Remember the test of the bow near the end of The Odyssey? It was when Penelope, the wandering hero’s long-suffering wife, finally agreed to let one of the suitors marry her if he could string her hubby’s bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axe heads lined up in a row. None of them was man enough to even bend the weapon, but luckily Odysseus himself was there, disguised as a beggar. When it was his turn he not only strung the thing, he proceeded to fire off a quiver of arrows at the bad guys (the first ...

I’m back from my trip to the netherworld (article has gone to bed) and ready to pick up where I left off, which was with a promise to discuss the media consumption habits of ninth graders who are reading Fahrenheit 451. I told you I wanted to look at the book not just as a parable about censorship but also, as Bradbury himself suggests, as a cautionary tale against couch potatoism. So, I asked the students to record their media consumption for one week, and we collated the data in class. The results were interesting, if not scientifically valid. ...

Is there a circle of hell reserved for writers? Cause right now, I’m deep in it. I type this with flames licking my fingers to apologize for the fact that I haven’t posted in a while. Plus I’m midway in my life’s journey and feeling it (sorry, some of my tenth graders are reading the Inferno.) Anyway, here’s the tale of woe. Last summer I had an article accepted at the Washington Post Magazine (that was the good part). In 4000 words I would turn this blog’s predecessor, “Certifiable?”, into a magazine feature chronicling ...

I’m just starting Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 with 9th graders. Eventually, we’re going to do a simulation. The paperwork for an actual book burning was a hassle, so instead we’ll simulate a book challenge hearing, with kids playing various parts including “concerned parent,” school librarian, administrator, etc. (the kids without a set role will be members of the school board, charged with listening to the evidence and writing a decision). Don’t tell the students, but I think the book we’ll put on trial is Harry Potter. For now I want to write about the “anticipatory...

Diane left a comment last post asking for more information about the wikis my 9th graders are using to develop their science papers. (Check out “Workshop of the Gods” and a few previous posts for the nature of the assignment if you’re new here.) I’ll try to flatten this thing into two dimensions in this post; you can’t get to my students’ work because it is based in blackboard, our school system’s online learning system. (I don’t have any great ideas about where to put your own class’s wikis if you want to try ...


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