Field Trip: WW2 Museum in New Orleans

My grandfather was a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division Parachute Infantry. The airborne divisions – two American and one British – dropped behind the landing beaches in the hours before dawn of D-Day. Over 20,000 men – the largest airborne force ever assembled – entered Normandy by glider and parachute. The 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions landed behind Utah Beach. The overall mission of the airborne divisions was to disrupt and and confuse the Germans so as to prevent a concentrated counterattack against the seaborne troops coming in at dawn, and to protect the flanks of the invasion force at Sword and Utah beaches.

Crashing into farm fields in fragile gliders, or descending in parachutes amid antiaircraft fire, the airborne troops suffered heavy casualties. My grandfather was shot in the hip on decent by parachute. In the darkness and confusion of the pre-dawn hours, many units became scattered and disorganized. Some men who landed in flooded areas drowned. Despite these difficulties, groups of soldiers managed to form up and attack the enemy.

Visiting the WW2 Museum in New Orleans I learned more about my grandfather’s role during the War. He never spoke to his children or grandchildren about his experiences during the war. I have pictures from his travels in Europe during the war and from his basic training but I only have bits and pieces of his story.

The WW2 museum is a campus with five buildings – an additional building currently under construction – filled with artifacts and oral histories about this war. Every room is filled with multimedia (print text, visual text, and video) “taking visitors inside the story of the war that changed the world.” The mission of the museum is to”tell the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world—why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today—so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.”

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The museum boasts collections that  include more than 250,000 artifacts and over 9,000 personal accounts supporting major exhibits and research. When you enter the museum you receive a dog tag with one individual’s story that you follow along throughout the museum at interactive stations. This personalized experiences allows users to collect artifacts, look at photographs, and read or hear the oral history of this person. I am able to log into Dogtagexperience.org after my visit to read more and study artifacts connected with his story.

The vast amount of oral histories throughout the museum “not only highlight the role of world leaders, but also the everyday men and women who found the strength and courage to accomplish the extraordinary.” The museum covers Japanese Internment, Racism in the military, the road to Tokyo, the road to Berlin, the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and more. There were rooms that showcased the arsenal of the military used to fight and win the war. The Manhattan Project was presented as part of the “The Arsenal of Democracy” exhibit.

The resources the museum provides for educators includes distance learning, school visits, and educator resources. Two opportunities are worth exploring if you cover WW2 in your classroom.

Operation Footlocker allows teachers to rent a locker of WW2 artifacts. This unique hands-on opportunity allows teachers and students to explore the history and lessons of World War II by analyzing WWII artifacts. These traveling trunks are designed to supplement WWII education in the classroom.

Each footlocker comes loaded with about 15 actual artifacts from World War II (not reproductions!). Of course, no weapons or ammunition are included. But there are ration books, V-mail letters, dog tags, sand from the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima, wartime magazines, a high school yearbook from the early 1940s, and many other artifacts, both commonplace and surprising. Footlockers come complete with white cotton gloves for handling the artifacts and a teacher’s manual that describes each object and contains directions for conducting artifact “reading” sessions. The cost of the locker rental is $75 for a weekly rental.

The Summer Teacher Institute offers an intensive weeklong seminar at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans and a weeklong excursion to a World War II-related destination. Each year’s institute focuses on a different aspect of the war, employing a rich array of curriculum tools and primary sources to help bring the war to life in the classroom. The 2019 Summer Teacher Institute focuses on liberation and the legacy of the war, connecting events like the Holocaust, the Nuremberg trials, the Marshall Plan, and the founding of the United Nations to the world of today and in the summer of 2020 these teachers are going to Munich to continue their studies. Note, there is no cost for the Summer Institutes. Participants will receive free lodging, a travel stipend, seminar materials, and most meals free of charge.

Additionally, there are lesson plans and artifacts that teachers can utilize for their classroom. This museum is a treasure trove for all in person and online. It has helped me to reflect on what I have covered in my WW2 unit of study and additional materials I want to bring to the forefront. I am also thinking about ways to bring the Dog Tag Experience into the classroom to connect students to the personalized stories of the war and deepen their understanding of this period in history.

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Silly Rabbit, Dice are for Kids (To Promote Learning & Understanding)

Last week during the #games4ed Twitter chat participants were discussing the use of dice in the classroom for learning activities. The creative ideas were flowing throughout the chat. When the dry erase dice were brought up during the chat, I thought of turning them into hieroglyphic dice for a history class to create stories of ancient Egypt and other ancient civilizations. But, there are so many more ways to utilize dice in the classroom as shared throughout the conversation.

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In the ELA classroom I use dice in many different ways from Roll the Dice or Think Dot activities to having students roll dice and complete a writing prompt based on the number rolled. One might have students roll dice to determine the number of words to be written in a summary. Dice are also effective for Cubing, an instructional strategy that asks students to consider a concept from a variety of different perspectives. On the cube or dice are different activities on each side. A student rolls the cube and does the activity that comes up.  You can differentiate dice/cubes according to readiness, learning profile, or interest.

My students are currently writing investigative journalism feature articles and it dawned on me to create a Roll the Dice Revision Activity.  Working independently or in small groups, each student is given a revision activity sheet and a die. Each student rolls the die and completes the revision activity that corresponds to the dots thrown on the die (that is, if a student rolls a “three,” she then completes the revision activity with three dots on it.) 

In addition to building my own dice activities, there are story cubes and metaphor dice that one can purchase online. Rory’s Story Cubes is a pocket-sized creative story generator with pictures on the dice for users to create their own stories based on the images rolled. Metaphor Dice, conceived by award-winning poet and educator Taylor Mali, make the formation of metaphors as easy as rolling a handful of dice. These color coded dice require a user to combine one concept (RED), one object (BLUE), and adjective (WHITE), to build a metaphor.

The possibilities of using dice and building dice games across content area classrooms and grade levels in infinite. Share your ideas in the comments.

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X-Ray Reading

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Roy Peter Clark’s X-Ray Reading: How the Secrets of 25 Great Works of Literature Will Improve Your Writing is a must read for teachers. Clark, a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, has taught for more than 30 years and authored or edited 18 books. In this X-Ray Reading he encourages his readers to “put on their x-ray reading glasses” along with him and undress the text. This experience leads to deeper reading knowledge and deeper writing knowledge. Beginning with The Great Gatsby and working his way through contemporary literature, Clark spends time with the fine details and its literacy effects. He writes, “writing is a game of language connection and meaning.” Let’s play.

George Orwell said, “Good writing is like a window pane, a frame for seeing the world, a boundary that is hardly noticeable.”

What should we stop, notice, and note?  Here are some places to pay special attention:

The Opening Passage & Treasured Endings- These foreshadow the rest of the story. Great beginnings arc and hint at great endings with foreshadowing details. Clark utilizes The Great Gatsby to illustrate the strategic treasures of powerful endings and beginnings.

Lyrical sentences – “Long sentences that take us on a journey” (pg 46) whereas short sentences are the “gospel of truth.”

Intentional elaboration and Cliffhangers that propel the reader.

Symbolism –  Geography, names (“names are a tool to project and overview character”), and common objects with deeper meaning and or religious references. There is so much religious symbolism in literature and Clark tells all his readers to read the Bible to notice and note the religious symbolism.

Repetition or the “echo effect” – Not redundancy, but purposeful repetition and the variation of a word, object, and idea. Clark mentions language clubs and word associations to help be creative with repetition. Similarly, tropes and motifs that show up again and again are significant. Think of the powerful image of the green light in The Great Gatsby that emerges throughout the story with its literal meaning and connotations.

Word Choice, Punctuation, & Diction – “Structural, architectural concerns – the ways in which the patterns of language and imagery create the backbone of a narrative” (pg 22). Then look at “the feel and the effect of the writer’s vocabulary as a whole.” Clark references  American Scholar’s 10 Best Sentences in Literature as a place to begin studying the master craft of authors. The difference between “just the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”

Nature, Setting, and Landscape – Places in the text where authors harmonize nature with narrative action and emotion and then places where nature is indifferent. Weather is part of the setting of the story and can be used symbolically. Weather is a character and metaphor that provides tension with the plot. His example of Zora Neale Hurston’s passage under the pear tree in Their Eyes Were Watching God transforms language and images of nature into symbolically rich passages.

Characterization – Clark says that it is important to torture your main character and make them suffer. He gives permission to his writing students to kill someone at the end. Details reveal the complexities of a character’s inner life. What characters are not doing is important, often more than their direction actions. Referring to Kurt Vonnegut’s advice  on the relationship between plot and character in narrative writing, “Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for, every character should want something, and be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them” (pg 126). Harry Potter is one example of this test of character.

Time – Stories are about time in motion but there are moments when time seems to stop. As a writer you can freeze time or slow down time as with To Kill a Mockingbird during the court room scene and again with Atticus shooting the rabid dog. Look for places where the readers is eased into the complex because the author’s purpose is to make us see.

Titles – Clark cites as the most important element of stories

Clark wants us to OVER READ. He writes, “literature is about movie making with your notebook and choreographing a dance.” He is all for reading like a writer. He states, “To grow as a write, you should read the words of the writers you admire and look for ways to imitate that work” (pg. 184). Plus, incorporate the “reading of poetry to examine the beautiful compression of language, meaning, and emotion.”

There are specific chapters in the book that I will be sharing with my students to help them undress and close read the text. His chapter on Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” is great to read in conjunction with the short story and when my students begin reading To Kill a Mockingbird, I will share Clark’s x-ray chapter with them. If we expect students to read like writers then we must give them models what that looks like. They need opportunities to trace symbols across a text and see how writers play with words. Starting small with sentences, poems, and then short stories can help students crack open the masterful elements writers design.

Want more? Check out this podcast with Roy Peter Clark on Book Titans

 

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Multi Genre Writing To Deepen Student Understanding – #TheEdCollabGathering 2019

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#TheEdCollabGathering is a free virtual conference hosted by the Educator Collaborative on September 28, 2019. Founded by educator and author, Christopher Lehman, The Educator Collaborative provides K-12 literacy professional development to schools across the United States and around the world. For a complete schedule of presentations, click here.

Below is my slide deck presentation on Multi Genre Writing to Deepen Student Understanding.

Multi genre projects are layered with poetry, letters, songs, lyrics, narratives, and news articles created in response to information found through research.  Utilizing higher level thinking skills, students research, summarize, analyze, and synthesize information to create scenes that illustrate a topic or time period. Working across social studies and English, my 8th grade students read and research primary and secondary sources about topics related to World War 2 and then create a multi genre text about a particular aspect of the war.

As Tom Romano writes in Blending Genre, Altering Style (2000), “In multi-genre papers writers can combine fact with imagination to invent scenes that illustrate truth . . . or to render scenes that actually happened but whose details have been lost. Imagination, after all, is a powerful way of knowing” (page 68).

 

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5 Activities for Close Reading, Collaboration, and Discussion

David McCullough, author of John Adams and 1776, said during an interview on NPR, “To teach history, use pictures to fuel students’ curiosity.”

We want students to get into a text (whether a primary source or historical fiction) and get a sense what people experienced during other time periods.  Then, students fill in the text with what isn’t being said by sketching, improvs, writing. 

Creative activities help students walk in a particular time period and ignite student interest in the past. Teachers can bring new life to a unit of study by integrating the tools of creative drama and theatre – tools like pantomime, movement, improvisation, scripted drama, oral interpretation, debating, public speaking, readers theatre, storytelling, and the many other ways we use our body or voice to creatively communicate ideas to others. 

Content is what we teach, but there is also the how, and this is where literacy instruction comes in. There are an endless number of engaging, effective strategies to get students to think about, write about, read about, and talk about the content you teach. The ultimate goal is to build a student’s comprehension, writing skills, and overall skills in communication.

Here are five activities to do with your students to promote deeper comprehension, communication, and close reading.

It Says, I Say, So What? – This  reading strategy from Harvey Daniels helps students by guiding them through the process of drawing inferences from the written text. Also, it provides an opportunity to synthesize the information with prior knowledge. I have adapted this many times to include images for students to read closely and articulate what they see and then what does it make you think.

Image Detectives

Reading Detective

10 Questions – Another reading strategy that I employ with my students was adopted by Kelly Gallagher, author of several books. Students read a chunk of text, the first chapter of a novel, or a passage from a nonfiction text and then brainstorm ten questions they have after reading the text. These questions become a frame for further reading and discussion about the text.

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Speed Networking – This activity provides an opportunity for students to make connections and exchange a variety of ideas with their peers in a productive manner. A student and a partner will discuss a given topic for three minutes, then switch to a new partner and discuss again. The number of rotations will depend upon the time available and the topic. The three rules include: 1. Stay on topic, 2. Keep talking until it is time to switch, and 3. Talk only to the person across from you.

Write Around – Students read a passage or a chapter then write a question at the top of a sheet of paper. Students pass their papers to one another or post them in a gallery for everyone to write a response to the open-ended questions.

Student to Student Dialogue Journal – Rather than creating a T-Chart where students record passages they thought compelling and writing a response, there is space for students to share their responses to the students’ double entry responses. Padlet is a great digital tool to collect student response and summaries in the write around and dialogue journals.

And one more . . .

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Mystery Envelopes – Hand small groups a mystery envelope with an index card inside that has a question for the group to answer. Working collaboratively, students formulate answers with evidence to support the text dependent question(s).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing Memoir

Virginia Woolf once said, “A memoir is not what happens, but the person to whom things happen.”

Whenever we return to a remembered place, catch a whiff of a childhood smell, feel nostalgic over a photograph the seeds of memoir are there. When we listen to stories and say, “That reminds me of when . . .” or “Once when I was little . . .” we are unlocking forgotten memories that resonate and fill us with stories. Memoir is not only about emblematic moments, it is also about the themes that run through our lives.

Memoir is a great place to start writing with students because it allows us to use our lives as a catalyst for writing and storytelling. Memoir is shaped by feelings and exploring a memory includes looking back at what happened AND also how it impacted you.

In Ralph Fletcher’s A Writer’s Notebook (2003) he writes, “Memories just may be the most important possession any writer has. As much as anything else, our memories shape what we write. Memories are like a fountain no writer can live without.”

Here are twelve writing prompts to help students get started writing:

Savor a remembered image

Collect favorite lines from memoir texts and then have students write off these lines or write similarly to the writer

Interview or research your family members

Write about a time in your life when you say, “I can’t believe that happened to me . . . ”

Write a double entry on the “you now” and the “you before”

Zoom in very close to a remembered scene from your life

Start with:

I remember . . .

When I  . . .

I always . . .

I used to . . .

Experiment with voice/perspective/structure

Use a memory box to help you write and let artifacts fuel your writing

Use a photograph to help you write and let the photograph fuel your writing

Make a family tree and let the branches become stories

Document your most sensory memories of home

Once students start writing and begin to revise their writing, here are twelve revision strategies for memoir:

Write 5 possible titles for your memoir

Write 3 different beginning paragraphs

Write 3 different endings

If you have sections or vignettes, take them out and make one long continuous flow

If you have one piece, divid into vignettes with individual titles

Choose a memoir except to mentor you

Take one section and write it in 3rd person

Take one section, write it from the other person’s point of view

Twist time around and backwards, inside and out, weaving all about. Give it a precise day, time, minute

Take one section, climb inside and write from the “inside out”

Look for words and phrases that could be more alive, more sensory based (the smell, taste, sensation of the memory)

Write about the person in your memoir as if s/he is a character. Who is she? What kind of person? What are her likes and dislikes? What does she want? What stops her from getting it?

 

 

 

 

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3 Creative Ways to Ditch that Essay

* The following was written as a guest blog post for Ditch that Textbook published on 9/3/2019. To read the post on the website click here

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Why should essay writing be the majority of student writing in school? There are lots of other options. Here are three good alternatives to consider.

What are your most memorable experiences throughout your middle school and high school career?

I know, you are thinking about all the exciting and engaging essays you wrote. That five-paragraph essay where you explained the theme of a text. Each paragraph was informative and persuasive, providing robust evidence and analysis to support your claim.

Probably not.

And what about in your classroom today, how often are students writing essays similar to your youth?

Words do not exist only on a page in a two-dimensional space any longer. Today, words are multisensory experiences that are seen, heard, and experienced through podcasting, filmmaking, storytelling, gaming, and virtual reality. Writing has evolved in genre, medium, and dimensions.

Teachers have been called upon to empower learners and to bring creativity into educational spaces to promote critical thinking, problem-solving, and design thinking while at the same time bolster communication skills. Writing is a key communication skill necessary in school and out to articulate thinking and clarify ideas. In the classroom, students write to learn and also write to showcase their learning.

Why relegate essay writing as the majority of student writing in school? We can give lots of other options.

Here are three alternatives to traditional essays

Podcasting

Podcasts are an effective medium to share knowledge and experiences, and students can easily create their own. Podcasting with students improves literacy skills and creates an authentic audience for writing. When podcasting, students are not just reading aloud their writing but purposefully and carefully choosing their words, narration, and dialogue to communicate their ideas.img_0819

After listening to Sean Carroll’s podcast “What Would Stephen Hawking Do” on Story Collider, I thought why not switch the theme to “What Would Our Founding Fathers Do?” regarding current political issues of contention. For example, a group of students research, write and podcast what Abraham Lincoln would do about gun laws, while another group addresses how Alexander Hamilton would handle the illegal immigration debate.

There are many different styles of podcasts. How you want students to present their podcasts is a decision that you and your students have to make. By offering students choices there will be a diversity of products, students will have agency, and their voices will be at the forefront of their finished products.

More resources:

Script Writing and Movie Making

img_5525Writing a script for a film has its own specific format and requirements. Like writing any good story, when creating a movie, students need a beginning, middle, and end. Most importantly the story needs conflict to drive it. Students have to create authentic characters that viewers will empathize with.

Have students write their own fictional stories then storyboard their ideas to convey the plot, conflict, and characterization before going into movie-making mode. When students are creating films, writing their own scripts, and making choices about lighting, sound, and editing, they are demonstrating critical analysis, creative collaboration, and multimedia communication skills.

Documentary films are another format. Check out the Op-Docs series on The New York Times. This series highlights short documentary films about aspects of life that are often hidden or unspoken like incarceration, living with a disability, and facing obstacles. These documentaries highlight real people and true events. Creating documentaries allows students to research and investigate topics relevant to their own lives, make insightful arguments, and illuminate different perspectives.

More resources:

Multigenre Writing

Why just box students into writing one genre per unit? If teachers allow students to show their understanding and knowledge of a topic with a variety of types of writing, there is an opportunity for choice and creativity. This goes beyond just allowing students to choose one genre or format. What if students could blend genres across one writing assignment to produce a multigenre piece that includes poetry, narrative, images, and songs to reveal information about their topic? In a multigenre project, each piece might work independently to make a point, but together they create a symphony of perspectives and depth on a subject. Check out this student example!

The writing your students create for their multigenre project can be powerful and inspiring. With the help of digital tools like Adobe Spark or Book Creator students can amplify their projects for digital storytelling.

More resources:

Writing is a vehicle for communication. Today our students are bloggers, filmmakers, gamers, authors, innovators, and influencers. How amazing would it be to sharpen their strengths and abilities in our classrooms to create something that surpasses the traditional school essay?

 

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Words Matter

“Don’t compromise who you are or what you have come here to achieve.” – Cody Rigby

“Be better today than you were yesterday.” – Jennifer Jacobs

In June of this year I joined the Peloton community. Getting on the spin bike and taking a class energizes me daily.  I have my favorite instructors who not only push me but inspire me with their words. Many of the things instructors like Cody Rigby and Christine D’Ercole say throughout the workouts promote positivity and can translate in our classrooms. For example, during a ride with Christine D’Ercole she states, “What are the numbers that really count? The numbers don’t know how strong you are. The numbers don’t know how bad you want it. There is not metric for will power, determination, or heart. #IAMICANIWILLIDO”

After hearing Christine talk about numbers I thought about my students and the numbers and letters that drive their thinking and often, their identity. Whether it is a grade or a test score, our students are taught to believe these numbers count. But they don’t in the long run. We need to remind students that they are more than a letter or number grade. We need to use our words for good and remind our students that they matter.

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While reading Joy Kirr’s newest book, Word Shift (2019),  I realize I need to pay attention to the words that I use because the message that transpires is based on my choice of words. “The language we’ve been exposed to and the words we use when we talk about others (and ourselves) all have an impact on the way we view the world and the people in it. More importantly, as educators, what we say shapes the way our learners think about themselves and their place in the world.

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If you want less negativity and more positivity in your life, classroom, and school, start by changing the words you use each day. Make your language match what you really want to believe and what you really want to happen.”

Choosing the right words is so important to empower students and colleagues. Our words help to create a positive environment and our words become actions. Thus, more positive word choice leads towards better outcomes. Joy not only offers a dictionary that promotes positivity in education, she includes words to reflect upon and alternatives to consider. Here are a few I will be omitting:

Speaking in Absolutes

Labels like “bad seed, behavior problem, class clown, gifted”

“Great job”  – Let’s be more specific to help students grow.

Pop Quiz, Worksheets, and Homework

Sarcasm

As for positive phrases to use, Joy offers so many good ones. Here are my top 5:

“Let’s try . . . ”

“I am glad you asked that question.”

“I want to learn from you.”

“Please share, I’d love your contributions.”

“I believe in you.”

My focus in the new school year is to inspire and energize students and colleagues with positive words. Joy Kirr’s book Word Shift brings attention to what we say and how we say it. Just as the Peloton instructors use their words to push me to be better, I will use my words and attitude to spark a positive difference in the classroom.

 

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Project Based Learning

This past week I spent three days in a project based learning (PBL) workshop with Jill Ackers-Clayton from Fielding Nair International (FNI) learning about effective 21st-century teaching and learning practices surrounding active learning spaces and project-based instruction. 

In turn, I have revamped my 7th and 8th grade media elective class to be a twenty week project based learning experience with my students. I have mapped out the project and authentic challenge based on the question: How can we develop an award winning movie short to highlight a problem in our world?

Students will have twenty weeks to direct and produce a 5 minute film (Documentary, Short Feature or Public Service Announcement (PSA)) about a real world problem that ignites them AND organize a film festival to present student created films to school wide community audience.

According to Dayna Laur and Jill Ackers in their book Developing Natural Curiosity Through Project Based Learning  there are five stages to guiding students through the process: (1) Authentic Challenge & Purpose; (2) Information and Prototyping; (3) Perspective and Point of View; (4) Actions and Consequences and; (5) Considerations and Conclusions.

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Since I want students to utilize the elements of cinematography that best illustrates this community problem and showcases your understanding of film production, the first ten minutes of class I will provide a View Now Do Now that introduces film history, vocabulary, and study of craft. I have outlined the View Nows Do Nows for the first month of school on the slide deck below.

If you do project based learning with your students I would love to know the authentic challenges and learning experiences. Please share your insight in the comments on this blog.

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Traveling Through The Twilight Zone with 3 Writing and Viewing Assignments

“You’re travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

Te Twilight Zone was a television series that first aired in 1959 for five seasons and has had three revivals since then, including this year on CBS. Created by Rod Serling, the original series addressed topics of science fiction, suspense, horror, and fantasy. The original series is currently available on Netflix.

This classic series is a great text to analyze with students and use as a creative writing model. Through the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and suspense, Sterling (who wrote two thirds of episodes) was able to include his own social commentary timely themes  from the anxieties of nuclear threat to the broken promises of suburbia, warning against anti-intellectualism and condemning virulent racism and bigotry — themes that all sound uncannily familiar today. 

Two episodes to watch with students are the 1963 episode, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and the 2019 remake, “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.”  These two episodes are worth viewing for a compare and contrast assignment. I have provided the graphic organizer I created for my students below.

Each episode of the initial Twilight Zone opened with a monologue from Serling where he would introduce the theme in his own, hypnotizing way. Sometimes abstract, sometimes, direct, each monologue served to draw the viewer into a story that might challenge long-held beliefs or put them in a world they never could’ve imagined. Each of these monologues ended with Serling inviting the viewer to enter a story that took place in “The Twilight Zone.”   

Similarly, the Twilight Zone closing monologues offered commentary and persuasion. Check out the closing monologue from “Eye of the Beholder.”

Now the questions that come to mind: where is this place and when is it, what kind of world where ugliness is the norm and beauty the deviation from that norm? You want an answer? The answer is, it doesn’t make any difference. Because the old saying happens to be true. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in this year or a hundred years hence, on this planet or wherever there is human life, perhaps out amongst the stars. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Lesson to be learned in the Twilight Zone (1960).

What does Ron Sterling state in his closing statement? What is he trying to persuade his audience to think about? Examining the openings and closings requires students to study  craft and structure. Viewing and studying openings and closings are opportunities for students to flex their own writing muscles and voice to provide their audience with synthesis, analysis, and substance. Once students look at various models and mentors, they can write their own concise social commentaries or monologues about fear, identity, or stereotypes.

Ultimately, having students create their own compelling Twilight Zone episode or updating a classic Twilight Zone episode allows students to be creative and innovative communicators. Storyboards and graphic organizers are scaffolding tools to help students create and execute an engaging episode.

Twilight Zone Proposal

Twilight Zone Project Reflection

Twilight Zone Planning Sheet

Want more about the Twilight Zone formula and storytelling techniques, check out this video essay deconstructing the cinematic techniques and formula for Twilight Zone episodes.

 

 

 

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