Tag: Care to Share

Students will ask me about favorite living authors, and it is a bit like choosing body parts to lose.  Why an anxiety over a simple expression of preference?  Because — you throw a name out there, among many such deserving names, and giving it breath gives it life.  Commitment, there is, to life — once spoken: an obligation, a responsibility, an ownership.  Volunteering such a selection that represents your inner workings, what you perceive and how you want to be perceived, has many varied routes that range from genuine to pedantic to clever to paternalistic to encouraging.

I am fortunate, at this question, that I can name Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  And you, reading this, too, are fortunate that you can name Adichie, operating under the hopeful assumption that if you are not familiar with her work, you can be!

(And also that you aren’t scared by pronunciation, which is, per a publisher:

Chim-muh-MAHN-duh      en-GOH-zee    ah-DEECH-ee-(ay),

the “ay” being soft, like an exquisite breath following a name like poetry.)

I first encountered her incredible nuance and artfully measured characterizations in reading Americanah (2013) for a college course.  This novel, centering on the Nigerian and American-immigrant experiences of a perceptive and independent young writer, with occasional interwoven threads of a lost love, was eye-opening for me.  Having lived so long, through the classroom or the need for cheaply-attained bookshelf fillings, in the classics or in genres, I had doubted a contemporary work’s ability to affect me so profoundly.  But the words!  Flowing at once dexterous and durable; built, like a braid of hair, upon energy, identity, and culture.  This novel allows a glimpse of modern America from a liminal perspective that is world-widening and contemplative.  Simply put, the first piece of literary fiction published, and then read by me in “real-time”, that caught my sense of temporal and spatial habitation.  If it wasn’t for Americanah, my reading scope, while still fairly diverse, would not be including a crucial, culturally-resonant moment.

This cultural resonance is reflected in a pair of Adichie TED talks which encapsulate the shoaling before many of our current cultural waves swelled and broke.

“The Danger of a Single Story” (2009) examines cultural lenses and embedded, preclusionary narratives regarding race and nationality:

“We Should All Be Feminists” (2012), which was later published in a handy, pocket-sized book, takes a much-needed, skeptical look at why “feminism” has become a controversial group to belong in, another incisive look at how language can subtly, and nefariously – whether intentional or not – shape our perspectives:

You can follow up these thoughts with Adichie’s most recent publication, an essay written as advice to a friend that also serves as a notes on motherhood and celebrating your work, as well as two other novels, a short story collection, and some pieces for The New Yorker.   It’s a sacred responsibility, as the promoter of reading in our public schools system, to provide suggestions meaningful, challenging, and/or thought-provoking.  For readers looking for something mature, progressive, and even happy – check out this author to appreciate: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Appreciations ENG2020: Concurrent Enrollment Reading Picks

Women are awesome!  Some people aren’t aware, apparently.  With today’s redux of the women’s marches across the nation (and perhaps the world!).  It wouldn’t be a bad thing at all if someday we can collectively remember that history has been made by women, too – so you can do your part by checking out the titles below!

The Princess and the Pony. Kate Beaton. Arthur A. Levine Books. 2015.
The Princess and the Pony. Kate Beaton. Arthur A. Levine Books. 2015.

Kate Beaton is the magnificent wit behind the webcomic series Hark! A Vagrant, which has been printed in a few best-selling books (and also isn’t appropriate for all ages, especially because some killjoys detest constant giggling).  The Princess and the Pony, great for kids and adults, tells the story of Princess Pinecone, who wants a noble warhorse to ride into Viking-style violence.  For her birthday she gets instead a flatulent, rotund pony.  What happens next is funny and feminist.  Available from Scholastic Book Orders for $4!

Rad American Women A-Z. Kate Schatz & Miriam Klein Stahl. City Lights. 2015.
Rad American Women A-Z. Kate Schatz & Miriam Klein Stahl. City Lights. 2015.

Revolution begins at home!  America may be relatively young on the world stage, but its women have radically changed history.  The 26 women profiled in this book represent science, entertainment, athletics, innovation, exploration – basically all the walks of life that make our country what it is.  Kate Schatz writes the profiles, and Miriam Klein Stahl provides each illustration.  Available from Scholastic for $7, this pocket-sized guide is perfect for bite-sized, yet larger-than-life, world-widening.

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science - and the World. Rachel Swaby. Broadway Books. 2015.
Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World. Rachel Swaby. Broadway Books. 2015.

Rachel Swaby was inspired to write this informative, invigorating collection of women inventors, scientists, and explorers after seeing too many get short shrift in their obituaries.  Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter and – more importantly – the world’s first computer programmer (in the 1840s!), is included.  As is Hedy Lamarr, scintillating movie star and also pioneer in radar technology.  And those are just the most famous faces.  This book captures the sentiment of the women’s history movement succinctly: the stories have been there all along, but someone *forgot* to tell the whole truth.  We owe it to ourselves to fix that.  Read well – it’s the best provision for changing your life.

Reading Picks Threads

Image from Eclectic/Eccentric.
Image from Eclectic/Eccentric.

The Odyssey is one of the earliest, and best, works in the “big trip” portrayal, so grand they named half the genre after it!

Your explorations are also pretty grand, as long as you are choosing the path that best fits your kleos and nostos.  The most recent post on this topic gave you some resources on Odyssey summaries and visual-friendly breakdowns.  I’m happy to provide more study sites for you, from the British Museum and also from an esteemed Duke prof.

British Museum and British Library...can you survive on these alone? Probably worth it.
British Museum and British Library…can you survive on these alone? Probably worth it.

There are, of course, versions on YouTube, including SparkNotes and Thug Notes (discretion still advised), as well as the 1997 Hallmark movie version and even a Crash Course analysis!

There are even special resources for those freshmen looking to complete a Map for their Odyssey project, here are a few tips:

First – the in-class map is by no means definitive, but has two components that I think are key: an oversized Ithaca and an Underworld far (far) to the west.  You don’t have to reach the Pillars of Heracles, but I like the idea of going to the edge of the known (Mediterranean) world.

Second – use your resources to help you tell the story!  Some of my favorites are on Google Earth (download it if you haven’t – it’s worth it!), especially the Odyssey on Google Lit Trips, which features facts and artwork at the locations in each episode.  Your map doesn’t need to be overly complicated, but consider adding stickers, flags, or figures to keep the travels alive.

Third – you don’t need to use salt dough, but this is a straightforward method to make your map 3D that is both easy and useful!  The video below was made in jazzy style by a very good friend of mine some years ago, and gives you a nice breakdown of the salt dough process.  I definitely expect your map to be in color, so grab the appropriate food coloring to go with it or paint it after it dries (a few days later)!

For Glory!

9th Grade: Intro to Literature Class Resources

Looking down on her favorite mortal
Looking down with muse in ‘er eye

Odyssey season is upon us!  Unless you too want to wander around the rocky islands of 9th Grade trying to get home, you would do well to heed our Olympian decree to keep up with the readings and get that final project done.

For the (24!) books of the epic, you have plenty of resources in getting the gist of the plot so you can focus more on our essential questions and archetypes.  So, as the grey-eyed one provided Odysseus the tools he needed to be successful, this post is Part I of our mission to get you out of here in one, sophomoric, piece.

Besides the class books and graphic novels/comics, check out these links to get your Mentor on!

Traditional guides: the safety net of Sparknotes and the too-cool-for-school ethos of Shmoop (which has some funny infographics peppered throughout, and way too many popups…)

I ain't saying that they're bronzediggers...
I ain’t saying that they’re bronzediggers…

Full-text versions of the epic: including Ian Johnston’s recent translation out of Vancouver Island University, and two prose translations, old (A.T. Murray) and older (Samuel Butler).

Anyone seen that mortal I was tormenting? Oh well - plenty to choose from.
Anyone seen that mortal I was tormenting? Oh well –
plenty to choose from.

And some really interesting new-media options: including some open/ed. designs from our community of Padlet (this one’s Verity Webster’s) and a fascinating, and highly distracting, clickable offering from Emery University’s Carlos Museum.  Clicking on the Greece tab will take you to the interactive site (Flash required).

It will prove itself even to you doubters.
It will prove itself even to you doubters.

Of course, we have the in-class options, but the Odyssey is one of the biggest stories ever told!  You should journey onto the kool-aid seas of the internet to get the best version for you.

KLEOS/NOSTOS!

9th Grade: Intro to Literature Class Resources

The annual Shakespeare commemoration (although, really, here’s it’s pretty much every day) is marked in this edition with a beautiful, sad song and a funny graphic adaptation of class favorite Romeo and Juliet.

From last year’s Shakespeare Live! from the Royal Shakespeare Company (aired on BBC), here is Gregory Porter singing “When that I was and a little tiny boy (With hey, ho, the wind and the rain)” from Twelfth Night, Act 5, Scene 1.

Shakespeare Live – Gregory Porter – The Wind and The Rain on Vimeo.

And, for lighter fare, Mya Gosling regularly creates comic adaptations, and interpretations, of Shakespeare and other goodness on the site Good Tickle Brain.

Among plenty of the frequently updated and fun Shakespearethere are three panel reviews of many plays, including those from our classes this year.  Ah, memories.

3panelhamlet


3panelmacbeth

3panelrj

12th Grade: European Literature 9th Grade: Intro to Literature Admin ENG2020: Concurrent Enrollment

Kitchener, from: 'Your country needs you' advertisement in London Opinion, Vol. XLII No.546, 5 September 1914. British Library.
Kitchener, from: ‘Your country needs you’ advertisement in London Opinion, Vol. XLII No.546, 5 September 1914. British Library.

The following links are for the 1st and 4th Hour British Literature classes, but anyone should feel free to follow them to education (or emptiness).  It may be said that no retelling can ever truly capture the horrors and mindset of warfare.  But artists and authors have to try – sometimes only poetry or paint can communicate the senses and worst fears made real.

WNB#1/2 URLs:

World War Pictures hosts a variety of visual media pertaining to the conflicts: http://www.world-war-pictures.com/

The British Library, again, gives us great multimedia and perspectives on our class content.  The first link, on propaganda, should be used to answer prompt 13.  The second link is extra reading, if you are looking for more perspective on the poems for your posters.

http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/themes/propaganda

http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/reframing-first-world-war-poetry 

If you are curious, you could also follow-up with two perspectives on the ubiquity of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan, by Dr. Henry Irving and Owen Hatherley, respectively.

The US National Archives has a YouTube playlist of war films from 100 years ago:

Finally (because why not), here is a trench game from the UK’s National Archives.

Hurrah for the Scarlet and the Blue, and may we never again find ourselves in a war to end all wars.

12th Grade: European Literature Class Resources Threads

9th Grade: Intro to Literature Class Resources

This year, I hope to share with you a set of video traditions that have already taken a special place in the hearts of my family, as I’m sure they will in yours.  Of course, they are mostly about food, but be sure to set time aside for that family talking and activities kind of stuff.  There are only so many Thanksgivings.

Now back to food.  Eat it, even if you don’t like it.  Put it on your plate.  Thank you food bringers for caring enough to bring anything.  Bob’s Burgers says it best:

And it’s been covered by the National!

That turkey should not die in vain.

Maybe it’s the gravy that really sets your family Thanksgiving apart.  Bob’s Burgers and The National are here to help us again!

And if you’re still needing to satisfy your family’s quirkiness or willingness to try it all, go Ron Swanson.  If you’ve already satisfied yourself with “the Swanson” – a turkey leg wrapped in bacon – maybe try one of Nick Offerman’s home recipes:

Enjoy!  Best of luck today, tomorrow (for the bold fools who will Black Friday), and this weekend.  See you Monday!

Admin Threads

Banned Books Week 2015, courtesy ala.org/bbooks
Banned Books Week 2015, courtesy ala.org/bbooks

Every year, the last week in September becomes the focal point for a concerted effort to celebrate the freedom to read.  In this country, the First Amendment’s right to free speech must contend with a long history of censorship – promoted by individuals, organizations, and government.  Banned Books Week is organized by the American Library Association (ALA), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and a host of non-profits, publishers, and legal defense funds.  It is supported by myself, among much of the reading world, and, through this week’s Extra Credit opportunity, by you!

(Check out this cool infographic to learn more: courtesy of Electric Literature)

To receive Extra Credit for Banned Books Week, you must choose one of the following options, and use professional images, symbols, designs, or media:

A) Create a Poster to celebrate the week, using the three requirements below:

B) Create a Handout to share information about banned and challenged books, using these criteria:

  • A list of frequently challenged books (Here’s a resource from the ALA)
  • Reasons why books are often challenged (Resources from the Huffington Post, in 2012 and 2014)
  • A checklist of frequently challenged books – check off as many as you’ve read!

C) Compose a 1 page essay (typed – 12pt font, TNR, double-spaced) on To Kill a Mockingbird as a challenged book.  Why (and where/when) has it frequently been challenged?  What might be ironic about wanting this book censored?  What is your reflection on reading the book – how might you oppose or defend a challenge to this book at our school?

Whichever option you choose, it must be submitted by the end of the week, Friday, September 30.  To be eligible, you must follow the requirements for each option, as well as aim for professional quality (Mom would put it on the fridge, and so would I!).  Successful efforts will be awarded 20pts, and above-average efforts 30pts (each option is worth more than a homework assignment!).  If nothing else, you can celebrate this week by finishing TKAM, and moving on to a new book which, having been published, probably has found someone to challenge it by now!

F(READ)OM!!

Courtesy @BannedBooksWeek on Twitter.
Courtesy @BannedBooksWeek on Twitter.

Admin Class Resources Reading Picks

Image from Eclectic/Eccentric.
Image from Eclectic/Eccentric.

The Odyssey is one of earliest, and best, works in the “big trip” genre, so grand they named half the genre after it!  For freshmen looking to complete a 3D Map for their Odyssey project, here are a few tips.

First – the in-class map is by no means definitive, but has two components that I think are key: an oversized Ithaca and an Underworld far (far) to the west.  You don’t have to reach the Pillars of Heracles, but I like the idea of going to the edge of the known (Mediterranean) world.

Second – use your resources to help you tell the story!  Some of my favorites are on Google Earth (download it if you haven’t – it’s worth it!), especially the Odyssey on Google Lit Trips, which features facts and artwork at the locations in each episode.  Your map doesn’t need to be overly complicated, but consider adding stickers, flags, or figures to keep the travels alive.

Third – you don’t need to use salt dough, but this is a straightforward method to make your map 3D that is both easy and useful!  The video below was made in jazzy style by a very good friend of mine some years ago, and gives you a nice breakdown of the salt dough process.  I definitely expect your map to be in color, so grab the appropriate food coloring to go with it or paint it after it dries (a few days later)!

For Glory!

9th Grade: Intro to Literature Class Resources