Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Argh-u-ing Like a Pirate About Pet Peeves, #NCTE16, Graduate Courses, and Opinion Writing.

One of my favorite courses to teach each year is the one on teaching argumentative writing in K-12 schools (National Writing Project style). Somewhere along the way, I picked up 1,000s of pirate patches so my arguments are now argh-uments, and I have have enough ammunition to make the class dedicated to opinion writing the 'speediest' one of the fall semester - seriously goes by fast.

From Zobmondo, to debating Cats, Dogs, or No Pets, to speculating why Dinosaurs would be great friends, to modeling what several young men composed after an exercise of deconstructing Trayvon Martin political cartoons that led to a student publication, and to analyzing teacher pet peeves which led to Special Report: Education, Change, and Diversity in Fairfield County, a partnership exercise for publishing teacher Op-Eds, the entire evening flies by and light bulbs seem to pop on over and over again.

Ah, writing is communication. Ah, writing is putting thought to page. Ah, writing requires developed through and referencing of those who wrote before us. Ah.

We are argumentative creatures (cough cough, post-election chaos, cough cough) and some tools that some writers use are more effective than others. Through analysis of several opinion pieces, we were able to think of our own arguments we need to make in the worlds we live. We simply need to make the choice to put our ideas before others and make the case for what we believe.

Special to this year's conversation, however, was a graduate student's closing event at the end of the class (I ask students to open and close the curtain each week with a mini-writing activity) where each of us were given a Norman Rockwell painting and asked to analyze it, explain what the artist's argument was, and make the case of what the  artwork meant for America. The student chose the "Four Freedoms" series by Rockwell, and stated he plans to have his students think through what it means to be American in the 21st century and what they'd argue is the most important right and freedom they should be granted. My student teaches 6th grade.

Save Freedom of Speech, Save Freedom of Worship, Fight for Freedom from Want, and Fight for Freedom From Fear.

The student was interested in what these three 1943 paintings might mean given the current political landscape of today. It was easily noted, too, that the paintings representative of American values, depicted particular people, and weren't indicative of the diverse nation of the time (race, religious, ethnicity, etc). His intent, he explained, is to have his students make arguments for what rights ALL Americans should have (and, for that matter, who makes up this great nation).

But for now, this morning, I'm leaving on a jet plain and heading to Atlanta. It was good to get my inner-pirate on last night and to Argh-ue for a little while. Yes, I'm silently opinionated, and not one for confrontation, unless it comes to me through reading......that was part of the conversation, however. Some of us, by nature, love to argue more than others and thrive on conflict. Not me.

This, however, might not be the strongest way to be as the great American experiment moves forward.

I can't wait to be reunited with friends in Atlanta! #NCTE16

And with that, I should pack. 

No comments:

Post a Comment