Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Praxis II & Day 2 with Intersession

I'm honestly too tired to post or move or plan my lesson for tomorrow, but I'm doing some research for the Praxis II (which is on Saturday--this is a very punishing time for me in my pursuit of a teaching license) and thought I would post a few of them here. It's essentially just a collection of general knowledge sites--literary movements, Shakespeare information, terms, etc.

Literary Movements
British Lit Timeline
Glossary of Literary Terms

Today went OK. Well, it technically went better then OK, but something happened that is haunting me a bit. Let's talk about the good stuff first.

Having Mandy there was really fabulous. Granted, I think I did just fine yesterday (I wrote "on Monday" as if it were ages ago; it really feels that way), though I had some classroom management (BE QUIET!) issues with the first group. Most importantly, it felt like things were "clicking," which is one thing that I feared--would I ever feel comfortable in front of a classroom? Yep. After all, it's not the same as giving a speech! But having Mandy there really helped keep the morning kids a bit more quiet. I'm trying to figure out a balance between letting them go (when they are discussing each other's poems--"That's good!" or "Will you read my poem? It's horrible.") and shushing them up ("My shoes are size nine!") and keeping them on task ("Let's talk one at a time"). At the beginning of the first class, I told them to write QUIETLY (Quietly, please, class, quietly) for five minutes and they were chatting and Mandy turned around from the board where she was writing a sonnet by Wordsworth--"You all know what quiet means, don't you?" It worked pretty well. And some of the kids shush up the other kids, so that is a good sign.

Today's activities:

Warm up: Write for five minutes on something you regret.
Discussion/Lecture: Italian and Shakespearean sonnet
-We went over rhyme scheme, octaves/quatrains/couplets, syllable pattern (not meter though), and the kind of twist that a sonnet can have from the upper to lower portion
Creation: the students spent much of the time working on their own sonnet, focusing more on rhyme scheme and content rather than worrying about syllable pattern
Writing Prompt: the morning students did an activity where I read a poem, then they drew a picture they thought of while listening to the poem; I collected and re-passed out the poems, so everyone had a new picture and they wrote a poem from this. The afternoon kids took a "word jumble" activity and wrote a poem using interesting word combinations. The word jumble was a page of words in double space form--yellow terrible swim crush lovely staple merry-go-round, etc. The page was full of random words I wrote and they were to figure out combinations. "The terrible night sky crushes the stars," etc. There were some really playful combinations here, and I think it was one of the more successful writing activities.

Tomorrow (we will see how much we can fit in), we will focus on villanelles (Mandy will put together a handout explaining these and some examples), sestinas (I have just finished this one), and cinquains (I will do this). We will also go over simile and metaphor and I will have a few handouts as well as examples to share with the class. (For a good read as well as a book full of fabulous similes and metaphor, read Three Junes by Julia Glass.) They are also to turn in a poem I will photocopy for the whole class; Thursday will be a workshop. (I'm not sure how this will go.

OK, so the thing that has been sitting in my stomach like a rotting stone. (I think this is the after-effects of too much sleep and the jumble activity. Rotting stone? Indeed, this is what I mean.) One of the girls, who seems nice enough, though puts on a front for her peers, used the phrase "f-gg-t-ass" (I can barely bring myself to say these things... like the n-word) in a sonnet she wrote today. I was out of the room making photocopies and Mandy reported it to me; she said she told the girl she wasn't allowed to swear. "OK, f-gg-t butt then." I'm not sure what happened after this, but there was apparently some discussion (I'll find out the details and conclusion, if there was one), but the moment seemed to have passed when I entered the room. The kids really enjoy reading their poems out loud, so I braced myself for this girl's and tried to figure out a way to tell her that it was a good effort, but the phrase was inappropriate and hateful. She read something else instead, so I was relieved for the moment. Now what? Do I take her aside and speak to her about what I heard she wrote? I found the draft of the poem with the phrase on it (spelled "fagit"), so I can't ignore it. Do I address the entire class and risk something more painful then I'm ready to deal with? Obviously I'm going to talk this over with Mandy since this is her class too. I mentioned it to another cohort member, Terry, and she told me that she couldn't live with herself if she didn't say anything; up until then, I was just going to move on, but I realized that I couldn't. And I couldn't live with myself either.

Anyway, this is one of the big teacherly issues that we have to face. I wish I had been there because I know I would have said something on the spot, but I wasn't, and I know that Mandy addressed the issue. I don't want to undermine her in any way, but as a person who is a member of the GLBT community, I feel I absolutely cannot let it slide. The student needs to understand how hurtful certain things can be. And maybe it was taken care of already, but I think I'll need to talk it over with my teaching partner first!

Back to some content! Here are some of the links I used to research for tomorrows lesson:

Sestina by Elizabeth Bishop
Cinquain Samples
Simile and Metaphor Lesson Plan
Literary Analysis Lesson Plans

I think I will have them warm up to the topic of "write about your first home." I don't have a larger writing activity, although we have three poetic forms, so I might not get the chance to have them work on a larger activity anyway!

Oh, and even though my topic is not the villanelle, I couldn't help it (it's one of my favorite poems):

Analyzing Bishop's "One Art"

One Art

by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

places, and names, and where it was you meant

to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or

next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident

the art of losing's not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

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