This month at school, we are studying Harper Lee's novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird." Although this is one of my all time favorite books, I was concerned that A) the students wouldn't read the book (It is long and dense) and B) those who did read it, wouldn't really care about it. I tackled the first problem by assigning reading quizzes every class period. I tried to thwart any sparks notes users by specifically avoiding questions that can be answered just by reading the chapter synopsizes.
The second problem took more effort. How do you make the novel meaningful to a group of students who have never lived in America or studied American history (I only have four American students)? My fears materilized when I had a student ask, "So when does this book start getting interesting?" (He was on chapter 10). Luckily, he answered his own question a few days later. He burst into class and announced, "It's getting interesting!" (chapter 15).
Today was monumental for me. We sat in a circle and did a Socratic-style debate about prejudice. The students with discussed how everyone feels the effects of prejudice - from Miss Caroline Fisher, to Boo, to Calpurnia, to Mayella, to Scout, to Tom Robinson. But more than that, they realized that what Harper Lee was trying to say was as simple as "Really, we're all the same" and how important it is to stand up for the right. My students did not want to stop talking. Hands were up. Minds were engaged. And the application of a story written about the 1930s, published in 1960, became completely relevant to a group of students living in Jakarta Indonesia in 2013.
I LOVE my job! I am humbled and grateful to get to teach such incredible stories and principles to such incredible kids.
Which leads me to another favorite part of my life and some more incredible kids...preschool with Charlotte.
Yesterday I got to teach these darling girls about the letter "O" and the number 8. We did an octopus craft, spent time in the kitchen making "O" doughnuts, and did a reading matching game.
There were giggles, one meltdown (my child), one timeout (my child), and wonderful breakthrough moments when all three girls read the words: dog, log, jog, and fog.
From great literature with ninth graders to learning to read with four year-olds.
I cherish my time with both.