Sunday, September 2, 2012

Alex's Skit: The Importance Of History



Song:  Imagine

Artist:  John Lennon


Last Wednesday Alex was assigned to write another skit for Social Studies
(to be turned in on Tue).

It had to have at least four characters from any time period...
and the setting was to be anywhere in any time period.

They simply had to talk about the importance of history.

For this assignment, I had Alex use me as a source...
as well as using Goggle to find out more details about each character.

The following are the characters I had chosen for him to use...
as he still has much to learn about history.





I wanted to not only use this assignment to give Alex 
practice in generating ideas for a paper...
but for him to be able to research the characters and their implied characteristics
(necessary if you are to have them engage in an imaginary conversation).


Again...as Alex does not know much about history as of yet...
I had a general idea of which historical figures would be a good fit for the paper.

I had Alex research each character and what they were famous for...
so he would have an understanding of why they would say certain things
in a conversation.  I took two famous realists (Philosophers)...
and two famous Pacifists so we would have contrasting ideologies.

I gave Alex the backgrounds of each...
and the background of their era in history...
so he could place their conversation in context.

I also explained the deeper meanings of each of their quotes or sayings.

Again...
I used the Socratic Method with Alex in his writing of this skit.

I would say something like:  

John, not understanding the history of the treatment of the Jewish people...
and his not knowing of the Russian Pogroms at the time...
what would he say to Albert to try to convince him to 
return to Germany to try to build a bridge of peace?

Knowing where Albert came from...
and what the Nazi party was doing...
do you think he would do what John had suggested?  Why not?  

How could you say this in another way?

What would old friends say to each other upon first meeting?

(In the case of John Lennon...I had him bring up the lyrics to his song:  Imagine)

Which lines from this song could we use in the story?

I had to really have Alex dig deep in the concept of nations wishing to dominate
other nations.  I had to tell of the Nazi Party's (Hitler's dream) wish to enslave
all but their chosen people.  As this concept was foreign to Alex...
the last paragraph took the longest to write as I had to fill him in on the history
behind it... and the Pogroms of Russia.

With the inclusion of John Lennon into the story...
and the lines we had given him to speak
(other than the words from his song)...
I also taught Alex the idea of irony
(I had to teach him what had happened and how).

 I told Alex that I am a viable source of information...
no different from Wikipedia.

He may ask me about certain things...
and I will give him what I know about the background information...
and I could tell him of other places to research.


Yes...
I am helping to guide his thoughts in the construction of his paper
through guided questioning.

I am teaching Alex how to generate ideas by first understanding what the 
actual parameters of the skit are.

I am teaching him how he may get a glimpse into human nature by 
knowing what the persons had actually achieved in their lives...
through their actions and words.

It is through these that he may discern patterns of people.
I am teaching him that we are all creatures of habit...
and how certain mindsets manifest themselves in certain ways.

Ex...a selfish person...says and does things which would ultimately 
benefit himself in some way...even over more deserving others.

By being able to generally classify a person gives the writer
an ability to generate plausible actions or words...
ones in line with his character/s.


We are saving all of his reports in a special binder...
so he may refer to his past reports' construction...
arrangement of ideas...
and outline.

As Alex writes more and more reports...
it will become easier and easier...
and I will not have to guide him through the process.

These are not simple essays
(I can just have him write whole essays without my intervention)...
these skits involve the generation of conversation in a social context...
something which is still a bit foreign to Alex.

With our practice of the general classification of humans...
and of our practice looking into human nature...
Alex will eventually be able to generate his own fictional conversations
without my future guidance.






2 comments:

  1. This is another very challenging assignment. I am curious about the expectations of the school on an assignment like this... do they believe that their students have the capabilities and knowledge to write this independently with no help? I wonder what other students have written, and how they approached this. (Not sure you would know the answer to these questions).

    Ultimately, though, the goal of any assignment is for the student to learn, and I have no doubt that Alex is learning a lot... about history, about writing, about social interactions, etc. It will be interesting to see his progress over time, and to see how he does this when you gradually reduce your guidance.

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  2. Alex has done well on his expository essays...fully independent of my direct help. This is but his second skit in as many weeks (he is getting a two to three page skit to write every week from one class. We also have to put together papers from some of his other classes...and we have a scientific experiment to devise. Alex is kept very busy.

    I wish I could see some of the other children's efforts. The part that Alex needs special guidance on is the generation of story ideas and the conversation that would take place in context to the story.

    Alex is used to writing essays which explain facts or in which he argues a point. This free flowing conversational skit style is still new to him. It may be a little while before Alex gets used to writing in this manner. However, he now has some experience with it. I am helping him a little less each time. At this pace...he should grasp this style of writing in a few weeks...perhaps a few months.

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