I considered deleting some of my previous posts because they represent my halting attempts at launching this blog. But then I reconsidered. Probably because I’ve spent too many years reading O Magazine and definitely because I’m on a self-confidence kick brought on by reading Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please. Poehler shares words of wisdom from one of her mentors, Del Close, who wisely advised everyone, “Don’t think.”
“Don’t think” sounds like the opposite of good advice, especially when read by a former high school English teacher who relishes the analysis (re: tearing apart) of a 19th century poem or an episode of Downton Abbey (Just one more week people! One week!). We of the over-analytical mind sometimes stop our own progress with mental moats. We stand on the banks of “How Do I” for far too long, instead of just jumping into the water. Now that I live in Maryland and don’t have to worry about Florida alligators, this advice sounds much more reasonable. (Disclaimer: I do not advise people to jump into Florida moats. Seriously. There is some weird shit growing down there.) So I’m leaving the previous posts as a reminder that I can’t let a few moments of regression stop me from moving forward. Onward, I say. Onward!
My husband gave me a long-desired birthday gift and one I had to move hundreds of miles to receive: a subscription to The Washington Post. (To the people in their 20s, yes, I realize I could have gotten a digital subscription years ago, but I am also a former journalism major who loves the snap of a fresh page of newspaper, so when Kindle/Apple/BillGates can reproduce that effect, then we’ll talk.) The Post is a goldmine of teaching material, so expect to see lots of links and ideas from that source.
I love a good laugh, and we have far too few of those in our classrooms today, so I’m starting the new year with a link to a funny cartoon called Frazz that ran in the Post on Dec. 21. Since I don’t want to violate any copyright laws, I will provide you the link:
Great teachers know how to take ideas from other teachers and adjust the ingredients according to their students’ needs. Here’s a potential recipe (lesson plan) from my kitchen (theoretical classroom, if I still had one). Don’t you just love analogies?
RECIPE FOR Dec. 21 FRAZZ COMIC
- Print out comic and have it displayed on your document camera before students arrive. (Or copy the comic onto an overhead transparency and then ask your students to bring in baked goods so you can host a fundraiser to buy a document camera.)
- Once the bell rings and the kids have all read the comic, open up the discussion. “What do you notice?” “What’s funny here?” Honestly, those questions are probably all you’ll need to get the kids to start discussing tone, diction, imagery, and organization.
- A few elements to discuss in case they don’t arise organically from discussion:
- How do we know immediately who “they” is in the first frame? Why didn’t Jef Mallet (the comic) use “adults” or “parents” instead? What is the effect of the use of “they”?
- Discuss choice of phrase “hopped up.”
- Discuss organization of frames. How does the bubble in the middle help or hinder the flow of the comic?
- Bonus points for kids who get the allusion to 1984!!! Teachable opportunity for all those who don’t!
- What is the full reason for why the boy on the bike isn’t worried about discussing “Big Clause”. How do we know and how would the humor be affected if the little boy explained his thinking fully.
- Mini-mini discussion on punctuation and purpose:
- the colon in the middle bubble
- use of telegraphic sentences in last frame
- In my kitchen, this activity would be considered an h’ordeuvre. No need to fill up an entire period with it, and don’t worry about every last crumb. My main objective would be to wake those little brains up from their holiday stupor, get them to pay attention, laugh together, and learn a little something.
So there it is. Just add students and you’re ready to get cookin’. Ok, after three cups of coffee, but you know what I mean.
Happy Halfway Point in the School Year!