurry! Careful now!

And now I’m typing on a phone. Aware of the problem. Known to the addiction. Embraced. Doomed. Digital.

Gratitude.

Gratitude is a faithless twat who hates you. It spits on you. It shits on you. It laughs in your face. It spits into your eyes. Right into the corners. Filthy dirty fucking flem.

As you kneel on the floor wiping the green and yellow saliva of another man’s flem out of your eyes, gratitude takes one Usian Bolt-sped run from a distance of far too fucking unsuitable, swings its legs up, full flying Jacky Chan and boots your balls harder than the moon colliding into Earth.

It all wants to smash you. The establishment and the unknowns. They gather in shadows and whisper out of earshot. You know it. Gratitude rings their ears and directs their blows. It sniggers and wheezes distorted taunts. They say you’re paranoid. You yell back that you’re not. You fucking scream it until your voice is hoarse and your head throbbing with echoes.

Screaming from rooftops bucket fulls of curses, you could send thunder into the mountains and torrents of anger down to the very stones that hold them up. You kick and stamp hard, so hard. Your toes bleed and bruise against the inner soles of your shattering shoes. The threads tear and break away. Your gratitude is kicking dirt back in your face.

You could walk off and not stop walking for days, weeks, months or even years. Fueled on rage, anger, gritting your teeth. You shake inside. Your heart beats like a Slipknot album. You breath deep, but too fast and too hard trying to suppress this stupid furor. Temper and madness are your bedfellows and you hemorrhage a mania unknown before. Gratitude is grasping your heart, twisting it like child’s soft plasticine.

Your knuckles are white as you clench animosity and refuse to let go. It holds inside and around your chest like a jellyfish tangled to prey. A spasm here, an eruption teetering and ready to blast out there. The spleen ferments more than agitation. This huff is pure wrath and gratitude is unwilling to submit.

That’s what you should say, in some shape or form, when someone asks you casually, “How are you?” But, you find few words come out: “Not bad, thanks.” Gratitude has won.

Lost for words.

A student stood up my class one day. She smiled as she asked a bold question. Her little voice was quivering but audible, “How many words can you write?” To my mind, I could not answer her. We began a class task, searching books, dictionaries (Cambridge and Oxford English), newspapers, everything and anything we could lay our hands on. The task followed each student and I from the classroom. It became an obsession. As time changed our research became simpler. Yet words expanded and multiplied. Eventually journals, magazines, compendiums and the internet came along, and how it grew and grew. We pooled our tasks together. The list for the student grew, even as she did not.

That first tough question was in the year 1948. I was a young teacher then. Just twenty five years of age. It’s now 2022. I’m still writing the list of words. I hope to be finished this decade. I fear our work will never be complete.

Pulse.

My heartbeat is firing like a machine gun rattling out bullet after bullet, streaming out flashes upon flash of doom and fire-streaming life-ending hot metal. My breath is heavy, laboured and gasping in pockets of air, struggling to deliver the necessary components to my demanding heart rate. I can’t open my mouth fast enough and suck air inwardly. It burns with every gasp. It rasps as I force it down my windpipe deep into the cavity of my lungs. They heave and tussle at their over demanding master’s will. My chest throbs and I swell with redness. My temperature is rising. I shiver with fear and pain. I can’t get air quick enough. I quiver and flutter like a bird stuck in a net. My eyes water and my nose sounds dry and tight. Air filters in and out of it like a vacuum in a hurricane. I grasp my hands tightly onto my sweaty shorts. They’ve crinkled in the heat of my own body but I don’t know it. I can’t see further than my own nose. The vision around it blurs and blends. It’s coming soon. I can feel it. My mind swirls and whirls. It moves around like a dishwasher dancing on a violently shaking washing machine. I taste something metal. Little do I know that the iron taste is my own tongue shredding between my clenched teeth. I smell nothing. I feel less. Suddenly. No warning. Nothing. Light’s out.

Dedicated to Daft Punk. It’s been a ride.

Rejection list.

Rabbits and their habits. Mice into vice. Whippets who whip it. Dogs who do doggy dogging. Cats who prowl for pussy. Porcupine porking time. Zebras who do lines. Heroine hyenas. Hung like a horse: a story of execution. Penguins Eat Nice Icy Salads. Cock a doodle do? No, Dr. Seuss, we decline your submissions.

Sitting Here

Sat here just thinking. Thoughts rattling through my head. Should I do this? Should I do that? Maybe I can go there? Perhaps a visit to such and such a place is order? How about I do that thing? You know, that thing, the thing I always say that I should do. Or maybe learning an instrument is in order.

Maybe, I said maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me. No, not my words. Sorry Liam and Noel. I could listen to music or write a song, or see a band or play an old vinly record. Is it just the ideal time to dance? Alone or with a stranger? Someone familiar or someone I want? I’ll decide one day.

What if…? Oh, so many what if questions. What if I add another question? What if questions mount up? What if they become a mountain? What if I can’t climb that mountain? What if the mountain has a landslide? What if the landslide swallows me up? What if I’m buried alive? What if the burial is long and starves me of oxygen? Oh. What if?

By the time I’ve thought all of this, time has slipped away. Was it relaxing? Was it a waste? Was it time lost to history? Was it a moment of reflection or a moment of? planning? Was it worth it? Procrastination, what’s that all about? I’ll tell you later…

Human Race.

Wasted energy just fizzled away. Wasted thoughts upped, up and away. Gone. Entropy, all said and done? Faded light in the thick darkness, a laser pen without power. No battery cell to zap outwards. Protons and neutrons inactive.

Plastic shreds, humanity on meds, ducks strangled by packaging. Gone. Waste management, and no fun? Carrier bags drifting in murky waters, a container without a rubbish bin. No recycling scheme to expand areas. Wrappers and sheaths defective.

Rubber tyres, telephone wires, headaches caused by noise. Gone. Bikes of thunder, and not one gun? Airplanes thunder overhead in shrouded skies, a siren without an emergency call. No laws to control the sounds. Banging fireworks completely reactive.

Grimy air, murky vision, stuffy noses full of dust. Gone. Smells of flowers, not by the sun? Machines clatter earth on stripped land, skies fill with ashes. No rule visited this land. This is all productive.

Do you remember trees?

What happened to the bees?

Rainbows and clouds vanished. Elephants and rhinos banished. Trees and grass diminished. Lakes and rivers finished.

Do you recall the smells of spring?

When did the birds last sing?

Dust filled the sky with pain. To see the horizon is a strain. No animals left with a mane. People struggling to stay sane.

How often did it snow back then?

Seasons. When?

The Human race. Who’ll be the winner?