Congratulations on a very successful Blog post! Your insights into the life of Tolstoy gave me a greater understanding of Tolstoy’s perspective and your writing was a joy to read. What an interesting man with such strong convictions. I think this essence of Tolstoy is truly reflected in “The Death of Ivan Ilych” and “Master and Man” which I believe you linked to perfectly in relation to Tolstoy’s views regarding the social context of Russia. It might be interesting to explore this further, giving examples where you believe Tolstoy’s personal life directly influenced his writing, or perhaps where he mirrored Russian society. Perhaps adding a few links, or providing evidence to support your information would elevate this post, but overall, I found this very well written and hard to fault. Well done.
With my supervisor unwell I took on a greater leadership role in the classroom this week. Engaging students and managing behaviour became a focus for me, and we created short lessons to keep their attention going. My supervisor made sure that the lessons had students moving around the classroom to maintain interest, for example, for autonomous learning student sat at their tables and when listening to teachers instruction students sat on the floor changing the position of the teacher to ensure an attentive class. To engage students and cater for the needs of diverse learners I used a range of teaching strategies. Incorporating, verbal, visual, multimedia and analytical stimuli to my lesson. I felt most successful when reading a story book out loud to the class. Here I really focused on my tone and rhythm; lowering my voice and slowing the pace of the reading built interest, and restless students quietened as the became intrigued, many students leaning forward or sat up on their knees engaged and eager to listen.
What was unsuccessful however was keeping control of the class during independent learning. I saw that the arrangement of students should have been changed to avoid chatting and distraction. Any students placed at the back of the class near the door were less focused on their work. In future, I would rearrange the furniture to remove that difficult learning area. Also, the tables are filled with containers of pencils and rubbers. While they are useful and needed, the can also become toys and distractions for students. Often I found I had to stop myself from taking the objects straight out of their hands, instead, I directed them to make the right decision which didn’t go quite as planned and next time I would like to be more firm.
This week instead of my usual Year 2 class who were away on an excursion, I worked with Kindergarten. This was a very interesting change as I could identify a large shift in the learning and teaching strategies implemented by my supervisor in comparison to the older students. The younger students required more organisation and constant behavioural conditioning with more immediate consequences. For example, when I saw a group of boys fighting in the playground I immediately stepped in and told them to pick up papers for two minutes. My supervisor and I watched them begin to pick up papers as I had instructed, then the consequence quickly disintegrated and the students began playing again. My supervisor laughed and said “they barely know where they are or what day it is let alone how long 2 minutes is” and we agreed that because the consequence of their behaviour was immediate and they initially began performing the punishment as requested that any further punishment would be misunderstood.
The school seems to have a fairly relaxed ‘no touching’ policy, however, I wanted to make sure that I was not breaching any code of conduct. This became particularly difficult with kindergarten as they often grabbed at my clothing, searched for your hand to hold, asked for hugs or hugged you and asked for help blowing their nose etc. My supervisor talked about sensory learning, identifying one student that had been abandoned by their family and often changes foster homes, suggesting that at such a young age some people believe that this could be a way to build relationships with students and teachers.
Throughout the day we also switched between multiple classes of students in the same year group, repeating the same lesson with each. This allowed me to see the differences in successful learning and identify the issues that may be contributing to these differences. Often, classes with students that presented a higher rate of behavioural disorders seemed to affect the ability of the entire class, and had less success in acheiving learner outcomes.
Keeping the students focused and engaged was often difficult, with group work being hard to acheive. Discussing this issue with other staff members they agreed that autonomous learning creates a feeling of personal success, allowing studentd to make their own decisions.
This video provides a particularly casual and easy to understand overview of the life of George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans), and the ways in which it links to Silas Marner. I found this source to be useful in noting key contextual themes, from which I could begin my own investigative research.
This Article from the New Yorker provides a personal and opinionated account of George Eliot’s life, with some reflection on a number of her novels, including Silas Marner. Skip the first 9 paragraphs in which the author describes her love of ‘Middlemarch’…the first time she picked up the book.. etc etc. After this lengthy dedication, however, you will find the meaty information with interesting arguments both for and against Eliot’s writing.
“In ordinary lives, Eliot perceived human nature’s ‘deep pathos, its sublime mysteries.’”
http://www.victorianweb.org/victorian/authors/eliot/index.html The Victorian Web is an academic website which simplifies a network of complex connections linked to Eliot’s Work. The site compacts key elements of influence into a useful map, which, when clicked on, will lead you to pages of brief points and references.
An opinionated and thoughtful podcast from the BBC. Melvyn Bragg and guests Rosemary Ashton from University College London, Dinah Birch from Liverpool University and Valentine Cunningham from Oxford University discuss Eliot’s novel Silas Marner; focusing on Eliot’s moral view and deep social convictions.
A very well thought out critical response to Matthew Arnold’s poem “The Scholar Gypsy”. I was very intrigued by the duplicity of both the character and the scene, I believe you had a great grasp of this concept and offered an interesting perspective. However, you need to work on sentence structure and the flow of your writing. Some sentences seemed a little overworked or superfluous, for example, “face value is not the true essence of the deeper meaning”. Lines such as this could be further simplified to strengthen the persuasiveness of your opinion.
Creative Task: You are the scholar gypsy. Explain to your friends why you have decided to run away from conventional education.
Here you and I sit, in perfect rows, at perfect tables set straight and facing forward. All of us submissive to the clock, this room and to the will of this teacher. Each student is as much divided in thought and ideas as if we lived in different worlds. But here we are, bound together in silent formality, constricting our intelligence and creativity into the shape designated by a 2-hour exam. An exorbitant cost it is that we pay to stare down at this stark white sheet of paper, trying to turn it into something someone else wishes it to be. Our feverish efforts turning us sick and doubtful, all in an attempt to produce advantages for a future career in the world. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it, though I can ill afford not to. There was nothing I could write for you which might expand the soul, liberalise the mind or dignify the character that could be contained by time or instruction. So instead, I must write you this farewell letter, because I can see that some rows in front of me, you are just as restless as I am, fidgeting at your empty white paper. This is the time to free the spirit from an institution which masquerades as a salutary influence. Instead, we must bring colour to the page and listen with enchanted ears to the song that lingers at the open exit. Because I can feel a warm breeze pulling from the doorway, and I intend to follow it.
Today in class I discussed with my supervisor about how she assesses success and learning in the classroom. In her practice, she lists the criteria that needs to be met in each lesson, however, every student has individual learning strengths and weaknesses and we discussed the difficulty of making sure everyone was learning and developing at a similar pace.
In todays art activity, I took small groups of students outside throughout the day to create unique marbled paintings that we would later cut into round shapes. The activity was simple with only 5 colours being used. Here, the biggest challenge was organisation and coordination; making sure students didn’t mix the brushes with different colours to avoid spoiling the activity for groups after, and of course, keeping paint off everyone’s clothes. Meeting these criteria became quite difficult for a student diagnosed with Autism. The student was aided by a student support officer, who mostly controlled behaviour and assisted in the student’s activities. Immediately I could see that this student had greater difficulty following instruction, matching the brushes with the correct colour and had a slower reaction time.
Seeing the learning differences between students made me question how I would assess my own class and ensure that every student would be getting equal value from a lesson.
Congratulations on your blog post this week. You have presented very thoughtful links between your quotes and the broad themes of Hard Times. However, I would love to see you make a statement here! Offer your opinion and support it with your evidence as this is your platform to express yourself. Also, I believe your quote about Sissy tells us a lot about Dickens’ depiction of children as being virtuous and imaginative. This could be another angle you could read into. Otherwise, you have created a very well written critical blog post which I thoroughly enjoyed reading!
The contrasts between students learning abilities became particularly evident this week as we focused on reading and comprehension skills. Firstly, I began the class assisting with reading groups. I noticed here that the books were categorized into levels of difficulty and my supervisor explained how the books reflected the reading level of the students. I was surprised to see that we had some students at a kindergarten reading levels, while others had advanced to a Year 3 reading level. In every reading group that I assisted, it was clear that there were students that were further ahead than others. For these students, having to wait while their classmates caught up often caused impatience and defiance. The brightest students were becoming the most disruptive. The reading groups were supposed to encourage peer support, however, students who struggled with certain words were often given the answers by those who were eager to move onwards. I could see that this task was unsuccessful in engaging all students, and I was concerned that I didn’t accurately measure learning with students who were already behind unknowingly falling further backward.
The second task involved reflecting and analysing the Ken Done influenced artworks they created last week. Here I created a number of questions which could assess a range of abilities, I worded my question according to the outcomes required in the Year 2 syllabus. This included: What are three words you would use to describe your drawing? What are three main colours you have used? What shapes you have used? What are the special features of your artwork? To aid the student’s responses I stood at the whiteboard and wrote out words that students had difficulty spelling. The board quickly filled up with words. I began to circle the room and quickly realised that many of the students had a hard time answering the questions. Nearing the end of the task I noticed one student with learning difficulties had not written a single word. I read the questions out loud, then reworded them into a more casual question and I noticed he had given me some successful answers verbally. I asked him why he hadn’t written his answer down and he told me he didn’t know how to spell it. I pointed to this word which had been put up on the board, but as soon as I moved away from it, he was unable to filter out the other words around it. For this student, removing other stimulus and focusing his attention on one thing at a time allowed him to accurately recall information. This task made me question how we measure successful learning, that all students have individual learner requirements, and allowed me to understand how easy it was for a student to quietly fall behind.
In any cultural period, there is a seamless connection between art all of the arts. In exploring art we may find many literary connections, as the themes and techniques of artists can expand our understanding of literature and its context.
This week we explored the 19th Century rooms of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
In the Victorian Hall, I was most intrigued by the wall displaying Victorian women. This collaboration by the Art Gallery gave the impression of a complex narrative. The positioning of these artworks allowed the viewer to gain a deeper understanding of Victorian society, comparing the values and attitudes towards women, the core values of the era and the differences between social classes. Women were presented as Femme Fatals, with a strength and paradoxical decline, questioning the nature of womanhood and femininity.
The following video also contains interesting links between art and literature in the Romantic Era of the 19th Century: