Daily Archives: August 13, 2008

High Marks for Washington Students

Washington State’s students ranked near the top in ACT scores again! Despite all of the bad publicity our schools receive, our students have once again performed very well.

The SAT scores were high as well. In fact, Washington’s “average scores were the highest among states in which more than 30 percent of eligible students took the test.”

Granted, only 17% of our total graduates took the ACT, but that seems to be the norm for the top states on the list, especially since the SAT is a much more popular test in this state. Washington students also outscored the national average on every section of the exam.

Jurassic Park and American Literature

I use movie clips fairly often to draw students in to the literature we read in class. Here are two ways to use 1993’s Jurassic Park with a couple pieces of American literature.

1. When reading “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury, I start the class by turning off the lights and showing the students the scene where the two park vehicles stop in front of the Tyrannosaurus pen after Nedry cuts the electricity. Then, the dinosaur attacks the two vehicles, culminating with one vehicle pushed off a ledge. I like this clip because the kids get engaged right away and they see the relative size of a t-rex in comparison to a person. When the kids read the Bradbury short story, they better understand the ferocity and size of the dinosaur.

(P.S. See if the kids notice the film error: the place where the dinosaur walks out of the pen at the beginning of the scene turns into a giant drop-off by the end of the scene.)

(P.S.P.S. The importance of such a small creature, the butterfly in this Bradbury story, links up well with Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which mentions the importance of all creatures great and small.)

2. I also use the scene where everyone sits down to lunch and Hammond, Malcolm, the two paleontologists, and the lawyer debate the merits of the dinosaur park and the ethics of bringing the past to the future. This works well with “Rappaccini’s Daughter.” The scientific debate in the film scene is an excellent one, and the students love debating Malcolm’s point when he says “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” The obvious parallel with Dr. Rappaccini’s actions make this a good fit and shows how the ethical scientific debate of Hawthorne’s story still resonates in the contemporary world.