Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An Unexpected Letter

I hadn't expected to get so many kind messages in response to my last post! Laura here; private notes by email; and, of course, many comments from Facebook friends--I'd forgotten that the blog was hitched to my Facebook account, but I'm glad now that I made that move last spring, or whenever it was. You've made me glad I posted. Thank you all.


Another pleasant surprise in the email box: a message from one of my Say Something Wonderful seminar alumni, linking to some student work.

Hey Eric!

I hope you're doing well. Just want to share some cool poetry video essays my students created using Vendler's framework. You can view them at the school Web site in The Sound of the Page section. They'll be available as Podcasts on iTunes in a few days, too.

Also, I used the Humament strategy again this year and got some pretty cool stuff from students.

Thanks for your guidance!

On another note, I'll be moving to a new high school on the southwest side in the fall. The name of the school is Zaragoza. I'm really looking forward to this new opportunity.



If you click over to the video essays you'll hear (with some text on the screen) some of R's students reading poems, then giving close readings of them based on a couple of chapters from Helen Vendler's Poems, Poets, Poetry, notably the chapter on "Poems as Pleasure." I've found my own students, at college, hear their own prose much better when they have to read it aloud; I suspect that's the case for R's as well, so there's a good lesson in expository prose tucked inside each explication.

The "Humament" exercise comes from Tom Philips' ongoing art project, A Humument, in which each page of a Victorian novel is turned into an artwork, with bits of text still showing. Here's an example:

As you can see from that final phrase-- "that / which / he / hid / I / reveal," or maybe "reveal / I"--this is a way to make one text say a second, preferably a counter-text or unspoken set of desires. R's students took on Luis Urrea's The Devil's Highway, "which tells the true story," he writes,
of 26 Mexican men who attempted to cross the US / Mexico border in 2001. They were abandoned by their guide and left to die in the desert.

We used the Humament activity to examine subtext. The assignment asked students to consider what these men wished they could have said. What they produced became long-term displays in our classroom. Many of the students said this was one of the 'coolest' activities they'd ever done.
I'm delighted to know that our seminar discussion of the Philips, and of Ronald Johnson's Radi Os, which led us to A Humament, continues to ripple out into the pedagogical pond.


Mood-wise, a little down this morning again--this on a beautiful clear day, too. Logging off to grade a while, on the theory that wrapping something up (as I did yesterday) will give me a boost. If not, there's always the local pool!

1 comment:

Laura Vivanco said...

Is your local pool the "pedagogical pond"?

To cheer you up, here are some happy frogs at a pedagogical pond. They seem to be wrapping up their ideas in lovely iridescent bubbles.