…the edge of the great forest

This all happened a long time ago, in your grandmother’s time, or in her grandfather’s. A long time ago. Back then, we all lived on the edge of the great forest. Hansel and Gretel, Neil Gaiman For the first time in two years, I feel like I am finally back to my authentic self as a teacher, and am cautiously celebrating how wonderful this feels. Over two years ago, we (the PLC I was in at the time) used the text of Hansel & Gretel to do mood/tone, along with Stopping by Woods on A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost…

Saving Summer: Rethinking Themes, Essays, and Media

I’m about to do a dangerous thing: post a document long before it’s “ready.” It is not even close, and I think–that’s where it should be. A finished document would mean there is no room for growth or adaptation; it’s a sketch. Flipping my thinking around about the silo type of units, students would be better served if we took a gravitational, or centrifugal force idea. While we’re spinning, we stay connected and use metacognition to be cognizant of what draws us in. Choices are key, here, with a map for guidance. In essence, every UBD and essential questions demand…

Saving Summer: Why do I need this?

Relevancy: how many students passively sit in class, waiting to be entertained? Engagement is key, but as the wise man said, “I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause /you’ll play against you.” In other words: sometimes you’re going to have to enjoy your own company and think/create your own thoughts. Why Humanities? Why read? Why listen? Why talk? To be an interesting human. The other morning scrolling through social media I watched a Buzzfeed talk — and immediately recognized it as a character analysis. “Captain Obvious,” yes, that may be; however, many…

Saving Summer: The Raven and Sunshine

It is a balmy 71 degrees Fahrenheit, 22 Celcius, and there is nothing but blue skies and Palamino ponies as far as the eye can see. Admittedly, a bit difficult to get my head back to a dreary, dark December, and knocks on chamber doors, but if I don’t do this now, I might lose the moment. Recently on the Notice and Note Facebook page, there was a wonderful thread on how to teach theme. This question provided a chance to go through some of my previous research on this question, and see other’s grand ideas. One thing I didn’t get to share…

Thematic Thursday

Last year one of my students had one of those lightbulb moments, that eureka shake up, awesome anagnorisis,  where she completely understood what I meant by the concept of the difference between topic and theme. This is a biggie. It’s important because it means I can do it. Because teaching theme…teaching it well that is..isn’t easy. So on Thematic Thursdays, there is intentional time to do just that, however the strategy, whatever the current unit of study. I am a lifelong devoted scholar of the study of themes, and yet, it is as painful to teach for me as doing my own…

Stitching themes.

As a follow-up to “How To Teach A Novel,” a treatise on theme. I contend that all the close reading strategies in the world only serve to engage us in the bigger conversation, the “grand conversation’ as my master’s mentor instructed us. (I thank you every day, Dr. Schulhauser.)  One word: Patterns. Patterns in terms of speech, actions, reactions, resolution and take-aways. What does the writer believe, what is she questioning, and what is she exploring? Did she take us with her, or leave us confused and behind?  Theme is, as most language arts concepts, deceptively simple to define, and…

Media Festival: Story Unit

Cueva de Las Manos This is a exploration of early human connections and storytelling. Signing, Singing, Speaking: How Language Evolved Music and the Neanderthal’s Communication The Discovery of Fire: Two Million Years of Campfire Stories How Conversations Around Campfire Might Have Shaped Human Cognition And Culture Campfire Tales Serve as Human Social Media Campfire Stories May Have Lead to Early Societal Learning When Fire Met Food, The Brains of Early Humans Grew Bigger What kinds of stories… In 12,000 Year Old Grave, A Shaman Shares Her Tomb with Animal Totems Origin Myths: Definition and Examples Myths and Legends Origin Myths…

Media Festival: Fear Unit

Note: Working on curating a variety of media and text(s) for thematic units. Bear with me, this is the best place, this blog, where I can archive/collect these materials. I am crafting and revising a ‘fear’ unit–why do we fear, what is fear’s purpose, and how do we overcome it are the essential questions. Mean Teddies from Tyler Novo on Vimeo. Brent Sims’ Grave Shivers from Sims Films on Vimeo. “Brent Sims’ Grave Shivers” is a short sci-fi/horror anthology that weaves three tales of monsters, killers, and things that go bump in the night. Recent winner of the audience award…