Monthly Archives: January 2007

NSW school visitors, welcome back!

Yes, a new school year has just started here in NSW, my 41st since becoming a teacher!

If you go to Workshops you will see that all the workshopped essays have now moved over from Tripod, most to this site, but two to Geocities, because formatting issues prevented their being hosted here. At least on Geocities they tend to appear more quickly than they do on Tripod.

The site has been redesigned for the new year too. I hope you find it useful, and keep coming back as new content is added.

I do take requests, so if there is something you would like me to post about, let me know via comment (provided I haven’t closed it against spam), the guestbook, or email.

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Posted by on January 29, 2007 in site news


Are you here?


Click map to see full size.

That represents the last 100 visits to this site and the personal site. I never cease to be amazed by this technology. (Image from Sitemeter.)

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Posted by on January 24, 2007 in site news


Two newish resources for literary studies

If you check my personal blog under Education you will soon see where I stand on the culture wars. My first reaction, then, to Masters in Pieces by Michael Parker and Fiona Morrison (Cambridge Australia 2006) was “Oh no!” because not only does it support “the canon” but it seems to support it in its least defensible form, an “English canon” — no Tolstoy, no Dante, no Goethe… Or so I thought. In fact, it is a very good book indeed, and politically shrewd, as it will attract the conservatives while delivering more than they expect…

I have been using it for advanced English students in Years 11 and 12.


Last year I also picked up el cheapo Over 4000 Works of Literature from Nodtronics — just $9.95!

Over 4000 Works of Literature is an interactive CD ROM which contains over 4000 complete works by great authors from all over the world including Australia. There are novels, plays, poetry, short stories, sacred texts, essays, the complete King James Bible plus much more.

Also, there are many different screen options such as browsing, increasing screen font size, adding bookmarks, copying and pasting sections of text to your notepad, saving previously read books, printing sections of text or complete novels, and a very powerful search engine. Searching by author, category, or keyword makes Over 4000 Works of Literature a fast and valuable reference guide, or an easy way to enjoy the world’s most loved classics for the cost of one paperback!

The texts are searchable too. It is readable enough, but I still prefer physical books, I must say. But this could keep me up late at night for some time to come.

On Masters in Pieces I commend Life Matters: 23 January 2007 to listen to or download. There you will hear:

1. The Teacher That Inspired Me: Gideon Haigh’s Mr Keary
2. Accelerating Gifted Students
3. Masters in Pieces: The Canon and the English Curriculum
4. Nursery Rhymes
5. Mem Fox.

It is a brilliant episode of this excellent series.

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Posted by on January 24, 2007 in English studies, for teachers, HSC


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Around 500 Education blogs…

…including this one! Some of them have to be good, don’t you think? Browse away on the Blog Explosion education directory:

blog explosion

If you find one that really should be on my blog roll, let me know.

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Posted by on January 23, 2007 in esl for teachers, for teachers, pedagogy



Can you help me with paragraphing?

# Check other entries in the categories “writing” or “student help” and see “English and ESL Help” and “Student Help” on the tabs above.

Paragraphs form the basis of every type of writing. Although the purpose of the paragraph may vary the structure of the paragraph is always the same. Every paragraph should develop and support one main idea, and should lead the reader from one paragraph to the next.

Paragraph Builder is very clear and very good.
The Paragraph. Brought to you by the Purdue University Online Writing Lab.
English Writing Style – Sentence, Paragraph and Essay Writing Skills from About English as a 2nd Language. Lots of links to good things: for example, Discourse Markers – Linking Your Ideas in English. The downside: popups galore.
Paragraph Punch, an interactive paragraph writing tutorial. Requires Flash.
WRITING EFFECTIVE PARAGRAPHS is a clear account from a medical site!

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Posted by on January 22, 2007 in English language, esl for students, questions asked, student help, writing


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A voice you just can’t ignore

You’ll find Ali Alsamail in the NSW HSC All-Rounders List 2004, those with top performances across the board. I remember him as a leader in the school in sport and academia. He is of Iraqi background and arrived in Australia in 1995.

I thought of him again as I was writing a long post on my personal blog during the past twelve hours: Extended comment: On the extreme ugliness of fanatics of all kinds…. The theme there is the way we who are not Muslim conceive Islam, especially given current politics and dominant media representations.

In the course of my research I came across a couple of essays Ali had written more recently. One moved me very deeply, and I would love simply to rip it off here, but I do not have Ali’s permission. The essay is called Prisoner of Golden Chains . It went online, it appears, in November 2006. Here is the merest taste:

One day, I heard that somewhere, far away from here, people were imprisoned, then raped, tortured and dragged around on leashes like animals without any justification. The pictures I saw showed me an evil I had never imagined before. I felt pain and anger, but I knew I could change nothing, so I told the pain to go away, and told the anger to shut up. I told the sense of injustice I felt to be quiet, because that was somewhere else, far away from here — it was what we leave behind before coming here.

The next day, I heard that a group of kids, somewhere far away from here, were stopped at a checkpoint on their way to school. Well-trained soldiers could only communicate with these kids by pointing guns at them, so the kids had to sit on the sidewalk and have their class right there. It made me want to cry, but I told the tears to go back…

The conclusion is superb.

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Posted by on January 20, 2007 in Australian, diversity, equity/welfare, gifted education, multiculturalism, writing


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Good children’s literature site


Visit the site linked to that header*. Judith Ridge, the owner of that site, says:

Hello! Thank you for visiting the Misrule website and for taking the time to find out more about me. I’ve been involved with children’s literature in many capacities; as reader, teacher, arts program co-ordinator, editor, critic, acolyte and advocate!..

I have published reviews and critical articles about children’s literature in journals and publications such as Viewpoint: On Books for Young Adults, Magpies, The Melbourne Age, Australian Book Review, Good Reading Magazine, Australian Bookseller and Publisher and The Horn Book (USA).

I teach a class in writing for children in the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Sydney. I also tutor second year children’s literature at Macquarie University where I am currently working on completing my MA and then, hopefully, my PhD. My tutor is John Stephens and I am writing my thesis on retellings of fairy tales, particularly in YA novels.

You will find much good material here, and if you are a writer Judith also offers a manuscript assessment service for children’s authors.


That link now takes you to the new Misrule site.

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Posted by on January 17, 2007 in Australian, English studies, literature genres, works/authors


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