Monday, October 8, 2012

Wait, you tricked me--that wasn't LEARNING, it was fun!

I'm a firm believer in horizontal, all-inclusive learning. This is why I'm teaching The Hunger Games in a Composition class, why my students use Blogs, Wikis and YouTube throughout the semester, why my World Lit. students recognize Spoken Word and a Shakespearean sonnet, and why my ENG 100 students now know who Hans Christian Andersen is.

I was lucky enough to have parents who encouraged me to read, took me to the library, and bought me books when they could.  I have a lovely illustrated compilation of some of Hans Christian Andersen's best-known stories, so I knew that Disney's The Little Mermaid was stuff and nonsense even as a child.  My students, however, do not.

As their journal assignment this week (12-15 sentences), my ENG 100 class was to read a fairytale by Andersen, give a short summary, and indicate whether or not they had ever heard anything like it before.  Other than the Little Mermaid, none of my students recognized the tales they read--and some read "The Princess and the Pea"!  I wasn't shocked, but I was gratified that I had introduced them to something new.

While initially the students griped because the stories looked long to them, in the end, they all enjoyed the fairy tales they read.  They learned something new, realized that the fairy tales they thought they knew were rooted in stories that were much older and more sinister, and synthesized what they are learning about narrative in writing with classic literature.  And we all lived happily ever after...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out

September 30 - October 6 marks this year's Banned Books Week.
Every year, individuals and groups who believe they know what is best for others challenge books, plays, poetry, short fiction, and art in an attempt to ban the works or restrict them. While this is common practice in many countries--often government or church mandated--in the United States, the right to exercise the freedom to read, view, and hear whatever we want is protected by the First Amendment. The American Library Association (ALA) promotes Banned Book Week every year to highlight works that have been challenged here in the U.S. Banned Books Week involves a number of activities meant to draw attention to censorship, including a "Read-Out" of banned material. Thanks to the internet, the Read-Out has gone digital this year. The Virtual Read-Out has a channel on YouTube. A sincere opponent to censorship, I have encouraged the students in all of my classes this semester to participate in the Read-Out, even if only for our class's benefit. ENG 120 (Composition) is reading The Hunger Games with me this semester--this YA novel has been challenged a number of times already. ENG 201 (Research and Applied Writing) has been challenged to create a video for any challenged or banned work. ENG 262 (World Lit. II) is a poetry and drama class, so students will create Read-Outs of challenged or banned plays and poetry. Even if they don't submit to the Virtual project, students will post them to class blogs so other students can view them.
What are you doing this week?