The Anzac Legend - forging an Australian identity
Image: State Library Queensland http://www.flickr.com/photos/32605636@N06/4040762023/
If you were to be asked 'What does it mean to be Australian?' chances are you would list characteristics such as:
- The willingness to have a go
- A 'fair go' attitude
- Giving the metaphorical finger to authority and the snobbery of social class
- Ingenuity and being innovative
- Physically fit and strong (think our national love and adoration for sporting heroes)
Today, in communities around the country, Australians commemorate Anzac Day - a day that not only remembers all those who have served in war, but one that represents the forming of the Australian identity.
The 25th of April marks the anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli
by Australian and New Zealand troops. The eight month campaign resulted in high casualties on all sides: almost half a million casualties, with 120 thousand Turkish and Allied soldiers dying.
Image: State Library Queensland http://www.flickr.com/photos/statelibraryqueensland/4041502536/in/set-72157622655831592/
Creating a National Identity
Although not a military success, the campaign at Gallipoli is commemorated by Australians, New Zealanders and Turks, all of who using the date to mark the bravery and resilience of the soldiers who battled inhospitable terrain, harsh weather, dysentery, influenza - and each other.
The Gallipoli campaign also holds great cultural significance for Australians.
Listen to the 'classics' you don't have time to read
Thanks to Joanna, over in the Kindle Community, who gave me the tip about a website that allows you to download and listen to public domain novels, plays, poems and short stories for free.
Searching LibriVox for audiobooks
(shown above) is a service supported by volunteer readers, who have converted more than 4000 books available in the public domain into audiobooks and podcasts.
This site is very easy to use. To begin a search, click on the 'LibriVox Catalog' as shown in the image above. This will take you to its basic search page (shown below), which allows you to search for:
- Title - The title you are looking for. You'll notice I've used the example of 'The Jungle Book'
- Author - The author of the title. In the case of this search I'd enter 'Rudyard Kipling'
- Status - This selection box gives you the option to look for titles which are 'complete', 'in progress', 'open', 'fully subscribed' or up to 'proof listening' stage. In most cases if you are looking for a book to listen to, you would click 'complete' to signify the title is fully converted to audio and ready for downloading.
Audio books - listen while they learn
I've always enjoyed listening to books. Audio books mean I get to 'read' while I'm doing other stuff, like exercise, housework, or ignoring the football on television. ;-)
I've also discovered that I'm not the only one who sometimes enjoys hearing a story read to me. When I've used audio books in the classroom, I've found, generally speaking, that my students, regardless of whether they are Year 7 to 11, also enjoy listening to novels and plays via my iPod or laptop.
I've mostly used audio books to introduce a novel to reluctant readers, or to make Shakespearean plays more accessible, and, sometimes, as a reward or end of week/term fun activity, when I allow students out of their normally strictly maintained seating plans, to sprawl more comfortably on the floor with their mates.
I tell ya, there's something nice as an English teacher who might normally struggle with students not choosing to read, actually hearing these same students begging to hear more 'of their story'!
That's not to say audio books have to be a completely passive activity. In fact, using them in combination with comprehension type games can be a fun way to meet listening outcomes. I've seen my students get excited about answering questions on a novel that they've been listening to, when the questions are presented in a quiz show-type format. Certainly A LOT more excited than simply answering questions in their books!
Research suggests several advantages to using audio books in your English classroom (and the same benefits would apply at home).
If you are looking for suitable related texts for your studies of Belonging, then why not consider poetry?
Poems can be powerful and evocative. The poet plays to our emotions, drawing us into the poem's subject matter, whether it be a glimpse of the everyday, or a description of times, place or circumstances unfamiliar to us. Indeed, poets themselves are often inspired by life's shared connections, be they individual, family, community or global.
In a nutshell, they are exploring 'belonging', and their use of imagery and other techniques encourages us to connect, or 'belong' with the poem and its subject.
I encourage students to read a range of poems throughout their senior years of English.
Back when I went to school, we always had DEAR, a.k.a, Drop Everything You Read. I used to always look forward to this: 15 minutes of uninterrupted reading - at school!
Of course, I would have been much happier to have increased that to much more than 15 minutes ...
So, as soon as I saw a discussion
over on the Amazon Kindle Readers' Forum that it was National Drop Everything and Read Day
today in the U.S. (yesterday for us here in Australia), of course it sparked my interest.What a brilliant idea! According to its website
, the project is supported by schools, book and media publishers. Its aim is to encourage events around the country, dedicated to, and focusing on the joys of reading.Many schools around Australia still include D.E.A.R as part of their
timetabled activities. Indeed, schools around the world have implemented variations of 'sustained silent reading' over the last 30 years.A quick review of the academic literature on the subject suggests long-terms benefits from in-school sustained reading programs. Other research suggests practical issues, such as reading ability and students not bringing something to read, can hamper the delivery of such programs.
- Does your school offer a DEAR-type reading program? How is it managed? How do staff feel about it?
- If not, why not?
- If you are a student, what do YOU think about having time to read your own choice of reading material at school for a set time every day?
The other day a friend closed her Facebook day with the comment she was now 'Going to bed with Stephen Fry...'
I get that. And I also get, just to be clear, that what she meant was she was announcing that she was heading off for some well-deserved relax time with her latest Fry read.
Obviously she and I have a thing for slightly-goofy, slightly-TALL (at nearly two metres tall), highly-articulate Brits, who also happen to create equally entertaining fiction, non-fiction, and comedy.
What can I say? You know when people ask the question: "If you could have anyone around for dinner, who would it be?" Well, I'd have my people on the phone to Mr Fry's people, lickety-split!
So, while I've tracked down some Stephen Fry reads for less than $10, in today's post on 'ReadMore4Less'
, first I thought I'd share my list of the 10 Things I Like About Stephen Fry here.....
Parents, teachers and schools will now be able to access the latest information on this year's National Assessment Program (NAP) and NAPLAN tests.
The NAP website
contains information on key dates, FAQs, administrative requirements and sample test papers for NAPLAN tests in literacy and numeracy, as well as on NAP ICT Literacy.
NAPLAN is assessed annually across Years 3, 5, 7 and 9, and tests skills in reading, writing, spelling, grammar, punctuation and numeracy. All students across Australia complete these tests in May.
NAP Sample Assessments occur annually, over a three year rotation. This year ICT skills will be assessed against a sample of Years 6 and 10 students from randomly selected schools. These tests will be conducted between October and November 2011.
For more information, check the website: www.nap.edu.au.
Does 'don't' mean 'Okay, I will,' when it comes to reading?
Image: http://www.morguefile.com/ creative/anitapatterson
Were you ever told certain books were unsuitable? Did that make you want to read them all the more?
In a piece he wrote for London’s Guardian Newspaper
, British author, Patrick Ness
, writes about the value of sometimes reading beyond one’s years.
“All bookish young readers over-reach occasionally, and if they discover they like it, they keep on doing it. What a great way to establish reading as exciting and maybe even dangerous, eh?” says Ness, in the article ‘Patrick Ness’ Top 10 ‘Unsuitable’ books for teenagers.’
It’s worth looking at his list of top 10 books because they will get you thinking about three questions:
- What books (and I’m going to extend this question to include other texts such as poems, songs, films etc) have influenced YOU and WHY?
- If you are a teen, what attracts YOU to certain stories – friends, marketing, the tale that is being told, characters and situations you can relate to?
- Looking back on your relationship with reading, as a parent or teacher, does your reading history influence what you think is suitable for your children or students?
Adaptations of the original all come down to audience
What's your opinion when it comes to a movie that is based on a novel? Many people will have strong feelings as to which they think is best - the book versus the film...
I'm always interested in how a director interprets a book to make it appealing to film audiences. Think about it. The two mediums are completely different in their delivery and their expectation of their audiences. A film can be a complex combination of the visual and auditory - as viewers we experience the director's interpretation
of a story before our eyes and ears, within a limited time frame - typically the plot must be resolved within 2 1/2 hours at the most. This, obviously, determines the delivery of the plot - what gets left in versus what remains from the original story - and the reasons supporting these creative decisions, along with their dramatic effect.
The adaptations of the Harry Potter series
and John Marsden's Tomorrow When the War Began immediately spring to mind here. I've never read J.K Rowling's famous series; fantasy is not my first choice of genre, although the novels are on my 'to read' list, simply because of their place within popular culture. So I've watched each of the Harry Potter movies completely free of pre-conceptions.And, I have to say, I loved them, particularly the last one. And got goosebumps watching the promo trailer for the second part of ... Deathly Hallows. And, am completely hanging out for July this year when the film is finally released. (You can watch the trailer below). I suspect my own imagination is not a gift I've ever fostered, because I'm much happier to watch fantasy on the big screen through someone's else's lens.
If there's one question that regularly gets asked on e-book user forums about a particular book or book series, it's "Why isn't Harry Potter available for e-readers???"
E-Readers are fast becoming a reading mode of choice for consumers. The Amazon Kindle store now offers more than 600,000 titles to Australians and more than 900,000 titles in its American store, while other e-readers such as the Kobo
and the Sony
also offer varying numbers of e-books in their own formats. One recent American survey
suggested that already 1 in 10 Americans used an E-reader, with similar numbers believing they would begin using one over the next six months. This same research also showed people who used e-readers claimed to read more, and purchase more books.
It is estimated that Australians are adopting this form of reading in similar numbers, according to a recent news report
But, author J.K. Rowling has persistently stood firm against digitalising her highly successful Harry Potter franchise, which has reportedly so far netted her £620 million - or $965 million in Australian dollars.
That is, until now.
According to a report
published yesterday in the Scottish media, Rowling's agent has confirmed the author is "considering plans" for her Harry Potter titles to be published as e-books.
This would be great news for readers who have adopted the new technology, and particularly for those who have done so due to physical disabilities which make reading heavy traditionally-published books difficult.
My thanks to Bufo Calvin
for bringing this report to my attention. I'm one reader who'll be keeping her fingers crossed for a deal to be done soon.