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Writing

The Happy Life

This poem was part of a deep conversation I was privy to the other night.  I thought I would share it with you!  I sourced the poem from here.

Hans Holbein d. J. - Portrait of Henry Howard,...
Hans Holbein d. J. – Portrait of Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey – WGA11578 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MY friend, the things that do attain
The happy life be these, I find:
The riches left, not got with pain;
The fruitful ground; the quiet mind;

The equal friend; no grudge; no strife;
No charge of rule, nor governance;
Without disease, the healthy life;
The household of continuance;

The mean diet, no dainty fare;
Wisdom joined with simpleness;
The night discharged of all care,
Where wine the wit may not oppress:

The faithful wife, without debate;
Such sleeps as may beguile the night;
Content thyself with thine estate,
Neither wish death, nor fear his might.
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1516 – 1547)

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Education Teaching Writing

Tweeted: The Five Paragraph Essay: http://t.co/8kLdfdhADN v…

I created this video using VideoScribe after thinking about the Common Core State Standards and teaching writing.

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Education Writing

Tweeted: The Good-Morrow by John Donne http://t.co/Uq9zKMHB…

The Good-Morrow by John Donne createsend.com/t /y-21A0E65B6E…

What a beautiful poem!

The Good-Morrow

John Donne, one of the most famous Metaphysica...
John Donne, one of the most famous Metaphysical Poets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Donne

I wonder by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not wean’d till then?
But suck’d on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
‘Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be;
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ‘twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone;
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown;
Let us possess one world; each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mix’d equally;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die.

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Education Learning Teaching Writing

Housekeeping: Wrapping up The Moon Is Down

I finished the book!

John Steinbeck's poem plague near the City Lig...
John Steinbeck’s poem plaque near the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco Chinatown’s Jack Kerouac Alley. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, it’s good that we did not read the introduction first, or I think that is the lens that we would be looking through as we read the story. We would know that people did not consider the work to be a stellar piece of writing, or even one of Steinbeck’s best efforts. We would not know how it affected the people of the occupied areas, either, nor how it inspired those fighting the Nazis to continue their fight. We would not know about how it was printed clandestinely, sometimes by typists reproducing the novel over and over, throughout Europe. We would not know that Steinbeck was awarded medals for his work. Finally, we would not know that Steinbeck produced the novel to be a piece of propaganda, not just a work of fiction.

That being said, I found the novel to be inspiring because I knew that it was an attempt to capture the experiences of occupied people and the soldiers who kept watch over them. I was happy to see that the soldiers were also given humanity; too often, the German soldiers in World War II are portrayed as machines. Just because the leadership was irrational, insane, and evil, that doesn’t mean that we need to condemn the people as well. I have struggled with that issue for many years, simply trying to understand how an entire population could follow he-who-must-not-be-named.

Perhaps my students would have been able to make some connections on their own and discover the humanity embedded into the characters who were soldiers. I hope so. I also hope they would see that those under siege were brave until the end and that the collective intelligence of the community demonstrated their bonds to one another, forged long before the soldiers arrived.

The book leaves us with questions about those who died, and whether they deserved to die, too. I’m still trying to answer those questions in my mind, but they would make great questions for an essay.

In conclusion, then, I do believe that teaching the novel without all the fanfare in the beginning is a good idea. The introduction would later illuminate for us parts of the novel that might have been confusing or that we had forgotten, as it did for me. I also believe it could generate a great deal of discussion about perception, opinion, and understanding (comprehension). If you’re looking for a new novel to teach, you might want to consider this one.

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Blogging Education Learning Teaching Writing

#BSNMooc Post #4 – Digital Citizenship, A Literary Time Machine, and The Great Gatsby (Of Course)

They say that Abraham Lincoln had quite a temper.  He would dash off letters in his anger and, by the time he had finished, his anger spent, he would think twice about dispatching it and place it on the mantle instead.  He would wait until the morning, reevaluate his position and, if it was still warranted in his mind, then he would send the letter.  Imagine if he had a smart phone and Twitter?  He may have indeed tweeted: “If McClellan isn’t interested in using the army at present, perhaps I could borrow it for a while?”  What would the Confederacy have made of that breakdown of command in the North?

I digress.  My point is that today we have the ability to communicate so easily that many of us end up saying things we regret later.  Our responsibilities in this area have increased many times over from the time in which verbal communications reigned and others were secondary.  Before we click on send, tweet, or any other button that supports communication with the outside world, we need to think hard about the consequences.

The problem is, many of us don’t.  We spread rumors, say hurtful things, and generally make fools of ourselves because we don’t have those few minutes that we used to have.  We can’t put a tweet on the mantle till morning.  (Actually, we can, but that’s aside from the point because many of us don’t use Buffer or schedule tweets through TweetDeck or Hootsuite.)  Google or other search engines cache the communication and it’s out there forever, haunting us.

Part of the responsibilities of a teacher is to teach citizenship.  These days, that includes digital citizenship, the rights and responsibilities that relate to our communications and interactions on the Internet and via digital means of any sort.  There are many ways to teach digital citizenship.  For this post, I would like to teach it within the context of the novel unit I’ve been working on, The Great Gatsby.  Why not?  

Rumors, Innuendo, and a Literary Time Machine

It would be nice to take a Friday and have the students work together on an assignment like this.

Imagine that a literary time machine has transported the Gatsby characters to the present and provided them with the tools they would need to navigate and interact in the digital space (smart phones, twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, etc.).  How might the events of the novel be different?  Let’s focus on the rumors and innuendo spread about Gatsby in the novel.

  • Create a twitter stream regarding Gatsby, his history, and his profession, using the information in the novel.  Predict what would happen to Gatsby legally or regarding Daisy.
  • What are the effects of such rapid communication on the reputation of others, the development of stories (true or false), and the resolution of investigations?  Do you remember that a news reporter came to Gatsby’s house for a comment on the rumors he’d heard?  What might that reporter have done with a twitter stream or a Facebook conversation?  What if he were a news reporter and brought the ‘story’ to television, complete with photos of Gatsby and interviews with ‘sources’?
  • Write your opinion of the use of these technologies today, the rights we have to free speech (even gossip), and our responsibilities as digital citizens

It’s my belief that this assignment is a good extension of the study of the novel into a new context: our culture.  It reminds me of the time that a friend of mine had her students rewrite the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet using text messages.  The students took to that assignment with earnest, and produced some absolutely stunning results that demonstrated understanding of the young lovers’ relationship.  I would hope that this assignment would help students gain a new appreciation of the main character and the impact of communications today.  I would also hope they would think twice before pushing send, tweet, or post.

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