Thursday, 14 April 2016

WATCHING THE RAILWAY MAN




War is no game. War leaves a mark. Eric Lomax, like many other surviving soldiers,  lived haunted by his war memories all his life through, as if war never actually ended in his mind and his heart. The Railway Man, based on Lomax’s autobiography,  came out in September 2014  here in Italy as “Le due vie del destino”, but it had opened theatrically on New Year’s Day in the UK and, in the US,   in April 2014.
Eric Lomax (30 May 1919 - 8 October 2012) was one of thousands of Allied prisoners of war forced to work on the construction of the Thai/Burma railway during WW2. Fate wanted he, a train and railway enthusiast, to be part of the army of enslaved prisoners the Japanese employed for their ambitious plan. His experiences, after the secret radio he built to bring news and hope to his mates was discovered, the inhuman tortures he was subjected to,  and which left  him traumatised and shut off from the world, are the main interest of this movie. Water-boarding and savage beating didn’t make Lomax surrender or lose his will to live. Years later, with his life still affected by that huge amount of suffering and consequent hatred, he met Patti (Nicole Kidman), a beautiful woman, on a train and fell in love. Once they get married  and Patti becomes acquainted with Eric’s nightmares and terrifyingly weird moments, she  is determined to rid him of his demons.
One day they discover  that the young Japanese officer who tortured him is still alive and Eric decides that it is time to meet him again.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

VERONICA ALLEGRINI - THE BEST CONSEQUENCE OF STUDYING IS ...

Veronica and her Erasmus mates in Innsbruck
Hi! I’m Veronica and Mrs Spila was my English teacher, though only during my last year at grammar school. I spent a nice period there and I was really satisfied. My school career was quite brilliant and I got my degree with the highest grade… but not because I love studying… just thanks to my willpower.
In my life I’ve often changed my mind about what I wanted to do in the future. When I was in  middle school, my dream was to become an archaeologist. This is why I chose grammar school. But I loved also literature, reading good books and writing, too. So I thought “why not a journalist?”. Yes, good idea. But I loved cinema, as well. So I decided I might have been a film critic.
 Actually,  I’ve always loved lots of things,  but none was my “true love” and, in short, after leaving high school, I decided to study Economy at University.
You maybe wonder why. At that moment it was a very simple decision actually, because I knew exactly what I wanted in my life: I wanted to be a manager. Not an easy goal, but that  was my ambition.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

SHORT STORY WRITING CONTEST

Drawing by Denis & Simone 2scA
In January we had a so - called Students' Week in our school,  during  which we didn't follow the regular timetable: classes were open and  students split into sub-groups or gathered into mixed groups, our lessons were based on extra activities.

To the groups of students I met in those days, I proposed a writing workshop (B1 level). The activity had been designed to prepare candidates for the ISE I exam of Trinity College. I used it to improve students' writing skills through amusing and engaging tasks. 

Introducing story frames

There are usually 6 stages to a short story:
a. Introduction: introduces characters, setting, time, weather, etc.
b. Starting action: the point of a story that starts the rising action.
c. Rising action: events leading up to the climax or turning point.
d. Climax: the most exciting part or turning point of the story.
e. Falling action: the story begins to conclude.
f. Resolution: a satisfying ending to the story

Monday, 8 February 2016

TOMMASO TROIA - FIND A JOB THAT YOU LIKE AND YOU WILL NEVER WORK A SINGLE DAY OF YOUR LIFE

Who I was

Hello everybody, my name is Tommaso Troia and, like many of you reading here, I have been lucky enough to be one of  Mrs Spila’s pupils  in my high school years.
In high school I was quite a good student with a passion for swimming, Maths and Physics, who loved studying the English language but  not English poetry and literature. I particularly enjoyed pushing Mrs Spila’s patience to the limit, which is why our beloved teacher will hardly ever forget about me. J
I also spent my spare time playing Magic The Gathering, and studying some computer science on my own.

My Choice

I have to say, I didn’t think about my future much till the fourth year of high school, since I was pretty sure that whatever was in my future, it would be great.
It was right in the middle of my fourth year of high school that I clearly realized what my dream job was. A tough one, both physically and mentally challenging, but with strong values and sound rules to follow. Thus,  when I asked myself what I was going to do in my life, I clearly saw that my choice could be no other than to join the Army. So I started dreaming of entering the Military Academy of Modena.
Of course, as I had made my mind, I visited the Italian Army official website and found all the information I needed to enlist, which is what I did.  So, since first step was to pass a series of tests and exams of different types, I started studying and doing some extra exercise to pass whatever test I was to go through.

Friday, 29 January 2016

AT THE CINEMA - MACBETH

 "... a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  

It came out on the 5th this month and,  at last, I came to see it this morning. It's the latest film version of Shakespeare's Macbeth. I saw it at the cinema with 4scA, one of my classes. 
It is a great movie: dark, gloomy, violent, impressive. It was not my first Macbeth, of course, but it was certainly an outstanding one. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are giant actors and I expected them to be remarkable  as the two protagonists.  But they were beyond perfection. As Macbeth was doomed to be king and Lady Macbeth his Queen, Fassbender and Cotillard were born to embody these two icon figures.  They were not simply remarkable but incredibly intense, impeccable in their renditions. 



GO ON READING THIS  REVIEW AT MY FLY HIGH BLOG!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

INSIDE OUT - RILEY'S FIRST DATE



Do you ever look at people and wonder what happens in their minds? This is exactly what brilliant Pixar film Inside Out  (2015) tries to do. 

Inside Out is the story of what happens in Riley's mind. Riley is 12, she leads a pretty good life with her loving parents,  she plays hockey and loves Minnesota, her home state. Her life goes on quite smoothly with the help of her emotions; Joy, Fear, Sadness, Disgust, and Anger. But one day she must move  to San Fransisco and once she is there Joy and Sadness disappear, which  symbolizes her difficulty accepting her new life. Joy and Sadness go on a quest to return home and save Riley....

The video I've chosen for this lesson is not in the movie. It is a clip released after the great success Inside Out got both from audiences and critics all around the world. 

What happens in Riley's parents' minds when a boy, Jordan,  comes round to take their daughter out? Enjoy the video and don't forget to complete the tasks in the worksheet below. Practice makes perfect!

Monday, 18 January 2016

THE IMITATION GAME: ALAN TURING, CREATOR OF MODERN COMPUTING



"Sometimes it's the very people who no one imagines anything of 
who do the things no one can imagine"


Alan Turing was a prodigy endowed with incredible stubborness and will power. He succeeded in an apparently impossible enterprise saving thousands of lives during WWII: he invented a machine to decrytp  Enigma, the Germans' secret code, thus boycotting many of their deadly attacks on Britain. He saved all those lives  thanks to his ingenious intuition, algorithms and computing being almost a game to him . He contributed to change the outcomes of a horrifying war,  designing his machine which could compute thousands of figures at a speed a human mind could have never achieved, neither the most brilliant. He is now considered one of the fathers of computer science and a war hero. 

Friday, 8 January 2016

KIKA, EDO & THE SINGING OF THE TREES

In November you met Maria Sofia, studying Arabic and giving a helping hand in Palestine. In December, Emanuele, living in Milan and working as a software developer. After them, the first of my former students I want to introduce you in 2016 is Edoardo , Edo,  with his lovely girlfriend, Federica, aka Kika. They live in Salento, in the South of Italy. Contrada Lusci is their place and a lifestyle, about which they write on their blog. They are a special couple and I'm glad to share their story with you.  
It is a story of love, peace, beauty, respect for nature and every living being, hope and incredible adventures.


*****************************************************

Edoardo was one of my students, he left school eleven years ago and he is a young man in his thirties now. I met him again a couple of months ago because he and his lovely partner, Federica, presented a very original project, a book + CD,  here in my town and I was invited to the event by friends and colleagues.

Obviously teenagers change once they turn into men and women but what surprised me most meeting Edoardo again was how totally different his posture, attitude, smile, speaking voice and look were. He looked and sounded relaxed, calm, focused and imperturbable. His eyes and his smile were warming, welcoming, peaceful. Well, actually, both Kika and Edo are the embodiment of the word “peaceful” and  both have a special smiling light in their eyes which speaks volumes of their inner world.  

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

MODULE 2. PARENTS & CHILDREN: MR GRADGRIND IN HARD TIMES (CHARLES DICKENS, 1853)

THE PLOT


BBC Hard Times - 1994

Thomas Gradgrind is an educator and a riter on political questions. He has founded a school where his education theories are put into practice: children are taught nothing but facts, and he educates his own children, Louisa and Tom, in the same way, neglecting their imagination and their affections. He also adopts Sissy Jupe, whose father worked  in a circus.
Mr Gradgrind suggests his daughter should marry Josiah Bounderby, a  rich factory owner and banker of the city some thirty years older than she is. Louisa, desiring to help her brother Tom in his career, consents to the marriage, which naturally proves to be very unhappy.

Friday, 18 December 2015

HELLO! WE ARE 1SCA



Hi, my name is  Lucrezia B. and my favourite activity is riding a horse. I love being in the outdoors. I enjoy texting with my friends on my mobile phone. I love going out late. I rarely go to the gym but I like keeping fit.
I hate being at home so, as soon as I can, I meet up with my friends in the town centre. I can't stand cooking, in fact when the people ask me to cook or help them cook my answer is always: NO. I hate watching football matches on TV but I enjoy watching films. I hate reading books.


Hi! I’m Samuele, I'm 14 and my favourite activity is the riding my mountain bike. I live in Italy and I like travelling around my country . I’ve got a lot of nice friends and I can’t stand boring people. In my free time I enjoy playing football, as I told you, riding my bike and in the summer I love swimming in my grandpa’s swimming-pool. I like watching films ,but I don’t like horror movies. I think keeping fit is very important, I keep fit doing exercise with my friends. Whenever I can, I enjoy meeting up with them.
Hi everyone, my name is Giorgia. I love reading books and swimming. My friends say I’m dreamy and funny. I enjoy spending my time listening to music, watching TV or playing video games. I like training as a way of keeping fit. I like meeting up and chatting with my friends. I hate cooking and making cakes but I enjoy eating. I can't stand acting or dancing but I love being creative.

Hi, my name is Mariano. My favourite hobby is riding my bike. I also love riding motorbikes. I sometimes invite my friends to come round. Do you know what I can't stand? When my parents reproach me! In the evening I enjoy playing clash of clans on my mobile phone. I've got a lot of friends and I love chatting with them. I hate going to school but I like swimming, especially in the summer.

Monday, 7 December 2015

EMANUELE, LIVING IN ETERNAL BETA VERSION

Hello, I’m Emanuele and Mrs Spila was my English teacher during my high school years,  so I’m really proud to write a post for her blog.
Let’s see what happens when I try to sum up my whole life in a short post... Well, let’s start from the beginning. My high school career wasn’t that brilliant, mostly because I spent those years playing the guitar, listening to music and reading fantasy books. I was quite weir and it was really  hard for me to study something I couldn't  find cool, exciting or useful. So,  I have to admit, high school was really boring for me.

After leaving school  I had no idea of what I was going to do in my life so I enrolled to University, Computer Science Department of  La Sapienza, in Rome.

The first year was a nightmare! I couldn’t pass any Maths exam because they were so hard for me and I had no skills for programming.  Till then I hadn’t written a single line of code in my entire life. I started feeling really frustrated and, at the end of the first year, I started thinking that computer science wasn’t the right choice. However, I decided to resist just another year  before quitting definitely.

Guys, guess what? My second year was amazing!

I started  studying  hard, I totally changed my attitude and, finally, I discovered the creative and fun aspect of this world. I clearly remember those years, they were tough but, at the same time, challenging. I studied a bunch of new things every day and all classes where based on cutting edge technologies: algorithms, artificial intelligence, micro processors, data bases and other nerdy stuff I’d always loved!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

MODULE 2. PARENTS & CHILDREN: MR AND MRS BENNET IN JANE AUSTEN'S PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

Mr and Mrs Bennet - Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Mr. Bennet

Mr. Bennet is the patriarch of the Bennet household—the husband of Mrs. Bennet and the father of Jane, Elizabeth, Lydia, Kitty, and Mary. He is a man driven to exasperation by his ridiculous wife and difficult daughters. He reacts by withdrawing from his family and assuming a detached attitude punctuated by bursts of sarcastic humor. He is closest to Elizabeth because they are the two most intelligent Bennets. Initially, his dry wit and self-possession in the face of his wife’s hysteria make him a sympathetic figure, but, though he remains likable throughout, the reader gradually loses respect for him as it becomes clear that the price of his detachment is considerable. Detached from his family, he is a weak father and, at critical moments, fails his family. In particular, his foolish indulgence of Lydia’s immature behavior nearly leads to general disgrace when she elopes with Wickham. Further, upon her disappearance, he proves largely ineffective. It is left to Mr. Gardiner and Darcy to track Lydia down and rectify the situation. Ultimately, Mr. Bennet would rather withdraw from the world than cope with it.
The 5 Bennet sisters: Jane, Mary, Lydia, Elizabeth, Kitty
Mr Darcy  and Mr Bingley - Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Mrs Bennet
Mrs. Bennet is definitely a comic character. Noisy and foolish, she is a woman consumed by the desire to see her daughters married and seems to care for nothing else in the world. Ironically, her single-minded pursuit of this goal tends to backfire, as her lack of social graces alienates the very people (Darcy and Bingley) whom she tries desperately to attract. Austen uses her continually to highlight the necessity of marriage for young women. Mrs. Bennet

Monday, 9 November 2015

MARIA SOFIA - STUDYING AND WORKING TO MAKE THIS WORLD BETTER

Maria Sofia and two of her little friends in Bethlehem
Hello, my name is Maria Sofia and I am one of Mrs Spila’s former students.

When I left school I wanted to discover the world, to travel, to meet people; for this reason I decided to study Arabic Language and Culture at Rome University "La Sapienza". The Arab world is so close to us, geographically speaking, but it can be considered so far for the misleading idea that we, the westerners, have of it.

So during my studies in Rome I had the opportunity through the Erasmus Mundus Project to spend eight months in Cairo, in the aftermath of the Revolution,  then ten months in Irbid, a Jordanian town located 30 km from the Syrian border. These experiences gave me the chance to know several people, to learn and understand their culture, to discover, that despite the different religion and traditions, we have more in common than we can imagine. I noticed more similarities between Italy and Arab countries than between Italy and Northern Europe, we are Mediterranean people after all!