Sunday, October 14, 2012


The house is shaking. The computer is shaking, the pumpkins on the table are shaking, and even the tinsel still up from last December is shaking. I'd like to say the vibrations are from the sheer volume of intellectual pursuits raging in the trailer, but the truth is we just have thin walls and one of the more persistent washing machines this side of the Continental Divide.
Outside, it's one of those sweet autumn days; it's a day when the warmth of the sun is so velvety and unexpected it seems to have a physical weight. These nights are getting cold - when Em gets back from her best friend's wedding out east, she will have missed the indelible shift from late summer to fall. I've been accumulating layers as I sleep, and the garden has given its last hurrah. The squash plants are sad black-and-green tentacles wound in nets on the ground, the yellow eyes of half-started squash staring dully. The tomatoes are shrugging against their stakes. The corn is raspy, dry and whispering, and the peppers have slumped off their last fruits. Only the cabbage and onions are persisting, and I think I will harvest those today.
It's not a wonder, then, that I find myself a bit akimbo as well. Yesterday was a fabulous trip to Albuquerque - errands, the ABQ Friends of the Library Book Sale, and the wondrous "Perks of Being a Wallflower" - and today is the inevitable letdown of a house empty of human company and full of the household and scholastic obligations that hover ever near.
The book sale was more expensive on my pocketbook than I had reckoned, but I think my students will be thrilled - while writing their analytical essays (examining how imagery and figurative language create meaning and the theme of their choice of Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman poem), they each added a recommendation to the book list. Though there were no zombie books, I got a TON of quality Native literature / non-fic, mysteries, and drama. I just wish time had not run out so quickly; Lyly was able to come down for the joyous "Perks," but had to jaunt back for work so soon after. It seemed there were so many books, such an infinity of combinations and stories and opportunities, that all had to be ignored, shut up, truncated.
I found myself longing for that Charlie moment in the tunnel - found myself wishing for loud music and ticking lights. Wishing for a moment in which I could "swear we were infinite."

Lest the melancholy dominate the mood, I must say this year is going beautifully. I am all but sure that I will teach again next year, and happily. When my sophomores from last year - a perpetual frustration, if you remember - come up in a steady stream saying how much they miss my class, I find myself assuring them that I will be their teacher next year for their AP Literature class. The resultant cheers and smiles and delighted eyes reassure me. I have many of that crowd in my drama class semester as well, and they are a daily testament that I want to see them graduated, accepted, excelling.

Ah, yes, drama.
We have decided on our plays - yes, playS - and we are performing Pinter's "The Dumb Waiter" and Hellman's "The Children's Hour." Opening night is November 15. Oh, man. My nerves are matched only by my excitement. My assistant directors largely run rehearsals, my stage manager helped reserve the stage and my assistant stage manager is learning how to locate / run our dimmer board (as well as helping largely with the tech). Everyone else, in addition to their (large or small) roles, is taking part in production teams. Our sound group has planned out the cues and planned location of speakers; lighting has figured out the "looks"; costuming has designed everyone's costume; hair and makeup is learning how to do the curls of the 1930s; we have basic designs for all three looks of the set. May I mention that our plays were cast only the Thursday before last? Yes, it'll be tight, but it will also be "tight."
Before this theatre bonanza, we dug up Greek stages back behind the school (shhhh) and performed "Oedipus Rex," watched "Oedipus in America" and wrote reviews, made 1/4"-scale models of Greek plays, and learned the basics of stitching. N.B.D.

AP Literature also swings along nicely. We finished with a rousingly-successful Boot Camp and then began Beowulf. Those two weeks were a little cramped, seeing that I had to purchase my copies (7 for the 14) and then they shared those. But, hey! Who doesn't love the monsters and the gorgeous verse of the Anglo-Saxons? We had beots and scop contests and Stephen King. They also learned the basics of Dialectical Notebooks and analyzed "The Seafarer." I am happy to get to revisit that "hard-bitten mortality" that dominated the culture when my father visits and speaks first-hand about the translation process!
Next, of course, was The Canterbury Tales and all the resultant anthropological bawdiness. First was a day of The Story of English - even though I could not show them the fabulous documentary, we could explore together how Old English trammeled and traveled into Middle English. Normans and churches and Chaucer, oh my!
We're now taking a week off before launching into "The Tempest" - yes, yes, THAT will be interesting from a Native perspective!! - to start the Common App and do non-SW college profiles (while reading a few romances / ballads). Yes, I'll admit to having ulterior motives. I want my AP kidlets to realize that liberal arts colleges are fabulous - most of them have no idea of colleges beyond New Mexico institutions. Again, I don't aim to pressure them, but merely expose them!

Finally, my English 3 kids are kicking it along too. As part of our 2nd unit (1800-1870)'s Essential Question: "What is our place in nature in society?," we're focusing heavily on the debates and election issues. So, since we've wrapped up a rigorous week and a half on poetry analysis, we're now doing a weeklong project where students choose ONE topic and ONE candidate and prepare a 2-5 minute presentation on how their candidate believes that topic should be handled. Should be great! We've already had some swell discussions analyzing the performances / beliefs during the debates.
And as all this goes on, the independent reading improves slowly and steadily. It is hard to keep new books until the end of the day after a good pitch; students are sharing more and more with their neighbors, friends, and with me. It's slow going, but I think we're building the positive culture of reading we set about from the get go. Huzzah!

Ah, yes. Here seems a good place to embed my list of purchases yesterday - in no particular order. 
59 books for $83. Not so bad:

Letts, Billie. Shoot the Moon.
Smith, Alexander McCall. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.
Suskind, Patrick. Perfume.
Parkhurst, Carolyn. The Dogs of Babel.
Hungry Wolf, Beverly. The Ways of My Grandmothers.
ed. Trafzer, Clifford. Earth Song, Sky Spirit.
Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony.
Andrews, Lynn. Medicine Woman.
McCarthy, Cormac. The Crossing.
Nafisi, Azar. Reading Lolita in Tehran.
Lawrence, DH. Selected Poems.
Brown, Vinson. Crazy Horse.
Welsh, Louise. The Cutting Room.
Simmons, Leo. The Sun Chief.
ed. Evans, Max. Hot Biscuits.
Hillerman, Tony. Skeleton Man.
Allen, Paula Gunn. The Woman Who Owned the Shadows.
Sandburg, Carl. Selected Poems.
Frost, Robert. You Come Too.
ed. Barnstone, Aliki. A Book of Women Poets.
Colton, Larry. Counting Coup.
Browning, Robert. My Last Duchess and Other Poems.
Shelley, Percy Bysshe. Selected Poems.
Willoya, William. Warriors of the Rainbow.
Dickinson, Emily. Essential Dickinson.
ed. Keillor, Garrison. 77 Love Sonnets.
Sobol, Donald. Two-Minute Mysteries Collection.
Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone.
Prather, Hugh. Notes to Myself.
Burroughs, Augusten. Running With Scissors.
Alvord, Lori Arviso. The Scalpel and the Silver Bear.
ed. Mullett, GM. Spider Woman Stories.
Cummings, William. Ghost Ponies.
See, Lisa. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.
Gregory, Phillippa. The Other Boleyn Girl.
Dunn, Mark. Ella Minnow Pea.
Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Interpreter of Maladies.
Larsson, Stieg. The Girl Who Played With Fire.
Erdrich, Louise. Love Medicine.
Sebold, Alice. The Almost Moon.
Fitch, Janet. White Oleander.
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway.
Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek.
Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. 
ed. Binchy, Maeve. Irish Girls About Town.
Dubus, Andre III. The House of Sand and Fog.
Erdrich, Louise. The Bingo Palace.
Roy, Arundhati. The God of Small Things.
Kingsolver, Barbara. The Poisonwood Bible.
Schlink, Bernard. The Reader.
Winspear, Jacqueline. Maisie Dobbs.
Golden, Arthur. Memoirs of a Geisha.
Braun, Lillian Jackson. The Cat Who Wasn't There.
Pullman, Phillip. The Golden Compass.
Proulx, Annie. Brokeback Mountain. 
Duras, Margueritte. The Lover.
Yates, Richard. Revolutionary Road.
Picoult, Jodi. The Pact.
Picoult, Jodi. Sing You Home.

On the doula front, things have stagnated but frizzed - like Erdrich's "burst ropes of stars" in "The Glass and the Bowl." I've been doing a lot of thinking about my path after next year, and it's awfully convoluted. One thing I KNOW I want to do is the doula mentorship run by the Birthing Tree Cooperative in Santa Fe. The program is exactly what I'm looking for; perhaps I could check it out some weekend soon and / or begin this summer?
I've also been pursuing the thought of teaching parenting classes, ideally in the high school setting. I have no doubt huge changes and improvements can be made in the elementary and secondary classroom, but I also have no doubt that excellent prenatal care / education could do the most good in terms of closing the achievement gap. Oh, what do I know?
Oh, wait. Diane Ravitch agrees. "Last year, at an Aspen Institute conference, the education historian Diane Ravitch was asked her wish list to improve schools. At the top of her list: universal prenatal care — which, of course, has nothing to do with the classroom. Or so it would seem." (New York Times

As I've voiced again and again, it is difficult to become involved in the birth world in this small, beautifully-close-knit community, but I'm doing my best.
Speaking of prenatal / postpartum care, below is my latest endeavor, approved through the nurse, counselors, and principal a couple of weeks ago. I have yet to have any takers, but I'll keep at it.

New Mom Outreach
From: Source: New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey,
State Department of Education and Department of Health
In 2001, the birth rate (per 1000 teen girls for 15-19 year old Native American girls is
58%, as compared to 66% for teens as a whole in NM.
This birth rate has grown 12% in the last two years.

From Diploma Attainment Among Teen Mothers.

By Kate Perper, M.P.P., Kristen Peterson, B.A., and Jennifer Manlove, Ph.D. January 2010.

From my own experience:
Anecdotally – in my first year of teaching juniors at ZHS – I noticed that roughly 20% of my students were parents. Additionally, every single one of my female students who dropped out was pregnant or a new mom.

From New Mexico Teen Pregnancy Coalition: There was a program, between 1997-1998, called “Future Voices.” It focused on: life skills, prenatal education, counseling, tutoring, home visits, and child care. It was met with positive outcomes.


As a doula as well as a teacher, I am passionate about the achievement of our student parents. So, I would love to be Zuni High School’s New Mom Outreach person. This would be a voluntary, unpaid position! What I would like to do:

·      Meet the mom in the prenatal period (ideally, around 8 months gestation). We would talk about how her pregnancy and school are going, and her plans for the birth and postpartum time period. Ideally, it would be after school so I could also meet with whoever will be the primary caregiver for the baby after the student returns to school. I would explain my role and offer any resources for her concerns.

·      She would fill out a sheet with her teachers – a sort of anticipation guide – outlining, roughly, what they will be covering in the postpartum time. This would be photocopied. I would keep one copy, and she the other.

·      After the birth, I would first meet with her 1-2 weeks postpartum. That gives mother and baby enough time to begin to adjust to life together. I will call and schedule an appointment with the two (at a convenient time and place). We will meet and talk about the birth, breastfeeding, sleep, life, etc. Then, I will go over the homework, explaining any concepts and tutoring her on the work.

·      This schedule of meeting, delivering work, and aid with homework, will continue 1-3 times a week until the student mother is ready to return to school.


Well, I really ought to be turning to that grading about now.
Please keep up your good work, whatever it is and in whatever infinite ways it manifests itself.

Over and out ~

Monday, September 3, 2012

OF ALL THE MOTHERS: or, why we need Planned Parenthood

Johnny Wheelwright's mother, at least according to Owen Meany, has "THE BEST BREASTS OF ALL THE MOTHERS." 
Yes, I have finished A Prayer For Owen Meany, and am still befuddled in its wake. A fabulous read? Yes. An incredibly-intricate world crafted in 637 pages? Yes. A bit off-putting, ambiguous, and unimaginatively-written for women? YES.
Finding myself unable to parse out all the sentiments, I launched pretty much immediately into The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett. (Yes, a rebound book.) Other than an uncanny presence of God similar to Meany, it bears little resemblance. 
It takes place at a home for unwed mothers in Kentucky, and is really a very lovely character study of a leaving woman, an intuitive nun, and a man so achingly real and good he can carry hope on his broad shoulders. Puffs on the inside cover echo a similar sentiment - they say the book is a success because it propels itself even with an unidentifiable protagonist. I'm not sure if I agree. I think they mean that Rose, the woman who cannot stay, is not the woman we wish to be. At no point, however, was I unable to identify with her. Would I have made the same choices? No. But I think it is short-sighted to write that her choices are totally inscrutable. What do you think?
Next up is The Scalpel and the Silver Bear. It too has borne its criticisms, but I'm excited!
Also, last week, my housemate and I went to our first Zuni book group meeting and discussed Ms. Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. (I guess my themes have been Home, God, and Strange Kids.) It was a delightful time of delicious food and good conversation. It was also nice to be known as a doula first, then an English teacher.

At any rate, reading Patchett's book made me wonder if there are still homes for unwed mothers in the country. 
My subsequent rage was the impetus for this entry.
Oh yes, there are still homes for unwed mothers, and I'm sure many of them are lovely places of prayer and reflection for girls on the cusp of adoption or motherhood. What, of course, was the majority of the facade was the retchingly self-righteous Anti-Choice rhetoric. I am afraid, and I am nearly certain, that girls are being coerced into certain options because it is the Only Christian Thing to Do. I could not find ONE home or shelter or center that treated pregnant women with the respect and autonomy they deserve. They would go to the home not because they had thought long and hard, come to the decision that is right for them and their body at the time, and wanted a place of further reflection and parenting instruction. No no, they purportedly go because it is the Right, Good, Blessed thing to do. 
But then, of course, the other side can be just as condemnatory. An article on Jezebel, which I am frequently interested in and impressed by, has an article that is not much more than trashing the Catholic church. Now, have they - and many other denominations - been responsible for a lot of coercion in the name of Good? Yes. But by no means is that a reason to condemn an entire church - especially using such self-righteous rhetoric. Ah, there it is again.
You see, we cannot be left with these polarized options:

THIS is why we need Planned Parenthood. 
A sample screenshot from their website:

HERE is a place women are treated - or, at least, purportedly treated - with honesty, dignity, autonomy, and respect.
As you can imagine, I called PP (they were obviously closed for Labor Day), mostly congratulating them for their work but also inquiring what kind of "training" the staff goes through. I want to get on that bandwagon!
Anyway, moving on --

Oh, right! I've also taught three weeks. What do you know?
I'm a little tuckered out from my self-righteous rhetoric, but I'd like to send two thumbs-up to the interwebs. 
Teaching has been going wonderfully. Of course there are the frustrations, and the hiccups, and the massive amounts of work, but I am learning to intuit the timing of a lesson, the ethos of a classroom, and the shaping of a unit. Huzzah!

ENG 11: My juniors are a fab bunch this year. The first week was focused on diagnostics, so I did a writing (AP), grammar (ACT), and reading (Gates) tester and tracked the results. My students are, on average, three years behind. 
This made a natural segue to examining the reading data and launching on their independent reading program. I can't tell you how peaceful it is to begin every class with 10 minutes of reading, or already have talked more about independent reading (hey hey, there's some autonomy and respect!) this year than in the entirety of last. Also, we've been focusing on exploration narratives and the cultural biases of writers. These last couple of days, in addition to workshopping a second draft of our "Avatar" essays, we've been studying William Bradford, a segment of 1491, and an "As I Please" editorial by Orwell. We then have been analyzing the unreliability of history, and how Power creates Discourse. 
It was successful in all classes, and WILDLY successful in 2nd hour. 
This coming week, I'm excited to tackle les Puritans, and study in turn how their cultural values are reflected in their art.

DRAMA: Oh, Gosh, what fun.
We've been doing our introductory unit on "How to Read a Script" and what performance is, and all of that. So, we performed Beckett's "Play" twice. They did it once, then received notes, re-imagined characters, rehearsed rehearsed, watched a professional version and then performed again. Additionally, we learned the basics of drama warm-ups, method acting, and script analysis. We're finishing up our history of theatre presentations / activities (which have informative and a hoot!) tomorrow, and then onto the Greeks!

AP LITERATURE: We're fast into Boot Camp with my AP Lit critters, and they have been keeping up! Boot Camp entails tackling one element at a time (Characterization, Setting, now onto POV this week) and working deeply with two short stories and two one-page essays a week. As we've studied "My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn," "Miss Brill," "Araby," and "Blue Winds Dancing," I've also woven in related Catcher in the Rye activities a couple of times a week: paragraph on Jane Gallagher, timeline, symbolic impact of setting on events, central images, etc. This, topped off with a classic independent reading program and a once-weekly in-class AP essay write, make it a tough but worthwhile class. We'll see what they make of "The Yellow Wallpaper."

CHEER: Like all things, is much easier this year. Our housemate and fellow teacher Ms. Skalican is helping out with mounts and jumps and tumbling, so my girls are excited and making A-frames! Woot! I'm also capable of teaching the cheers, and we've got some good new blood. 
When working concession on Saturday, we made 500 dollars. We'll see if we can't get those new uniforms / enough uniforms / attend the playoffs.

I have to hop off to grade "Avatar" essays, book reviews, and in-class essays analyzing the connection of setting and self in Mary Oliver's "Crossing the Swamp," but do know that our little garden is chugging along. Pictures soon of our hand-length yellow squash, orange pumpkins, little ears of corn, burgeoning burgundy beans, two-fist cabbage, big sandia peppers, and ripening tomatoes. Yum!

Over and out, and happy Labor Day!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

a new patent on the wheel

Today's been a lovely morning. I woke up tangled in dreams of giant looms woven into book-mouths and theaters with red drapes, so I stretched, snuggled Checkers, and went right back to sleep. When I eventually got up, I spoiled our little garden with lots of water. I realized that you have ZERO pictures of our horticultural efforts this year, so a brief photo-history:

These are our little starts, most obtained from Ms. Purdy at the mid school. Cabbage from DY. The basil plants - now flourishing enough to create enough bruschetta for a party of a dozen - came from Holiday Nursery up in Gallup. The traditional corn, beans, and summer squash are ours from seed.

Tiny corn!

Doesn't my old dresser have potential as a raised bed?? Unfortunately, it was just too hot and dry (without any irrigation possibilities) in June for our beets or carrots or potatoes to sprout. BUT! You can see evidence of the waffle style garden. I dug a foot down or so, and then we mixed soil (manure or compost, tree soil from the hills, sand, bags of potting soil) to supplement the iron-rich, veritable clay soil of Zuni. Believe me that the sides of these waffle holes hardened to an adobe hardness in the sun. 

Three sisters garden! Our traditional beans kicked the bucket, but the corn and squash continued the sorority. Here they are, fresh from transplanting.

Yeah, we made this bread (see the last entry). N.B.D.

Fast forward a couple of months and -----

Ta da! Here's the same garden - look at our corn go! (and everyone else, too)

Here's our corn first tasseling about a week ago. Now it's a riot of aphids, the ants gently tending their little charges. So far no damage to the plants, just some nice mutualism.

This cabbage was planted the day before our spring break. It has survived drought, a hard frost (in late May), and a violent plague of flea beetles. This critter is giant among brassicas.

Yeah, that's my breakfast. Check it! Our little (2') row of beans is producing like crazy.

Our first volunteer squash (of about a dozen, no joke) of the garden is named Katniss. This is her fruitful endeavor. Hopefully the other squashies of the plot will take notice.

What? You aren't growing ristra peppers in your backyard? Bummer. 

It's strange to think since the last time I wrote here my plants have grown from little two inch seedlings to real veggies in their own right. Also, in this time, I have:
  • gone to a tremendously wonderful AP conference lead by the intellectual guru, Linda Davey.
  • chatted with a couple midwives up in Española, sharing my own thoughts and sharing excitement of a possible birth center in the planning.
  • taken a lovely trip to Iowa and Indiana (aka the homelands) with Ms. Lyl. We gloried in Quimby's 150 centennial celebration, playing carnival games and devouring the big pink ice of watermelons cut straight out of the truck. Indiana was a tizzy of late-night car rides, a New Mexican meal, other delicious food, wonderful people, and a gorgeous hike in Shades (after a scrumptious cook-out breakfast). We took the train home to Santa Fe, spending the afternoon in Chicago with my best friend Sarah. All thoughts to her on her first days of teaching! . . . the remainder of the train trip was gorgeous as well. 
  • I've read another hunk of books. After tearing up maybe four times in a three-minute preview of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," I have pushed that text to the top of my reading list. So while I'm also communing with Holden and Ina May and Martha Ballard and Charles Mann (1491, still exceptional), I'm right there with Charlie. Totally recommended: La Partera: Story of a Midwife. It's the narrative of New Mexican Jesusita Aragón, and it's wonderful. Also recommended is Lolita. I can't wait to read more Nabokov, though old Humbert Humbert certainly knows how introduce pathos to a road trip (I listened to it on CD). 
  • received 40 copies from dear friends and relatives of Angela's Ashes. Now I can teach it at the end of the year with a unit on the essay (along with Kingsolver's "High Tide in Tucson" and McKibben's "End of Nature." 
  • had a lovely visit from my friend, Julia! We had delicious Indian food, fry bread, Ancient Way, blue corn pancakes (home made). We went hiking at El Morro and took a long stroll all around the plains surrounding the pueblo: twin buttes ahead, sunset on the left, DY on the right. Behind us, the deep rain clouds of the monsoon season. Mmm. She also helped weed the garden and set up my classroom. She made an excel spreadsheet of ALL my classroom books. Yes, there are about 400 in my person free reading section. Yeah, that's not counting the school's sets of books. Here we come, independent reading program!

Oh, yes. Right. Do you really want me to talk about the elephant in the room? Well, here he is. 
School starts tomorrow. 
Oh, buddy. . . I'm not quite sure how to react, really, because I'm actually kind of excited and not very nervous. My room is lovely, my plans are made, I had a successful community theatre meeting, and I have a co-coach for cheer. And, as my mum said this morning, "It's like you turned from a Dickens novel into the end of a Shakespeare comedy." Truth. For, dear readers, my department is like Christmas to a three-year-old: I LOVE IT! Our three new teachers are sweetness and light: Anne, our new chair, is a lovely and sage woman from whom I cannot wait to learn. Ed is a delightful new teacher from Long Island, who accepts all help with such gratitude and has wonderful ideas for journalism. And Bret is our Neropa-divinity-degree-clown-Southern-gentleman who is pure fun to be around. It's looking to be a true, sugary year. In our two meetings, we've collaborated, laughed non-sarcastically, and I've been listened to with openness. None of these things happened last year. . . bring it on, 2012-2013!

And, hey! To top it off, another photo history:
Oh, hello there. Sorry, I'm too invested in reading towards my 25-book goal for the school year to really acknowledge your presence.

Oh, wow! There's even a rug, and soon to be bean bags. I'll just have to keep reading. Feel free to look around the classroom, though.

The door is perhaps even more fabulous than last year. Featured: the "Go in the direction of your dreams" quote by Thoreau, Lady G encouraging everyone to pass the NMSBA, the infamous Safe Space sign, CC, nature quotes, 20 ways to bring goodness into your life by the Dalai Lama, Think Indian, and ZPSD "weaving the future."

Oh, yeah. I have TABLES. I have tables AND a circle. This year, it's kind of a blastocyst-shape, with two little bulges at a diagonal from one another. Also visible is my junior timeline, reading corner, "Like Chicks?" poster, and the edge of my cabinets. One is storage that doubles as a Shout-Out Board; the other is going to be my journal and props closet. YES.

Here is my cabbage poster ("Grow your brain. . . BIG"), Bloom's verbs, and the featured texts from unit 1. My students made the posters at the end of year one. The other half is a Call Board, for theatre.

Yup. All my students, in one way or another, will be using "The New Yorker" as their introductory text into my course. 

You bet I look smug. Behind me are ALL my copies for my first day. Huzzah!

Here is my Long-Term Plan for my juniors. Yup. I've got a list of all my texts for the year with the standards they correspond to. 

I am SO thrilled to teach my critters. We'll be working with real literature and real issues, and slipping in my natural birth agenda as is appropriate.

My AP Lit seniors are reading (in their entirety or excerpts):
  • Both contemporary and classic short stories and poems
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • Beowulf
  • The Canterbury Tales
  • The Tempest
  • Frankenstein
  • Invisible Man
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • House Made of Dawn
  • Metamorphosis
  • Cry, the Beloved Country
  • The Poisonwood Bible
  • Oryx and Crake and other dystopias
  • Inde reading off an AP list

My juniors, like last year, are doing a survey course in American Literature. 
Their essential questions for each unit.
  • Unit 1: Dawn of time to 1800. 5 weeks.
-       Essential Question: What is literature? How is literature Power?

Unit 2: 1800-1870. 4 weeks.
-       Essential Question: What is our place in Nature and Society?

Unit 3: 1850-1914. 6 weeks.
-       Essential Question: How do we face Adversity?  

Unit 4: 1914-1946. 10 weeks.

-       Essential Question: What is Heroism in the modern age?

Unit 5: 1945-1970. 3 weeks.
-       Essential Question: What does it mean to be Post-War?

Unit 6: 1970-Today. 7 weeks.

-       Essential Question: How, then, shall we Live?

Borrowing liberally from the genius-y Donalyn Miller in The Book Whisperer, my kids will be reading 20+ independent reading books this year. Hence the 10 minutes at the beginning of each hour, hence the excellent in-class library. . . let's see if we can't get the NMSBA scores up!

And don't even get me started on my drama class. In the words of Barney Stinson, it's going to be "Legend- wait for it - dary!"

Well, I should be off to review Catcher and plan my board decoration assignment (soles of summer? New Yorker cartoon captions?) 
If you've made it this far, thank you thank you. I hope that all is well in your world.
Wish me luck?

Over and out ~