Bioman 37: Bio Hunter Silva

That was a shock.

I actually find Silva somewhat intimidating. Not as intimidating as a character like, say, Kamen Rider Ouja, but I potentially would find him that scary if I didn’t already know his eventual fate.

The thing is, everything I thought I knew about Silva told me that he was almost like a mindless drone… but he actually has a lot of character, and style. The only thing I don’t really like/get about him is why he would willingly battle Red One in what looked like a gun duel (when he could have just killed the Biomen) and why he just watched them near the end. He’d be far more menacing if he was literally relentless, never resting…

The episode moved so quickly, I nearly jumped when the mid-episode bumper appeared – I thought I was maybe three or four minutes in at that point.

Silva, man, you’ve got style. (And a gun called the Bi-Buster. I love it…!)

Balzion appearing through the smoke in Pebo’s flashback, and even it isn’t as cool as Silva himself.

English/Auslan PL: Strong and weak verbs

This keeps coming back to bite me.

On my final teaching placement, it was decided that we would transcribe texts the children had been reading as part of an author study and they would highlight all the weak verbs they could find. I still don’t really know why they were doing this – it was just a directive.

Okay, thought I, that’s easy enough.

Except it wasn’t, because as we went through the texts… there just weren’t that many weak verbs.

I was confident I understood it correctly. A weak verb (or a regular verb) is a verb in which the vowel does not change when you change it to past tense (or to form the past participle). Generally, you just add a suffix, usually -ed or -t. For example, add is a weak verb, as to make the past tense you add -ed to make added. Dream is a weak verb as to make the past tense you add -t to make dreamt.

By contrast, sing would be a strong verb as to make the past tense you change the vowel (/i/) to (/a/) to make sang.

This befuddled me, and the kids, and after a week of scratching our heads I went back to planning to say I really wasn’t sure what we were meant to do with the students’ performance data. They clearly knew what weak and strong verbs were and were able to articulate that there weren’t many in the texts. Was that the point?

It turns out that what the school meant by strong and weak verbs was something else entirely. To them, jump is a weak verb – leap is a much stronger verb.

Ah, thinked me, that makes sense.

It makes sense, but it isn’t what those terms mean. I thought it was just that school, until last year… my first year of teaching. The same thing came up again. Students had to identify ‘weak’ verbs in their own writing and ‘uplevel’ them to ‘strong’ verbs.

The problem, as my very clever kids pointed out, is that that’s just not how writing works. If they wanted to say a character leaped from a building, they probably would have. He didn’t leap – he jumped. The idea was to make their writing – in this case a narrative – more exciting and engaging, but as they said, it was actually requiring them to change the story and, in some cases, the plot and characterisation.

That was largely my influence. I drill into my kids the importance of choosing language carefully and being as unambiguous as possible. They chose the verbs they chose primarily because they were an accurate way of detailing events – only a handful chose verbs due to a lack of available options.

In fact, we dedicated some time to verbs. My kids would have written leap if they wanted their character to leap.

I tried to make it abstract – what are ‘stronger’ ways of saying ‘jump’? But my kids knew all too well that ‘leap’ is a different action to ‘jump’. Oh well.

The thing is, none of that really applies to Auslan.

In Auslan, ‘jump’ and ‘leap’ would be represented identically, by the sign for JUMP. However, you can make it ‘stronger’ or ‘weaker’ by how you express it. An intense, determined expression on your face would modify the verb to be something more alike in meaning to leap, whereas a neutral or bored expression would indicate a less energetic, more apathetic release of kinetic energy in the legs.

And that’s only one way of modifying a verb in Auslan – you could of course explicitly sign an adverb, for example. PRO2 JUMP KEEN(ly), I guess?

The benefit to teaching this in Auslan is that it encourages children to think about exactly what they want to express, and to express that.

One downside is that it contradicts what they are learning in English – that distinct verbs are modifications of one another, when they simply aren’t (most of the time). That said, if teachers are still using terms like ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ verbs in ways which don’t reflect their technical meaning, then it won’t make much difference.

Another downside is that to add modifiers in Auslan, children need to be able to articulate what they are trying to express. This relies on extensive L1 vocab. I primarily focus on Level 3 and Level 4 within the Victorian Curriculum. At my school, as part of their vocab study, children who still write ‘goed’ rather than ‘went’ are learning words like truculent as new vocab. Complex, uncommon words lead to showing off at the dinner table, not the development of reading and writing skills.

Bioman 35-36: Magne Senshi

I’m torn about what to call Yamamori Shota. Before watching Bioman I knew he would become the “Magne Warrior”, but it is difficult to work out whether that is an appropriate name. In the show, Farrah repeatedly refers to him as the Magne senshi (which is literally Magne warrior or Magne soldier, so Magne Warrior would fit) but it is never clearly a name; in fact, it is clear in the plot that Doctor Man wants Farrah to make an entire army of Magne warriors, so it would be like saying Mechaclone is a proper noun. I think Shota will have to go by his regular name – he’s Yamamori Shota, the Magne senshi.

I had been hyped-up for his arrival ever since I started watching, but Shota was only transformed for a couple of minutes, which seems like a waste of a great suit and great concept – but as the next episode preview clearly indicates the arrival of Bio Hunter Silva and Balzion, I think it is actually just a great set-up, and that it was intentionally a “let-down”. It tells me that if they are willing to discard this amazing concept so readily, what’s coming next must be very, very impressive.

Shota really reminded me of Ikari Gai (GoukaiSilver). Very similar characterisation, very similar performances from the actors. From there, I started thinking about Super Hero Taisen. In that film, GoukaiRed has Bio Hunter Silva – now Rider Hunter Silva, determined to destroy Kamen Riders – fighting Riders. Red One of Bioman tells GoukaiSilver to show Silva what a “real” Silver can do, and with GoukaiSilver’s help, the Goukaigers use OOO’s Rider Keys to transform into OOO’s forms and use a special attack via the GoukaiGalleon Buster.

Having now seen Shota, I think that scene could have worked far, far better with Shota in Red One’s role. It seems like the actor retired from acting a long time ago, though, so that may not have been an option.

Normally I’d love a character who can hold their own against the amazing Farrah Cat, but Shota was utterly obnoxious – a great foil for Yellow Four. While it could have been great to see him added to the upper ranks of Gear for a dozen or so episodes before being ultimately defeated (only being transformed for a few minutes was genuinely disappointing), I’m kind of glad we don’t need to hear his shrieking anymore.

Speaking of transforming, I did love the nice touch of him doing Kamen Rider Nigou’s henshin pose when Farrah put him in the tube to give him his powers…

COVID Tests

Today I had my third COVID-19 test.

The first was back when it all started, via my workplace – we all had to get tested, and it was fine! The bit down the throat wasn’t so fun, but the up-the-nose bit was great; it opened my sinuses up really well.

The second one was a few months later, after I started feeling unwell. They were symptoms I wouldn’t have associated with COVID-19, but I was directed to have a test. As this happened at work, my workplace was really good about quickly documenting everywhere I had been and with whom I had come in contact, just in case. That test was even easier than the first, possibly because I knew what to expect.

Today’s test was different. Literally. I’ve been unwell with a couple of different things recently, but at least some of the symptoms are more in line with what you’d associate with COVID (cold/flu-like symptoms). This time, the test was much simpler – it could have been the cold numbing me up a bit, but it felt like the only lightly touched the sides of my mouth and barely entered my nostrils.

New test, maybe?

I dunno. Isolating until results come in, of course, which is fine… all the better to get over whatever is making me sick, whether it’s COVID or not.

NASA STEM PD

I recently completed three PD sessions run by NASA. They were quite engaging and while often focused on NASA’s resources, there is an overall consideration given to building dispositions in learners and using the Internet / online resources whenever possible.

I’d do more, but they of course run to a US schedule, meaning they often clash with other obligations…

Injury recovery and exercise in April

Last year, I sustained a few pretty serious injuries while working. Most involved my arms (mainly my left arm), but one impacted my back and torso generally (and left me with internal bleeding for an extended period).

Over the next week I’m seeing a variety of doctors and specialists for follow-up on each of these injuries, but aside from the injuries themselves needing to be addressed, one ongoing issue has been an inability to exercise, compounded by COVID-19 restrictions. (I ended up gaining nearly 40kg between September 2020 and January 2021, of which I’ve now lost about 25kg.)

I always like to take a data-based approach to these things, so I’ve crunched some numbers ahead of seeing all the doctors this week.

I’ve split the rest of this post into multiple pages, covering different aspects.

Learning dispositions

This post is split into multiple pages.

Video 01
Video Aftermath
Context
I recently started re-reading the French Asterix albums. Even though I can read French, I have been reading the English translations by Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge. Yes, I can understand the text as written in French, but the real comprehension is lost in translation – the bard being named Panoramix in French means almost nothing to me, but Cacophonix makes sense.

There’s understanding of the language, and understanding of the context and culture in which the text was produced. I can tell you what the characters are saying, but I can’t tell you why they’re saying it – in English, I can, because I’m situated in the same context.

Sort of.

In the Bell / Hockridge translations, intended for British audiences, a lot of foreign-language references are retained. These likely would have made sense to educated readers at the time the texts were first translated – it was fine to leave Latin jokes and puns in, as students in Britain likely would have had to study Latin and would get the gist. They’d also get the historical and geographical references from school.

Oddly, when I first read the books (when I was 10 or 11 years old) I had no trouble getting the jokes, puns and references either. Yes, I did have to study Latin at school – but that only started when I was 16 years old, so that didn’t help. I have some theories about how I knew that Lutetia was Paris, or Lugdunum was Lyon, or that acta est fabula means ‘the story is over’, but however I knew them, I knew them. If questioned, I could explain what the references meant, their function in the text, etc.

This was before the Internet was as ubiquitous as it is today. I was one of the first among my peers to have the Internet at home, and at that stage I did not yet have it. We didn’t even have access at school! I wasn’t googling these things, and I sure wasn’t looking things up in other books.

(OK, fine, I did read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire when I was 10. I also read a lot about Vercingetorix in really, really old books. He doesn’t get a lot of coverage in new texts.)

The thing is, re-reading them now, I have no idea what half the references are. I still get the names – the centurion Surplus Dairprodus’ name is not a complicated joke! – but I forgot what acta est fabula meant. I forgot that Lugdunum was Lyon. Strangely, I still got the joke ‘Why the past tense?’ when a character says ‘visi’ (the prefix in visigoth) instead of the anticipated ‘vici’. How I got that, I don’t know, but it’s a funny joke.

What I have had to do is google things. And that’s the important bit – I am googling them. I’m not ignoring the bits I don’t understand.

This is something incredibly frustrating when teaching Reading. I cannot comprehend how students can just keep reading after not understanding part of a text. Fine, you don’t need to fully understand every last detail, but if you are reading a text about a skier named Tara and you don’t know what skiing is… you need to stop and find out. Being able to decode the words is not enough.

I regularly drill into my students the importance of stopping and finding out. Sometimes, a very valid point is thrown back at me – ‘I don’t care.’ (If you don’t care, it isn’t the right text for you.) It’s a long, drawn-out process, but my students always learn to stop and ask – and they’ve all sat through lessons where I’ve confused myself, abandoned the lesson and found things out for myself.

I apply the same to Science. I have… much greater than usual science knowledge and science understanding. But it is just… facts and processes. I don’t really know why things work the way they do, or why I or anyone else should care. I just know how things work the way they do.

This came to a head during my final teaching placement and even moreso in my first year of teaching. I took a group of three students out to make and launch rockets as a reward. We used bicarb soda and vinegar as our fuel. I was easily able to explain the chemical reaction occurring between the two substances, to reassure the students it was safe to touch. (One of the students pointed out, after my explanation, that I hadn’t accounted for some Hs and Os… I forgot to mention the water byproduct.) 

The knowledge I had was utterly useless for what we were doing. Our learning was to explore and engage – the fact I already knew what would happen and how provided no benefit, and it meant I missed out on the fun.

Later in my first year, one of our leading teachers planned a science activity for us – making and playing with oobleck. In theory, I know how oobleck should work (it creates a suspension, with the starch particles suspended evenly in the water, making the fluid behave in ways young learners may not expect) but I ignored that knowledge to just explore with the kids. Instead of ensuring the kids knew how it worked, I focused on the experience of playing with it, asking questions and testing it out (the best being ‘What would happen if we threw it at our P.E. teacher?’ – the answer was not what I expected, but it was fun finding out!).

The finding out is the key part, just like with Reading. I would never expect my students to just know or just accept what I tell them about a text; they need to engage with it themselves and find out for themselves when they are stuck. The same applies to Science…

… and I’m in a perfect position to model it. At Levels 3-6, students are tasked with exploring why things happen, or predicting the effects of things. I can apply a logical, theoretical approach to this which more often than not will tell me the right answer, but that’s a different skill and different approach to what is expected for and from my learners. They specifically need to explore, not just tell the right answer.

I realised that I already do this quite a bit. Recently, we had a curriculum day in which chicken was served for lunch. I don’t eat chicken for moral reasons. It then had me wondering why I eat eggs, but won’t eat chicken – the same moral reasons should apply. This led me to investigate (explore) the differences between a chicken and its eggs. I ended up with very little new knowledge, but the act of exploring led me to new opinions and attitudes.

The goal is to help students see what it is like to explore things they don’t understand, not just to google the right answer (or ask the teacher). For me, this is most easily developed through exploring science, as that area engages me, but in theory the same approach could work in any curriculum area.

A secondary goal is to elaborate on this to support students’ literacy development through exploration and experiential learning, but that is for another time.

Acta est fabula

I’ve recently started re-reading Asterix from the beginning. It’s been a very long time since I last read them – more than twenty years!

One thing I have found very odd is that when I was a kid, I didn’t seem to have any trouble understanding the puns or language references in the text, but now I have no idea! I even had to google acta est fabula…

I feel there’s content in there somewhere.

Glossing in Auslan

This post is split into multiple pages.

Context
Auslan is typically not written down; it is expressed ‘through the air’ (VCASFU138). However, there are times where transcription is appropriate. The transcription of Auslan signs is called glossing.

Defining glossing
In linguistics generally, a gloss is an explanatory note between the lines or in the margins of a text, often to explain or provide an equivalent to a foreign or difficult word in the text. I employ glossing frequently when subtitling texts which feature words or phrases with no direct English equivalent. There are other examples which are frequently encountered, such as Japanese furigana (small writing above kanji which is likely to be difficult for the target audience, depicting the word in kana).

There are conventions for glossing in Auslan. Glossing forms a significant part of my planning, however I have found that I occasionally deviate from Auslan glossing conventions and default to more generic glossing conventions used for other languages. I also frequently make an error with ‘POSS-’ glosses, using them to note possibilities rather than possessive noun concepts.

The goal is to be more consistent when using glossing in my planning, so that anyone else teaching from my planning would not need to decipher idiosyncrasies in my writing.