Getting ready for the new school year (with extra attitude)

I don't really have a lot to say about these two stories that have come across my screen in the past day, or so. Only, perhaps, that I won't ever understand the need to pass these kinds of laws.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to Prevent Same-Sex Couples Hospital Visitation Rights

And that, thankfully, there are people out there who fight better and smarter than me, and remind me to keep on fighting the nonsense and discrimination.

George Takei responds to "Don't Say Gay" bill
Now that teachers in Tennessee aren't allowed to discuss homosexuality, Sulu has come up with an alternative


At least there's this news to remind me that we might be headed in the right direction:

Poll: Majority in US back same-sex marriage
Gallup shows 53 percent say it should be legal, up from 44 percent last year

Reading The Guardian on a summer Sunday morning

Sometimes when I read the news, especially online, I look for examples of how standard written English is changing. This activity reminds me that teaching students that a well placed and meaningful "lolz," as in this example, is absolutely acceptable for particular audience and purpose. As equally important as knowing the difference between the words "definitely" and "defiantly."

I am currently working on developing some quizzes-stroke-drills that will reinforce such common error type things.

I certainly never thought I would be finding grammar and usage inspiration from hip hop artist Wiz Khalifa this morning. But, as I have been trying to remind myself lately, I really do need to listen to what is really going on out there.

"[. . .] to be an icon you just got to not be afraid. And I'm not afraid. Whatever I do, I do it because I want to do it and because it's completely, 100% me."

That's some serious knowledge about and from a serious generation of learners, thinkers, and doers.

mutli-modal mumbo-jumbo

I've been thinking quite a lot, lately, about what makes a good status message, for example. Or what makes a really good tweet. I mean, there are people who get popular from this kind of stuff. They've got particular style. They know how to say something funny, poignant, relevant, etc. in very short form.

And how is this form the same/different from the art of the thesis? If not, that, really, the rest of the supporting material is, well, non-existent. And all suddenly, I arrive at a comp one lesson plan in which we are analyzing status messages and tweets for the rest of the story -- for the implied whole other wealth of stuff that isn't there.

I know, somehow, this is a great way into teaching the art of the thesis. But I've just got to refine it.

But, I never walked to school barefoot in the snow

I'm trying to write some final exam questions for my Introduction to Literature class. A few weeks ago, I had a question rattling around in my head. It had something to do with the dramatic conventions of tragedy. For inspiration, I started leafing through some textbooks. I refer quite often to the theater text, published in 1989, that I used as an undergraduate.

The introductory material to the section on tragedy begins,

Whimsical assertions that all of us are Platonists or Aristotelians, or liberals or conservatives ("Nature wisely does contrive / That every boy and every gal / That's born into the world alive / Is either a Liberal / Or else a little Conservative"), reveals a tendency to divide things into two. Two is about right: Peace and war, man and woman, day and night, life and death. There may be middle cases; there is the cold war, and Edmund Burke suggested that no one can point to the precise moment that divides the day from night--but Burke also suggested that everyone can make the useful distinction between day and night. The distinction between comedy and tragedy may not always be easy to make, but until the twentieth century it is usually clear enough. Hamlet, which in Horatio's words is concerned with "woe and wonder," is a tragedy; A Midsummer Night's Dream, which in Puck's words is concerned with things that pleasingly "befall preposterously," is a comedy. The best plays of our century, however, are another thing, and the discussion of these plays--somewhat desperately called tragicomedy--will be postponed until later in this chapter. (65)

Types of Drama: Plays and Essays. Fifth Edition. Eds. Barnet, Berman, Burto. Glenville, Illinois: Scott, Foresman & Co, 1989. Print.

Then, I flipped to the "Introduction" to a more contemporary text, published in 2009, and landed on the "Major Moments in the History of Theater":

The Greeks invented drama. Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie and Will Smith earn millions today because of what the Greeks did twenty-five centuries ago. (xxix)

The Seagull Reader: Plays. Second Edition. Ed. Joseph Kelly. New York: Norton, 2009. Print.

I still haven't written those exam questions. The difference in approach between these two texts reminds me that I need to think more about what I offer my students to model and to think about. There's a lesson in balance here. Somewhere.

101 things I need to do in the next 5 minutes

What does it mean to be a teacher of excellence?