September 23, 2015 admin

High School Students in English 9: Part I

by Liza Cowan

Atlanta, GA

As an educator, it offered me an accessible frame for meaningful conversation about life and literature in my high school classroom.

Specifically, for their final project in English 9 (a standard freshman class grounded in essential questions like “Who am I and how do I know that? What is important to me and how do I express that? What is changing in my life and how do I relate to others?”) my students used your language and their personal experiences to analyze our protagonists’ key coming-of-age moments.

For example, kids discovered Self-Defeat in “Macbeth” and “A Raisin in the Sun,” unpacked Humility Shifts in Updike’s “A&P” and Joyce’s “Araby”, analyzed Dependency Leaps in Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and Schmidt’s Okay for Now; and the list goes on!

One student claimed a retrospective Humility Shift as she remembered that when her grandmother died, she pulled “the ultimate ‘Big Me’ moment” and ran upstairs to watch Netflix rather than being there to comfort her mother. 

One student claimed a retrospective Humility Shift as she remembered that when her grandmother died, she pulled “the ultimate ‘Big Me’ moment” and ran upstairs to watch Netflix rather than being there to comfort her mother.  Another student, a boy with a rare muscular disorder, wrote about experiencing a Humility Shift during a conference for kids living with the same chronic disease; he realized that “the whole week was a ‘Big Me’ moment” because it was humbling and liberating to see that his diagnosis couldn’t be his primary source of identity.

One girl related Energizing Love to her Faith and specifically John’s assignment to “not just talk about love” but “practice real love” (1 John 3:18-20). She distinguished between “using Christianity almost selfishly, thinking that if I simply felt the love of Christ and the love I have for other people, I was living out the word of God” and “actually reinvesting that love in other people, which will energize me too!”

So thank you for giving me this tool to challenge my students to think and learn with their heads and their hearts in their final weeks of freshman year.

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