#BSNMooc Post #2: Learning for Problem Solving, The Great Gatsby, and the Lost Generation

07.20

At least | that’s what | he said | later | on shore
While I | washed my | feet of | gritty | wet sand.
My thoughts | swimming | back to | moments | before
When I | panicked,| not see | ing him | from land.

Yes, that will do nicely!

10.30

I watched | a buo| y with | gray hair | floating
In the | ocean,| no wor|ry in | his mind.
To God,| he di|rected | his face | gloating,
“A more | perfect | life you’ll | struggle | to find.”

I like that rewrite!

At least | that’s what | he said | later | that day

While I | washed my | feet of | gritty | wet sand.

My…

08.38

First, I have to say that this is really hard.  🙂

In the ocean, on his back he floated,
No worry in his mind, nor in his heart.
To God, he lifted his face and gloated,
“My life is perfect. We’ll never part.”

I like the first quatrain. Well, I should say that I like it enough to not change it yet.

On the beach, his children played in sand,
Castles they made, and buried mother’s feet.
She let them, scrunched her toes, feeling safe on land,
Comfortable in her beach seat.

Oh, that’s terrible. I just really like the bit about burying mother’s toes.

Mother heard a frightened, “Where is he?”
Her eyes opened wide.  Was he lost?
Kids laughed as he came from the sea,

As I sit here, with my pen, I wonder
Will I write well?  Will these words drag me under?

08.00

In the ocean, on his back he floated,
No worry in his mind, nor in his heart.
To God, he lifted his face and gloated,
“My life is perfect. We’ll never part.”

On the beach, his family played with sand,
Castles they made, and buried mother’s feet
She laughed, wiggled her toes, …
 

Then she saw her husband had disappeared…

As I sit here, with my pen, I wonder
Will I write well?  Will these words drag me under?

16.16

Great Feedback
What a wonderful gift I received today when I checked in on my professional development courses.

03.21

More on Consideration Number One

I simply found it fascinating that an educator would say that SBG and CBE do not reflect the real world.  I understand why the person said it.  If you don’t meet the goals set in the workplace, there are consequences.  If you don’t do the work you’re supposed to do, there are consequences.  As I said above, however, adults set these deadlines while collaborating on a project or task, and the goals are continuously revisited for validity.  The manager does not set a goal in a grade book and give you a zero if you don’t meet the goal.  Yes, you have to explain yourself if you don’t meet the goal, but if you can explain yourself well, the penalties are often slight or not imposed at all.

Which brings me to my next point: Communication feeds the heart and soul of any human organization, project-based or not.  [pullquote]Communication feeds the heart and soul of any human organization, project-based or not.[/pullquote]In this reformed version of grading, students and teachers work on communication and collaboration skills, two very important skills to have as one enters the workforce.  If done right, I believe the students will learn to acknowledge that goals and deadlines are important, but more importantly, they will learn to communicate with their teacher when they are struggling to meet them or believe the assignments are not going to help them achieve their goals.  I think that educators are misunderstanding a fundamental part of this learning process when they allow students to miss deadlines or not complete assignments at all.  That’s a misconception about the process that absolutely must be addressed.  Students are missing vital learning opportunities when they do not attempt an assignment simply because they know they will not be penalized.  When students and educators agree that the assignments are learning opportunities and that they should communicate about its effectiveness and collaborate to make changes if necessary, that is when true learning takes place.  That reflects what happens in the real world. 

This week, I am tackling this activity for the Mooc sponsored by the Blended Schools Network:

The “When Will We Ever Use This?” Blog Post

Students often ask us, “When will I ever use this in the real world?” Consider a handful of standards taught in your class.

  • How are these concepts used in the real world?
  • How might you use those applications as inspiration for projects in your classroom?
  • How well do your current practices reflect the real-world applications of the standards you teach?
  • Consider offering a full lesson plan based on these reflections

Returning to The Great Gatsby

One of the issues with teaching this novel is that it is hard to establish relevancy for today’s learners.  We want them to take away some sort of information or philosophy from the novel, but often (I think) students feel that they cannot connect to the characters and story Fitzgerald produced.  As part of a unit on the novel, I’d like to introduce some Essential Questions or Driving Questions that would put the reading in perspective.  I sort of did that the first time that I tried to teach this novel, but not to my liking.

Ernest Hemingway in Milan, 1918
English: Image of Gertrude Stein and Jack Hemi...
English: Image of Gertrude Stein and Jack Hemingway in Paris, 1924. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The anticipatory set or advance organizer would include a frank discussion about the lost generation of the ’20s and Fitzgerald’s biography.  There is a terrific quote from A Moveable Feast by Hemingway (1996) that introduces us to the term ‘lost generation,’ which was coined by Gertrude Stein. Stein told Hemingway that folks who served in the war (World War I) were all a ‘lost generation’; she cited their drinking habits as an example of how the veterans have disconnected themselves from every day life.  Hemingway responded in the text by saying that he decided upon reflection that all generations are lost in one way or another.  He added at the end of that reflection: “But to hell with her lost-generation talk and all the dirty, easy labels” (pp. 30-31).  Still, he later used the term in The Sun Also Rises.

I would ask the students the following questions.

  • “Do you agree that every generation is lost in some way or another?  What are the characteristics of a generation that is lost?  Extend your answer beyond alcoholism; consider other characteristics.” 
  • “How might the term ‘lost generation’ apply to the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan?”
  • “How can we help and support those who are lost?”

Signature of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Then, we could watch a video I found about Fitzgerald.  The students really enjoyed it when I showed it during pre-service (Vanderveen, 2005).  Afterward, I would ask the following question.

  • “Although Fitzgerald did not serve in the war, in what ways did he demonstrate inclusion in the lost generation?”
  • “Do you know someone like Fitzgerald?  How might you help that person?”

These questions, I would explain, should put this novel into context.  I would post them in the classroom and online in a prominent place.

Standards

The Pennsylvania standards that I used before would still apply (“Clear Standards”, 2010)

Standard – 1.1.12.A: Apply appropriate strategies to construct meaning through interpretation and to analyze and evaluate author’s use of techniques and elements of fiction and non-fiction for rhetorical and aesthetic purposes.

Standard – 1.3.12.A: Interpret significant works from various forms of literature to make deeper and subtler interpretations of the meaning of text.  Analyze the way in which a work of literature is related to the themes and issues of its historical period.

Standard – 1.3.12.C:

  • Analyze the effectiveness of literary elements used by authors in various genres.
  • Analyze the author’s development of complex characters as well as their roles and functions in a variety of texts.
  • Determine the effectiveness of setting as related to character, plot, theme, and other key literary elements.
  • Determine the effectiveness of the author’s use of point of view as related to content and specific types of genre.
  • Analyze how the author structures plot to advance the action.
  • Identify major themes in literature, comparing and contrasting how they are developed across and variety of genres.
  • Explain how voice and choice of speaker affect the mood, tone, and meaning of text.
  • Describe how an author, through the use of diction, syntax, figurative language, sentence variety, etc., achieves style.

1.5.12.C: Write with controlled and/or subtle organization.

  • Establish coherence within and among paragraphs through effective transitions, parallel structures, and similar writing techniques.

The Common Core Standards would also be helpful here as I develop the unit plan, specifically:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2 Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3 Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

Culminating Project

Keeping the questions in mind during our reading will help us to segue to the culmination of the unit.  After a summative assessment of the text, I would like the students to collaborate on a project in which the result is a web site of resources (not just links, but articles, case studies, surveys, self-assessments, etc.) for those of a ‘lost generation.’  It would be something like what Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have tried to do for veterans.  One of the blog posts they would write (independently) would be about why they are doing this and how it relates to their study of Gatsby.

  • Grouping: Heterogeneous grouping of 3-4 students
  • Method: Jigsaw approach with clearly defined roles and responsibilities
  • Where to publish the website: Google sites could work

What do you think?

References

Clear standards. (2010). Pennsylvania Department of Education – SAS – Standards Aligned System  Retrieved October 5, 2010, from http://www.pdesas.org/Standard/Views#117|773|0|0
National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. (n.d.). Common Core State Standards Initiative | Home. Common Core State Standards Initiative. Retrieved August 4, 2012, from http://www.corestandards.org/
Hemingway, E. (1996). A Moveable Feast. New York, NY: Scribner.
Vanderveen, L. (2005). Meeting F. Scott Fitzgerald [DVD]. West Long Branch, NJ: Kultur
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