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?

 

 

 

 

 

The Prison of My Mind

Cavern

 

Part One: Return to the Lair

An old and wrinkled figure opens a secret door in the depths of an abandoned opera house. He has not been here in over 80 years, but he plans on making one last visit. It was here that murders were plotted, kidnappings were committed, and a love was lost. This old and wrinkly man was in the center of it. This man is me.

Wooden stairs seem to infinitely extend into the depths below. I walk down them. They creak in protest. Deeper and deeper I go into the hollow cavern that surrounds me.  It gets darker and darker. Colder and colder. Slime oozes from the walls. Stalactites hang low. Stalagmites as sharp as knives grow from the ground. They look as if they want to impale some unfortunate passerby. Unlit candles line the walls. Rats scurry. Bats flutter overhead. The creaking wooden steps gradually become limestone step embedded in the cave. I continue my decent.

It gets darker and darker. Colder and colder. Deeper and deeper. 

I walk further down. The cruel light that I have known for so long is extinguished. Welcoming dark envelopes me. I walk further down. I reach a hallway. One dull throne is at the end. An organ is next to it. Dust shrouds the organ from view. Cobwebs with spiders run along the corners. I take a seat on the throne. My bony fingers run over intricate carvings on the arm rest. It was expensive for sure. A simple reminder of the wealth I had before I lost everything. Because of Raoul. But now I am back. One last time after 80 years. I will reclaim what was mine and return this cavern to what it was: not a cavern for the bats and rats, but a lair for me.

Part Two: The Lair’s Return

Just as I am about to get off the throne, ominous music begins spreading around the cavern. It fills every corner, nook, and cranny. The organ seems to be playing along with invisible instruments. “There must be invisible instruments,” I think. How else can one explain the sound of violin when it is not visible?

I smile. The lair was waiting for me. It was waiting for me to return. Instead of getting off the throne to start fixing the lair, the lair starts repairing itself for me. I relax on my throne and allow the repairing to begin.

(Play this while reading the rest of the post.)

The dust slides off the organ. The cobwebs disappear. The bats stop fluttering. Rats stop scurrying. Slime stops oozing. The candles light up. The throne I sit on becomes shiny.

A dining table appears. A lake is created in the cold and dark depths of my lair. A single boat is floating aimlessly on it. An ornate bed materializes. A Punjab lasso hanged on a hook. The cavern becomes what is used to be: a lair for me. I am the Phantom.

 

Photo Credit: morguefile.com

I Was Wrong….

Lair  Edit

 Ever since I started preforming at this theater, there’s been a rumor about some “lair” or something where the phantom lives. Personally, I don’t believe that under the stage lies a massive dark room with skulls and an organ. I mean really, how come the opera house isn’t collapsing? I would really recommend that you stop believing in this nonsense because, c’mon, it’s impossible. Do you see ANY door that could le-AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!

Found it…..

OK, so right now I am, well, falling I think… Maybe there is a lair after all… OK, so somehow I landed and I’m fine, but let’s not worry about that…. We have bigger matters to take care of, like “Where am I?”

10 Minutes Later…

OK, I am definitely in the Phantoms Lair, I was wrong… Its a big dark room, with, wow, they were right: an organ and a bunch of sculls… How they knew remains a mystery…. Seriously, I have no idea.

The next thing I notice is the lake. Really, a lake. There has to be some magical force holding the opera house up or something because this isn’t possible. But whatever, let’s focus on what is important, like, my shoes are completely soaked right now. Like, really soaked…

So soaked that I remove them from my feet and place them on a rock by the shore. What happens next is still a mystery. Like, really. I’m writing this in the lair, and since I removed my shoes, I have to focus on my fe-ouch! Sharp, SHARP! See….Focus is key….

 

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Francesco via Compfight: Edited via Photoshop by Everest M.