Amalgamation


cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by hjhipster

After being inspired by William Berry’s interesting idea around making current event memes I decided to sketch out an idea I’ve been thinking about for a long time but never got around to.

Scottish psychologists, after failing to find evidence that humans could see into the future, urged their colleagues “not to venture too far down the rabbit hole,” and Til, a rare earless rabbit born at a small zoo in eastern Germany, was crushed under a cameraman’s shoe shortly before a press conference that had been scheduled in the rabbit’s honor. “We are all shocked,” said the zoo’s director, Uwe Dempewolf. “No one could have foreseen this.”

-Harper’s

I’ve wondered about ways to mesh current events and English/Civics by juxtaposing news events and quotes similar to Harper’s Weekly Review (when it’s done well). I struggle with the high bar for entry but it opens up some interesting ideas about context, quoting, humor, juxtaposition, irony etc. that would be interesting to apply. There’s a lot there but it would also require some real work to make it accessible.

It’s hard to show good examples in our district because the Harper’s stuff tends to be politically charged and fairly sophisticated. To do it right would require widespread reading, memory and the ability to make odd associations between very different content. Cool things to do but difficult. I struggle with ways to make higher entry projects like this attractive.

I think you can scaffold the project in ways that start to make word choice and juxtaposition apparent. If you presented the two source articles from the sample above and simply read them you wouldn’t necessarily see the connection. Asking students to look for connections (maybe with a Venn diagram) gets them thinking about the two articles and connections. Then you can present the Harper’s paragraph for analysis. Then it’s about structuring the analysis of the writer’s word choice and structure. Why this quote? How and what do you condense? How do you present the results in ways that create humor/irony etc.? Can you re-word this so that it isn’t funny/ironic?

I’ve considered doing this myself based on the odd options for a similar weekly review that I see in education/ed tech on a regular basis.

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