I'm rather overwhelmed. I've just finished my workshop, and the room was jammed with 64 people, sitting on the floor and standing in doorways. I was rather amazed to look up from organising my computer to see so many! I asked them if they knew they were actually there to see a presentation on grammar. Anyway, they were enthusiastic, engaged and receptive, so I think the Shoebox message was well received. One lady came up afterwards and said she and others wanted to bring me back to run a weekend Shoebox PD, which would be wonderful.
After the workshop, as I was waiting in the rain for my taxi, Cassandra (one of the teachers who came) pulled up and offered me a lift into the city to save on taxi fare, so I enjoyed a great chat with her about methdology, teacher training and different teaching styles. Thanks Cassandra!
I'm at the airport, waiting for my plane and thinking I could handle this conference gig.
I'm here in Brisbane! It's ridiculously humid, and the locals agree, so after my 1.6km walk from my motel to the University of Queensland, my shirt was seriously wet. (Air-conditioning is a wonderful invention.) The skies were grey, the air hot and still and the storms approaching. I envy the locals for the beautiful locale of UQ, right on the river and with some lovely scenery.
At the PD, I met some great teachers, mainly from Brisbane but others from further north and some from Sydney as well. At the introduction, I was surprised and pleased to learn that international education is the fourth largest export industry in Australia! (after iron ore, coal and natural gas.) What's even better is that our industry is eternally renewable, non-polluting and much more fun!
Flights are booked, hotel is confirmed and I'm off to Brisbane on Friday evening for rather a whirlwind tour. Depart Friday evening, arrive midnight, up at 8, conference starts at 9, give my presentation at 2, finish at 3.30, and fly out at 5.30. Back in Perth at 9pm. And then to sleep. The handout that will go to delegates is below for your download.
I finished the third and final session of their workshop today and I must say that I was sad to do so. We tackled the application of Shoebox principles and structures to student writing, one of my favourite subjects since I loved writing so much in primary school, and I was thrilled to see the way that the staff engaged with the content, practised it (with reference to unicorns, nuns, the smell of Venetian canals and running through New Zealand!) and discussed how they would use it in their classrooms.
To Kevin, the principal, and the Collier staff, bravissimo! I applaud you and wish you every success.
I met with the delightful staff at Aranmore Catholic Primary today for the second of their Shoebox workshops and was delighted to see how much they had remembered and how keen they were to apply their new knowledge in class. Tomorrow, I'm meeting with some app developers in Subiaco to talk through my ideas for the first of the Shoebox apps (oh, there are going to be a whole family of them for both primary and ESL students)
This semester at UWA, I got to do a subject I had been looking forward to for some time: Old English. It might not sound exciting, but this was the language of Beowulf, Tolkien, Middle Earth and a great deal of legend, history and exciting stuff. Theoden, the King of Rohan in Tolkien's epic, is simply an Old English word for lord, prince, ruler or king, so Tolkien quite deliberately wove Old English language, culture, myth and story into his classic.
Tolkien used to gather with his cronies and read Old English texts fluently, debating words and interpretations. There is a story that he used to open his lectures with the word Hwaet! the first word of Beowulf, and one that his puzzled undergraduates thought was their famous professor telling them to be Quiet.
For me, though, it is not so easy. There are declensions, genders, cases and various subjunctives, indicatives, partitives and various other ives to learn, although sometimes there are delightful little links between our modern English and its ancient ancestor. More later.
We started the first workshop of this, the second Shoebox Course for 2015 and it was wonderful to have it in my house instead of the George Burnett Leisure Centre, where it is normally held. Because the group was so small, it was easier that way, so we rigged up a whiteboard on a chair and started.
It doesn't matter where, we run a workshop, though, as the principles of grammar still evoke the same 'Aha!' moments in participants. Through all the new information, there is a sense that everything is simpler than we thought, not more difficult. Traditional grammar teaching forced us to look through dim, scratched lenses. Shoebox wipes those lenses clean so that we see clearly.