Exploring the Wealth of Voices Shouting and Singing in America
Help me give my students the chance to explore James Baldwin's novel If Beale Street Could Talk, a work of art that celebrates love--of self, family, and community--in the face of injustice.
This project expired on August 31, 2020.
Hooray! This project is fully funded
My students are dedicated to their learning. They come to school ready to put in effort that one often might not expect from a high school student. They know that hard work and perseverance are keys to success, and they appreciate the opportunities afforded to them. They are developing strong academic voices and integrity every day.
My students come from a wide range of backgrounds and academic skill levels, and they are highly motivated scholars who delve into college preparatory work with gusto and keep going even when there is a challenge.
They all contribute to our intellectual culture. Our philosophy as a class is that we dig in together, we struggle together, and we learn together. Everyone contributes something.
My sophomore pre-AP English students will embark on a yearlong project to explore both the experiences that have shaped them personally and the systems that shape people's lives nationally and globally. They will co-create a research project with me in which they explore and research issues of personal and current relevance in our world today, aiming for projects that seek to take action and to make a difference. In preparation for this ongoing student-driven work, I will teach two major semester-long units, beginning with Bodies and Minds Living in the Shadow of the American Dream, of which the novel I am requesting will be a part. Throughout the unit, we will explore how myths, power structures, and language shape people's lives. Students will explore voices from a wide range of communities, including African American, Latinx, Native American, Middle Eastern, and others, as they learn to read the world and develop skills for future AP courses in literary and rhetorical analysis and argumentation.
James Baldwin's If Beale Street Could Talk is one novel this year that will help students examine the real-world implications of texts, including how they connect with them personally, how they thread together in a historical narrative, and how they inform our humanity in the face of modern-day struggles.
The novel centers around the deeply felt and enacted love of the community that surrounds a young wrongfully imprisoned black man and is narrated by his fiancé as she works to make sense of their love and life in the face of injustice. Students will read this text in conversation with historical and contemporary pieces exploring the effects of policing on black people living in the United States, including texts by Ida B. Wells, Michelle Alexander, Sojourner Truth, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, among others.
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