with Angela Harris
First, let me say how delighted I am to be back as "facilitator" (albeit on-line) for Mosaic Freeschool. While I've continued to manage Mosaic Minutes and the website over the past year and a half, the last time I posted my own class summary was March of 2013! It's been wonderful re-connecting with our high school students, and I look forward to continuing our journey into quality modern literature this school year.
Intro to The Chosen
We kicked off Session I of Interpreting Literature by introducing a variety of new terms and concepts. We looked at maps of New York and Brooklyn, defined yeshiva, Talmud, Torah, Tanakh, and Hasidic (all should be added to your vocabulary glossaries for The Chosen) and discussed an overview of Book One.
Please be sure to follow the reading and essay assignments from the syllabus, and not the Glencoe Study Guide. We are taking four weeks to read the book, instead of three, and answering different questions for our five-hundred word essays. Any questions, please be sure to ask!
Every week we will be responding to a question that I ask that will relate topics in the reading to our personal experiences. This is an important component in preparing for exploratory essay writing as this type of essay writing encompasses aspects of journaling and relating experiences, or research, about a particular topic. These journals should be kept private so the students can feel free to express themselves in as much detail as possible. We will be doing a timed five-minute write each week in our "journals."
The Torah and Folk Tales
I posted a handout related to the Torah to the Gathering Ink Community Page (a private Google+ forum for registered students and their families) and we read through some interesting facts together, for instance, did you know that if the Torah is dropped in the synagogue, the entire congregation may be required to fast for 40 days? The Judaic faith features heavily in our book, The Chosen, and I want to take this opportunity to explore different aspects of Judaism within our class. So far, I think it's been very interesting (for me, too!).
We then talked about the Jewish autumn festival of Sukkot (October 8-15) and I read aloud a folk tale normally told during this time. If you would like to read it, it is here: The Reward.
Exploratory Essay Writing
We will only be writing exploratory (open) essays during this session (four essays plus one final project which can be creative or informative). We will not be sharing our opinions in our essays or proving or defending, only exploring all sides of an issue. The purpose is to get you to research a topic with an open mind, approaching the topic with curiosity to discover new information and solutions.
Exploratory essay writing is an introduction to the argumentative essay. You will undoubtedly need to conduct research over and above just reading the book, although you certainly may relate events in the book to your essay as well as to your own personal experiences or those of a friend or family member (although my guess is you will have limited personal experiences to draw upon when answering these questions). Regardless, please reference your sources within the essay (we are not worrying about citing our sources as footnotes at this point in our class). You should be able to write 500-words easily, that is the required word count for now.
Here is a structure you can follow:
Important Note: I have posted a sample essay on the Community Page written by one of my students in our class here in Texas. You will do yourselves a big favor by reading it in advance of writing your own! If you're stumped about how to turn our question this week into an essay which does not express an opinion, this essay will give you an idea of how to do it, although I expect you may find completely different research on the topic (in fact, you should). You may also want to review our handout on Open and Closed Essay Writing. We are only writing open essays for this session. The handout is also on the Community Page.
Homework is detailed on the syllabus, please read it carefully.
One note about the questions on GSG pgs. 14-15: Because we are reading the book more slowly than the Glencoe Guide suggests, you might not be able to answer questions 2-3 yet on pg. 14--you may skip them and only answer question 1, however you should be able to answer questions 4 or 5 on pg. 15.
Any confusion/problems...let me know! See you all on-line next week.
Session II Starts Jan 7, 2015
If all this sounds intriguing, our second on-line six-week session will begin Jan. 7, 2015. We'll be taking on the Jack London classic, Call of the Wild, and reading a short story by Rudyard Kipling. We'll also be taking side-trips to Alaska and the Yukon (history, geography) and writing a combination of personal response and exploratory essays. We have one or two spots available and you may register on-line.