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Month: February 2009 (page 1 of 4)

down the rabbit hole we fell…

This afternoon we trekked down to The Theatre School of DePaul University to take in their production of Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland. We’ve been reading the book, and the play was just about as crazy as Carroll’s original text–complete with the long long drop down the rabbit hole, the Mad Hatter, the grinning Cheshire cat, and the disagreeable Queen of Hearts who would just as soon behead everyone in Wonderland. The full cast of characters accompanied us as we followed Alice through her adventures–a good time we won’t soon forget.

through education comes peace, one penny at a time

3/15/2009 UPDATE:
We officially counted the pennies, and they total $202.24. Quite a bit more than our original estimate. Not bad for two months and 21 kids between the ages of 3 and 8.

Original post:
Aidan has been participating in his Earth Scout group since last November and has just earned his first badge, along with all [singlepic=290,225,225]the kids in the group. They all worked hard to learn about and practice peace and nonviolence and have earned a badge in recognition of their efforts. One of the projects they worked together on was a Pennies for Peace program where they all collected pennies for two months. The idea is that many folks in America (not all, mind you) consider the penny worth little more than the pocket lint in which it’s nestled. Not too many folks I know will bend over on the street to retrieve a stray penny. However, in other parts of the world the penny can do great things. For instance, a penny can buy a child in Afghanistan or Pakistan a pencil, an essential tool of education. Here’s how the Pennies for Peace organization describes the power of the penny:

[singlepic=291,200,200]The penny, 1% of a dollar, is symbolic of the ‘1% of Gross Domestic Product’ goal set by the United Nations. The goal was for wealthy countries to give foreign aid to impoverished nations each year.

Pennies for Peace teaches children the rewards of sharing and working together to bring hope and educational opportunities to children in Pakistan and Afghanistan. A penny in the United States is virtually worthless, but in Pakistan and Afghanistan a penny buys a pencil and opens the door to literacy.

And, fundamentally, education leads to peace. Aidan, together, with the other kids collected approximately $115 worth of pennies. (The current estimate is by weight; we’re waiting for a couple of folks still to make their final contributions before we bring the pennies to the bank to be counted.) Eleven thousand five hundred pennies buys a lot of pencils (or other much needed supplies). Here’s hoping it can buy peace, or at least offer something towards a down-payment.

examining narrative perspective through film

Narrative perspective, or point-of-view (POV), is an essential element of fiction writing. It is also a difficult concept for some beginning students to get their minds wrapped around. As a way to introduce variations in narrative perspective, I use film clips to demonstrate how POV can effect the narrative. This method comes with some pedagogical risk, though, as narrative perspective in fiction writing is not exactly the same as that of cinema. In fact, in most cases and strictly speaking in terms of fiction-writing POV, the narrative perspective of film is third-person dramatic/objective (with the exception of internal monologue and some experimental ventures). We see the action unfold the way an audience member in a play would. In terms of cinematic terminology, though, the POV of a film can be either omniscient or subjective (meaning able to wander and know everything about all the characters or to be limited to just one character). To complicate things still further with film terminology, objective or subjective POV is not to be confused with the POV-shot, a subjective shot made from the vantage point of one of the characters. Ok, having already overthought it, I ask my students to try not to–over-think it, that is.

The point of using film clips to introduce narrative perspective (or POV) in fiction writing is simply to help students understand that the story changes when the perspective changes. We dig into the particulars of each specific POV a little later. So, for what it’s worth, here’s what I use to introduce the concept. Maybe it will be of help to someone…

Answer key: Shawshank Redemption: first-person minor; Rear Window: third-person limited; Full Metal Jacket; third-person dramatic/objective; Mash “POV” episode: second-person; Notes from Underground: first-person unreliable narrator

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