Life and History (history is life)

A Toy Monkey That Escaped Nazi Germany And Reunited A Family

I began this project I called “dismantling the essay” or “disrupting the essay,” and it continues. Driving home today, I had NPR on, and the introduction to this story almost made me turn on my own music, and thank heavens I didn’t. Not sure what it was about the introduction that seemed kind of weak, but it is a beautiful story–first to listen to the voices on the radio, and then read the article with the accompanying pictures. I didn’t need the photographs to bring it to life, but it added another depth and emotion to Gert Berliner’s story.

Gert Berliner, from the NPR story about his life

In the wake of a Wisconsin high school where students are photographed before prom (if you want to know more of their rationale or confusion for their jackassery, please click on this Twitter thread–it too is an excellent example of a dismantled essay):

My middle school provides thirty minutes a day for US History. The other thirty minutes is intended for the IRLA program. There is no direct connection between the IRLA prescribed program and US History unless I create one. So in thirty minutes a day, I am to take about 300 years and squeeze it until it bleeds. I am always looking for better, more efficient and ultimately more meaningful ways to use all the senses of students: reading, writing, thinking, discussing, listening–and learning. Learning context. Learning why it matters, and feel confident in their knowledge.

Today a student told me she was in another class and because she had learned the word “genocide” in mine she was confident to participate in a Socratic Seminar and felt like an expert. What we do matters. I am just lucky because she thought to tell me her anecdote about transferred knowledge. I and some other colleagues did a walkabout today, and nowhere on the checklist would have been a space for “student transferred knowledge from one class to another.” We don’t see those moments unless we are very, very lucky like I was today.

I am hoping that my work with helping students understand how essays work, how they support their voice and critical thinking will result from the curated mentor texts.

Some previous blog posts:

Here is the curated list so far.

There is still work to do, of course, and my curated efforts need refinement and reorganization.

However– I invite colleagues to please add to this curated content or make suggestions. The criteria are simple:

  1. Must be an essay in essence (organized, thesis/thematic threads)
  2. Must be presented in a structure that is multidimensional –doesn’t ‘feel’ like a five-paragraph static piece of writing.

Got ideas? Please share!