A tree stands guard in one corner of my room--wood, cardboard, duct tape and paint, a leftover from our production of A Midsummer Night's Dream last year. It overlooks islands of mismatched desks, as my ninth graders walk in and out of my room each day. I teach in a high-need urban school district in Massachusetts--my classes and I fight to overcome their disadvantages in and out of school.
My students entered my freshmen seminar class this year without a clue of what to expect. I can't blame them--we don't have a curriculum for the course, and I walked in with a very similar idea. After a month or so of floundering through exploratory activities and general academic strategies, I was stumped. So, we spent a few days brainstorming ideas about what we might like to learn about, and chose to dedicate the remainder of the year to studying film and music.
We've watched movies (and film) from The Jazz Singer and Casablanca, to Star Wars and Dr. Who, and held discussions about cinematography, choices in directing and character development. We enlivened our discussions by doing individual mini-research projects (myself included) on important events, actors, directors and films from 1915 to the present, and we found ways to understand film in a deeper way than any of us thought were possible.
We've moved onto music--bridging the gap by watching Fantasia, and are in the process of discussing music that tells a story. Bach is next, and then running through baroque and romantic periods, jazz, blues, music for social change, and finish by talking about where modern music comes from.
I'd like to spend the last few weeks of the year discussing the importance and power of culture. My students have come a long way in both their knowledge of culture, and their ability to talk deeply about where we've come from culturally, and what our art, film and music say about us as a people.
For this capstone experience, I'd like to use Ray Bradbury's novel, Fahrenheit 451 as a jumping off point. The novel provides a deeply moving account of everything I want my students to understand. This will solidify my students knowledge of culture, and prepare them to defend their opinions and stand up for what they know is right.
Giving these students the chance to have this discussion (using books, neither I, nor the school can afford to by a class set of), will make our class' vision for the year a reality.
If you donated to this project, you can sign in to leave a comment for Mr. Carlson.
DonorsChoose is the #1 classroom funding site for teachers.
As a teacher-founded nonprofit, we're trusted by thousands of teachers and supporters across the country. This classroom request for funding was created by Mr. Carlson and reviewed by the DonorsChoose team.
DonorsChoose makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America create classroom project requests, and you can give any amount to the project that inspires you.