Diversity: The Fountain of Life, a Source of Education

Diversity is the fountain of life. Without it, eubacteria would still stain the oceans a uniform rust color. Diversity makes change, experimentation, adaptation and evolution possible. When ecosystems are diverse, life thrives. When human populations are diverse, culture flourishes.

Few places on earth are as diverse as the bay area. Residents brush shoulders with Ethiopians and drag queens, Muslims and hippies, quadriplegics and republicans. The bay area shows the world that diverse peoples can live together peacefully, mixing yet maintaining distinct identities. Of course, tensions arise, and communities do not interact as much as they could. Chinatown, the Mission, the Marina, and the Castro are too often separate worlds.

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The Right Word Activity

The Goal: To learn the importance of exact wording. The team with the longest list of correct names for things in the classroom after five minutes wins.

When the teacher says “Go,” groups of three or four students will right down the names of things in the classroom for five minutes. The groups may organize themselves anyway they wish, but each group must have only one list of words when the timer goes off. Students are encouraged to use computers and other electronic devices to find the right word for an item. The team with the most words at the end of the activity will get 25 points extra credit each.

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Writing Assignment: Reading as a Detective

Background: After an introduction to literature, poetry, and the evolving genre of romance, we began following the development of mystery from the folktale “Three Princes of Seredip” and Voltaire’s Zadig, or the Book of Fate through Edgar Allan Poe’s crystallization of the detective story in his tales of rationcination, exemplified by “The Purloined Letter.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle further developed and popularized detective fiction in his Sherlock Holmes stories, such as “A Scandal in Bohemia.” We saw the gentleman detective turn into tough, morally complex character in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, then lost ourselves in the many twists of Ira Levin’s play Deathtrap. Throughout this unit, we have explored the connection between detective work and close reading, namely looking for clues and constructing meaning from those clues. Now it’s your turn to practice a bit of detective work on the mystery of your choice.

Goal: To interpret a mystery using techniques of close reading, exploring social issues of morality, class, gender, sexuality, and so on.

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Writing Assignment: The Changing Genre of Romance

Background: After an introduction to writing, literature and poetry, we turned to the genre of romance, whose definition has morphed from chivalric romance (such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) through Gothic romance (as in Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte) to modern romance (as represented by the short stories we have read). In “The History of Genre,” Ralph Cohen explains that genres are open categories, which change over time as new texts are added to the set. Genre set up expectations, which individual texts may satisfy or alter. Knowing the conventions of a genre aids readers in understanding and interpreting the work.

Goal: The purpose of the paper is to explore the relationships between individual works of literature and the changing genre of romance.

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“HOT Blogging”: An Article by Lisa Zawilinski

Zawilinski’s article “HOT Blogging: A Framework for Blogging to Promote Higher Order Thinking” gives an excellent overview of the potential benefits of blogs in the classroom for teaching Higher Order Thinking (HOT). She claims that the Internet is this generation’s defining technology for literacy and that this population is both self-guided and in need of guidance.

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