Is anyone else surprised by the date? I can’t believe that we are already heading into February.
The snow that was forecasted last weekend totally passed us – I mean, we did not even see a flake and they were predicting close to 6 inches of the fluffy stuff. On the one hand I was grateful that we did not have another snow day, but on the other hand I lost faith in meteorology. I simply cannot understand how they could be so far off the mark. We had a high of 48 degrees on Friday – springtime weather – and most of the snow melted. HOWEVER….they are predicting another snow storm tomorrow that is supposed to produce an ice glaze on the roads before another 6 inches should fall. Welcome to the Midwest!
This was our first full week of school since before Christmas break! Between snow days and MLK Jr holiday, we have really had a difficult time getting into the swing of second semester. So as you can imagine, I am struggling in most classes to stay on task. There are some projects that may have to go by the wayside, but I am confident that all critical course material will be covered.
I am finding that I truly LOVE teaching English Comp. In another life I would have majored in English in college (rather than French), gone on to pursue a Masters in English, and then (hopefully) obtained a job as an adjunct professor at a local college or university. I truly enjoy teaching the upper level students; we learn from one another and the classroom environment is always energic. Most of these students are high school seniors, and at a time when most seniors are mentally checking out, these students continue to be excited about the film project at the end of the year.
Since our school calendar is about five weeks longer than the college from which the dual credit is offered, I was struggling with how to fill the time. In December, through some random brainstorming, this class decided that they would like to write a film script, shoot the film, edit it, and present it to the student body. I tried to let them know how much work is involved in a project such as this — especially when senioritis is bound to kick in sometime around March 1st — but they were determined to make this a reality.
Over Christmas break I revamped my second semester syllabus to focus on the project. Their first major writing assignment is a narrative short story – with the idea that they would develop this short story into a film script later in the semester. They were also told to think about limited characters (since we only have twelve students in the class) and a setting that be could recreated on school grounds (since we will not be doing many off-site field trips). These stories are due in two weeks.
Students also need to complete a major research paper this semester. I limited the scope of the paper to their choice of a novelist or film director. Students are to select one or the other and research the life and the historical time period in which they wrote/directed. Students are then to select one major work, read/watch it, and analyze it for narrative writing techniques (those who chose a director will also include analysis of film angles and lighting for effect). Students will then meld these two portions into one 8-10 page paper.
Once the research paper is due, at the beginning of April, we will then begin filming the class narratives (for time and space considerations, students will choose three out of the twelve scripts to film). That will give us about five weeks to film and edit and then hopefully have a school assembly and show our finished projects the second week of May.
It is rather ambitious — but I am encouraged by their constant enthusiasm and willingness to stay a few minutes after class each day to discuss the possibilities.
I am continuing my re-read of Little Women. I tend to only read this at night before I go to bed and since I only read for about twenty minutes before my eyes start to droop, this is going to be a rather slow read. The story has definitely picked up as far as conflict goes, and I am definitely enjoying it more now than I did in the beginning. I am reading this book on my Kindle and have discovered that obtaining new batteries for the Kindle generation 1 is rather difficult. I think I might have to resort to ebay.
Anyway….I am finding that as I read this novel I am constantly reminded of Pride and Prejudice. While I realize that the stories are different – there are some similarities in the characters.
- Mrs. March is raising four girls alone while her husband is away at war; Mrs. Bennett is certainly more worried about her five daughters’ future than her husband (he is often absent, escaping to the library by himself to avoid family relations).
- Mrs. March is far more respectable, however (Mrs. Bennett’s busy-body personality adds humor to the book, but I have little respect for her as a parent). BUT…I do find Marme’s lessons for the girls a bit too preachy for my personal taste.
- Jo of Little Women reminds me of the outspoken Elizabeth of P&P.; Her tomboy ways are reminiscent of Elizabeth’s long walk to Netherfield, which yields unfavorable commentary from Caroline Bingley.
- Amy, the youngest daughter of the March family, reminds me of Kitty — rather immature and self-centered, but willing to learn from her older sisters.
- Beth March, the sweet, unassuming middle child, is similar to Mary Bennett in that they both focus on music as a means of expressing themselves. I much prefer Beth’s humble personality to that of Mary, however.
- I think Meg is rather her own character in Little Women — somehow a mix of Jane and Elizabeth. She is not as sappy sweet as Jane (I’m sorry, but I just can’t handle Jane’s ability to only see the good in people), and she is more outspoken.
I would be curious to know if anyone has noticed these similarities between the two novels, or am I the only one who feels this way?
Last week several of you commented that you would like for me to post my reviews of photography books (and other non-fiction reading material). I will definitely make a point of doing that in the near future. I am working on a post that will showcase all the photography books that I actually purchased – which is but a small percentage of the ones that I reviewed from the local library.
I am also quite interested in learning how to combine my photos and writing into some type of artistic expression. I have done major research on photo manipulation, mixed media art, and art journaling. Again, I have reviewed many books from the library, but have also added a few to my personal library. I have also discovered some beautiful magazines published once a quarter by Somerset Studios: Artful Blogging and Journaling, both of which I have savored reading every page (to see the numerous magazines published by this amazing company visit this site). I will also work on a post to showcase this interest as well.
My most recent library acquisition – and one in which I read (and took notes) in about two hours was Keri Smith’s How to be an Explorer of the World. A fellow teacher mentioned this author in passing on Monday and I immediately did a search. My local library had this book available, and I have Living Out Loud on hold from the inter library loan. In essence her books describe how to relate to the world around you in an artistic way. This book focused a lot on collecting things of personal interest and then truly analyzing them, rearranging them, finding patterns that are first invisible. A couple of the ideas that I plan to try include:
- Go to the local hardware store and look at the paint chip cards. Find colors that resonate with you. Take the cards home and then write the memories that surround that particular color.
- Take a walk around the neighborhood and discover ‘accidental art’ – that is, stains on sidewalks, or discarded trash. Learn to see the beauty in the life around you.
- Walk aimlessly — take a walk, intentionally doing the opposite of what you think you should do. Want to right? Turn left instead. Want to stay on the path? Walk through the field instead (provided it is not a private yard). This one is a bit outside my comfort zone at the moment – but I could see where it would provide a lot of artistic inspiration (getting out of thinking only with the right side of the brain)
This continues to be a New Year’s resolution that remains dormant. My “old” self would have said that if I did not make good on it by February then I had failed. My “new” self says that it is not a failure, it is just a temporary delay. I continue to read blogs about the writing process and I do hope to at least begin daily journaling soon.
I must tell you of a fantastic site that Jenners mentioned on her blog the other day: Book Drum I am absolutely enthralled with it and wish that I had more free time in my life at the moment. In essence it is like a Wikipedia for books. Anyone over 18 years old can become a contributor and the point is to provide extensive background information about literature. They currently have several book profiles already completed, with a list of several hundred (?) more that they are interested in adding in the future.
Currently there is a tournament going on (with a first prize reward of 1,000 pounds!) where contributors sign up to complete an extensive book profile between now and April 30. This would be pure escapism for me. To read a book page by page – researching unusual words to add to the glossary section – or finding photos to add to the setting section in order to bring the descriptions to life – or adding trailers to the content area for readers to gain another perspective of the narrative or characters – or adding background information to the bookmarks section to reveal valuable insight for a more complete understanding of the novel. (all links are to content found for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which I am currently teaching in the 9th grade class. I have already found some very useful information on this site that I plan to use in the classroom).
As I told Jenners – I am not quite sure whether I should bless her or curse her for bringing this fantastic site to my attention. I plan to make use of this often throughout the year – with the hope of perhaps profiling a classic novel myself one day.
Well, once again this post is far longer than I anticipated. Perhaps I should consider doing a section a day – like Teaching Tuesdays, Writing Wednesdays, Reading Weekend. What do you think?
I hope you all have a fantastic week!