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Absolutely True Attempt at Journey of the Hero

Illustration by Ellen Forney Students decided she was one part of supernatural aid on advice.

Ah, the never-ending struggle, challenge, and balance with what has proven to work with what’s new.

Teaching Joseph Campbell’s Journey of the Hero structural pattern works — it works because students understand truly what plot is, they can apply it to multiple mediums, stories, and their own lives, and wait…no more needs to be said. They can apply it to their own lives.

Having to let go of my curriculum baby — you know that baby–the one you work on for months, craft, shape, support with standards and engaging lessons, scope-it, and sequence-it and tie it all up with a bow, and share it with the world, only to have the world think it’s slightly funny looking or outdated. Well, I still think this baby, the Journey of the Hero unit, has merit and value, so thought I would try something different a few years ago and ‘chunk the Hobbit.’ No, that’s not some new Lord of the Rings drinking game, but I broke down the Hobbit into bite-sized pieces for groups of three chapters each. It kind of worked, but kind of didn’t. (Recently, though, I had a sibling of one of my former students ask me on behalf of her sister if I was still teaching that — she loved it.)

We have a full class set of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, so this month I’ve devoted time to reading this extraordinary novel through the idea of the monomyth.

http://writerswrite.co.za/the-heros-journey

 

So far…it’s kind of working. I say kind of because there have been some obstacles, our own Road of Trials:

  • Too quick of an introduction of what JOTH is and entails
  • Jumped right into reading, and students not getting the message they need their books with them every day, to class and to home. They are allowed backpacks in my room so the carrying of a $15 paperback may be too much…but they have all gotten the message again.
  • We had two mornings of ice delays, so that threw off our schedule a bit.
  • Students are still not looking to Canvas for work, or at least the majority are not.
  • Students are still expressing too much “learned helplessness” (and it’s making me a little crazy). In fact, I gave students their first quote as scaffolding and one student stopped dead in her thinking tracks and said “I don’t get it” and then kept talking over me when I said let’s work this out. So now I need to go back and teach a lesson on what ‘central idea’ is. Never again will I not have multiple lessons on the basics at the beginning of the year. 

Here is what is starting to work:

We walked through the first three sections together, scaffolded and intentional:

Smartnotebook file (which I can’t embed here, but if you need it email me or contact me in the comments)

JOTH Reader Response Tracker

After we worked on it by hand, this weekend I’ve given them a scaffolded digital version that displays the work they’ve come up with : JOTH Part Time Indian Support

Laura Randazzo’s Prezi:

So we’ll see. We’re on our own journey through the novel, trying my best to allow them to discover what they think and find. I’ll keep you posted.

 

PS It’s not an accident that Penelope is named Penelope. Think about it.

Google Docs Links:

Journey of the Hero Support Doc

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByKyQvl3l_F5Wng1M2YyaVZ3NW8/view?usp=sharing

Journey of the Hero PowerPoint

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByKyQvl3l_F5NVc2ZVZwbHkweGM/view?usp=sharing

Archetypes PowerPoint

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByKyQvl3l_F5c0pFd1dRNGh6NjQ/view?usp=sharing

 

 

 

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Writers Reading Writing Week.

No, I do not have hero-worship of Neil Gaiman. (Liar.)

Ever have one of those units of study that just globs along in the back of your mind? Well, after reading aloud this week* this thought inspired me: Why not create a mini-unit of writers reading their reading? I am constantly stressing to my students that writing is talking: and they can all do that. We are just beginning to really dig into the writer’s workshop protocols. I was asked two days’ ago what “writer’s workshop” model I use – I didn’t have a prescribed answer. I use the one from the Puget Sound Writing Project, part of the National Writing Project. It’s designed to create, first and foremost, a safe place for writers. I am so comfortable with it, I supposed, because of my fine art’s background. Throwing a painting in progress or sketch up on the wall for your peers to see is risky: I developed my diplomatic critiquing style from these days.

So: I need to throw this idea up on the wall and see if it sticks: Each day for two weeks (yes, there’s an assembly on Friday, earthquake drill, [not taken lightly – we do live in a dangerous geographical area] I will continue to read out loud, and have students listen to other writers reading out loud. We will continue to work on annotating text, and the text will be in conjunction with author’s voices. How would you approach this? Would you have them read the text cold, as a pre-assessment of comprehension, and check for their understanding after they hear the writer? I’m thinking Neil Gaiman reading Instructions would be especially good. (Wonder if I can find a version of him reading Chivalry, one of my favorite short stories? Or should I just put on black T-shirt and speak in a British accent?)

Ultimately, I want them to find their own voices. And since that is the big questions: “What are you trying to say, in your own words?”, they will write and then — speak.

Not quite sure what that rubric should matrix*, though.

What we say and feel doesn’t always fit in a box.

*Comments from students the past few weeks: This class is easy, it’s fun, do we have to go to our next class? I’m not trying to cause divisiveness; I just love reading and writing–dang, I love my job.

*Did I just make matrix into a verb? I am so confused.

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WIHWT: Tough read-alouds

“I wanted to run faster than the speed of sound, but nobody, no matter how much pain they’re in, can run that fast. So I heard the boom of my father’s rifle when he shot my best friend.

A bullet only costs about two cents, and anybody can afford that.”

From: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

Not sure I can read that chapter aloud again.

http://www.nea.org/readacross