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Motifs & Modern Myths > Humanity is a virus? Is there a Dr in the House?

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message 1: by jacky (new)

jacky I teach freshmen English. Next year we are combining our bottom and middle level classes into just one class / section. This means I will have readers who are at fifth grade reading level all the way up to possibly 11th or 12th. I have always taught the middle and top level students, so I am a little worried about what to start the year off reading. I talked some with my literacy specialist and she suggested a easy to read book that the kids won't get bogged down on prior knowledge or vocabulary (so historical fiction is out pretty much), but something that we could really discuss the meaning. She suggested Staying Far for Sarah Byrnes by Crutcher. I thought that books structure was a little difficult with the time jumps and all.

I'm going to ask my librarian too, but do you all have any suggestions for a good start of the year book that fits with the description above?

Thanks :)

message 2: by Ken (last edited Mar 10, 2008 05:42PM) (new)

Ken Hi Jacky. I teach 8th grade to your south (you know, the "flatlands" -- where those ever-popular folks with Mass. plates show up from). I have the 8 most recent teacher books I've read on my bookshelf called (of all things) TEACHING. Check it out. At the moment, my favorite by far is Jeff Wilhelm's Engaging Readers and Writers with Inquiry. Good stuff.

A great student-friendly book is SE Hinton's The Outsiders. For boys, try Touching Spirit Bear (Mikaelsen?) And believe it or not, lots of kids get into Orwell's Animal Farm. The whole pig deal cracks them up.

I see you're from "LA." I used to work at the Waldencrooks in the (now dying) Auburn Mall. We're talking when it opened. We're going BACK in time.

message 3: by Tim (new)

Tim | 21 comments

"Do highly socialized species always commit suicide?"

That is the title of this short blog post.
"We also seem to be the only enormous species that is (in the terrestrial scheme of things) VERY RAPIDLY committing suicide. "Fouling our nest" is what we do best....

So are we addressing this fatal one way street reality? No way. Now television, that's another matter. TV for you and me. Fun, fun, fun. Sitcom psychosis is the name of this game."

Are we doomed? Are we dooming our planet?
It fucking sucks that i get no real choice of what government invades my life, however even greater than this - do we get a choice in what happens to our world?

Do we "need" a crisis event that wipes out the majority of humanity..?
Are we a virus out of control..?

message 4: by Sophia (last edited Mar 10, 2008 11:45PM) (new)

Sophia (pheephyphophum) | 176 comments Mod
Virus? Ooooh yes. That was my favorite part of the Matrix...

"Agent Smith: I'd like to share a revelation that I've had, during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet, you are a plague, and we are the cure."

My favorite part of the article:
"So, yes we have our moments, but the billions of deadweight, deadhead human beings are almost certainly too much to compensate for. A few flashes of transcendence over an ocean of existential sludge."

That was so wonderfully said, and it is so true! This was a fantastic read! So again....what can we DO?! I know it's like throwing back starfish, but what kinds of things would you guys suggest we DO to make a dent in this? It's roughly ten of us now, but just a couple of weeks ago, I thought it was just me. :-)

I've started recycling more, I'm a vegetarian, I switched to energy efficient light bulbs, I don't drive when I don't have to...what are some other suggestions?

message 5: by Tim (last edited Mar 11, 2008 07:04AM) (new)

Tim | 21 comments :) Smith has the best voice ever for that role. Perfect heh.

Amen. It is hard/impossible at times to think we can do anything.

I think this world revolves around money and political power. That being the case, perhaps we can:

1. Boycott products/nations/companies and let others know why so that they may become informed enough to consider making the same decision.

2. Write to our political representatives. Get others to do so too.

3. Issues which are hidden away by those in power, bring them out onto the street, into the living room, into everyday consciousness.

message 6: by jacky (new)

jacky I'm originally from MA - Reading, which is kind of funny considering my profession. I have only been up here for about four years. The Auburn Mall is doing a little better than when I first moved up here.

I have taught Animal Farm before and had considered that one. I thought The Outsiders might be too much of a guy book for a mixed audience. I want our first book to be whole class so I can get to know them and do some basics with them. Do you have girls who liked The Outsiders?

message 7: by Ken (last edited Mar 11, 2008 03:55PM) (new)

Ken Girls who like The Outsiders? Very much so. In fact, they are fascinated by the fact that Susan Eloise Hinton (heck with "SE") wrote it in high school at age 16. Then when I ask the kids whether they can tell it is written by a girl, they split. It's a hoot listening to their evidence -- Hinton's rather thorough description of the boys' hair and eyes, the fact that supposedly "tough" kids read Gone with the Wind (most definitely a chick book), and so forth. This spills over to discussions on sexism.

Many girls go on to read other Hinton books after this assigned one. Amazing. And boys like it because of the gang stuff.

Showing the movie just tops it off. The girls really go for Matt Dillon (as Dallas) and Rob Lowe (as Soda). The rest... nah.

So yes. I find this book universally admired by boys and girls and credit the author's sensitivity to it. I've used it without fail for six years now (ever since I was "promoted" from 7th to 8th grade). Try it. You'll like it.

message 8: by Trina (new)

Trina (trieb) I don't teach The Outsiders, but I do make it available to the kids.

And girls love The Outsiders. A few of them have told me it is because they've imagined the guys in their heads -- or mentally cast their favorite actors as the characters. (I haven't told them about the movie.)

message 9: by Kim (new)

Kim I LOVE teaching House on Mango Street with multi-level ninth graders as it's also a great way to have them do a project about them, very memoir based and you get to know your students really well that way. I have that project if you ever want me to send it to you. Also, my school that I teach at just taught my young adult novel Songs for a Teenage Nomad and did the song journal project with the ninth graders and it was really amazing - I got to come in and they read parts of them to was a great day. All the curriculum for the book is available free on my website at I have taught high school for ten years and I tried really hard to put in some user-friendly stuff together as a writer (as I will always, always be a teacher first).

message 10: by Sophia (new)

Sophia (pheephyphophum) | 176 comments Mod
See, and Sparky you said it doesn't work to make changes in order to influence the people around you to do so as well!

lol, for real though, Seek (I'm gonna be able to Picasso your face if I save your profile pics, lol) I really feel like we're in a day and age where the question should be it really effective to protest, picket, boycott, etc....

I just feel like that was the approach that worked during civil rights and whatnot, but we are in such a huge world now. If a few thousand people boycott something, it doesn't scare copmanies. If people picket and protest, it's not given the media backing that it used to get because the news is just as the guy from "Network" put it, lol. So what is the best way? I've always felt that it is to get in to get out, you know?

So Sabrina, don't worry about being an anti-consumerist who works as a retail manager...perhaps as you excel in the company you can get to a position where you can make serious and lasting changes in the entire policy.

What do you guys think? How do we forge change in 2008?

message 11: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (randymandy) "Lead By Example." Not that it should be the only step, but it's a great first step. And unfortunately, one I'm not so good at myself...

message 12: by Al (new)

Al I absolutely loved The Outsiders when I read it as a girl in 8th grade. Out of my whole class (about 28 students) there were only 2 kids who didn't like it, one because of the gangs, the other becuase the slang was out of date; everyone else loved it though.

message 13: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I agree with House on Mango Street and I also would recommend Of Mice and Men. You know - everyone does not need to be reading the same book. You could select the theme and skills you want to cover and then assign books accordingly. Having everyone read the same book is hard when they are at such a variety of levels.

message 14: by Jessica (new)

Jessica The other thing with The Outsiders is that it is usually middle school reading and a lot of the kids will have read it.

message 15: by Chary (last edited Jan 17, 2010 05:05AM) (new)

Chary Hi Jacky!

Like you I teach a BROAD range of students, from low level readers in the tenth grade to Pre-AP and AP students.

I agree with House on Mango Street. There are tons of topics for all levels of readers available online,it's a matter of doing a little searching. With the higher levels, Pre-AP/AP students, I found Mango Street a good start off book to teach literary analysis. In the past I've paired the book with the reference book How to Read Literature Like a Professor. It's a great start for inquiring minds.

Also Like Water for Chocolate is good for the same purpose.

But recently I've taught the autobiography The Glass Castle and I've heard success stories with The Blind Side. Students of all reading levels seem to like it.

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