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Mr. Roberts http://hyperfiction.net Just another WordPress site Mon, 18 Jul 2016 23:17:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.10 Good Books http://hyperfiction.net/good-books http://hyperfiction.net/good-books#respond Mon, 18 Jul 2016 23:15:55 +0000 http://hyperfiction.net/?p=303 “Hmm, this looks like a good book,” I hear the high pitched voice Chris from another aisle at the Boulder Public Library. “Yeah,” comes an audible nod of acceptance.

But how do you know? How can you tell?

I remember trolling the library in Brookline every week, wandering to the front with a stack of novels and books I had collected. I would burn through them, lounging on the couch in the living room, dragging them into the grassy back yard, hiding away beneath sheets late at night. I generally could read three books a week, most of them with wizards or warriors gracing the cover. In retrospect, few of them can be considered truly good books, but I guess that’s the downside to judging a book by its cover.

My friend and fellow teacher Mr. Newman and I have been discussing what makes a work worth reading. In part, we’ve discussed what makes it matter or what makes it meaningful. In whole, we’ve chatted about what makes something great or memorable. While our lists of great or important books overlap, they aren’t identical. Yet our rationales and criteria for how we choose those books are extremely similar even with different results.

Books matter when enough people read them. They gain meaning through interacting with each reader, providing different connections to their lives and/or the other texts they’ve experienced. They’re great when they provide multiple meanings to different people and remain fresh enough in our minds to have conversations about them days, weeks, months, or even years later.

It’s especially interesting to note that none of these criteria directly have to do with authorial intent or the content of the book. Instead, the act of reading is experiential, and, in the case of a good book, affirmational. Books, like all interactions we regard positively, need to make us feel intelligent and a part of something. We need to reach the other side feeling like we’ve learned something, whether it’s as complex as the nature of the universe or as simple as a few facts about a character. By the end, we need to feel as if we’ve come away a better person, even if what is better is knowing to avoid other books by the same author or on the same topic. Books connect us not simply to the content within, but to the people around us. Every time we read a book, we join a non-exclusive club of people who have read that book. We open the door to conversations and discussions, to finding our fellow club members. They bridge a divide and offer us the ability to talk beyond our own experience and to connect the experience of others, whether true or fictional, to our own lived experiences.

I can’t see these things in a cover. Even with the blurb on the back or the jacket.

I miss being able to pick up a book and, simply on first impression, believe it’ll be the best thing ever. Hyperbole aside, I continue to be impressed and surprised by all the new things I’m reading. I’m working on turning the cynicism of college back into the excitement of my youth.

Soon, I hope I can set the example by picking up every book and saying or thinking, “Hmm, this looks like a good book.”

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The Pedagogical Problems with an Imaginary Classroom http://hyperfiction.net/imaginary-classroom http://hyperfiction.net/imaginary-classroom#respond Thu, 21 Jan 2016 13:17:53 +0000 http://hyperfiction.net/?p=296 My imaginary classroom doesn't need Stalinist propaganda posters like this one that reads, "Every farm hand, peasant and poor man should become a reader at the library."
In the imaginary classroom, constructivist theory would have us believe that education doesn’t need to be propagandized through transmissive means. This poster reads, “Every farm hand, peasant and poor man should become a reader at the library.” Image from here.

In my pre-service teacher preparation program we’re often asked to perform a task with our imaginary classroom in mind. The students we’re teaching don’t exist yet. The space we claim as our own doesn’t exist yet. The lessons we hope to impart are merely twinkles in our teacher eyes. Yet we have to take the practice of teaching, one currently steeped in the idea that lessons need to be engaging and applicable and serve our students needs, and apply it to a real that doesn’t seem applicable, which relies on us for engagement, and which I fear doesn’t serve my needs.

Yesterday in my English Methods and Materials class, we were asked to choose a constructivist practice we might want to use in the classroom and come up with a rationale and explanation for our students. Each group chose a different one: engaging in a dialogue with text, creating a culture of self-assessment, and using exploratory language.

Constructivism is a theory of learning that states meaning and knowledge are co-created through interacting with information in conversation, experiment and activity, often in group-based learning.

Transmission-based learning is a means of labeling the traditional classroom and criticising the structure of power that makes knowledge defined and static, to be transmitted from the teacher to the learner.

In every group, our first instinct was to come up with activities for our imaginary classroom that would help our students engage with the practice. As we sat there, excitedly building on our initial ideas, our professor came around to each group and joined into the discussion. She reminded us that the exercise wasn’t to come up with a routine or application for our imaginary classroom, but a reason. When that student in the back who resists and fights back against everything demands a reason, what do we say to them?

Needless to say, this stymied me.

I was that student. I sat in the back staring out the window, disengaged, but still able to raise my hand and ask the question you dread: Why are we doing this?

I was resistant to the structures of education because so much work seemed to be a waste of my time, grunt work. I was resistant because it didn’t seem relevant to my needs and interests nor fun. I was resistant because being resistant was more challenging than school.

In the imaginary classroom, our answers are functional and will sway the class. In reality, though, our answers must be catered to our actual students in our classroom. When a student resists, the odds our impassioned explanation and warrant sway them to action are slim to none. Every minute we spend arguing and rationalizing and explaining in hope of engaging that student is a minute away from the activity we actually want to be doing.

When I speak to science teachers, they spend a minimal amount of  time explaining the rationale before jumping into the activity; it’s a given that science classrooms are exploratory and constructivist. Experimentation is the mode of science and the crux of engagement.

Books, literature, math, and history don’t often have tactile sensations or explosion to draw in students. The constructivist method may be better for deeper understanding, but how good can it be when we need to lecture or explain in traditional transmissive modes to get kids to engage?

To my professor’s credit, she acknowledged the flaws inherent in designing for an imaginary classroom. We cannot tailor to individual needs without individuals. Adjusting to the active, current needs of students is impossible without active, current students. The resistance we get is our own.

It’s this last one that’s perhaps the most damning for me. As I sat there, contemplating the resistance, I knew there’d come a point where my teachers would have to move on because I would not give in. In my imaginary classroom, I was my problem student, and I wasn’t giving in. I wanted to react the same way as my teachers did: to hell with rationale and introduction; let the activity and action speak for itself.

This is an viable way to teach, but it will not serve every students’ needs. The rest of my class struggled with this too, wanting to focus on the means and exercises instead of the rationale. And where we struggled, wanting to dive into the means, I’ve since realized that the rationale isn’t really for the resisting student, but for all the others who listen when your troublemaker speaks up.

When I resist, it’s for my benefit, no one else’s. There’s no denying the rest of the class is an audience. The rationale my professor asked for didn’t need to be perfect because it can’t truly be meant for those that resist. Instead, it needs to be good enough that everyone listening, who just had their learning interrupted, is secure that they made the right choice.

If we want our imaginary classroom to truly embrace constructivist methods, we can’t let ourselves spend too much time resisting and seeking perfection.

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Anthropomorphism Day 5: Studio Day http://hyperfiction.net/anthropomorphism-5 http://hyperfiction.net/anthropomorphism-5#comments Thu, 17 Dec 2015 22:16:13 +0000 http://hyperfiction.net/?p=256 radio-std-4

Purpose:
This 90 minute lesson is the fifth and final day of the Intro to Anthropomorphism Unit. It’s an opportunity to polish off students stories and record their Q&A.

Objective:

Students will be able to demonstrate how anthropomorphism helps us connect to bigger issues by recording a podcast featuring a reading of their story and an author’s Q&A.

Materials:

Required materials are normal text, recommended but not required materials are italicized

Essential Question(s):

How do stories connect the traits of animals and humans to get at deeper ideas?

What makes a fable?

Inquiry Exercise:

(5 Minutes)
Opening journal entry: What has been the most difficult part of this project? Why?

Introduction to New Material:

(3 Minutes)
Today we’re going to be recording. If you need time to work on your story, you can take a large part of the time today to finish up. Before you leave you’ll need to record at least the Q&A with your assigned partner, even if you haven’t finished your story.

Guided Practice:

(15 Minutes)
To show you how this works, I’m going to read my story as I walk you through the recording process and then I’ll take 5 questions from you guys which I’ll answer in my Q&A.

Pull the microphone in close and read your story while recording. Make sure to demonstrate proper mic placement and angle, as well as using a music stand to keep paper rustling from happening. When you’re done reading, have 5 students come up, say their question into the microphone and then answer.

Independent Practice:

(60 Minutes)
Alright, get to it. Write your stories if you need to work on that. Record if you’re ready. Make sure you get your interview done. I’ll be shutting down the booths with about 10 minutes left in class.

Assessment/Closing:

(7 Minutes)
Ladies and gentlemen, you have done a lot of good work this week. Next week, we’ll be taking what we’ve learned this week about allegory and anthropomorphism to the next level as we start diving into our next book. Before you go, I would like you to take a few minutes and write a journal entry detailing how you felt about this week, the project, and what you’ve learned. Please be specific about what you liked or didn’t like.

Return to Intro to Anthropomorphism Unit
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Anthropomorphism Day 4: The Devil’s in the Details http://hyperfiction.net/anthropomorphism-4 http://hyperfiction.net/anthropomorphism-4#comments Thu, 17 Dec 2015 22:15:34 +0000 http://hyperfiction.net/?p=254 modern_mythology___demeter_by_kuroshi-d485xzcModern Mythology: Demeter by Kuroshi

Purpose:
This 90 minute lesson is the fourth day of the Intro to Anthropomorphism Unit. It’s a work day for students to put some time into their stories, do some more research, brainstorm questions, and get support from each other and you.

Objective:

Students will be able to critique their progress on their story idea based on what we’ve discussed about anthropomorphism, allegory and the issue they’ve chosen.

Materials:

Required materials are normal text, recommended but not required materials are italicized

Essential Question(s):

How does anthropomorphism allows use to connect to the world at large?

Inquiry Exercise:

(10 Minutes)
Opening journal entry: What’s your topic? Why is it important to you? How do you hope to address it.

Introduction to New Material:

(5 Minutes)
For those 
of you who feel like you’ve gotten a solid start on your story, great! For those of you feel like you’ve got a bunch to do, today is your chance. You may work alone, with partners, have friends read your story and chat about it, or seek help from me. Either way, by the end of this period, you should be at least half-way through writing your story. If you need assistance, I’ll be coming around to help each of you out.

Independent Practice:

(60 Minutes)
We’ve worked as a class and in groups on these two stories, and you got to watch a cartoon. Pretty good day. We’re going to shift gears just a bit and read my favorite chapter of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. I want you to read it and annotate it on your own, just like we did as a class and in groups. If you really need to work with a partner, you can work with your tablemate.

When you are done, pull out your journal and rewrite, in your own words, definitions of fable, allegory, anthropomorphism, and moral. I’d also like a sentence or two about how they connect to each other.

Assessment/Closing:

(15 Minutes)
This is my grading rubric. Hand out rubric sheet. I would like you to take the remaining time to think about where you are with your story and what you still need to do. Grade yourself from 1-5 in each of the columns. If we chatted this period, you should have a good idea where I think you were when we did. What you mark down isn’t your grade, but it will give us a good idea of what you still need to do tonight and tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, we’ll have several recording studios set up tomorrow for you to record your story and a Q&A with a classmate. Your classmate will be randomly assigned to ask you questions, so be prepared with good ones. Everyone will need to play interviewer and be interviewed.

Continue to Anthropomorphism Day 5: Studio Day
Return to Intro to Anthropomorphism Unit

 

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Anthropomorphism Day 3: The Big Bad Wolf & Villainy http://hyperfiction.net/anthropomorphism-3 http://hyperfiction.net/anthropomorphism-3#comments Thu, 17 Dec 2015 22:15:03 +0000 http://hyperfiction.net/?p=252
im-not-afraid-of-the-big-bad-wolfI ain’t scared of the Big Bad Wolf by roannebanane

Purpose:
This 90 minute lesson is the third day of the Intro to Anthropomorphism Unit. It uses the Three Little Pigs and Walt Disney’s anti-Nazi propaganda cartoon The Thrifty Pig to introduce ideas of how stories can be changed to change the meaning and reference.

Objective:

Students will be able to demonstrate how anthropomorphism allows stories to reflect different themes by rewriting the Big Bad Wolf and/or the pigs in the Three Little Pigs as different animals.

Materials:

Required materials are normal text, recommended but not required materials are italicized

Essential Question(s):

How does anthropomorphism allow stories to get at bigger themes?

Inquiry Exercise:

(10 Minutes)
Journal Entry: Rewrite the story of the Three Little Pigs in your own words.

Introduction to New Material:

(15 Minutes)
I just asked you to rewrite the Three Little Pigs. If you’d never heard of it, then you might already have a copy of the story in front of you. We’re going to take a moment to read through the original.

Hand out and read “Three Little Pigs.” Discuss racial stereotypes in this version, how it might be reflective of English culture of the period. Evoke Uncle Remus from Monday, Anansi and Coyote from Tuesday.

How is this different from what you wrote down?

We’re going to take a look at another conversion really quickly.

Play “The Thrifty Pig.” Discuss conversion of the wolf to a Nazi. Ask how it reflected current events of the time. Point out that making something relevant doesn’t always require complete novelty or creativity.

Guided Practice:

(25 Minutes)
Today we’re going to rewrite the Three Little Pigs and change its meaning by adjusting the characters.

First, what does the Wolf represent in the original story? How about in The Thrifty Pig? What do the pigs represent? Why? How do you know?

We need to change the Wolf into a different animal. What animal should we use? What does that represent? How does it change the meaning of the story? What details do we need to have to make this animal work properly?

Let’s do the same with the pigs.

What else could we change about the story to change its meaning? Why does that work?

Independent Practice:

(20 Minutes)
Ok, now you’re going to rewrite the story on your own one more time, adjusting whatever you want. Consider the different meanings we just created when going through this together. What meaning do you want to convey? Why? How can you do it? Ready? Go!

Assessment/Closing:

(20 Minutes)
You guys have done an awesome job with the Three Little Pigs. Tomorrow will be a work day to really key in on our story. There’s a lot of controversial events going on in the world right now. I want you to choose something you’re passionate about or feel strongly about and we’re going to be writing our own fable, myth or allegorical tale using anthropomorphism to address the topic of your choice. Use the rest of this period to research any topics you want.

If writing a wholly original story is too much, think about which fable, myth or fairy tale you might want to adapt. As you do so, remember the questions we asked our guest yesterday, as you’ll need to be able to answer similar questions.

Continue to Anthropomorphism Day 4: The Devil’s in the Details
Return to Intro to Anthropomorphism Unit
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Anthropomorphism Day 2: Myth, Morality and Origin http://hyperfiction.net/anthropomorphism-2 http://hyperfiction.net/anthropomorphism-2#comments Thu, 17 Dec 2015 22:14:33 +0000 http://hyperfiction.net/?p=250 Anansi by Gerald McDermottAnansi by Gerard McDermott

Purpose:
This 90 minute lesson is the second day of the Intro to Anthropomorphism Unit. It covers the Coyote Myths, Anasi Myths, and the ways in which myth use anthropomorphism to reach deeper truths about human nature.

Objective:

Students will be able to compare/contrast anthropomorphism between fable, myth and literature.

Materials:

Required materials are normal text, recommended but not required materials are italicized

Essential Question(s):

How does anthropomorphism allow stories to get at bigger themes?

Inquiry Exercise:

(10 Minutes)
Yesterday, we looked at fables and defined anthropomorphism and allegory. Today, we’ll be hearing two stories from different cultures and taking a closer look at cultural myths and how humans are represented by animals.

Today’s journal entry is a creative piece: You’re walking along and your eyes meet those of an animal. Staring at it, you feel this deep connection in a tense moment. Suddenly, it breaks and disappears, leaving you with this incredible sense of connection. What sort of animal was it? How did the connection feel? About what and why did you feel such a deep connection?

Introduction to New Material:

(15 Minutes)
Every culture has incredible tales involving supernatural creatures and gods in human or animal form. Today, we’ve invited a professional storyteller, one who’s well versed in the African tales of Anansi, the spider and the Native American tales of Coyote of the Navajo. I could easily read these stories to you, but in order to treat the story and culture respectfully, I felt it was important to have an expert who can answer your questions.

Have the storyteller tell one Coyote tale and one Anansi tale. After each story, have a brief Q&A session with the storyteller as described in Guided Practice.

Guided Practice:

(15 Minutes)
For the remainder of today, we’ll be looking at these myths and trying to decipher why and how they work. Where does their meaning come from? To do so, we’re going to try to become experts just like our storyteller guest. Let’s turn to our expert and see what he has to say about the myth we just heard. Encourage students to ask some of the following questions:

  • Why was the story told like that?
  • Where does Anansi/Coyote come from?
  • Was the story inspired by true events?
  • What does the story tell us about the culture it comes from?
  • What do you think this myth is trying to tell us?
  • How does the story use anthropomorphism?

Today, we’re going to breaking into groups again and doing a jigsaw. For those of you who don’t remember or haven’t done a jigsaw before, each group will have a different Coyote or Anansi myth to read, think about and report on back to the group. In addition to a summary, I want you to think about what we discussed: fables, myth, allegory, anthropomorphism.

As we move forward and look at myths, consider our Q&As we just had and some of the answers you heard. You’ll want to be able to answer the same or similar questions about your myth.

Independent Practice:

(45 Minutes)
Groups will take 30-35 minutes reading their myth, discussing it, and getting ready to present. If the *STORYTELLER* wants to float around and assist, great. Key questions: What current event might you be able to relate this to? What about in the community or your life? Does it reflect something you feel in yourself?

As groups present, follow up with the question about how these myths are the same or different from the stories we looked at yesterday and the chapter of the Grapes of Wrath.

Assessment/Closing:

(10 Minutes)
Thank you for staying so focused. I hope you enjoyed our guest today. Seriously.

You should have heard me mention it yesterday, but we’ve finally gotten to our big project for the week: each of you will be writing a short story that draws a parallel to something important. We’ve looked at a bunch of myths and stories, discussed their historical and cultural implications, seen how allegory and anthropomorphism allows us to talk about things without directly accusing people. Tomorrow, we’ll have a chance to start working on our stories if you haven’t already. If you’d like to work with a friend, you can, but I expect a more in depth story and interview if you do.

On Friday, whether or not the story is done, we’ll be recording interviews. You’ll have the chance to interview a classmate about their story, record it, and have them explain how their story uses allegory and anthropomorphism to address their issue or event. Over the weekend, you will finish your story and record a reading of it, possibly with your classmates voicing different characters. Remember the recording will need to be a minimum of 2 minutes long per person.

Take this last section of time to hop on a chromebook and do a little research on an event you’d like to see reflected. Consider the different views and our discussion of respect from Monday in relation to the Uncle Remus story. When you have a topic or two you’re interested in, you can use this time to start writing or chat with me about how you’re going to do it. Tomorrow, I’ll show you my story and you may ask me about it so you have a better example, and we’ll have tomorrow to work on our stories, our questions, and prepare for friday’s recording session.

Continue to Anthropomorphism Day 3: Big Bad Wolf & Villainy
Return to Intro to Anthropomorphism Unit

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Anthropomorphism Day 1: Fables and Folktales http://hyperfiction.net/anthropomorphism-1 http://hyperfiction.net/anthropomorphism-1#comments Thu, 17 Dec 2015 22:13:30 +0000 http://hyperfiction.net/?p=246 Anthropomorphism has been popular since Aesop's time as a way to make human traits universal and easier to digest. Stories like the Uncle Remus stories have further this with racial and ethnic identities.

Purpose:
This 90 minute lesson is the first day of the Intro to Anthropomorphism Unit. It covers the Toirtoise and the Hare, Br’er Rabbit, Chapter 3 of The Grapes of Wrath, and the definition of anthropomorphism.

Objective:

Students will be able to define and identify allegory, fable, moral and anthropomorphism by reading and annotating “The Tortoise & the Hare,” “Mr. Rabbit Meets His Match,” and Grapes of Wrath Chapter 3, co-creating a definition after each.

Materials:

Required materials are normal text, recommended but not required materials are italicized

Essential Question(s):

How do stories connect the traits of animals and humans to get at deeper ideas?

What makes a fable?

Inquiry Exercise:

(15 Minutes)
Opening journal entry: What is a fable? How is this different from a myth, a folktale, or just a story?

Small group discussion of their answers. Key in on moral, key in on animals, key in on universality. Hopefully tie to human nature.

  • What is the purpose of a fable?
  • Why do fables use animals to tell their story?
  • Do you connect to fables?

Introduction to New Material:

(5 Minutes)
Today we’re going to be looking at 4 texts. We’ll be starting with one of Aesop’s fables, “The Tortoise and the Hare.” We’ve already begun discussing what a fable is and what it does. We’re going to be looking at how fables create the meaning they do and how we connect to them. In other words, what makes a fable effective.

We’ll be introducing two key terms today that will relate to the short pieces we read: anthropomorphism and allegory. I know that first one seems daunting, so let me break it down for you really quickly: the prefix, anthro, relates to humans or people; the root, morph, you probably recognize as a way of saying to change. The second one is a literary term you may have run across. You’ll have the opportunity at the end of class to look up actual definitions, but for now, we’ll be building our own definitions in the same way we constructed our class norms at the beginning of the year.

Kindly collect this unit’s annotation guide and a copy of “The Tortoise and the Hare.” You’ll notice the annotation guide has two new symbols on it: a smiley face and two side by side triangles. The smiley face will be used when you find something you think relates to human nature, while the two triangles (I like to think of them as fangs) will be used when you find something related to animal nature.

Guided Practice:

(15-20 Minutes)
Students will read, briefly the tortoise and the hare, annotating as we go. Annotations will be matched on the dot projector with a brief discussion of what annotations were made by the teacher and what annotations were made by students and why. The story will then be read a second time (since it’s so short) to see if we missed anything or see anything new.

(10-15 Minutes)
Alright, now that we have the story annotated, we’re going to split into small groups to come up with our definitions.
Groups will be divided by a poll of prior knowledge of the term, trying to make sure every group has someone who thinks they know what anthropomorphism and allegory mean. Groups will be provided large sheets with which to list ideas and create a word web, with a space for a rough definition at the bottom. This practice should be established withe the class prior to this, otherwise, it will take an entire class to introduce them to co-definition. If it’s been established beforehand, it shouldn’t be hard to let them work in groups before coming back together and sharing their definitions to come up with a class definition.

(15 Minutes)
I’m going to leave this definition up on the projector/board. Turn the page to “Mr. Rabbit Meets His Match.” In your group, I want you to work together to read this story and and figure out what happens, how it’s different or the same from the previous one. We’ll come back together to discuss what we find and how it relates to our two terms after. Do the same annotation we did before.

After students have completed annotating and reading, which may take time due to the language, we’ll talk about how they felt about the piece, some historical racial connotations will be provided, and, once a group points out the tortoise cheated, we’ll show the classic Bugs Bunny cartoon “Tortoise Beats Hare” (10 minutes) to make sure everyone gets it.

Is this a fable? Are these allegories? What human traits to the animals show? Are they positive or negative or both? How do you know? Does this change our definition of anthropomorphism?

Independent Practice:

(20 Minutes)
We’ve worked as a class and in groups on these two stories, and you got to watch a cartoon. Pretty good day. We’re going to shift gears just a bit and read my favorite chapter of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. I want you to read it and annotate it on your own, just like we did as a class and in groups. If you really need to work with a partner, you can work with your tablemate.

When you are done, pull out your journal and rewrite, in your own words, definitions of fable, allegory, anthropomorphism, and moral. I’d also like a sentence or two about how they connect to each other.

Assessment/Closing:

(5 Minutes)

We’ll be spending this week, and some of the upcoming weeks, examining allegory, anthropomorphism, fable and myth, building on what we did today. If you didn’t finish annotating Chapter 3 of the Grapes of Wrath, please do for homework. I will post photos of our class definitions to the Terms page on our website if you need them. Check in with your tablemates before you leave, as you’re responsible for helping your community members and you know our expectations of support. Support is a pre-established class norm that makes tablemates responsible for assisting assigned partners, informing them of missed information, and working together to make up for deficiencies.

This week, we’ll be writing a story using anthropomorphism and allegory to address something important to you. On Friday, whether or not the story is done, we’ll be recording interviews. You’ll have the chance to interview a classmate about their story, record it, and have them explain how their story uses allegory and anthropomorphism to address their issue or event. If you haven’t finished it by then, you will finish your story over the weekend and record a reading of it, possibly with your classmates voicing different characters. The recording will need to be a minimum of 2 minutes long per person and we’ll attach the Q&A to the end.

Tomorrow, we’ll have a special guest coming in to help us for the day. Think about what we talked about today and be ready to ask our guest questions in relation to those topics.

Continue to Anthropomorphism Day 2: Myth, Morality and Origin
Return to Intro to Anthropomorphism Unit
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Intro to Anthropomorphism http://hyperfiction.net/intro-to-anthropomorphism http://hyperfiction.net/intro-to-anthropomorphism#comments Thu, 17 Dec 2015 22:11:46 +0000 http://hyperfiction.net/?p=244 Anthropomorphism is often used to address difficult ideasHummer Print by OrangeWillow

Purpose:
This 1 Week Unit is intended to introduce students to the idea of anthropomorphism, how it can be used to address difficult topics, and to put them into action right off the bat by attempting to address a difficult issue of their choice in a short story. This unit is intended as an introductory week leading into Watership Down by Richard Adams, The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Welles, Animal Farm by George Orwell, Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne/The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, or Maus by Art Spiegelman. 
(Estimated Running Time: 5 90-minute classes)

Objective:

Students will be able to produce a podcast of a short story featuring anthropomorphism that deals with a current event and a question and answer session explaining its meaning, relevance, and inspiration.

Materials:

Required materials are normal text, recommended but not required materials are italicized

Essential Question(s):

How do stories connect the traits of animals and humans to get at deeper ideas?

  • Anthropomorphism allows humans to discuss difficult topics by creating psychic distance from difficult topics and emphasizing human/animal traits.
  • Anthropomorphism creates a dialog about empathy, humanity, dehumanization, and morality.
  • Anthropomorphism can be used to have conversations that can challenge the powers that be in a safer way than direct confrontation.
  • Anthropomorphism allows us to feel empathy for social groups we might not otherwise be willing to consider.

Lessons:

Day 1: Fables & Folktales
Day 2: Myth, Morality, and Origin
Day 3: The Big Bad Wolf and Villainy
Day 4: The Devil’s in the Details
Day 5: Studio Day

What’s Next:

  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • Maus by Art Spiegelman
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne/The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
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Sentence Starters, Video Games, and Perspective http://hyperfiction.net/sentence-starters-game http://hyperfiction.net/sentence-starters-game#respond Thu, 17 Dec 2015 16:05:59 +0000 http://hyperfiction.net/?p=241 Elegy for a Dead World is a game in which players finish sentence starters to explore and write their own science fiction story. It can help students learn how to write and what sort of descriptions can forward a story in different ways.

Purpose:
This 25 minute lesson uses the game Elegy for a Dead World to help teach students how to write a story and what sort of perspective they can bring that will change a story.
(Estimated Running Time: 23-25 Minutes)

Objective:

Students will be able to write a short science fiction story using sentence starters and the game Elegy for a Dead World.

Materials:

Required materials are normal text, recommended but not required materials are italicized

Essential Question(s):

How do things change when we view or interact with them?

  • No matter how thoroughly we present information, people can take it different ways.
  • Writing is a selection process where we decide what details are most important.
  • If the goal of writing is to communicate, we need to be able to choose exactly what and how we wish to communicate our ideas.
  • The reader/viewer plays a part in what information is communicated.
  • We often cannot choose who views something or how.
  • When we are the reader, it’s important to recognize what the author/creator might have wanted and what perspective we bring to the reading that may change things.

Inquiry Exercise:

(5 Minutes)
Imagine you’re an alien from another world and you’ve come to earth for the very first time. You find yourself in your real bedroom and as you’re looking around you find an unfamiliar object. What do you find and what do you think it is? What is it really? Take three minutes to write about your object.

Introduction to New Material:

(1 Minute)
Today we’re going to be working on sentence starters and playing a game. Before we can play, though, I’m going to walk you through what sort of sentence starters to expect and we’ll try a few before you jump into the game.

Guided Practice:

(5 Minutes)
How would you finish this sentence? Display a sentence starter from Elegy for a Dead World.

Take a moment to finish it and then we’ll read a few and talk about what we like, what we don’t and why. Students should brainstorm their own end. Those that feel comfortable can share and we’ll discuss them with the following questions to give them an idea of how to finish a sentence:

  • Which ones did you really like? Why?
  • What do the good sentences have in common?
  • What do you think this person brought to this sentence?
  • What sentence surprised you most? Why?
  • What do you think could make this sentence stronger?
  • What more would you like to know about this sentence?

Individual Practice:

(10 Minutes)
Fire up Elegy for a Dead World and go to town. At the end, there’s an option to print your story. Normally, it would take at least a half-hour to play through this game and get a story, so, since this is a mini-lesson, we’ll take turns filling in the sentences. How we finish the sentences changes where the game goes, so when you have the chance to play on your own, consider what’s different each play through.

If you choose to extend this to a full lesson, have students play individually, discussing the differences in where the game goes. Additionally, collecting their stories at the end can give you a good idea of how they’re writing. Playing through again a few weeks down the line can give you a comparison for growth.

Assessment/Closing:

(2 Minutes)
Hopefully you’ve seen how our perspective can change the way we read and write things. Thinking about how visitors to our writing read things when we’re not clear, we can take this further and realize exactly how technology, imagery and iconography can change the meaning of our reading and writing.

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Syntax and Semantics Through Serenity and Genre http://hyperfiction.net/syntax-semantics-genre http://hyperfiction.net/syntax-semantics-genre#respond Thu, 17 Dec 2015 15:48:52 +0000 http://hyperfiction.net/?p=238 The film Serenity is a amalgam of genres and provides the perfect opportunity to discuss the syntax and semantics of genre conventions.

Purpose:
This 25 minute lesson teaches the syntax and semantics through an examination of genre and the way it works for the film Serenity.
(Estimated Running Time: 28 Minutes)

Objective:

Students will be able to define syntax and semantics by identifying the syntax and semantics of a genre of their choice in a short journal entry.

Materials:

Required materials are normal text, recommended but not required materials are italicized

Essential Question(s):

How do syntax and semantic change the way we read something?

  • Semantics is how the words/meanings/visuals function within a genre.
  • Semantics is needed to create meaning.
  • Syntax is the grammar and structure that separates each genre.
  • Syntax is needed is needed to separate and make understanding easier.
  • In combination, the two work together to create or break expectation and narrative.
  • Both exist outside of language.
  • Both can be applied to difficult issues to see how misconceptions are created and perpetuated.

Inquiry Exercise:

(2 Minutes)
What elements do you expect to see in a western? How about a science fiction story? Write their answers in list form on a whiteboard or large post-its. We’ll need this list later.

Introduction to New Material:

(3 Minutes)
Genres function a lot like language. We’re going to watch a quick video and then we’re going to look more closely at the ideas of syntax and semantics:

Watch the video from 1:02 to 2:04. Pause to identify syntax and semantics of genre.

The video just defined them for us. Let’s write that down.

Semantics: “The visual markers of established film types. These are the icons and images we associate with each distinct genre.”
Syntax: “The grammar and the structure that makes each one distinct. These are the thematic and narrative conventions we associate with the genre in question.”

Alright. We have our list of things we expect in each genre. We’ve just defined syntax and semantics. Now we’re going to see if we can connect the definition to our list.

Guided Practice:

(10 Minutes)
Go down the list and label each item syntax or semantics. Converse about why is fits each one. Ask if other genres use that item or convention.

Once the list is complete, ask them for specific examples that weren’t listed to expand the list.

Continue the video to 10:06 so they can see the long list of conventions covered and the ways in which Serenity uses or break away from them.

Individual Practice:

(10 Minutes)
So you can see that the semantics of a genre is the iconography and what, in any given moment, would let you recognize the genre. The syntax, meanwhile, are the elements of the plot, the tropes, and the pieces of narrative that set that genre apart.

For the next five minutes I’d like you to choose another genre: horror, romance, vampire stories, coming of age stories, adventures, whatever you like. You can work with a partner or alone. Brainstorm the syntax and semantics of the genre and create a few sentences that identifies each in your journal. If you’re working with a partner, you both need to have it written in your journal and you need to list your partner.

Assessment/Closing:

(3 Minutes)
We had a chance to look at the syntax and semantics of genre today. These ideas, the way something can be broken down into it’s parts, allows us to see the actual meaning beneath the words and structure. It also allows us to play with the meaning, words and structure.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at semantics and syntax related to language and the specifically the language of racism in regards to the arguments about Syrian refugees and the way they mirror the same arguments against Jews in the 1940s and other minorities and refugees in years past.

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