September has not started off well at all, and it continues to become more difficult with each passing day. I take comfort in knowing that “it is always darkest before the dawn.”
I plan to complete Marie, Dancing over this long holiday weekend. I have enjoyed taking notes on character development, plot arc, and language used for this particular subject matter. I plan to re-read Dancing for Degas and Luncheon of the Boating Party and follow this same note-taking pattern. I have already discussed this kind of ‘reading for writing’ with my Creative Writing class, and I hope that this personal exercise can prove to be a model for them. They have already discussed several movies in class and I have encouraged them to bring in videos so that we can watch certain scenes and discuss how the screen writer’s script and the director’s point of view have effectively held the viewer’s attention. I look forward to learning as much about writing from these gifted students as (hopefully) they will learn from me.
I only have two classes this year that focus on literature: 7th grade and 9th grade. The other courses I teach involve mostly writing and/or grammar: English Comp – iWrite – 8th grade and High School grammar. I simply did not have enough students to sign up for British Literature this year, which saddens me even though it frees up quite a bit of time – but hopefully the numbers will be higher next year.
The 7th grade class has just learned about the elements of fiction and this week I will introduce the Fairy Tale unit. Students will first read The Three Little Pigs and discuss the story as it relates to these elements of fiction. I want them to get used to using the terms when discussing literature, and I think that doing that with simple narratives such as fairy tales is a less intimidating way to accomplish that goal. The following week we will read several variations of this Fairy Tale, namely The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Three Little Javelinas and discuss how the writer has changed a portion of the story to make it his own. That will segue into their first writing assignment which will involve “fracturing” their own fairy tale. This is always such fun to read and the students usually enjoy this exercise. This sets us up nicely to read Tuck Everlasting where we will really begin to delve into literary analysis.
In the 9th grade class we are also reviewing the elements of fiction (although these students learn about twice as many definitions as the seventh graders) and they are learning this terminology by reading several short stories. This past week we read and discussed Marjorie Daw by Thomas Bailey Aldrich; next week we will read Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the following week we will read The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant. At this point the students should be well acquainted with the terminology, as well as the expectations of class discussions, and we will begin to delve into Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
I have some wonderful Teacher Aids this year and I am trying very hard to hone my delegation skills and allow them to do some of my initial grading – particularly in the lower level classes. My goal is to have at least one hour at night that I can devote to personal reading. I’ll let you know how that goes!
I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend as we say good-bye to summer, 2010 and welcome the cooler fall season.