mandag 13. oktober 2014


Ukeplanen for denne uken kan du finne her. 


Vi startet timen med å notere ned dagens spørsmål. Deretter skrev elevene et kort forslag til svar på fem minutter. Deretter repeterte vi begrepet "kontekst". Etter dette hadde vi en lærerstyrt klasseromsdiskusjon der elevene presenterte ulike kontekster der de benytter ulikt språk. Etter dette
gikk vi gjennom skjellsord i vårt dialektområde. Vi kom fram til at majortiteten av elevene bruker og finner religiøse banneord som "faen", "helvete", eller "jævlig" mindre støtende enn seksuelle banneord som "pikk" eller "fitte" (som jeg rødmet da jeg skrev ned på tavle og synes det er vanskelig å skrive her i bloggposten). I tillegg kom det fram at ord som "shit" eller "fuck" også er skjellsord som er ganske mye brukt og som elevene ikke finner svært støtende. Vi diskuterte også hvordan hva som er tabu i et samfunn skifter og avspeiler seg i banneordene.

Etter dette leste elevene side 59-64 i Panorama. De skulle også definere begrepene som er nevt på ukeplanen.

For å avslutte timen hadde vi igjen en klassediskusjon, i tillegg tok jeg opp hvordan læreboka refererer til forskning, men ikke viser til noen kilder. Vi avsluttet timen med å lytte til og lese teksten til "Styggen på ryggen" av OnklP. Som de fleste raptekster finnes det også her element av talemål, i tillegg handler teksten om et aktuelt tema - angst.

På Onsdagen begynte timen med en presentasjon av årets Operasjon Dagsverk. Deretter så vi filmen The girl effekt. På grunnlag av dette hadde vi en klassediskusjon rundt sentrale begreper i uken. Disse begrepene er i hovedsak "kontekst" - altså ikke alle begrepene som sto på lekseplanen. Ut fra dette ble elevene bedt om kort å beskrive a) konteksten rundt filmen og b) hvordan denne påvirker de virkemidlene som ble valgt. Denne korte skriveoppgaven resulterte igjen i en klassediskusjon med oppsummering av elevenes hovedpoeng. Deretter leste vi teksten fra ukeplanen felles i klassen. Sentrale begreper som "dialektutvanning", "ønsket sosial identitet" og "markedsverdi" ble definert i fellesskap. Elevene fulgte deretter ukeplanen og skrev en kort tekst der de på grunnlag av artikkelen drøftet ukens spørsmål og redegjorde for verdivurderingen av eget talemål.

Neste uke skal vi arbeide med argumentasjon. Ukeplanen finner du her.  

tirsdag 19. august 2014

Pulp Fiction, Herland and A Princess of Mars

Pulp Fiction has the connotations of lurid romance, violent action and adventure written in a "cheap way". But still - pulp fiction originally has it's name from the paper it was printed on - it was the cheapest lowest quality paper. Pulp publications started to become popular in the USA right after after the Civil War. Interestingly the publication of Pulp Fiction goes parallel with the production of fast food. Because one is producing with small income margins, one cannot afford to presume that the reader belongs to an elite, that would limit the market. So Pulp Fiction invites the use of stereotypes, the reader does not expect to be assaulted by the writer with new ideas.

Gilman does assault the reader in Herland, a book that after it's first publication is not reprinted for decades. Burroughs' A Princess of Mars is, on the other hand, the first of a line of books that became immenseley popular.  Pulp Fiction thus suggests fast writing, disposable stories, the reader have to come back for more, and the writer indulges them with their stereotypes. Stereotypes where the hero is manly and deadly, where women are weak and need saving and where the hero never questions whom he kills.

Pulp Fiction = Western?
Pulp fiction arises in a USA that is fascinated by the West. The key dramatic structure in the American Western is that there is some civilisation that have some of the values from the cities in the East. These people meet some with are more individualistic and lawless orientation, the Indians, criminals surrounding the town's people - there is an in group and and out group. Then along comes the lone hero, he shares the skills of the out group, but the values of the in group. He solves the conflict - but then becomes the most dangerous man in town. He can then do two things - hang up his guns like Marshall Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, or like the Lone Ranger - he has to leave town. The lone hero must either bcome one with the in group, or he must leave.

John Carter from A Princess of Mars, is a Western Hero, he marries Dejah Thoris and in the end, he leaves. Herland is not a version a Western, and not all pulp fiction is Western. Gilman in fact tries to challenge the stereotypes and is in fact braver because she trusts that her readers will rise above the form of the stereotype.

Plot and power
When characters have conflicts, they deploy means of power, sexual power, political power, social power, knowledge etc. etc. We can therefore say that plots reveal the functioning of power. The plot unveils the power structure. John Carter's activities on Mars are supposed to be morally valuable and Dejah Thoris is admirable. Their marriage tells the reader, that their joint goal is a worthy one. Their marriage underlines the legitimacy of their goals. Terry's goal in Herland, on the other hand - relieving his sexual frustration and dominate women, is not worthy. His marriage to Alima does therefore not project the worthiness of his goal, but as a sign up oppression.

There are no true answers to all our questions - we are making up fantasies. Some fantasies are well argued others less so - but it is how we think and argue that matters.

This blogpost is a summary of a videolecture by Eric Rabkin from Fantasy and Science fiction

mandag 11. august 2014

Fantasy and the Fantastic

The world of the folk tale doesn't not take into account that one might doubt the reality of the narration. Propp says that the morphology of the true folk tale is that we have a single structure and that this structure must be followed. So in the world of the "once upon a time",  we are not surprised when horses talk,  witches fly and people sleep for a hundred years - and then wake up. If on the other hand, the following would occur: "Once upon a time there was a beautiful, golden haired princess and she fell in love with an accountant named James Smith.", we would be very surprised. We would find it fantastic.

When the ground rules of the narrative are reversed in time and or in space, Rabkin states that it creates and psychological affect - and this is the fantastic. If the fantastic is a diametric, a diachronic reversal of a ground rule, we can understand that we can have a given genre, let's say faire tales, made even more fantastic.

The four levels of narration that conserve diachronic information: plot, style, character development and thematic development. Fantasy is taking a story and using the fantastic as exhaustively as possible.

We can speak of a continuum of the fantastic. On one side we have realism. Please remember, Rabkin points out, that realism is not reality. In a work of art, everyone that is said to be there, matters. That is not the case in reality. "It is the centrality of a work of art, that it is the diametric and diachronic opposite of our shared reality. This is why even the most realistic works of art are to some extent fantastic." But even in fantasy, we need to "get used" to the told reality before it can be changed again. If everything changes all the time, we will only experience it as non sense. This means that not only can we see the fantastic at work in all works of art, we can also se the realistic. Rabkin's definition of a fantasy is therefore a work of art that uses the fantastic exhaustively at all the four levels that conserve diametric information.

Poe's stories "The Oval portrait", "The black cat" and "The Tell Tale Heart" are varieties of the genre called horror. Rabkin claims that Poe, for instance in "The great Detective" is more of a fairy tale character than anything else as the reality of the narrative is not questioned. Science fiction is another fantastic genre. Unlike horror that is grounded in realism, science fiction has to have at least one fantastic thing that sets it apart from our world.

The fantastic, Rabkin finishes, is important not only to have our hopes and fears dealt with symbolically, it allows us to see a whole new way of looking at the world as Lewis Carroll did when he nailed Fantasy as a children's book.

This text is a summary of Eric Rabkins lecture Lewis Carroll: Fantasy and the Continuum of the Fantastic

lørdag 9. august 2014

Learning How to Learn

This is a Coursera course offered by UC San Diego. In the first week, the course defines what learning is and introduces us to two ways of thinking - the diffused mode and the focused mode.

In short, learning means changing synapses in your brain. These changes do on all the time, but especially after having learned something new AND having slept, recent images show a growth in new synapses. Sleep is a major factor hear - it is according to Terrence Sejnowski as if you went to bed with one brain and woke up with another.

The metaphor used to describe both is the pinball machine. The neural connections being the pegs. We all now that we learn the best once we can relate something new to something already known. In a focus mode, your brain is following a known pattern. There are short distances between the pegs. In a diffuse mode, your brain is following an unknown pattern. In this pattern there are longer distances between the pegs. When one is learning something new, one has to vary between the two thinking modes. Exceptionally creative minds like Dali and Edison had their techniques of jumping between the two modes.


An issue with learning is procrastination. When we have to do something we don't want to, the pain centre in our brain is activated; we do something else and feel better - temporarily. To address this avoidance strategy, Barbara Oakley introduces to the Pomodoro technique:
  1. Set the alarm to 25 minutes
  2. Make sure there are no interruptions 
  3. Focus 
  4. Reward yourself afterwards

Why is it hard to learn some things and how do you overcome it?

What is it that makes some things, like mathematics, hard to learn? It might have something to do with the fact that it is so abstract. The symbols do not refer directly to anything specific in the world around us. To learn this, we therefore need to build strong neurological patterns through practice. But at the same time, you do not want to practice too much; You want to focus, then take a break before you go back to your problem again. This creates a stronger foundation.


We usually talk about two different types of memory, the long term memory a) the memories that are stored and learned, and b) the working memory is when you are holding ideas a the same combining them to understand a new concept. You often bring the elements of the long term memory into your working memory. Researchers believe that the working memory only holds four chunks at the time. To move something from the short term memory to the long term memory, that is learning it and storing it, it takes time and practice. A way of doing this is spaced repetition. Research has shown that you learn more by doing the same number of repetitions over a longer period of time than by doing all the repetitions at once.


Sleep is very important in our life - it is our brain's way to clean itself of toxins. Sleep is important to our overall health, but it also helps the brain clean up ideas, it also goes over patterns and deepens and strengthens neurological patterns. If you go over what you want to learn before you sleep and want to dream about it, it can consolidate your learning.

Image: Wikipedia
All information is based on the videos from Week 1 of the course. 

fredag 8. august 2014

Fantasy and science fiction. (or MOOCs...again...)

In June this summer I signed up for another Coursera Class, this Fantacy and Science Fiction: The Human mind, Our modern world  offered by The University of Michigan and Eric Rabkin. I signed up for this class because so many of my students are interested in fantasy literature, even though I am not a snob when it comes to literature, I am not very familiar with important works in this genre. I have read the Lord of the RingsNarnia-Chronicles, Harry Potter-series, the first book of  the Twilight saga and lots of Jules Verne, but this doesn't impress anyone. I will discuss the literature in another post. Here I will describe the syllabus, my effort and the peer assessment process and result.  

Following literature courses offered by North American Universities has so far been interesting. The ideas, approaches and texts referred to are often referred to either explicitly or more often implicitly in modern popular culture like movies, TV-shows, art and music. Still they are texts that I am less familiar with having pursued a more Eurocentric education. 

Syllabus, Work expectations and Peer Assessment. 

The course was made up of ten units as the syllabus describes. We were expected to work between 8-12 hours per week on the course. I believe that I probably were in the lower regions of the scale, as I did not have the possibility to dive into all the interesting lectures. Having said that, I have spent at least 3 hours seven of the past nine weeks writing these short essays of 320 words. Let me repeat it: 300 words - 3 hours.

I have written seven of the ten possible texts. The first three were the easiest. The last four have been quite challenging as I felt that my peers expected more from me over the course, as is reasonable. This has demanded that I read the books quite diligently every week. Generally I find that engaging in the discussion forums is an easy way to get into the "vibe" of a MOOC. I have therefore posted five posts and have written eleven comments. This is not a lot, but it is sufficient to get me started on the discussion forums. Reading the posts here provides valuable insight to main ideas and concepts in the course as my co-learners are very diverse both in reading and in scope. 

MOOCS and peer assessment

This is the fifth time I participate in peer assessment, and I find that the peer assessment process this time has been very valuable. There might be several reasons for this. First, the texts we were asked to assess were short, we were also expected to write a comment to justify our grade and to help our fellow student. Second, the criteria we were asked to use were divided into two: form and content. As the text we were asked to read were short, it was easy to see wether there was an argument or not. Grammar and phrases is harder for me being non-native English writer (and slightly sloppy...), but I thought I got it. The second grade was meant to score the content, this seems harder, but once the argument works and is exemplified, I didn't find it that hard. 

As for the validity of the grade, it is hard to say. This paper by Piech et. al. describes models used to calibrate peer assessments, whereas the validity of this is discussed in this article by Hoi Suen from Pennsylvania State University

Personally, the comments that were written were both encouraging, challenging and heart warming. The low grades motivated me, the interesting comments made me work on being constructive in my own comments, and my graders kindness and generosity reminded me of being equally gracious to my gradees. I feel very fortunate to have the time, energy and motivation to finish a course like this. 

So - how did it go?

I believe I passed, and if I did, I am probably among the (on average) less than 10% that finish.  All my essays can be found here along with the comments from my graders and their score. The assignment was the same for every week, and it can only be found in the beginning of the text of The Almond Tree. 
The Almond Tree, Alice in Wonderland, Dracula, The Island of Dr. Moreau, A Princess of Mars and Herland, The Martian Chronicles, The Left Hand of Darkness

fredag 30. mai 2014

Character growth

This blogpost is a brief summary of the lectures for week 4 of the Coursera course Teaching Character and Thinking Positive offered by Relay/GSE.

Levin: If you were to go back to teach now, what would your classroom look like now after all you have learned?
Maymee Hostetter: I think it would look quite similar to what I left, it would be a classroom where academics and character went hand in hand. And that the students knew that both were equally important to me, to the classroom and hopefully to them. She is now more focused on social intelligence both the presenting of ones own idea, but also of appreciating others' ideas. The marshmellows test doesn't work for older students, but leaving the cell phone beside them during the whole session does - and it ca create interesting reflections around this later.
Levin: But this isn't anything new - how did it start? How did we get here?
Hostetter: It starts with Aristotle's Nicomachean ethic. The debate whether schools should be more about academics or more about character is quite recent. For a long times,
Levin: Where did the debate come from?
Hostetter: Some says that it comes from the industrial revolution because people needed new skills. When the Russians sent sputnik into space, some say that was the spark that sent the USA into this search for academic excellence. But we have to be careful and respectful regarding the values that we are teaching.

The character growth card does not track character growth over time, is helps starting conversations on character growth over time. One allows the student to rate themselves, and then the teachers rate the student - this is a starting point for a conversation. Duckworth says that the character growth card is built on the assumption that feed back is good. She divides the character traits into three main groups: 1) How you are managing yourself, 2) How you are managing yourself with respect to others and 3) judgment, state of mind

Growth card conversations.
1) use an asset or strength based approach. Always start with the students strengths.
2) choose on or two areas of growth to focus on.
3) create effective goals and plans for after the conference.

Some fictitious growth cards:

How to teach character? Macro structures.

This blogpost is a brief summary of the lectures for week 3 of the Coursera course Teaching Character and Thinking Positive offered by Relay/GSE.

This weeks focus is macro structure. A macro structure is any intentionally designed system or structure that, explicitly or implicitly, is designed to teach character. Any school is such a structure. We can boost the impact of any macro structure by making the character connection explicit - this is especially successful with elementary or middle school children. To be effective all macro structures need to have the four following elements:
a)  recurring - the structure can happen every day or every ten weeks, but they have to be recurring over a long period of time.
b) Proactively planned - we introduce talk about grit, self control, zest before there is a problem ( a lack of it)
c) A macro structure has to be active - it is not when the teacher preaches from the pulpit
d) The macro structures have to be aligned. The nature of the activity has to be clearly linked to the character strength that is to be worked on.

Co curricular activities can be be helpful ways of working on character strength. It is important to integrate co-curricular activities closely to the academics as places to work on character strengths.

This is a summary of a case study of Macro structure

Dual purpose

A dual purpose lesson is a lesson that is planned to work on both the character strengths and the academics. It can be both explicit, as in writing a letter of admiration, love and appreciation for valentines day (academics: Writing - character strength - love), but it can also be more subdued. We are shown two cases, one a Grade 12 AP History Class, where the teacher is trying to integrate the character strength grit as an equally important driving force in the creation of the American Constitution by the Founding Fathers. In the second part he also actively integrate character building language like Hope into his lessons and draws parallels to student's personal lives.

In the second case. We witness a Grade 5 Arts language class. Through analyzing themselves as characters, they are working on both developing their skill in analyzing literary characters, they are also working on defining the character building language that they need. It is very important to make sure that the students are active. The teachers also make the connection from the Character language session n class to the recess - this makes recess into a character experience that makes recess a macro structure for social intelligence - the characer strenght they were working on.