Category Archives: Mythology

Upcoming in January

I just finished planning for January, and I’m going to be teaching the following this month.

American Literature: First, we’ll review the Edgar Allan Poe writings (“The Raven” and “Masque of the Red Death” and “The Tell Tale Heart”) as well as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment.” I actually used an excerpt of Stephen King’s Danse Macabre, which is in our textbook, as an introduction to the Poe unit. King’s piece is great for explaining how people’s curiosity is virtually uncontrollable and how the unknown is the scariest of all scares. This was a fun unit, and the kids loved it. It was the most energetic and intrigued they had been all year.

In January we will be reading Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage and looking at Impressionism, Naturalism, and Realism. Then, we’ll follow that up with Nathaniel Hawnthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter.”

Mythology: We almost finished our examination of Greek mythology but need to finish The Fall of Troy and the tales of Odysseus. That should take us the first week of the month.

Then, we’re going to read Beowulf, compare and contrast Norse Creation with the Greek version and then read some Norse tales. This will finish the semester. We completed our major project this semester, so we have a fun finish to the class. I will probably show a couple films after school and look at how the myths are changed for films (maybe Troy, the early 80s Clash of the Titans, The Odyssey, or the new animated Beowulf).  Sometimes I show the kids the documentary about the mythology of Star Wars if time permits. It’s one that the students like (especially when the film director Kevin Smith says “of course” Annakin is the perfect villain to ruin the universe since Annakin is “an emo kid”).

Sophomore Honors: We finished up Ender’s Game before the Winter Break, which the students really enjoyed. Most of the class went out and purchased or shared the sequel during the vacation time. I got a number of e-mails regarding the Ender and Bean books. It’s nice to see the kids inspired to read more.

This month we’re looking at classic fairy tales and then reading William Goldman’s The Princess Bride. We’ll compare and contrast the film with the novel, and we’ll look at how Goldman satirizes fairy tales and contemporary society. We may even compose an ABC story which I’ve blogged about in the past.

That’s all for now. TTFN! 🙂

First Day of School: The 2009 Edition

Today was the first day of school, and we had a distinctly shorter day than we normally do because of a new effort. The school was for Freshmen only in the morning to attend 20 minute classes, and the second half of the day was for upperclassmen to attend 20 minute classes while the Frosh had some separate activities. My school has put an emphasis on the 9th grade transition in school, so this fits that effort.

Thus, my activities were curtailed quite a bit, so I split my opening day activity into two days. While I still used my question and answer activity from last year, we will have to do the answer session tomorrow. The seniors generated about 40 questions as a class, the juniors submitted about 60 questions per class, and the sophomores asked over 100 questions. Whew! I will have to spend quite a bit of time answering questions, but it will be worth it. I really like letting them tell me what they want to know instead of reading a syllabus to them.

This year I’m teaching a Sophomore Honors English class (using World Literature), two Mythology courses for seniors, and two College in the High School courses (using American Lit.) for juniors. No new preps means I will really be able to focus on being as creative and energetic in class as I can be. Refinement is my key word this year.

My goal this year: to have at least three distinct sections to every lesson in order to keep the classes lively.

Going to be a Good Week

After such a long week this past week, I’m psyched for our four-day week ahead.

First, I get to start teaching my favorite Shakespearean play: The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. We have already learned some background information through a video and a history chapter (and I can say learned because all but one student really aced the background quiz), and we have had a Shakespearean insult contest–always a blast! Tomorrow we’re going over some vocabulary and then jumping into a conversation about theories on leadership before starting the play.

Plus, I get to start moving into The Great Gatsby this week. We’re creating bulletin boards detailing the 1920s and reading “Soldier’s Home” (Hemingway), “I’m a Fool” (Anderson), and “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” (Fitzgerald). The kids love the last one, especially when Bernice pulls out her scissors. Read these stories. They’re great! (Here’s a link to last year’s boards.)

Penultimately, my new mythology class is starting to learn about Prometheus and how he became a symbol of righteous rebellion against unjust authority. Kids love rebels. This leads us into the Underworld, which is always a popular unit where we try to design what the Underworld should look like. Then, we create our own Underworlds with a theme (much like a Dante’s Inferno-type rendition with themes). It’s fun and the kids know the Underworld once we finish. One of my favorite designs (of how a group thought the Underworld should look) included the band Styx playing “Mr. Roboto” for eternity to tortured souls.

However, the best news is this: no administrative meetings. I had enough of those last week. Oh, and did I mention it’s only a four-day week? And we have a four-day weekend upcoming? Things are looking up.