Want a new approach to teaching SPEAK? Check out this article written by Sarah Gross and Katherine Schulten, in The Learning Network on the NYTIMES website.
Amanda Pidgeon is a teacher at Hancock High in Kiln, MS. She teaches English 2, and AP Language and Composition. And she is a very clever lady!
She has a literature project called "Write On!" that combines books with art, and helps tame a perpetual classroom problem. She tweeted these pics to me the other day.
She told me, "It's based on changing desks covered in graffiti into something you actually want to write on. The students chose a significant life-changing quote from literature and wrote an essay about the quote. The essay gave the big significance of the quote. Then they decorated the desks to accompany the essays. "
She said the desks get repainted every couple of years. Amazing, right? Why couldn't I have had an English teacher like this when I was a kid?
Last week a special issue of Shelf Awareness focused on the new REALITY Reads campaign that Macmillan has put together. If you like contemporary YA lit, or you work with teens, you want to check this out.
Librarian Kelly Jensen wrote an excellent blog post at BOOKRIOT today, “What Are Grown-Ups Afraid Of In YA Books?” It is a great post and you should read it.
And now I will say something that I have never said before.
You should read the comments, too.
Dr. Richard Sweir, the guy who called SPEAK “child pornography” earlier this month, has been responding to most of the blog’s comments. His arguments are enlightening.
If you are honestly puzzled about how SPEAK could be called pornography, Sweir’s comments offer insight. Among other things, he said: “The book is about rape. By being about rape it promotes rape to our most vulnerable.”
One of my favorite exchanges –
Dr. Sweir: “The book is about the rape of a child. If you made a movie about the rape of a 13 year old would it be rated PG-13? It is all about rape, rape, rape and more rape.”
ernstludwig: “The answer to your question is yes, it would. The movie based on this book, also titled Speak, is rated PG-13.”
That is sort of amusing. Other exchanges are not.
The biggest lesson for me was that Richard Sweir comes perilously close to admitting that he hasn’t read the book. It seems that his information about the novel comes from the parents who want it removed from the school district. And while in his own writings, he calls bullying “peer pressure” that is healthy when it targets LGBT kids, any time a commenter calls him out for describing the book as porn, his response is to whine that people are bullying him.
If you are looking for material that can be a great discussion starter about censorship issues, you will love both the blog post and comments.
I salute the commenters who tried to get Sweir to cite his objections and move beyond muddy rhetoric.
What do you think?