Thursday, August 21, 2008

notes on a syllabus.

perhaps the best thing i've seen online since this injury occurred. i'm always looking for ways to keep myself laughing. bert and ernie, doing M.O.P's "Ante Up".

last weekend, i went back to the hospital and was actually admitted for 3 days for an infection in the afore-blogged wound... as school begins (i report on monday), i'm trying to take care of my health first and lesson plans second. but here are some thoughts for my class this year that i'm synthesizing as i revise my syllabus. i'm teaching 5 sections of one class, which was originally titled "Intro to Literary Genres", but I re-titled "Reading into History".


1) this class is going to be a journey that we embark upon together. it is a science fiction cruise, back into history, where we will place ourselves in the sandals/chariots/saddles of different characters in literature, in order to see what lessons we can take from them that still apply to our lives today.

2) we will keep a travel log, where we will have daily entries about our surroundings, research we have come across, big questions we are beginning to ask ourselves as we cruise along, in a boat up the nile, the yangtze, the ganges, the mediterranean, the indian ocean and red sea (and that's only through december)!

3) monday thru thursday we will delve into literature and writing projects. fridays, we will close out the week with technology/blogging projects - trying to pause and reflect on where we're at, how far we've come and what we see ahead.

4) this classroom is a space that we are building together. it is not mine, it is ours. the rules of each class will be determined by a class contract, which we will decide upon and put in writing during the first week of school. while this contract can be a work in progress, we will decide together about the behaviors we would like to engage in within the class -- and how to deal with folks who are not respecting our space.

5) i welcome your prior knowledge about different periods of history and genres of literature, but ask that you always keep an open and questioning mind.

6) you will be expected to read, write and speak daily, as we are aiming to sharpen our communication skills. while i respect that people prefer different modes of communication, i also expect you to try new ways to express your ideas.

7) your grade will be determined by the effort you put in, your participation in class activities, the quality of your work and your own personal progress. you are in charge of your education and will also be evaluating your own work and progress, from time to time.

(after this i get into nitty gritty of grading structures and policies/procedures for absences, lateness (for both your person and your work),


and now a few words about the first month...

first two weeks -- basic skills: speedreading and reading strategies, notetaking, writing workshop (the writing process), discussion circle, goal setting, time management, class contracts, set-up of folders and journals, 'all about me' essays/visual projects, literary genre vocabulary, the art of the thesis, grammar basics.

next 3 weeks - egypt. "book of the dead" creation myths, KWL (what do we KNOW, what do we WONDER, what have we LEARNED?), translating hieroglyphs into poetry, vocabulary, rituals, "a modern ancient society" -- an oxymoron?, egyptian art (field trip to the met), spirituality, and economy. where do we see egypt in popular culture? what's the history of our fear of mummies? what else can we discover about their lives and culture?


and with that, i must go to bed. planning is exhilarating, but also exhausting. and i find it hilarious that anytime i describe my work this year, the adjective that folks usually use is "ambitious". is it? only time will tell.


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