Saturday, July 24, 2010

It deepens like a coastal shelf

Well I certainly have been Little Miss Slack Blogger lately. Work is hectic. If I'm not preparing classes I am teaching them. The good times continue though. My cohort of students are absolutely delightful. We have worked our way through simple, compound and complex sentences and are now looking at the various forms of top-level structure paragraphs which is fun. They have been writing thesis-illustration and cause-effect paragraphs for me which I am about to read before next week. The spelling tests continue daily (although I did give them one lesson off last week). One of my students has taken up Scrabble as a means of improving his spelling and vocabulary much to the delight of his wife - and me. I mean really, that is fantastic. And we have had some wonderfully interesting class discussions about community, values, morals, ethics - general topics which led us into the topics they have to write about for their first assignment - volunteering and fathers after divorce. That second topic has the potential to be a little fiery but I was so pleased with the mature way they handled the discussion. We had all points of view - from divorced fathers and mothers, as well of children of divorce which made for a really rounded discussion. We have also begun looking at notetaking strategies which they took to really quickly. Next week we begin paraphrasing and referencing (Harvard). In between all of this I have made room for some poems. The first one was by Philip Larkin:

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

It really was a great way of generating a discussion about changes in family structures. The second one I used as a prompt for their weekly reflection which takes place in the last part of of their last lesson for the week.

The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

It was a beautiful way to end a busy week of writing, writing, writing. Next week I plan to choose some song lyrics I think.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Watch, listen and singalong: It's been a while...

It's been a while since I have posted a watch, listen and singalong. Instead I have been boring my facebook friends with youtube videos, but this is a band I have just discovered with the most wonderful album called "I and Love and You". Here are The Avett Brothers. One thing I adore is that the album was released on my birthday last year. I wonder if that is why I like it so much. Probably not, but it's a nice coincidence. All the tracks are gems but this one is a stunner.

(Make sure you fast forward through the Letterman intro)

Saturday shopping: My obsession with filigree continues

This morning's shopping expedition was supposed to be about groceries and groceries only. It didn't turn out that way. Groceries took a back seat as I found bargains and other things I just felt like buying.

Here they are for you perusal and enjoyment.

Firstly, we have little cats. Some of you may remember the cat challenge we set our students last term. Well, being full of originality as we are, we are doing it again this term. So on Monday morning, two VERY lucky students will receive three little cats each. Now, who wouldn't want to win that I ask you?

Next up it was all about earrings. I have become a little bored of my jewellery lately. Although if you looked at my dresser you might wonder how that is possible. Never mind. Here is what I bought myself for a present this morning. My obsession with filigree continues unabated. And you see the cute little spirals. I am in fact wearing them right now.

Then into Colorado where the only time to buy clothes is when they are right at the end of their winter sale. Two shirts 50% off. YAY. And also a grey courdoroy handbag marked right down. (I have forgotten to take its photo so you will all need to use your imagination).

And The second pair were 50% off so my dear Mum and I shared the deal and got a pair each. Here are mine. I thought they were cute.

Last but by no means least was a browse through Angus and Robertson where they had a throwout bin of notebooks that were 75% off. That's correct. So I splurged out 5.50 and got these two lovely books. My motto is that you can never have enough notebooks. These will either go into my queue or be used as gifts.

I have refrained from taking a picture of my pantry and fridge which now have food in them.

Friday, July 9, 2010

One week down....

It's been a big first week at work. I am teaching a different course this term for the first time since 2003. Yes. That's right. You heard me. 2003. It's the academic writing subject that is part of our program. The aim is teach our students to write, research, reference and produce an essay on their own in 12 weeks. We began this week with personal, creative and free writing. We talked about the relationship between language, writing, knowledge, power and learning. We started our daily spelling tests to improve our vocabulary. Most fun of all we started to examine sentence structure with the simple sentence. As one who went to school when we were taught about nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, phrases, clauses, pronouns etc it is a challenge to translate this into the flashy new functional grammar with its attributes and circumstances. It's a challenge for the students as well because I think it adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to the understanding of how English works. I can see how it is useful, but I think you have to be schooled in traditional grammar first before you can chuck the functional grammar into the mix. So that is what I attempted to three two hour tutorials. By the end of the week we were all able to find verbs, identify tense, and have some understanding of subject and objects and whether they were nouns or pronouns. We also read a number of interesting readings about the process of writing, and worked on pre-writing strategies (brainstorming and clustering etc). Then on Friday the students wrote a cinquain about winter. For some it was the first time they had ever written a poem and they couldn't really believe that it might be that easy. So apart from waking at 4am every morning and running through my lesson plan it was a challenging and exciting week of teaching for me. Next week...compound sentences and academic paragraphs, together with some notetaking and paraphrasing from newspaper articles.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Wendy's Weeks of TV. 2.0: My Brilliant Mistake

I have been a little bit of a slacko with my TV watching lately. Although, in my defence this hasn't been helped by the fact that the television stations have been annoying me. Firstly, I just start getting into Chuck on GO at 8:30 on Wednesdays and GO shifts it to 10:30. That is Too Late for me and my DVD recorder doesn't record GO. Secondly, I have really started enjoying Community which was initially screening on Tuesday evenings. Fine, good, dandy. Now they have shifted it to Monday evenings which I means I am at choir and miss the delights of Chevy Chase as a adult student at a community college. Thirdly, Glee. Channel Ten you are peeving me quite intensely with this long drawn out screening of the end of the series. It was frustrating enough that there were some episodes without more than a peep of Sue Sylvester and Emma seems to have disappeared completely. I refused to watch the Hamish and Andy filler as well as the Brisbane Lions on principle.

What has been good though is that Doctor Who has improved mightily as the series continued. At the beginning of the new Doctor I was really quite lukewarm about the whole Doctor, Amy, crack storyline but they picked up their game which was good and I am now looking forward to the two-part finale. Also, Little Dorrit. I am a complete sucker for any kind of costume drama, literature adaptation so I really enjoyed the first episode even though I haven't read the book so I found the foreign prisoners quite confusing. And of course, I delight on Friday nights watching Elvis Costello on Spectacle. Last night it was all about him. Mary-louise Parker did the interviewing. While I disliked her West Wing character quite a lot, she was okay in her chat with Elvis. Here is just one of the highlights.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Dear Weekend

Dear Weekend
Today is Friday which means that you are not far away. Let us cast our minds back to your previous visit about 7 days ago. I did not particularly enjoy your arrival with a monster headache that lasted until Monday morning. I mean, really, what on earth was that all about? I had worked all week and all I wanted was two days where I could relax, watch some telly, do a little shopping, housework, laundry and other things without a pounding headache. I know you made sure I had some panadol in the pantry which was, I suppose, thoughtful. However, all that really did was put the headache on delay for a few hours until it returned, stronger than ever. I guess the point I am labouring away at here in this letter is that when you arrive at midnight this evening I would like a little more consideration. I have things to do. I also have nothing to do, and I would prefer to be able to do everything and nothing just as I please without any interference.
If you could kindly consider my respectful request it would be greatly appreciated
Yours sincerely