Monday, November 29, 2010

Identity Crisis

My kids are amazing.  No, really.  I handed them the mask and project assignments two weeks ago and the finished products are incredible.  I cannot wait to look closer at each of them but for now, click here to see the kids and their new faces.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fabulous Faces

Now I know I'm nuts.  I'd always wondered as a high school English teacher how gutsy I would be when it came to creativity and moving beyond the reading and writing that is required of me and my students.  So when brilliant ideas come to me, I often hesitate presenting them to my kids for fear of of "the stare."  Eyes glaze over, faces are expressionless as students are surely thinking "she's got to be kidding!"  Most of the time, I am not.

One of these brilliant ideas worked two years ago when I taught Animal Farm for the first time.

"Wouldn't it be fun to build replicas of the farm," I thought to myself one early, early morning.  So I made some notes and approached my senior students.  A few of them had "the stare," but more than one simply needed more information and then they were all for it.  So after brainstorming guidelines and presenting edited versions of my plan, they got to work and pretty soon my room was littered with farm animals of all shapes and sizes, glue guns, craft sticks, plywood, poster paint, stones, straw, and barns.  It was creative chaos at its best. And the end results were amazing. 

That has now become a traditon, only three years old, and my kids hear legendary stories of these farms.  I hope these African masks will become such legend. 

I look across my desk to the 50 or so faces molded in soggy newspaper that line my room and think "We're nuts!"  But you have to be to survive these days. 

Students, how's it going?  What are your plans to personalize these masks?  Do you think it was worth it?

We shall see...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mask Madness

It worked!  Paper mache mix seemed to work and the kids molded faces in foil.  Then, laying strips of dampened paper across the form, faces emerged!  I now have 23 faces lining my room - kind of creepy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Culture Club

The madness continues.  We're beginning our creative projects based on Africa and Achebe's novel.  Kids are going to start making paper mache masks on Friday and are also working with a partner on another project - should be exciting to see the finished displays.  I often get these fabulous ideas for class at odd times - the 2:19am trek to the kitchen for juice to calm a child; the 11:45pm restlessness stemming from too much Pepsi; the 6:15am lunch-packing ritual; the 4:32am rocking of a sleepless child.  And what is in my head doesn't always work in real life, but the students give it a whirl anyway and I am always impressed by what they create.  And I thank them for jumping on board even when they give me the puzzled expressions of "you want us to do what!?"

TFA Projects

So, keep earning those cowries with blog comments:
  • How's the project coming?
  • What great ideas do you and your partner have?
  • What fabulous websites have you found?
  • What suggestions do you have for a grading rubric and requirements?
  • How can we display these around the school?
  • Are you learning anything !?!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Finally Finished

Whew!  We've successfully finished reading Things Fall Apart!!  While it may have been a bit dry and the character names hard to pronounce, overall I think the students eventually had a good grasp of the culture and daily life of Okonkwo and his clan.  As the Christian missionaries slowly infiltrated and tribal life deteriorated, more and more of us understood how things were falling apart around Okonkwo and why that ultimately led to his suicide.  I, for one, thought it was a wimpy way for him to die considering his violent tendencies.  A few kids voiced their disappointment that he didn't go down without a fight and others mentioned that perhaps he figured he was going to die anyway, having killed one of the missionaries, so he may as well do it himself.  Good insights.  Now, on to our creative projects!!

I'm thinking paper mache masks...

History and Examples of African Masks

Your thoughts about the novel in general, Okonkwo as a character, his demise and reactions from his clansmen?

Keep those cowries safe!