Month: May 2007

Recommended Reading

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I have had a number of people asking for a reading list of some sort. There are a lot of books out there, and really the only way you will ever be able to figure out what you like and what you don’t, what you are able to read and what you aren’t, what you can get through and what you can’t (do you notice the repeated structure?) is to actually START READING!!!! At your age you should not just settle into one particular genre. Read as widely as you can. How will you know you don’t like something unless you try it? (Please note that this maxim does not hold true for unhealthy habits!) The best way to learn from your reading is to get out of your comfort zone. What do I mean by this? (Rhetorical question!) By all means read what you are comfortable reading. But after every easy book, pick up a book that challenges you- that makes you think. Push yourself a little. Why don’t I make a point of recommending books like Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl? Mailny because those books sell themselves. At your age they are easy reading. Don’t get me wrong- I am in no way putting you down. I LOVE Harry Potter and my 10-year-old son has been giving me such glowing reports about Artemis Fowl that I am determined to try reading one of the books just to see what all the fuss is about.

My point is that I want to recommend books that you would normally not pick up. The lists I have uploaded here are from the Washington Post and a publishing company. No one can read all the books on the list in a month. Just pick and choose.

The lists are not really necessary. Go to any library. The books are wonderfully sorted into age-appropriate categories. Take advantage of the fact that someone has removed the guesswork for you. There is a section called “Young Adults” (I think that’s what it’s called). You could try looking there. Or if you feel you are ready, move on to the general adults’ category.

I challenge you to challenge yourselves.

The Catcher In The Rye

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Another book that I introduced to some of you was The Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger. This book became a cult classic, and was in fact banned for a long time in schools and libraries. It is my opinion that most of you would really enjoy this book. Teenagers through the last few decades have felt as though the book was speaking directly to them. There is inherent in the book that special element of madness that any adolescent immediately recognizes!

I have included here an essay on the book that I once wrote. This is my challenge to you: after reading the essay, and knowing what you (should!) know about thesis statements and topic sentences, can you guess the question that the essay was answering?

Also, if any of you were to get round to reading the book, it would be interesting for the rest of your friends if you were to share your comments here.

The Original “Freedom to Think” Guy

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Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher and while I would like to say that his work was the inspiration for the title of my blog, honesty forces me to admit that I pulled that one out of my hat. It was only when I was doing some random searching that I found my title (Freedom to Think) in a quote from Kant. The article I have uploaded here is one person’s opinion of something Kant once wrote. He (the writer) explores the commonly held idea that while society can control what we say and do, we always have the freedom to think. He questions this notion, bringing up the idea that even what we think is bound by what we are exposed to. I found this article extremely thought provoking and accessible at the same time- I think most of you will be able to understand it after a couple of readings. Do read the article. We may discuss it class. Although it has nothing to do with narratives, I think it will help to broaden your mind and expose you to more than just the demands of the syllabus.

A Fine Balance

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I brought some of my favourite books to school to show you last week. Not all of you got to experience that particular lesson. I’d like to think that those of you who did, enjoyed it as much as I did! (And if you didn’t, please don’t tell me so!) A little while back I used an extract from one of the books in a lesson for a Sec 4 class. The book was “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry. This is a wonderful book- just not a very happy one. But then, I have always found that none of these prize winning books are happy ones. To some of you I highlighted one of the grossest (there is actually no such word!) parts, just to be sensationalist. In reality though, while the book has a sad and dark edge to it, there are also many uplifting aspects as well. Here I have uploaded an extract that shows how one boy is initiated into the type of work done by members of the caste he belongs to. Despite the fact that times are changing and he is allowed to do other forms of work, his father wants him to appreciate the suffering that his forefathers have gone through. Happy reading!

June Holiday Assignment

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I am so sorry to have to do this to you, but the school requires that I set you an assignment for the holidays. Believe me when I say that I would much rather give you some free time, but I have to admit that your school is doing everything it can to help you pass your ‘O’ levels with flying colours- short of getting teachers to write the exams for you.

Anyway, I know that I have given each of you a handout containing the assignment guidelines, but I thought I would just upload a copy of it here for those of you who misplace your copies.

Do try to get some rest, have some fun and just laze around building castles in the air. You deserve the break. Well- most of you do, anyway!

Acrostic Poems

Your little brothers and sisters in Sec One produced some very creative work today. The task was to write acrostic poems. (If you don’t know what this means look it up- or you might be able to guess as you read on. Most of you would have written such poems in Primary school.)

Here are some poems from the students of 1E3 (I will only add their names to this post if they write in and give their consent.)

MAGICIAN 

Mesmerizing tricks

Awe is always the reaction

Given the talent

Impossible to learn

Capture all’s attention

Into his magic show

And his magic remains secret

Never to be found.

ROSES

Right gift for a girl

On a special occasion

She will think I’m sweet

Especially after Valentine

Spring season arrives.

MOON

Midst the clouds at night

Often hanging in the sky

Orange in colour at times

Neon to show the way.

WAR

Waiting and watching

Alert at all times

Ready to fight.

GUNS

Garrisoned in a building

Unknown to passersby

Not moving a muscle

Scoping the victim.

CHAOS

Crazy people running,

Havoc wreaked everywhere,

On the edge of destruction,

A hero is needed,

Somewhere, there will be one.

SOCCER

Scoring is the main objective of the game

Offensive and defensive tactics are used in the game

Cards of two colours are used by referees

Clocking goals is the best

Even children love the game

Run around with a ball.

These gems are from the students of 1E2:

PANTHER

Prowling, on the hunt

Alas, the hunt is found

Night, it’s time to feast

Terror, struck in all

Horror, glimpsed in the eyes of the prey

Escape is impossible

Rest in peace.

FISH

Flowing along with the current

Isolated in the big blue sea

Searching for its fellow fishes

Hoping for a glimpse of light.

GIRL

God! Isn’t that girl pretty?

Irritating sometimes

Really knows how to attract boys

Lovely.

HOME

Homeland where I belong

Our heart and soul

Memories formed

Everyday a new beginning.

STARS

Shining and

Twinkling

All night long

Reach out to pick them

Suddenly they are gone.

These are the ones that caught my eye. If you would like to try your hand at acrostic poems, why not send me your attempts? I’d love to add them to this post.

A Nice Surprise

blowing-up-balloons.jpgYou know how it is- sometimes a problem seems really big, and it keeps getting bigger. Like a balloon that you keep blowing air into. And then, just when it seems that the situation has reached its worst there is this big bang. Balloon bursts, problem’s solved. And you wonder what all the fuss was about. This is what happened to me today. One particular kid whom I have been very worried about came up to me on his own steam. This kid has been occupying my thoughts constantly because he is smart and friendly, but for some reason (refer to my policy of not giving away too much information) has not really been a whole lot of fun to teach. I always feel sad when sweet kids lose their way and waste their talents. That is why when he approached me today and said that he was going to do better- both in terms of behaviour as well as studies- I was really pleased. He’s found his way, this young man, and it will be a pleasure to watch him become everything he is capable of being. This is one of the joys of teaching, and even if at the end of the year I have only had a handful of revelations like this, it will still have been worth it!