Rather than a Teaching Discussion this week . . .
This week we are reading the classic text Little Women. I like to start the semester with this a as first novel for a few reasons, not the least of which being that as young girl, I read and re-read this book (the sequels Little Men and Jo's Boys). It was my Harry Potter. I was obsessed.
But what I think is worthwhile to notice is how many themes, characters, dramas (in the teenager angst kind of drama way) for a book written over 140 years ago are remarkably familiar. One might argue that's what makes it literature with a capital "L". At the same time, as many of you will most likely point out, there are some aspects of the story and characters that we might see as dated (the language, corsets, etc). There are a lot of ways we could explore these timeless and universal themes as well what no longer resonates, but I've opted to encourage you to do so rather creatively.
If you were going to update Little Women, how might you do it? Post to CLASS DISCUSSION BOARD (link is live). In 300 words, provide a synopsis of your 2022 version of the classic Little Women. RESPOND in 200 words to at least one of your colleagues by either building on their update idea and/or suggesting why you think, as a reader or a teacher, this would work as an update (or wouldn’t).
For complete details on what to do in this space and how you will be evaluated, please see the complete details for this assignment located on Teaching Discussion page for our class (link is live).
In Brief: Post your initial response, about 300 words. Post a response to your colleagues, 100-200 words.
THIS WEEK’S SCENARIO: The two short stories included in this weeks reading come from a list of short-stories for middle-schoolers. I have used these two stories with rising 8th and 9th graders.
You are teaching a class of 30 8th graders at Whitman Middle School. Here is a class picture. The class you are teaching is majority white. There are two students who identify as African-American. Just over ½ of the class are young women. None of the students are first generation American, but a few students have grandparents who immigrated, mostly from Ireland. More likely, the majority of students have great-grandparents or great-great grandparents that came from to the US during the great migration in the late 1800s—Italy and Ireland mainly. Your classroom is well-equipped. Students have ipads for use in the classroom and all of the students have internet access at home as well as at school. You maintain a teaching website where parents can check assignments.
Without getting overly technical, what would you do with these two stories in this class--because, keep in mind, only one of them was actually written for young people (7th Grade). What will be interesting? What will be challenging? What could you do that would help students become better readers through the use of these texts--in other words, how could you improve the kind of ELA skills we want our students (and the frameworks want) our students to learn?
Don't stress or imagine that this is some big unit plan. It's 300 words. You are thinking out loud and responding thoughtfully to each other.
For our first discussion board of the semester, nothing stressful, think about your reading experiences as a young adult reader. You might still think of yourself as a young adult reader (as we will talk about later n the semester--lots of fully adult readers read YA; it's a trend in publishing). In any case, think about the books you read that would be called YA, think about what they meant to you, think about how they shaped you as a reader, a student, a writer, a thinker, a human.
Post: your 200-300 word YA reading story.
Respond: to at least one classmate. Try not to write the perfunctory "I totally agree". I seriously hate that. Try to connect with your classmates where you can; have conversations with each other about what strikes you as unique about your colleagues' stories. Try to really read and respond with heart and generosity to each other. Maybe even enjoy it.
How to post: Click on the "comment" button at the top of the post. To reply to a classmate, click on the "reply" button in the lower right corner of a post.