Mini Projects, Part 1

I have been home sick this week, so the mini projects that involved my voice (currently scratchy, phelgmy, and frequently coughing) were out of the question. This considered, I poured myself into the comic book project and designing a lesson using Wordle.

For my comic book, I created an alternate ending to William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. If you are unfamiliar, the book ends with Jack chasing Ralph (antagonist & protagonist) with the intent to kill him. Before anything deadly can happen, however, the boys are rescued by a British Naval Officer. In my alternative ending, Ralph hides and throws a rock at Jack, knocking him unconscious. Suddenly, he feels regret and shame, and hurries over to Jack to try to save him. The boys make nice with each other, and this is when they both see the Naval Officer who saves them. In changing the ending, I changed the entire meaning of the book; Lord of the Flies is about the animalistic, base instincts within all of us, but by showing Ralph’s sympathy and regret, I chose to illustrate the “brighter” side of humanity. Although I don’t intend on making comics as a hobby now, I do think this would be a great project for my students. Students would love to make alternate endings to books, especially the ones that they hate the ending. It’s a great way to inspire students to reflect on the narrative as a whole, and have them discover how changing the ending can change the theme of the entire novel.

I designed my Wordle lesson around Elie Wiesel’s Night. (Sorry I’m so dark this week, maybe it’s the sickness). My lesson involves a “Before and After” usage of Wordle, which is to say that we will create a word cloud before we start the activity, and then another once we have completed our analysis of Night.

The lesson begins with a reading of the children’s book Goodnight Moon. Goodnightmoon

Afterwards, I’ll ask the students to reflect on what nighttime meant to them when they were 11 years old, which is Elie Wiesel’s age at the start of the Holocaust. We will create a Wordle word cloud of these little-kid-nighttime-words: “pillow,” “cuddle,” “comfortable,” “quiet,” etc. I expect this cloud to be of mostly pleasant words.

Then we will launch into ourĀ Night activity. Reminding the students that Elie Wiesel was just a child when all of this started happening. I will have students break up into small groups to discuss sections of the book with a reading guide. The reading guide leads students to locate and think about passages that involve sleep and nighttime, and then to put together some keywords that describe those passages.

Once the students have finished, we will come together as a group and create another word cloud to contrast our first one. This word cloud, undoubtedly, will include much darker words– “fear,” “fire,” “screaming,” “restlessness”– and I will pull the previous word cloud so that the students can clearly see the contrast. My hopes is that this will lead to a discussion of how the Holocaust destroyed Elie Wiesel’s (and every other child’s) childhood innocence. If nothing else, I hope the students enjoy the use of Wordle, and at least mildly grasp the magnitude of The Holocaust.

I really enjoyed creating these little mini projects, I love creative challenges! Once I no longer sound like an old woman that chain-smokes, I will tackle the others!

References

Goodnight Moon. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2013 from wikipedia.org: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/51/Goodnightmoon.jpg

One Response to “Mini Projects, Part 1”

  1. jwomack says:

    It is funny that you mention Night because some of my students have had to read that recently in their English class. I really enjoyed your idea about changing the ending of books. This allows for the students to be creative, but also requires the students to think about their writing process and how it relates to the rest of the story. I think the same could be done for other subjects like Civics or History. Have the students create alternate endings to Wars or expansion movements. They would then create a second reality to how the world would have looked had their change lasted. Students are not thinking enough and it is tools like the ones we experienced this week that will get them thinking again.