Outed – and a message for English teachers of the world

Well I was outed last night, and yes, it was by a maths teacher.  I can now confirm, with my statistically valid sample of 1, that you are indeed all maths teachers.  Apart from Ollie, that is.  So it was time to ‘fess up and my OH doesn’t appear too horrified by my ramblings.  The interval between Appendix 3.1 and 3.2 seems an appropriate time for a bit of self-indulgent discourse on anonymity and such things.

My main reason for using a pseudonym was less about myself than a statement that I don’t want the boys too embarrassed by my mutterings.  However, there is also a part of me that preferred to speak to an audience I don’t know than to one I do, at least until I felt comfortable with the forum.  I’m sure that many people will recognise the feeling that it is often much easier to speak to a conference audience of 300 from a rostrum with the lights dimmed than it is to speak to a dozen of your peers in a small room.  On the occasions when the boys have talks to do at school, we always try to encourage them to practice at home for this very reason.  If they can do their talk to us, it is going to be much easier to present it in class.  Whether or not they take this advice is, of course, another matter!

Anyhow my confidence is growing and I am finding that I am really enjoying being able to write something that doesn’t begin “the shallow water laminarian forests in the sheltered parts of the loch are dominated by…”.  It is a long time since I have had this opportunity.  Emails may have killed off letter writing but maybe blogging can fill that gap. 

So, English teachers, where are you??  Why are you letting the maths departments get so far ahead?  How about an online class novel with scribes writing different sections (so long as you can persuade them to write and not to text).  You could keep a class diary.  Stories from an on-line news item or “in the style of”. There must be huge scope for personal writing to the semi-impersonal audience of the computer screen.   

12 thoughts on “Outed – and a message for English teachers of the world

  1. I’m an English teacher and I am really keen to start using the internet with my classes. I’m starting small with a bulletin board for my advanced higher English pupils and a wiki for my creative writing lunchtime club.

    What’s holding me back? Well, firstly I am learning myself how to use this medium for teaching. The other thing that I’m finding an obstacle however is the current blocking of websites in school, practiced by my authority. I’ve been asking for one of the websites I’ve set up to to be unblocked for two weeks now. It seems that this is a complicated matter. Makes it difficult to
    enthuse other staff or kids!

    I believe there is ‘enormous scope’ for using these technologies. Very exciting!

    Did you like Beggar’s Banquet? I used one of the stories in it with my Int 2 last year, and they liked it a lot!

  2. Hi there. I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs and yes I did realise there was at least one English teacher blogging! I have the excitement of the new convert and it is very easy for me to sit at my desk & make suggestions when I don’t actually have to implement them in a day which is probably overfull already!

    As an Ian Rankin junkie I did enjoy Beggar’s Banquet – it reminded me that I should read short stories more often than I do. I had heard or read a couple of the stories before. I have noticed that everyone else’s “now reading” lists are very worthy. Are they all telling the truth? I fall asleep when I’m 1/2 a chapter in and have given up on learned tomes unless I’m working.

  3. Guineapigmum,

    Keep on with the encouragement. It helps enormously to have parents show support for initiatives like this one, especially in these early days when you need to make a large effort to do even the smallest thing.

    Regarding putting up the books you are reading -it’s nice to get some new ideas. I would probably have the same book up for weeks in term times, so I haven’t embarked on it.

    I’d like to do something on my blog about books that teenagers like, and are worth reading too;) Perhaps you’ll post some of the things that went down well with your brood?

  4. I’ve been thinking about writing a blog on children’s books for a few days so, now I’ve been prompted, I will get on with it soon. But first I have to deal with pairing up the sock mountain whilst OH strips wallpaper in the bathroom.

  5. Hi Richard
    I’ve just had a quick look at your wikispace – it looks good! I think there must be scope for a written-for-film/Tom Clancy formula (or maybe Alexandria Quartet) -style story: several different plots running in tandem in sequential short chapters, which come together occasionally and then at the end for a big sorting out. Overall story planned as a group, each plotline written by a different person with a ring master to do the sorting out bits. There are probably – certainly – better written examples than Tom Clancy but it is very easy with his books to see how they are constructed. I tend only to read these when I’m really desperate (and I’m the sort of person who reads notice boards & the back of cornflakes packets) but they do make exciting films.

  6. I’ve been using a blog to try to improve pupils’ writing for a few months now. The children also have their own wikispace pages for the different types of writing. They are now much more enthusiastic about their work because they enjoy having an audience …… the ‘geovisitor’ button has given them no end of delight as they ‘track’ the people who have looked at the blog (one pupil wrote that, as she self-assessed a piece of writing, she tried to view it ‘through the eyes of a geovisitor’ – great!). We also have plans to team up with a local primary school in the new year to do some collaborative writing on the wikispace.

    Unfortunately, we’ve been having trouble with ‘blocked access’ as well. Although I’ve finally managed to remove the ‘next blog’ button, and have assurances from the region that the issue is now resolved, I’ve finally decided to find a new ‘home’ for our blog. I’ve been contemplating this for a while, but the recent comments from Argyll & Bute bloggers have forced me to make a final decision.

    Edublogs here we come ….. eventually – moving from Blogger Beta isn’t as straightforward as moving from the old Blogger!

  7. Happy New Year, gpmum!
    I wanted to comment ages ago on this but was reading it offline and couldn’t. Anyway, I share your passion for getting writing built up block by block through blogs in English language (and foreign languages for that matter). I’m also as frustrated as you that more East Lothian English teachers are not seeing the light here and taking the initiative, but part of that may be fear of the unknown.
    I’ll be making some phone calls and visits to see what we can arrange as soon as possible. I kind of know what the answer is going to be at the moment (“it’s not a good time of year”) but I wonder if we’ll ever escape that vicious circle of negativity unless we bash it to bits 😉

    I’ll keep you posted on my blog with any developments there.

  8. Hi – just found you through your comment on blethers! I wish I’d been blogging while I was still in the classroom – but only began myself the year I quit. I can see soooooo many possibilities!

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