Thursday, January 08, 2015

What's Going on in 205

First semester is winding down.  Here is a look at what we are working on.

Lit & Lang 9R

We are roughly ten chapters deep in Kaffir Boy.  

First I had students do a scavenger hunt related to South Africa, Nelson Mandela, apartheid, and the book. **** Actually, I first begin by sending home - weeks in advance - a parent permission form which notifies the parents of a controversial scene in the book, giving them an option for an abridged version of the book.  I had no parents choose the abridged option. In fact, of the five times I've taught the book, I have not had one parent select the abridged version.  

The only book I've ever had a student or parent object to was The Jungle.  So the student agreed to read The Grapes of Wrath instead. ***** Actually, students have objected to every novel we have ever read . . . just not because of content.  They are just not fans of reading I'm afraid! 

Then we spent three days watching the most excellent film, Invictus, which focuses on how Mandela, when he became president of South Africa (after being released from prison), sought to unify the nation using, of all things, the country's beleaguered Ruby team, the Springboks.  It worked.  The team won the World Cup in 1995.

The movie is excellent.  Clint Eastwood did a great job as director.  Of course when it has two of my all time favorite actors, Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, how can you not like it?

As far as the book goes, we are nearing the controversial part, which students will be allowed to read on their own.  I have been reading the longer chapters to them so far, and they have been relating to it well.

They marvel at the poverty and oppression Johannes' family must endure.  Just today I told them - as his mother takes him to pick through the local dump for food since their father has been sent to prison for passbook crimes - that we in America cannot fathom poverty like this.  We live in the richest nation on earth (I'm not one to complain or blame capitalism for a second.  It works. It's alive and well.  Yes, at times - in my opinion - it needs to be regulated - but it allows for someone to start a business tomorrow and have a chance at making this country great) and can't imagine poverty like this.  In fact, the worst hunting shack or cabin or garage is far better than the shack Johannes and his family must eek out a living in.

Another part of the book that I treat carefully is its heavy dose of religion.  One aspect that gets overlooked because of the controversial passage is that Johannes runs away from the horrible, controversial moment and uses it as motivation to leave the slums and get an education. Along the way he discovers Christianity.  I'm not sure how many times the world "Jesus" and "Christianity" are mentioned.  But I would bet that it's far more than any other textbook the district has.  So I treat that carefully since we are a public school.  It's a great message - and one that I personally believe in - but I allow students to draw their own conclusions when it comes to that.

College Composition -

Students just finished watching Jaws.  We will write a film review on it, focusing on a theme (most likely "money is more important than human life") and a film technique (most choose the power of suggestion).  Students will analyze one scene that illustrates the theme and then another scene that illustrates the film technique.

College Composition 2 -

We are 100 pages into one of my all-time favorite books, Seth Godin's Linchpin.  We have analyzed the different ways one can become a linchpin and why the new world of work needs linchpins as opposed to interchangeable cogs.

Next week I'll try and line speakers up to come in and talk about being a linchpin.  Then for the final week of the semester students will present their Linchpin boards, sees this link for past examples, and then end with their exit interviews out at Digi Key.

After that, my schedules will change to College Comp 2 and two sections of College Comp.  It's going to be a blast starting all over and tweaking things with new texts (hopefully).

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