Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summer Reading Reactions, Novel Recommendation, and a Project Idea

Like many teachers, after completing the summer reading selections, I thought to myself, "This is great. What will this look like? (The Global Competence Matrix for ELA on page 104 of the Asia Institute reading was helpful, but overwhelming). How can I fit this into my English classroom?"

My own global education experiences have been outside of the traditional classroom—studying in Paris my junior year, teaching English in France after college graduation, teaching teachers about project-based learning in Mali, and most recently leading the MS Belize trip with Kelley.

When reviewing the global competencies, I feel like my ability to recognize diverse perspective is strongest thanks to my love of literature. Had I not read Julia Alvarez and Junot Diaz, I would know nothing about the Dominican Republic. My knowledge of Native American heritage and reservation life comes from Leslie Marmon Silko and Sherman Alexie. Please know that I don't profess to be an expert on Dominican or Native American culture at all, but thanks to reading the works of these authors, my global perspective has deepened. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the author of my favorite novel of the week, Americanah warns readers of the dangers of a single story in her TED talk and recent text. I recommend both:

Finally, one of my teaching highlights this year was after school during a community service field trip to the Neville Senior citizens' center. At first my club members were hesitant to go—talking with old people did not seem nearly as appealing as cooking dinner for the fifteen previously homeless women now living at the Duley House. After completing a number of icebreakers, students engaged in short interviews with the residents. All of the community club members loved the experience and were wowed by the powerful stories the residents shared with them. How amazing would it be (and I'm totally stealing this idea from a school in Portland, Maine whose name I'm forgetting) if all MS English students visited the Neville Center, conducted in-depth interviews with the residents, turned their Q and A into feature pieces, and shared them with a group of younger students and with the residents themselves? The project, which wouldn't have to be limited to different perspectives based on age, would allow students to investigate their world, recognize perspective, take action, and communicate their ideas to diverse audiences. Anyone interested in a field trip?


MS English 

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