what's happening now... (well, what was happening a month ago).
i am grading (as usual) and trying to plan unique lessons (more than usual). students were working on the scarlet letter and i had them do a marketing project connected to the text. i told them to imagine that sales of the book were at all all-time low and that they were charged with the task of inventing products to sell that were connected with the text in some way that would boost interest in the book (much like is done with new movies, especially when children are involved. i used harry potter as an example). so the girls were to consider who their target demographic would be: who is/should be reading this novel and to whom would they sell their products? i put them into groups and they decided upon this together and then each of them was to invent her own product and tell me all about it: size, materials, cost, use. then they designed mock-ups or tangible prototypes and designed a tri-fold presentation board which they used in pitching their products to the class (an imaginary board of investors deciding whether or not to fund the production of their products). they had some very clever presentations. i did notice, however, that there was a distinctly sexist quality in just about all of their products and presentations.
i instructed them to rehearse their speeches as they were not to read them from cards or a page and they did EXCEPTIONALLY well with this. this was really the ultimate goal in this project; we do not require public speaking in our general curriculum and this is something that i think they sorely need. i will continue to require a presentation of some sort on each of our works of literature this year, each time adding a requirement (eliminating "like" and "um", being persuasive, etc). it is fairly easy for me to do this since i have a class of only twelve (i know, i'm a lucky bastard). this class followed hawthorne with poe's "the fall of the house of usher" and i had them imagine that they were the music director for a new film version of the story and i asked them to make a short playlist that would be used for the soundtrack. they wrote brief explanations of their selections and then we played one of each students' songs. we talked about where each song might best fit, which scene they envisioned it working best with, and we unpacked the mood of the song and how it did or did not reflect the story. this took a full 85 minute block, but i think that a day like this (a bit lighter seeming but still encouraging critical thought about the work) is sometimes necessary. i'm learning to release the reins a bit as i fancy myself a bit of a task master.
finally, i've been reading around some new blogs and they are rife with poor grammar and spelling. egad, people. you are writing in a public forum - SPELLCHECK, for the love of pete!