Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Classroom on Mango Street

So, I am here, sitting in an empty classroom, taking down posters, stacking grammar books, and yes, pondering how I can be better at my job next year. How can I share the passion for literature, history, philosophy, politics, and world culture that I feel? How can I make the rising generation of tenth grade teens sit up and take notice of all that the realm of English Literature and Language has to offer?

I have a plan.

A good plan.

Want to hear it? Want to make suggestions? Want to help me mold young minds?

Term 1:

~Short Stories from Guy de Maupassant, Katherine Mansfield, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez (learning MLA format, research techniques, and debate tactics)

~Short novel Iron and Silk--about a young Yale graduate going into Communist China to teach English and learn Martial Arts. Along with this is in depth information (including guest speakers and a martial arts demonstration)about Chinese history, politics, government, martial arts, and the world fascination with learning English (with a bit of statistics thrown in for fun!))

~Follow up with the awesome graphic novel American Born Chinese, and take what they have learned about Chinese culture, pair it with American culture to understand the two together, and explore current stereotypes.

Term 2:

~Julius Caesar--discussing power, politics, honesty, democracy, republics, and the importance of the vote. The will be keeping a close eye on the 2008 election, learning and defending their political stance, and discussing major political issues.
~Pair it with philosophical discussion from reading Plato's Republic and Machiavelli's Prince

~Anthem by Ayn Rand--objectivism, capitalism, communism, socialism, individualism verses the collective. Creating a Utopia. Free Trade verses Fair Trade
~Pair with readings from Naomi Klein and Generation Me

Term 3:

~House on Mango Street--explore and celebrate the customs and culture of Latin America, as well as Hispanic influence on America, immigration issues, and the importance of memoirs.
~Pair it with readings from David Sedaris and the Freedom Writers Diary

Term 4:

~The brilliant graphic novel Persepolis--Middle East past and current events (this could take an entire year, yes? How many of today's kids REALLY know what is going on with the war? With the surrounding countries, with the daily lives of those who live in the Middle East, is it only fear they feel? Why does America seem to foster the idea that American blood is more precious than the rest of the world? see past post about this!)
~Selections from Three Cups of Tea, educational systems throughout the world

~Poetry Unit--if time!


Stina said...

Um, can I come be a 10th grader in your class next year? Especially for Term 1? I am becoming more cognizant every day that I need to be better informed about Chinese culture and particularly biracial Chinese-Caucasian-American issues as I prepare to bring one into the world. I'm so glad you are an educator; your students are really so lucky to have you!

Michelle said...

Anthem = one of my favorite books EVER.

Have them read Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Spanish...his books are better that way. (I realize this isn't realistic but it would be cool, right?)

Sounds like a fun year!

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

I agree with Stina - I want to be in your class too!

I'm a HUGE fan of Garcia-Marquez. I think he's absolutely amazing. If your 10th graders aren't smitten by his writing, it's time to get out the defibrillator....

(btw - you need to check out my recent post re: Georgia O'Keeffe... I even give a shout to YOU on it...) :-)

D'Arcy said...

Stina--I would LOVE to have you in my class, you'd probably sit on the front row and look interested, which is all I desire!

Michelle--sure it's realistic! I'll just become fluent in Spanish over the summer and then read it to would totally yeah, no, it's hard enough to get them to read in English. However, for my Spanish speaking students, I am going to get right on that!

HWHL--You'd be surprised how many need a difibrillator--until 3rd period, when all their huge energy drinks kick in. It's always one extreme or the other!

Steve and Jenn Fletcher said...

D'Arcy Virginia Benincosa! I just started a blog--my computer savvy brother-in-law showed me--and I was looking for you on the blog search and I found you! So glad I did! Now I can read up on everything you have done! My, my, my what a prolific life you lead! Love Jenn!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
What a cool reading list, sign me up for your class as well! I so love to see passion and caring in teachers, something I rarely interacted with as a student. I am considering returning to university to get my teaching degree once Tara gets her degree. New Zealand is sorely lacking in male teachers. Reading your passionate words inspires me! Kia ora! Kia ora means both Greetings and Thank You.
Rangimarie - Peace to you,
Ka kite ano, Till next time,

Gustav said...

Dear D'Arcy

It sounds like you will be opening many doors for your students to walk through.

I recently read "Three Cups of Tea" and love the other novels you have listed.

You asked for suggestions and I have only one -"Leaves of Grass" by
Walt Whitman and especially the Song of the Open Road - here are a few lines for your students.:

"Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,

It is to grow in the open air and eat and sleep with the Earth.

Here is the test of Wisdom,
Wisdom is not finally tested in schools,
Wisdom is of the soul, it is not susceptible of proof, it is its own proof"

Moonbird said...

I knew before this comment page loaded that someone had already written what I was going to....

"I want to be in your class."

Wish I could be more original, but oh well. It's how we feel, Miss B.

arbee said...

I might have to read some of the things on your list... I haven't read any "real" literature since college! Sad, but true... :(

p.s. I wan't to be in your class too! :)

Alisa said...

I can't wait to talk about Three Cups of Tea with you. Kevin read Iron and Silk last year, so I'll have to ask him about it.

Sounds like a great curriculum, helping your students to place themselves in a broader context.

The only thing lacking is A Separate Peace by John Knowles. That book rocks! (OK, not really--they still teach it in my old high scool)

jomama said...

i want to be in your class, too. sounds like there would be a lot to talk about. i'm reading persepolis right now!

Arianna said...

I am going to miss your class soo much now!! that sounds like so much fun, and it sounds like those lucky tenth graders are going to finally have an English teacher that knows what they are doing! Good Luck next year, and enjoy that awesome outline you have planned.
I do have one suggestion and that is maybe keep in mind that you seem to be doing a lot of graphic novels and your leaving out To Kill A Mockingbird, which I believe is a great book to understand the cultural differences that America has. Maybe if you can find someplace to fit that in, that would be cool :).
Your an awesome teacher, and NUAMES is definitely in need of more teachers like you! Keep it that way!


D'Arcy said...

I know Ari!! But all the incoming freshman have already read TKM...I am so sad to leave it out!

By the way, as your English teacher, I need to tell you....

it's "You're an awesome..." not "Your an awesome..."

I only do this because I care! And because I am OCD, as you know!