Monday, March 25, 2013
Who are we really? What media projects or someone far more nuanced? Reading and deconstructing French American stereotypes.
Visit our French vs. American Stereotype page for our extended discussion on the topic.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Our eighth grade classes are now simultaneously reading, discussing and blogging about eight different novels for the month of March. The students had eight texts to choose from, so their selections were limited. Nevertheless, they wrote about why they chose the text they chose and wrote predictions for each text based on reading one or two chapters. You can find the predictions and summaries of lit circle talks in the pages listed above. Their essential question for the unit: How has the text contributed to the world of ideas?
Thursday, February 7, 2013
What's the purpose today of continuing to read novels and short stories in English Class? (posted by Mr. Eaton)
As a middle-school English teacher, I make a habit of asking myself: What is the purpose of English class? What is the best use of each day's 54-minute class? What are the real-world English skills I should share with students (the adults and innovators of tomorrow)?
Of course, being passionate about language, I understand the important value of constantly improving our vocabulary, punctuation and grammar. Those skills, while quite dry and mind-numbing for some students (and, I'll be honest, adults too), are the nuts and bolts of improving our communication and articulation with one another.
In the ever faster and immediate methods we humans communicate and express our ideas with each other (emails, texts, tweets, blogs, comments, Facebook statuses, etc.), it is more essential than ever to use the perfect word (vocabulary) and punctuate it correctly for nuanced meaning. We can't rely on expressing nuance through emoticons; what does a winking sideways-smile face mean exactly? More than any time in history, this generation has an absolute, real-world need to harness the power of precise vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation.
But, what's the real-world purpose of reading novels and short stories in class?
In these speedy times, where the bulk of our communication is through sound bites, text messages, tweets, blogs, and 1000-word Flash Fiction stories, why should classroom time be filled with the time-consuming process of reading those dust-covered, archaic tomes labeled novels and short story collections? Why spend weeks examining what happens when children are left alone on a deserted island in William Golding's Lord of the Flies, when you can watch a one-hour episode of CBS's Survivor? Why read David Drury's short story "Things We Knew When The House Caught Fire" which is set against the backdrop of class divide in a wealthy Bay Area community called Larkspur when, with the same time-commitment, we could read five French-oriented Larkspur blog posts and a related article in San Francisco Chronicle?
I have an answer.
Yes, I have an answer, I believe, that proves that reading books is the most important activity in school. In fact, it is a reason our entire population should turn off their computers and put down their smartphones and pick up a book, or e-reader—I have no beef with that. But, before I blab on about my answer, I'm interested in comments about what you think.
Why do you believe it's important to read novels and short stories? Or, if you think it's a waste of class time, then employ your grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary powers to articulate why not.
Please comment below and join the debate.
Posted by Unknown at 9:20 AM