Friday, October 24, 2014

What's Going on in 205

This week has been an absolute blast. It has been the very definition of #livingthedream. Here is why -

 In Lit & Lang 9R we have wrapped up our short story unit. We have banged out the reading skills of facts, main idea, inference (always difficult), and the most difficult one of all for this group, sequence. This week I took them down to the media center to find a book that interests them to read over the next week in class. They will have to annotate the book with a minimum of 25 Sticky-Notes. Their final project will be to create a blog for the book where they will post their chapter summaries, character lists, creative assignments, and their final review of the book.

 Here is my example - How We Got to Now.

College Comp 1 -

We are wrapping up our theme #3, a how to essay.

The first essay was on how to improve LHS.

The second essay was on how to survive college.

I usually then have a third essay where students can devise a how to on any topic they wish, but we were running out of time this quarter, so I had to go with only two different topics for this theme.

To help model the process and how a writer thinks and works, I wrote my own how to improve LHS essay with the class and shared it via Google Drive along with comments in the margins about what I was trying to accomplish with each paragraph and even specific lines.

 College Comp 2 - On Monday I assigned a chapter from Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You on the complexity of modern pop culture, specifically our films and TV shows. The chapter analyzes how directors use multiple plot threads and lack of "flashing arrows" to purposefully confuse their audiences. Think of shows like Lost, American Horror Story, 24, SUV, or films like Gone Girl, Pulp Fiction, Shutter Island, or Crash.

Maybe at first blush those don't seem so complex. However, contrast those shows with the most popular shows 30 years ago: Three's Company (every plot of that sitcom is absolutely the same. One member of the house hold misunderstands a conversation and that drives the plot forward until the misunderstanding is resolved), The Brady Bunch (again, nearly every plot is identical. They certainly aren't sequential.  Each episode is a stand alone episode. Just try watching an episode of 24 or American Horror Story out of order), and one of my favorites, The Rockford Files (again, their idea of complexity back then was to have a two part episode that ended with a cliff hanger!).

So to drive this point home, this week I have my students watching the Sci Fi classic, Inception.  Students are analyzing its multiple plot lines, story threads, lack of flashing arrows, and various characters to prove how our modern culture is actually more complex - or if you prefer - intellectually complex than the past.

One thing that has been so great about this week, is that I've been able to actually write and create right along with my students.  I'm trying to be the guide on the side here for a change.

Here is my APA paper on Inception -

That is not a bad way to earn a living at all!!

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