Making Connections

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“Holler, RT put yer hands up if you dig nerdy pursuits i.e. comics, Dr. Who, Star Wars, cosplay, and mixing with learning…#nerdyedu”

I smiled as I responded to this tweet from Maine high school teachers Dan Ryder and Jeff Bailey, and I attached a collage of images from our classroom walls: several movie and television show posters, all of them representing popular shows with large fandoms.  You’ll find Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Doctor Who and a few more.

Why?

Why not more posters about steps in the writing process? about grammar, capitalization, and punctuation?  about vocabulary and reading?

Because together we will be creating wall charts to show our learning of the “school” stuff.  Because those charts will make more sense if we develop them in class, as we are practicing the work of reading and writing.

Because just like the ELA charts,  the movie and television posters help us make connections around our reading and writing!

Let’s take a look at the “big questions” that organize our Holt McDougal literature textbook:

  • What is courage?
  • Is life always fair?
  • Where is home?
  • Can we achieve the impossible?
  • Who sees the best in you?
  • What makes you brave?
  • What stands in the way of your dreams?
  • Who deserves a second chance?
  • What has the power to heal?
  • Where do people find hope?
  • What is honor?
  • Why do we need memorials?
  • What is our duty to others?
  • How can we change what’s wrong?

and more.

Stories explore all of these questions, and some of our most powerful stories have been told or retold via television and film.  Frodo lives up to the faith that Gandalf has in him and finds the courage to battle great evil. Luke discovers his true identity but decides for himself who he will really be.  Harry realizes the terrible truth of his life but finds the strength to overcome it.  The Doctor is burdened with deep sorrow but spends his life helping others.  Belle believes the Beast deserves a second chance, and Simba uses his to change what is wrong.  The Phantom finds that love has the power to heal–and the power to free.

BeFunky_class posters.jpg

The posters aren’t up because they represent stories we will study (we won’t even be watching the movies).  They are up to make us think, to help us make connections between the stories we are studying and the stories we each are living.

How do the “big questions” above connect to books, movies, and shows you love?  How do the questions relate to you and your life?

 

 

 

 

 

Who Am I?

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When Peter Parker walks in late to his English class, he interrupts a lesson on plot in fiction. His teacher is explaining that a mentor of hers used to say that there are ten basic plots in all of fiction, but that she disagrees…she thinks there is only one: the question of who am I?

Certainly the exploration of that question is key to many stories.  It is key to the story of Spider Man as Peter Parker must figure out the origin of his identity and who he wants to be going forward.  The question of identity is one we each must answer as we grow up, and it makes sense that if literature is the exploration of human experience that its stories strive to answer that question, too. Who are we, as individuals and as part of larger communities?

“Who am I?” is a question that is key to understanding the theme and plot of many stories we have discussed this year, among them

  • Beowulf, A New Telling
  • Freak the Mighty
  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Lion King
  • Mulan
  • Star Wars
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Les Miserables

Can you think of more stories you have read or watched that explore the question of identity?  Share your answer in the comments.