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Issue No.4 - The Forest Inside Yourself

Real Education consists in drawing the best out of yourself.
What better book can there be than the book of humanity.
  - M.K. Gandhi


Bringing the Outside In
An Innovative Teacher

Essential Learnings: Communicating
Being Arts Literate

Using Colour as a Starting Point

Learn to Loaf
Developing Creativity

Telltale Signs of a Culture

Let's Speak Latin
Learning Scientific Terms

Collections and Nouns
A Bevy of Bevs

Welcome to the fourth edition of The Creative Teaching Space.

I am continuing to put faith in the development of a ‘Community of Practice’ – the buzz word at the moment – and am very pleased with the positive feedback from teachers. It is really great networking with teachers across a range of countries – recent subscriptions coming from Israel, New Zealand and mainland Australia. I look forward to even more contributions and opportunities to work face to face with teachers and schools.

This magazine is continuing to talk about teaching from a practical and creative perspective. There are no banners on this site and no hidden agendas e.g. selling your names to educational supplier lists. I should know. The more I post this site on educational listings the greater the Spam! Thanks to the "Block Sender" button.

I am open about wanting to conduct ‘face to face’ staff development. This could be in Tasmania, mainland Australia or in other countries. It is highly stimulating to meet and work with a variety of teachers. This magazine builds upon knowledge gathered in staff development sessions. I hear about what teachers are doing and feed it into the magazine. Teachers can continue to feel connected through the magazine even if we have met only once in a workshop.

Let’s continue to build ideas, strategies and practical examples that can be used and adapted in teaching. Let’s continue to talk about the how of teaching and how we can learn from each other. If we work in areas as diverse as primary, secondary, tertiary or industry let’s see this as a unique opportunity to talk – beyond the strategic plans, our own subject areas, and well away from the jargon that can so often define yet also distance.

We can share teaching practice and strategies. Above all we can reinvigorate possibilities for learning. We can watch our students grow as well as ourselves. It is great to see students develop new understandings. It is also great to participate in unlocking student learning. Teaching is a very human endeavour and let’s not forget this.

If you have ever been in a very stimulating classroom or training environment then you will realise the potential of ‘face to face’ learning. You will know that e-learning and book learning can be complementary. You will also know the value in a smile and a laugh(s) and how much these add to what we do.

Bringing the Outside In

Andrew Lo is an inspirational teacher who knows that learning is not bound by competencies, intellectual and physical walls. Here is a lovely tribute sent in by Geoffrey Waugh of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

On entering the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, one is immediately confronted by a stunning brush and ink painted landscape of eight giant panels. The tempo and rhythm of this striking painting identifies it instantly as Australian, and yet the flavour is decidedly Chinese. The title of the painting is "The Last Forest and The Lost Forest." The artist is Andrew Lo: economist, writer, philosopher, teacher, environmentalist and painter.

I taught economics with Andrew Lo for thirty years at the University of New South Wales. Andrew was, and is, an extraordinary teacher who is able to convey the message that spiritual development and knowledge of the environment must take precedence over all. You cannot paint the forest you observe (he would say), but you must internalise that forest, and paint the forest inside yourself: you must become one with nature. Nor can you understand the mechanisms of the economy unless you have internalised the natural environment that drives the economy. One should never romanticise trees and landscapes; they cannot exist alone, but only exist as part of the whole. There is a natural, all-pervasive, tempo and rhythm, a harmony, that holds the natural environment together in an integral, ecological balance: break that connection and you destroy the life sustaining forces that drive our total wellbeing. If you ask Andrew who taught him he will tell you: "the Australian bush".

And yet this same philosophy pervades all of Andrew’s teachings, and paintings, and environmental investigations. Andrew has himself discovered many new species of fauna in his explorations of the Australian outback and the Australian bush. Some of these species are named after him. Indeed Andrew’s excursions with his economics students are enchanting, and they explore together, teacher and class, the creeks and forests, the frogs and the birds of the Wattagan Forest or Manly Dam’s pristine catchment. Andrew would have his economics students clambering over rocks and creek beds into the heartland of a nature reserve. He would show them an ancient species of fish, and would catch a sample to show how it could use its fins to climb past waterfalls and up cliffs. A climbing galaxia (he would explain), a species that had been landlocked for hundreds of thousands of years and whose evolutionary history stretches back to Gondwana land itself. Back in the city, his students would proceed to revolutionise sustainable development in the Manly Tourist Resort, and set Best Practice benchmarks in other areas.

Andrew’s students will all remember his extraordinary teaching. They have learned that there was a unifying force that holds the economy and the environment in place. They have learned humans must exist in harmony with nature. Andrew left the University some five years ago to take up his now full time job, and his first love, as an environmental artist. Andrew’s students themselves are now in many parts of the world: in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Europe, America, Hong Kong, the south Pacific islands. His students now work in many different fields: economics, accounting, finance, marketing, geography, science, or politics. None will have forgotten the lessons of the harmony of humans, the economy, and nature.

Andrew’s paintings, also, can be found in many continents and countries, in many galleries, and in many private collections. As I explored "The Last Forest and The Lost Forest" at the University of New South Wales, I was reminded that Andrew Lo, through his paintings, is still reaching out to all, past and present students alike, and reminding us all of this harmony and oneness with nature.

Thanks Andrew, thanks Geoffrey.

Essential Learnings: Communicating -
Being Arts Literate

Tasmania has a relatively new curriculum initiative called Essential Learnings. It is a framework moving into schools and underpinning the entire school curriculum. Like a range of curriculum initiatives, whether it is those in International Schools or Vocational Education and Training, the guidelines prepare a framework that teachers can use to shape and assess learning.

Instead of being seen as a ‘defining of learning’ this initiative can inform us of new directions as well as redefine what we already do.

There are five streams in the Essential Learnings framework: Thinking, Communicating, Personal Futures, Social Responsibility and World Futures.

The following practical strategies are useful activities within the stream called Communicating.

The examples that we cover are useful for teachers within and beyond Tasmania!

Within the five Foundations for the Essential Learnings are:

1  Inquiry
2  Reflective Thinking

3  Being Literate
4  Being Numerate
5  Being Information Literate
6  Being Arts Literate

7  Building and maintaining identity and relationships
8  Maintaining wellbeing
9  Being Ethical
10  Creating and pursuing goals

11  Building social capital
12  Valuing diversity
13  Acting democratically
14  Understanding the past and creating preferred futures

15  Investigating the natural and constructed world
16  Understanding systems
17  Designing and evaluating technological solutions
18  Creating sustainable futures

Included in the Communicating section is the key element of Being Arts Literate. This edition of The Creative Teaching Space will explore creative strategies that teachers can use to support this element. Future editions will cover the other 17 key elements.

As with all the key elements, students move from a basic understanding of the forms of the area to a more sophisticated understanding that these forms can operate for varying contexts and audiences.

In plain English this means that once a student has been introduced to e.g. the basics in film, such as editing and framing, that he or she grows to understand that film comes in a variety of forms – genres and styles – and has a variety of audiences as well as cultural and historical meanings. Of course with deeper awareness the student sees film in terms of its social and ideological influences rather than just being a visual language.

Let’s look at a variety of strategies that can assist students to move from an awareness of form, and an everyday relationship to the arts, into a deeper appreciation of its style and influences on society.

Let‘s get practical!


Being Arts Literate

Performance Guidelines: Arts literate students use and respond to the symbol systems of media, dance, visual arts, drama, literature and music to express, represent, communicate and reflect on experience. This involves:

Understanding how the different arts forms and media are used to express and communicate particular meanings.

Understanding that arts works are intentional and that personal meanings can be derived from them, shared and moderated with others.

Understanding how the codes and conventions of at least one art form work, and being able to express ideas and feelings through it.

Understanding the role of the arts in reflecting, challenging and shaping the values and understandings of a society.

Here is a list of the standards with practical suggestions on how to develop these skills.

(Standard One)

Understands that there are different arts forms through which enjoyment is gained and meanings expressed and derived.

artful Andrew McLeod

Let your students identify the many art forms there are in society.

First of all ask the questions, "What is art? What do we mean by this term?"

Let students explore and list art forms that we come across. This could be very interesting as it also opens value judgments. Imagine that a student mentions billboards or comics or cartoons. Are these works of art? List and explore what we mean by the term ‘art’.

Students may like to work in groups and report back on the ‘art forms’ that they find. Type in the word ‘art’ on the Internet. Look up ‘art’ in the dictionary. Explore how we use the word in everyday life. Students could also keep a diary in which they explore any references to art that they come across in the course of the week – ‘the football team showed great art,’ ‘arty farty’. These references can be discussed. They reveal the values that we place on art and are an introduction to more detailed understandings of art that come in later standards.

Once a list of art forms has been built explore how we respond to them. Students can list their experiences of varying art forms."Who has seen a sculpture? What did you think of it?" "Who has been shocked by an art form?" Emphasise the word – feel – this connects students to the everyday felt perspective of arts. The thinking responses can be introduced in later analyses.

Invite students to tell personal stories on how they have responded to art forms. Students may like to present a show and tell – ‘my favourite book’, ‘a photo that I like’. Students can find photos or paintings in books, or on the web, and photocopy and print them out to place on posters. Or you can place posters around the room and invite students to write down – ‘my favourite book, film, painting, photo’, etc. Enable students to walk around and to see the responses and ask questions. What similarities and differences can be found? Everyone likes Harry Potter. Why is there little reference to classical music?

I can remember a diary entry at high school where I tore into classical music and said how boring it was. It was read by my mother and she challenged it. Of course now I am even more aware of the extraordinary works of classical music around although I dislike the elitism that can surround it. This may in fact be why students respond to art forms such as music in certain ways – peer group pressure, marketing, etc.

This is a good introduction to Standard Three where students can become even more aware of audiences and contexts. The greater one connects with the everyday the closer one gets to the next standard.

(Standard Two)

Understands how the basic elements of arts forms are used to communicate meanings in everyday life.


Students could make a list of art forms encountered in everyday life. These could be presented as a story or travelogue: Sarah is walking home past the park, where she pauses to look at a sculptured fountain. She is listening to her CD Walkman playing Kylie Minogue’s new CD when she spots a billboard.

Students could add to their diary – art forms seen during the week? Where? When?

Ask students to choose an art form, or the specific form being studied, e.g. the text, and ask them to identify what is it that makes up an art form. Obviously there are words within a text yet there is also arrangement. Look at photocopied sections of the text. What words are being used? Look at the use of words in the ‘Harry Potter’ books. Make a list of the sentences and the moments that work in a novel.

Let students find the forms and then explore e.g. What is dialogue? What is narration? What is descriptive language?

Let students identify what goes into making the art form work – words, colour, framing, sound, shape, movement, etc. Students can identify the elements and you as the teacher can support the understanding with the technical terms. Students may even like to present posters on basic style – descriptive sentences, funny sentences, action, etc.

…. when students are given lots of background content before they actively engage in concepts, they develop passivity and resistance. There are excellent reasons for introducing students to content at the higher category levels (identification, understanding, synthesis, creative application), where creativity and application help awaken their interest in the facts, terms, key concepts, and historical figures that define the subject. (Pp 67)

When we introduce new material, we should tie it to the students’ frame of reference. Fads, TV programs, and teenage life are apt vehicles for students’ to translate core content material into their own idioms and experiences and then, with our help, to transpose their ideas and opinions back again to the course curriculum. (Pp 127)

- Robert L Fried, The Passionate Teacher: A practical guide (Beacon Press Boston, 1995)

You can even get a student, or a group of students, to introduce them to the group as a specific form – "Hello, today we will be meeting Mr. Editing. He plays an important part in film. How are you? / Tired I’ve been used to death in a lot of adverts recently and I’m sick of it. All the time in trailers at the cinema. Backwards and forwards. Dozens of times a minute. I can’t wait for the long scenes in movies. It gives me a chance to rest … and you know, sometimes people don’t even recognize me."

Students can develop a movement piece. What is dance? What do we think of when we hear the word dance? In groups students develop a simple choreographed dance piece by building from everyday movements. Explore body language and common gestures. Exaggerate and repeat these to build a simple dance piece.

A fun activity that demonstrates the ease by which words can become art is to transcribe a recorded dialogue, or take a series of sentences from a discussion or text, and to list them on the board. Explore how the everyday can slowly become poetry. Below is an example of an instruction manual and how by removing prepositions and conjunctions, and with a bit of arranging, it can be made to look like poetry. You can use information from the ingredients on a cereal packet or safety instructions around the room.

Here we see a connection between the everyday and art – the art in the everyday. This shows not only the simplicity in some art but also how the everyday can inspire art forms. One only has to change one's relationship to the material, juggle it and direct it in a different way. This is a great way to de-mythologise the magic so often associated with art as well as introducing students to the value in different purposes, audiences and contexts.

Barco Operating instructions – Proper Instruction manual

Make sure that the 'soft key' portable controller is to hand. It is probably on the speakers podium. (if not contact D. Howie on 50 4498) Switch on the P.C. (beside room D.03). If windows does not start up automatically then follow the instruction on the screen. Ensure the sun workstation is switched on. Log into the machine you wish to use. Switch on the Barco – The switch is located in the first shelf of the lectern (where the video sits) on the right hand side. (normally, the Barco will already have been warmed up) Using the 'soft key' portable controller press the menu button until main menu is displayed in the information window then select PC2. The Barco will now project the image on the pc screen onto the wall screen. The Barco takes 20 minutes to warm up before it can be used. If the Barco is not to be used immediately, then select Picture Mute on the 'soft key' portable controller unit which removes the projected image from the wall screen.   Select picture mute once more and the image is again projected. To switch Barco off – use the same switch as described in note 3, switch off the PC and leave the 'soft key' control unit safely on the lectern.

Becomes the………

Barco Poem

Make sure
It is
probably on the speakers podium.
If not
Ensure the sun.
The switch is located

The Barco will now project the image
Using the 'soft key'
Ensure the sun
the image is again projected
beside room D.03.

Darron Davies

(Standard Three)

Understands the ways in which arts forms communicate for different purposes, audiences and contexts.

Consider looking at the meaning of objects in the ready-made art pieces, paintings or collages of Marcel Duchamp, Rene Magritte or Andy Warhol. Here we see everyday objects transformed by context – their placement in a gallery and their use by the artist.

Rene Magritte admits "This is not a pipe". Of course – it is a painting of a pipe.

Marcel Duchamp takes a urinal and a bike wheel. He places them within an art gallery. They are now considered art.

Andy Warhol paints soup cans. Rows of them. What is he saying about the meaning and focus of an artwork?

Artists like Sir Eduardo Paolozzi have taken words and images from many sources and arranged them as collages. Can your students do the same? What does this tell us about art forms?

Look at the range of film reviews linked to the Internet Movie Database. Students can compare the different reviews. Why do people see films in different ways? Compare a feminist critique with a glossy star driven review.

Take a nursery rhyme and transform it from a childrens’ tale into an adult morality tale. So The Froggy Went A Courtin’? Was he having marital problems? Interview him. Let students become counselors.

It is well documented in the work of Dorothy Heathcote that by putting students into the role of experts – Mantle of the Expert – we stretch the skills of students. The mask of the role allows great space to move as the student isn’t necessarily tied to his or her self-consciousness.

Little Miss Muffet is in therapy because of her arachnophobia. Little Jack Horner has contravened food practices. Interview him.

Change the context of nursery rhymes.


Mary had a little lamb
Its fleece was white as snow
And everywhere that Mary went
That lamb was sure to go.

But Mary found the cost of meat
It sure didn’t please her
Tonight she’s having leg of lamb
The rest is in the freezer.

(Mad magazine)

Take a childrens’ story and turn it into an adult drama. Take an adult drama and turn it into a childrens’ book. How does the language and style have to change. What does the process of translating to a different audience tell us?

This little piggy went to market – trendy vegetarian – organic buyer.
This little piggy stayed home – agoraphobia.
This little piggy had roast beef – not a vegetarian.
And this little piggy had none – vegetarian / diet.
And this little piggy went ‘wee wee wee’ all the way home – bladder infection.

See if you can find a variety of art forms that represent a particular theme. The theme may be conflict between people – can your students find a: play, poem, short story, photograph, painting, sculpture, piece of music, film, dance piece, etc.? Compare them.

Explore how Shakespeare has been set for varying audiences: ‘Forbidden Planet’ – science Fiction, Musicals – Romeo and Juliet – Westside Story, Shakespeare Made Easy, cartoons, etc.

Look at the books of Shaun Tan – the Australian illustrator and writer. Explore how his texts can be seen as childrens’ books yet also as adult texts. Explore the double meanings within television shows like ‘The Simpsons’ where the meanings are meant for differing viewers.

(Standard Four)

Understands how to construct and deconstruct arts works designed with particular intentions.

Create an artwork – e.g. painting – yet also record in a diary, or through an interview, the choices you made. Read the diaries of artists or writers that document processes. Look at drafts of manuscripts – Walt Whitman’s.

Discuss one’s own drafting process when writing.

"Seeing is believing." Original Draft – "Touching is absolutely marvellous."

"Blood is thicker then water." Original Draft "It's hard to wash blood off a stone."

What is deconstruction? Look at the ways in which we can analyse art forms. Take a story e.g. Enid Blyton and explore what the story is saying about the role of children and parents.

One of the first targets of the PC brigade was Golliwog, one of Toyland's best-known characters – the black-faced doll with the sticking-out hair and the wide, staring eyes. He came to be seen as a demeaning racial stereotype. David Rudd, from Bolton University in the UK, has done a PhD on Enid Blyton, and collated interviews with 500 children from different sorts of backgrounds. He says that Blyton was more a product of her times than racist and after reading all her books, he discovered in any case that "there are a lot more bad teddy bears in her books than golliwogs if truth be known."

Blyton's most successful series was The Famous Five, which featured Julian and Dick, their sister Anne and their cousin George (actually Georgina who wanted to be a boy) and her dog Timmy. In an age when opening a door for a woman could cause offence, feminists took umbrage with the fact that Anne was always the one doing the washing up and making a "cosy little home" for the group while the others were out having adventures. Again, David Rudd refutes the charges on Blyton's behalf. "Anne is necessary because she was the stereotypical girl against whom George was reacting. We need that contrast or her [George's] feisty behaviour doesn't stand out." And many women who were girls reading the Famous Five 20 years ago, have called George their first feminist role model.

Perhaps the strangest of the charges to be hurled at Enid Blyton was that her books contained homoerotic scenes, which were unsuitable for children. The "proof", according to some critics, lay in the fact that Big Ears (a large-eared gnome with a grey beard) was such close friends with Noddy – the effemininate, young nodding hero of Toyland. Sinister meanings were also read into the fact that Noddy paid for his milk by letting Milkman tap him on his little nodding head. Some over-vigilant critics called that a masturbatory allusion. To make matters even worse, for a few extra taps, Milkman gave Noddy some extra cream.

Analyse a piece of art in depth. What was Picasso trying to say when he painted Guernica? Explore the multiple meanings and codes in Picasso’s works.

Look at the changes in modern art from realism to abstraction. Look at Photorealist paintings, like the work of Richard Estes.

What are they trying to tell us about the world, particularly how we view it?

Listen to a CD of world music. How does music differ across the globe? What does this tell us about our musical ears? Compare paintings from different cultures.

What language do we use when we talk about art forms? List adjectives used in film or book reviews. Look at the language of wine tasting. Introduce students to metaphoric language and how it creates new perspectives in how one analyses. Explore the language in advertising.

To say that Omo cleans in depth is to assume that linen is deep, which no one had previously thought, and this unquestionably results in exalting it, by establishing it as an object favourable to those obscure tendencies to enfold and caress which are found in every human body.

- Roland Barthes, "Soap Powders and Detergents," Mythologies.

(Standard Five)

Understands the sophisticated ways in which the art form most suited to their expressive needs may be used to reflect, challenge and shape values and understanding of a society.

Explore how art works affect society. What films have changed public opinion? How does television shape our views of the world? What is the importance of investigative journalism? What is propaganda?

Explore songs that may have had an influence on society. Protest songs - The Death of Emmett Till explores a tragic case in American race relations as documented by Bob Dylan.

Woody Guthrie documented many current events, in his time, through folk songs. Here he explores the reality of the death of refugees in a plane crash and how the media and politicians used language – "deportees" – to dismiss humanity.


Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees"

Woody Guthrie

Not all Protest songs are literal. The famous song "Strange Fruit" used metaphor to bring home the truth of the lynching of American Negroes. Can metaphor be more powerful than the use of literal words?

While many people assume that the song "Strange Fruit" was written by Holiday herself, it actually began as a poem by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher and union activist from the Bronx who later set it to music. Disturbed by a photograph of a lynching, the teacher wrote the stark verse and brooding melody under the pseudonym Lewis Allan in the late 1930s.

Strange Fruit PBS TV Documentary


Strange Fruit

Lyrics by: Lewis Allan
Originally sung by: Billie Holiday

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter cry.

Explore the influence of the art works of Tracey Emin. This controversial British artist is profoundly honest in portraying her life experiences.

Explore shock advertising. Oliviero Toscani produced some very innovative and controversial adverts for the Benetton company.

When is an artist not an artist? Leni Riefenstahl produced extraordinarily innovative documentaries during the Nazi era. Many of the techniques she used as in Olympia, the film documenting the 1936 Berlin Olympic games, have shaped the way the media looks at sport. Is her role as an artist compromised by her position within the regime? And she is still alive!

Andres Serrano confronted the arts community and the church with his depiction of an image of Christ within a container of urine. What responsibility does art have within a culture?

Bodyworks is a very confronting art exhibition. Real cadavers are preserved and presented as works of art. When does art go too far?

Explore censorship. National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). Here is a website covering films that have been censored within Australia: "The chopping list: banned & censored movies in Australia".

Can films change a society? The Belgium film called Rosetta about a displaced and unemployed teenage girl brought about a reform in Belgium employment laws. It is named after the film - the Rosetta Plan.

Explore Literary Hoaxes. Here are some famous ones within Australia. Who defines what is art and what is good? Can the critics be wrong? Look at the Ern Malley affair in which a fake poet and his work was created. Does the poetry still have artistic merit?

Can books and films change a society? What effects have the ‘Harry Potter’ books or ‘Lord of the Rings’ had on society? What do they tell us about readers?

The New Zealand film Whale Rider about Maori legend has had a deep impact in that country. The French film Amelie is an extremely successful foreign language film. Did its playfulness come at the right time after a lot of trauma across the globe? Are films a reflection of reality, an audience, or a means of escape?

Can books shape cultures? Or do they only shape artworks? The William Gibson book Neuromancer has created a view of cyberspace and Science Fiction picked up by films such as The Matrix.

Explore the ways in which artists deconstruct the meaning of art – Bertolt Brecht the German playwright, Jean-Luc Godard the French filmmaker.

Project Gutenburg has many classic online texts worth exploring.

Download Tom Waits' "Another Mans Vine". Here’s a man who constructs and then deconstructs melody. Why? Does it work?

George Orwell's text 1984 and subsequent film adaptations not only exposed us to the concept and name Big Brother, it also contributed to the idea of the television show. It created a sense within our culture of being watched. What other art forms have created a change of awareness within a culture? Consider Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, religious texts, Mein Kampf by Hitler, the works of Dickens, Shakespeare or Balzac. Jules Verne first influenced the way we look at the future. Of course am I only speaking of the western world? Is there elitism in art?

Shakespeare has given us many uses for words that continue in the English speaking world: accommodation, assassination, countless, dwindle, dislocate, fancy–free, lack lustre, laughable, premeditated, submerged. (Source: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of English Language, David Crystal.)

Tools are rich in meaning. Like any other texts they can be "read": careful deconstruction can reveal layers of meaning in their production and use. The making and using of technologies are ritualised and carry significance. Freud may have been right that a cigar is only a good smoke, but he would certainly have been wrong if he had tried to claim that an automobile is merely a form of transport.

- Carroll Pursell, White Heat: People and Technology BBC Books – Based on BBC TV series.

These strategies and techniques are just the tip of the iceberg. Many more can be explored via Focus Groups or Workshops. Just get back to me!

And remember that you can also kill two birds with one stone – sorry to our friends at animal liberation – but we can cover a range of standards in one unit of work. Just be creative. Be holistic. I have never found 'that book' that we have to follow. Experiment. And good luck.


Here is an interesting strategy from Diana Hodgetts here in Tasmania:

I find it very useful for enforcing the memory of signs for colour and
everyday vocabulary –
one of the interesting ways to encourage the students to learn. My name is Diana Hodgetts and I teach Beginners Auslan Course at Adult Education and enjoy the challenge of teaching as a Deaf tutor and building good rapport between the students and myself throughout the course… with lots of patience from both parties… cooperating teamwork.


When I am born I am black.
When I am old I am black.
When I am sick I am black.
When I am cold I am black.
When I am in the sun I am black.
When I die I am black.
When you are born You are pink.
When you are old You are white.
When you are sick You are green.
When you are cold You are blue.
When you are in the sun You are red.
When you die You are purple.
And YOU have the cheek to call ME coloured????

(Source Unknown)

Is it spelt ‘colour’ or ‘color’? Why the differences?

Listen to classical music. What colours does it evoke? How would a red dance compare to a blue dance?

Explore the meanings of colour.

Explore how colour can be used to great effect within poetry.

Fern Hill

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

Dylan Thomas

The Red Wheelbarrow


so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

William Carlos Williams

Imagine interviewing colour within a work of art. "Hello red, how are you? Can you tell us why you are there?"

Colour Poems

How can colours represent codes? Consider traffic and road signals.

How is colour used in sport?

Encourage young people to walk around the room and touch certain colours. List the many colours one finds within a school or workplace.

Physically represent the ways colour break up through a prism or are set in a rainbow. Create a movement or dance piece to show this.

What Nicknames do we use with colour in them? E.g. a red haired fellow called "Blue."

The Wisdom and Wit of Nicknames

There was a particular cricketer called "Pothole", see, because everyone tried to avoid him – while a similarly unpopular footballer was known as "Showbags", as he was so full of crap. Up in Gosford, a soccer striker by the name of Mark Green is called "Jigsaw" because he went through a spell where "every time he got in the box he fell to pieces". A Sydney jockey from the 1970s is still known as "Autumn Leaves" as he seemed to be always falling to the ground, and a rugby coach in Perth, who was perpetually stoned on dope, was known by his players as the "Silver Surfer . . ." because he was "always out there". (Not a great coach, but apparently they had some amazing training sessions.) In Sydney, a rugby coach is known as "Sunset" because he always talked about "at the end of the day".

- Peter FitzSimons, Sydney Morning Herald, May 24, 2003.

Explore colour blindness or colour pigmentation in skin – possible discussions on racism.

Explore the use of colour in film: Schindler’s List or Far From Heaven.

Girl in the red dress

Perhaps the most moving image in Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List is the little girl in the red coat, the only colour image in the three-hour black and white film. However, most people do not know that this image is based upon a true story, a story told at the trial of Adolf Eichmann.

Assistant Prosecutor (now Supreme Court Judge) Gavriel Bach tells this story from the trial. When asked if there was any one moment in the trial that affected him more than any other, this is the moment he describes.

Bach was questioning Dr. Martin Foldi, a survivor of Auschwitz, about the selection process at the train station in the shadows of the famous "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign at Auschwitz. Foldi described how he and a son went to the right while a daughter and his wife went to the left. His little daughter wore the red coat. When an SS officer sent the son to join the mother and daughter, Foldi describes his panic. How would the boy, only twelve, find them among the thousands of people there? But then he realized the red coat would be like a signpost for the boy to find his mother and sister.

He then ends his testimony with the chilling phrase, "I never saw them again."

While telling the story, thirty-five years after it happened, Judge Bach wells up with emotion. As Dr. Foldi retold the incident, Bach became frozen and unable to continue. All he could do was think about his own daughter for whom he had by chance just bought a red coat. He then adds that to this day he can be at the theater or a restaurant and he will feel his heart beating faster when he sees a little girl in a red coat.

Over one million children under the age of sixteen died in the Holocaust – she was one of them.

- Trial of Adolf Eichmann: in Holocaust lesson plans Unit: Holocaust Day, May 2000: Adele Raemer - Ma'ale Habsor

How can colour be used as a form of symbolism in childrens’ picture books?

The Red Tree by Shaun Tan

Explore the use of Colour in advertising.

Look at the history of Colour Photography:

Early Colour Photography

The colour photographs of the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information Collection include scenes of rural and small-town life, migrant labour, and the effects of the Great Depression. A significant number of the colour photographs concern the mobilisation effort for World War II and portray aircraft manufacturing, military training, and the nation's railroads. The 1,600 colour photographs produced by the FSA and OWI photographers are less well known and far less extensive than the 164,000 black-and-white photographs in the collection.

Do we tend to see the past in black and white?

History of the names of colours names

Maybe your students can make up their own colours and build them into a catalogue, chart or jazzy advertisement.

Poodle Pink

Gumbi Green

The word blue has had an even more eventful history. It started out, apparently, as the Indo-European root *bhlewos, meaning "yellow", and evolved into the Greek phalos, "white", and hence in Old English to "pale" and "the colour of bruised skin"; we actually re-borrowed the word blue in its modern sense from French.

Learn to Loaf – Developing Creativity

A Tip from Guy Claxton

Learning the art of loafing is absolutely essential for creativity, productivity and peace of mind. It is vital to spend time every day dozing, doodling and goofing off. You should never ignore feeling sleepy: it is literally dangerous habitually to keep on going when your body is telling you to rest. The faster the pace of life, the more you need to make time to meander, drift and do things that have no point or product. Flyfishing with all its busy swishing misses the point. Sitting on the canal bank, mindlessly watching the float, lost in reverie, having totally forgotten the fish – that's the state that feeds the soul. Find your equivalent form of inactivity, cherish it, and give yourself to it as regularly as you can.

- Guy Claxton, excerpt: Seize the Day edited by Nicholas Albery and Stephanie Wienrich, Chatto & Windus, Random House UK Ltd.

Guy Claxton is the author of: Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: Why Intelligence Increases When You Think Less, Fourth Estate, 1997.


Through Graffiti we can hear the voices of dissidents, protestors, jokers, illiterate people, etc. Graffiti is an opportunity for people to express themselves. It is written on walls, in toilets, across advertising signs. Sometimes it is obscene, at other times humorous. Sometimes it is in the form of tags or the names of specific gangs. It can also last a considerable time – a reflection of a time and a place.

I can remember graffiti from my childhood. On a bridge beam near my house someone had referred to the government at the time – Malcolm Fraser the Prime Minister and Lynch a Minister – with the inscription Lynch Fraser. Another famous piece of graffiti was this question and its answer by another person – Peter Hudson was a top goal kicker who played for the Hawthorn Football Club.

Outside a church:

‘What would you do if Jesus came to Hawthorn?
Move Peter Hudson to centre half forward.’

This would let Jesus kick the goals.

Here is an example of graffiti I saw recently in Hobart:

‘If not now then when? If not us then who? If not here then where?’

It has now been removed.

Let your students write down and report on the graffiti that they see. You may have to be clear on its level of coarseness. Explore what people are saying. Why? Where is it written? What does graffiti tell us about our society?

Can your students take a piece of graffiti and explore its meanings and words? Here is a poem by Edwin Morgan that builds from an old inscription in a tunnel.

O pioneers!

(This tunnel was bugn begubnugn in 1880 William Sharp – workman’s inscription on entrance to abandoned channel tunnel at Dover).

Cahannel Tunnel bugn

1880 Sharp Wilgn

Tannel Chunnel begum
8018. Shart Willum

Tennal Chennul gbung.
8081. Shant Willung.

Chennul Tennal bengug.
8108. Shunt Willibug.

Chunnal tennal begbugn.
8801. Slunt Willubugmn.

Chuntenlannel begubnugn.
8810. Blunt wuglbumlugn.

Edwin Morgan 10880 Brigde bugn.

Your students may like to create graffiti that they feel may have been left at a particular place and time. What would a trapped Russian soldier or resident of St Petersburg have written on a wall at the time of the siege – translate it – or write it in the language that you are studying. Explore the story of what causes a person to write graffiti in the first place. Your students could write many fascinating stories or diary accounts that lead to the writing of graffiti. Explore the moment of its writing and its fear – prosecution or even death if written at the time of e.g. the Nazis. What could be the story behind the above tunnel inscription? What other forms of graffiti or inscriptions have been found from ancient times? How are they dated? How do archeologists decipher them? The story of the deciphering of the Rosetta stone is fascinating.

Brunel was the engineer of the failed first Channel Tunnel. Was the above inscription in Edwin Morgan’s poem written by a man who had been trapped? What are the stories of the many men and women who worked on the great technological achievements that we now take for granted?

At two o’clock in the morning of the 17th of October, Kemble, the over ground watchman, came stupefied with fright to tell me that the water was in again. I could not believe him – he asserted that it was up to the shaft when he came. This being something like positive, I ran with my coat as fast as I could, giving a double knock on Gravatt’s door on the way. I saw the men on the top, and heard them calling earnestly to those who they fancied had not had time to escape: nay Miles had already in his zeal thrown a long rope, swinging it about, calling on the unfortunate sufferers to lay hold of it, encouraging those who could not find it to swim to one of the landings.

(The Diary of Isambard Kingdom BrunelIsambard Kingdom Brunel – L.T.C.Rolt Penguin 1989.)

Let's Speak Latin

Latin Dictionary

I was once chatting to a newly graduated teacher and I heard this fascinating strategy. She had been studying zoology and in order to understand the use of Latin in technical names each student was asked to create their own Latin terminology for their personality. This extended into creating Latin names for others. So here is the idea: create Latin names within the group and use this as a starting point to introducing the use of Latin terminology in areas of Science. An alternative to a Latin/English online website is to collect old English/Latin dictionaries from second hand book stores.

Aardvark: Orycteropus afer -"ant bear." (oritteropo)

Collections and Nouns

Below is a list of Collective Nouns. Students could try to match the noun to the collective.

Students may like to form groups. Each group is secretly given a range of nouns and must physically present each category to the rest of the group. The audience can guess from a prepared list, or must guess with no prior information, e.g. the performers show a ‘murder’ and then ‘crows’ or represents ‘a crash’ and then the movement of a ‘rhinoceros’. Like charades this can be a fun and challenging exercise.

You may even like to make up funny collections: a snide of truants, a cynicism of teachers, a PowerPoint of consultants, a suit of Principals, a dope of rock musicians, a turn of rap dancers, a jargon of facilitators, a rupert of teddies, a tomorrow of bureaucrats, a strategic plan of departmental workers, and a bevy of Bevs.

An army of caterpillars
A bale of turtles
A band of men
A barren of mules
A bevy of beauties
A cete of badgers
A charm of finches
A clowder of cats
A clutch of eggs
A colony of ants
A congregation of plovers
A covey of partridges
A cowardice of curs
A crash of rhinoceroses
A cry of players/actors
A deceit of lapwings
A bevy of roebucks
A building of rooks
A business of ferrets
A cast of hawks
A descent of woodpeckers
A dissimulation of birds
A dray of squirrels
A drift of hogs
A bloat of hippopotami
A bouquet of pheasants
A brood of hens
A drove of cattle
A dule of doves
An exaltation of larks
A fall of woodchucks
A gaggle of geese (on land)
A gam of weasles
A gang of elk
A harras of horses
A herd of seals
A host of sparrows
A hover of trout
A husk of hares
A kindle of kittens

A knot of toads
A labour of moles
A leap of leopards
A mob of kangaroos
A paddling of ducks
A parade of elephants
A parliament of owls
A passel of brats
A singular of boars
A skien of geese (airborn)
A skulk of foxes
A slate of candidates
A sloth of bears
A smack of jellyfish
A sounder of swine
A murder of crows
A murmuration of starlings
A mustering of storks
A nest of rabbits
An ostentation of peacocks
A pace of asses
A peep of chickens
A pitying of turtledoves
A plague of locusts
A pod of whales
A pride of lions (or a sawt or a sowse)
A rafter of turkeys
A rag of colts
A richness of martens
A route of wolves
A school of fish
A siege of herons
A shoal of bass
A shrewdness of apes
A swarm of bees
A tidings of magpies
A trip of goats
An unkindness of ravens
A walk of snipe
A watch of nightingales

Darron Davies

© Copyright In Clued - Ed 2009


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