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Saving Summer: Disconnection Connection

Aziz Ansari recently put himself on an internet diet, and maybe the rest of us should follow suit.

I bought the full-meal deal from Freedom a year ago, and it’s been buggy ever since, and the customer support is confusing, but I’ll keep trying. I’ve tried to limit myself: making jewelry again, just reading (though it is on an i-pad/Kindle), and doing other things…but it’s been tough. All I’ve succeeded in doing is making a mess. This next week I’ll focus on finishing up the computer technology curriculum and nailing down the first few weeks of ELA. My schedule next year will be a bit different, and I’m trying to be flexibly- proactive. (Whatever that means!) It was time I went through my own digital hoarding and pulled out some of the best articles/ideas.

Let’s get our brains back:

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Through new eyes…

Rey-face-1200x750
“Not a Mary Sue.”

 

Innocently a young colleague, not much older than my eldest son, asked me if I had seen ‘Force Awakens,’ and if I liked it.

Poor guy.

Never believe that asking a simple question to  an English-teacher-quasi-nerd-fan-girl-turned-Jedi-master-saw-original-Star-Wars-changed-life is going to produce a simple answer.

I hesitated, and he said, “Oh no.” He knew.

So…hesitated, and responded: “I learned that ‘Star Wars’ is our cultural entry, our collective consciousness doorway, to providing accessible analysis of narrative.” Or something to that effect.

Basically: it’s our doorway to being able to discuss literature/narrative, in an informed, impassioned and to us, when we’re discussing plot, character, story arc, decisions, we own it, we create and recreate, and we feel smart. And when we feel smart, we feel confident. And when we feel confident, success is inherent. And nothing succeeds like success.

Think about it: when my husband and I left the Cinerama (our boys having seen the film: older one not in love with Star Wars, in fact hates it, younger one loved it and shared the Belated Media clips below–more on that later) we both knowingly rolled our eyes at each other, and waited until we were out of earshot of other fans to dissect Kylo Ren’s character, plot points, comparisons, and develop our own fan theories. My husband leans toward Star Trek, I sit on the Star Wars side, but somehow we manage to still love each other. This huge epiphany slammed my noggin like a tri-chappe lightsaber: Star Wars doesn’t have to be good, high art, elitist cinema or literature: its value is in our ability to want to own it, and its simple story is its beauty of accessibility.

This is why–oh so very, very why–it’s important to understand how to open that door for our students.

And do not — DO NOT — get your “teacher” all over it.

DO.

NOT.

If you use Minecraft, don’t add a learning target.

If you use Dr. Who, Harry Potter, or Star Wars, don’t put a standard anywhere near it.

If you talk about Journey of the Hero, unreliable narrators, game lore, Dungeons and Dragons, or the poetry of the songs from your youth, be the Obi-Wan to their padawan, and allow them to be the Jedi Master when teaching you about what’s important to them. If you’ve ever spoken to a Whovian, you will be thoroughly schooled in all things Dr. Who.

Allow yourself to be the dork once in awhile. Show them the passion and excitement you have when you talk about a movie you love, or characters you feel like you know personally. I have no shame in telling students I cried when I found out Alan Rickman passed away. If you can watch the scene between Dumbledore and Snape when Snape reveals his motivation (no spoilers…just in case)…then you may need to check for your humanity. Back to Star Wars: a young female colleague told me she thought Rey was better than Leia. Oh, smart lady, please don’t make me bring up context and constraints of time periods.

We fans of fiction, games, lore, and the accessible story unite in pure love of the conversation.

All I can say about that.

Anyway, my colleague showed this to me — so fun to watch fan theories:

JarJar? Master Wizard?

And my younger son shared this series with me and my husband, and we loved them: (there may be some language: apologies).

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You’ve got style, babe…

You know, my Washingtonian darlings, you won’t start school until Monday, August 31. And you will complain, although I have it on good authority you’re actually excited to be back. It’s okay. You don’t have to tell me.

Anyway, one of my favorite cousin’s sons has already started ninth grade English. I’m not sure if he’s in honors or not, but my cousin asked me if I could help him with an assignment. Apparently, his class is reading Alas, Babylon and Lord of the Flies. I have never read Alas, alas, but I am fascinated and fond of Lord of the Flies.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

He asked me to help him develop questions based on stylistic elements of literature. Um, yeah. That was kind of like asking me to pull apart the richness of a thick, gooey, chocolate cake with chocolate chips, chocolate frosting, and a side of chocolate–LOTF is so rich with symbolism, motifs, allusions, allegory, foreshadowing and all-around awesomeness of writing, it’s almost impossible to pull it all apart–but not totally. This is the challenge of discussing amazing literature–novels, short stories, poetry–all deep and interesting texts that connect us as humans. Lord shows us that we, in our deepest hearts, can be cruel, savage, and bloodthirsty bullies. It also shows us that evil may take many forms, but it can be fought: when it’s left unchecked, our society and connections fall apart.

Oops. This wasn’t about me writing a thesis paper on Lord of the Flies. It was about finding and understanding literary terms, so you can apprecitate, understand, and desire reading:

Fairly comprehensive glossaries of literature terminogy: http://classiclit.about.com/od/literaryterms/Glossary_Terms.htm

http://www.virtualsalt.com/litterms.htm

Embrace your literary style.

Ooo-ooo– another literary terms website that, well, rocks: http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/lit_terms/