Blackout Poetry with The Book Thief

In The Book Thief, Max takes Hitler’s memoir Mein Kampf, white washes the pages and from that creates something beautiful.  Through this lesson plan, students have the opportunity to do the same.

As my roommate said as we were doing this together, “I’m taking Hitler’s words, reducing it down to 10%, and now it’s so much better!”

Mine’s about zombies. Teehee.

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Lesson plan after the jump.

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Kriss Kross, part II

I can’t believe I forgot to put this up here. I made another crossword puzzle a few weeks ago, something to keep kids busy while I was subbing for middle school study hall.

On one side of the page I copied a handout on the 12 (but really 14) Olympians. I forgot to include Hestia, dernnit. Maybe I’ll update it at some point to include her. On the other was the crossword. For some reason, middle schoolers really love crosswords. Go figure. Downloads after the jump.

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Latin Mad Libs!

Sometimes it’s hard to get students engaged.

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Especially when in Latin class.

Taking inspiration from Mad Libs, and adapting a passage from Ecce Romani, I made what I think is a fun activity to help students practice noun-adjective agreement.  The passage is from chapter 5, but the activity actually correlates better with chapter 6.  Chapter 5’s story was just more entertaining.

Students fill in blanks to prompts such as “masc nom sing,” meaning a masculine nominative singular adjective.  They then plug in these adjectives into the story and translate.  Comedy ensues!  Grammar is practiced.  Download after the jump.

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Thou shalt repopulate this passage with more verbose vocabulary!

Oh, we had some fun with this activity.

To discuss word choice (particularly words of Latinate vs Germanic origins), we used the wonderful Joseph Decreux meme. This meme takes rap lyrics or other well-known quotes, and “translates” them into archaic language. Often with hilarious results.

After having a good laugh looking at some hilarious (yet school appropriate) memes, the students got their chance. Again keeping with the Hemingway theme that drove the course, I gave them an excerpt from the Simple Wikipedia entry on Hemingway. They then “translated” sections, with hilarious results.

BEHOLD!

Before: At home in Oak Park, Ernest wrote for his school newspaper.

After: In thine place of eating, resting and bladder drainage, he inked for the scholastic scroll.

Before: At home in Oak Park, Ernest wrote for his school newspaper. He tried to write like a famous sports writer, Ring Lardner, and he made his writing skills better.

After: In the vicinity of household near Oak Park, Ernest inscribed for his schoolhouse biweekly.  He attempted at composing approximative to noble frolic wordsmiths, such as Ray Lardner, and in result of that improved his wordsmith trade for the worthier.

Before: In 1917, Ernest found a job with the Kansas City Star newspaper in Kansas City, Missouri.

After: In the year 1917, the Kansas City Star newspaper, abiding in Kansas City, abiding in Missouri, supplied Ernest with employment.

Before: One reporter said: “Hemingway liked to be where the action was.”

After: A single reporter aforementioned, “Hemingway enjoyed to exist approximal to the location of heated activity.”

The best part about this activity is how much Hemingway himself probably would have hated it. Teehee…

Movie clip as text for analytical writing

In a writing class this summer, my 8-9 graders took a crack at writing about film. No easy task. Since they’ve been reading Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, we took a clip from the 1957 film to analyze and write a thesis on. Before watching, we gave them a glossary of film terms (stolen from Wikipedia, of course) and looked at some examples of story boards. Hitchcock has some good ones.

Step one: Watch the clip with a critical eye. To make sure the kids watched it looking for small details, we had them create a story board for the clip, one sketch for each shot. Our kids are lil’ perfectionists, so this step took a bit.

Step two: Discussion. We asked them what filmic elements stood out the most. Maybe it was Henry’s hand slamming down on the sugar cubes he had lined up. Maybe it was the dramatic music. Maybe it was the warm colors of the bar compared with the cool colors of the hospital. Lots of options there.

Step three: Thesis statement. This has really been the focus of this summer class: writing good thesis statements. And these kids pulled through. Although new to film analysis, they produced some good analytical thesis statements that could eventually be developed into decent essays. So proud.

Student examples after the jump.

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All hail the almighty quote burger!

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An oldie but a goodie. Using a burger as a symbol for how to effectively integrate a direct quote in an essay, we discussed today how to:

  1. give context to a quote (top bun),
  2. quote the original work (burger patty),
  3. cite correctly (bacon, because it ain’t worth nuttin without the bacon!),
  4. and relate the quote back to the topic sentence of the paragraph and thesis statement of the paper (bottom bun, without which the whole thing falls apart).

I stole a thesis statement from SparkNotes, and paired it with a quote from Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms (which they recently read), and we put the two together as a class.

It took some prodding but we got a nice end product:

Initially a means of alleviating the pain of war and private grief, their affair continues to serve the very practical purpose of masking life’s difficulties. As Henry and Catherine are in the Milan hospital, they discuss past relationships. Henry lies about it, but Catherine doesn’t mind. She says, “It’s all right. Keep right on lying to me. That’s what I want you to do. Were they pretty?” (91). She lets him lie to her in order to suppress memories of her late fiance and potentially harmful knowledge of her present lover.

Not perfect, but not bad for rising 8th and 9th graders, eh?

Student Project on Founding Figures

I’ve been looking more and more at comparative mythology lately – the similarities between the myths of various cultures. Many believe that most myths have at least an original basis in some form of truth, and for that reason many mythical archetypes transfer beyond one single mythology. This in turn expands to modern mythologies; we still look to gods, heroes and god-like heroes for inspiration.

In this assessment I created for a grad school project, students will explore the ancient-modern connection more thoroughly though an in-depth look at the Aeneas myth and mythical foundation figures in general. The Latin textbook Ecce Romani introduces the myth of Aeneas early on in the first text of the series, and many teachers love to bring in Vergil’s Aeneid for more advanced students to read in translation. For younger readers, a simplified version of the epic by Emily Frenkel and Simon Weller could be used.

In Part I of the project, they will compare two mythical founders to discover what traits are found in the archetype, and write up the similarities and differences in an essay form. I gave the following as choices for their comparisons:

  • Gilgamesh (Iraq)
  • Rurik (Russia)
  • Arthur (England)
  • Jimmu (Japan)

These of course could be added to as seen fit. The variety of cultures seen here, each with a founding figure that shares traits with the others, speaks to the power of this particular archetype.

In Part II of the project, they will create their own founding myth, putting a creative spin on it and making the archetype their own. Because I am based in Chicago, I ask them to create a founding figure for this troubled city.

By looking at Aeneas, the typified Roman hero, as well as other such figures from around the world, they will discover what traits they find in those they look up to. Downloads after the jump.

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I only need Juan reason to listen to music in class…

There’s been an over-abundance of ESL posts on this blog, I know. I’ll get back to German, Latin, etc. soon enough, I promise. I’ve been building a curriculum from scratch for this ESL job I just took, so lately my mind has been concerned with little else.

Today’s post deals with GRAMMAR and LISTENING COMPREHENSION in one fell swoop! We’re covering “to be” in class this week – a new concept for some students and a much needed review for others. After going over the basics, I decided to make it a little fun by letting them listen to some of their favorite songs. Including one by, you guessed it, One Direction.

I whipped up a quick worksheet featuring some lyrics from popular songs, leaving blanks in the place of forms of “to be” and the contractions that go with it. We’d listen to the song, and then rewind to the appropriate section so they’d have a second and third chance to listen for the correct form.

The kids enjoyed it a lot, and were actually quite successful in filling in the blanks. Fun was had by all. (Except for the kid who tried to steal my speaker. Fun was had by most, suspensions were had by some.)

Grab the worksheet after the jump: Continue reading