For the second Saturday in a row I have taken a lazy approach to work and gone out exploring on the Marsh. Today I wandered along the paths of the Military Canal at Winchelsea. It's not as wide and deep here and wouldn't represent too much of a challenge to cross had Napoleon crossed here to invade us. I guess of course in his day the canal here could have been bigger and wider. Following the path here, which eventually leads to Pett Level, it was surprisingly lacking in terms of view. The path was tree and bush lined on one side and had taller ground full of trees on the other. It is the first time that I noticed the lack of scenery anywhere on the marsh although it has to be said that I only covered a two mile stretch of path. For once then it was about looking closer at the things that were around the immediate area I was walking in and it wasn't long before my eyes tuned in to what was nearer.
It wasn't long before the heat of the day beating down on me made me change my mind about walking for too long here. It was intense and there was no shade at all in the middle of the day. I found my attention drawn towards the insects that buzzed around constantly and in particular the damsel and dragon fly that were present in huge numbers. The vibrant blues of the damsels were particularly striking but there were other coloured varieties too that could easily be missed if you didn't look hard. Flowers on the lily pads were in their infancy but delicate pinks contrasted the green of the pads and the murky shades of the water. Buzzards were flying overhead again, soaring effortlessly on the thermals of warm air.
Even though the heat shortened my walk there was plenty to see as always on the marsh but it constantly reminds me of the delicate balance everything is held in and the fact that man can be overzealous in his rush to build and expand places close to home. This beautiful fifth continent, as it is sometimes affectionately known as, is wild, beautiful, and untamed and I for one would like to see it remain like that for future generations.
It's been a couple of days since I blogged because I've been on the road again. Kent monday, Surrey Tuesday, Hampshire Wednesday and East Sussex today, a tiring week without internet after the school visits but that's how it goes sometimes. Today I was at Hersemonceax Primary School for a second visit and I had a great welcome from staff and children alike. Originally I was going to work with small groups of children but that changed and I had the pleasure of the year 4's for the morning and the year 5's for the afternoon. I can't tell you, as a teacher, how good it is to have longer periods to teach a topical lesson from the real world and get a whole different perspective on the process of writing.
I suppose my first task was to give them something to write about and for the year 4's I had chosen the plight of the homeless in the Uk. The children listened well to the problems that cause homelessness and then to the various organisations that have been established to help them. They really empathised with the fact that these poor people weer cold, hungary, suffering from poor health and very unclean. They understood that it would be better to give them food and a hot drink instead of money so that they could be sure what they gave would be meaningful. Then they wrote in a genre of their own choice about what it is like being homeless and how people treat and view them. Their writing was amazing and I was really pleased how maturely they discussed and then wrote about the significant issues.
For the year 5's the topic was far more emotive and we looked at the issue of famine in Africa and how, in some cases, that leads to children becoming child soldiers to get a bowl of rice. What I taught them was reinforced by images from the Internet that were deliberately chosen to get a response from them - and they did. just like the younger class they were able to discuss and deal with highly emotive subjects in a very mature manner and again the writing that followed suit. They too wrote in a genre of their own choice and four girls managed to write and perform some very clever raps. I like the children using this genre. It is a genre of their age, they understand how to construct one, how to keep the story line going and keep it emotive, it is the music of their time and they should embrace it if they can. Again, the class produced some real quality writing and their ideas were imaginative and relevant.
It's great to work with a school more than once and build up a rapport and relationships with staff and children alike. After a super day with them I left feeling as proud of them as they were about their writing. Thanks guys.