Showing posts from February, 2018

Stories With Students: Jenny Writes a Cinderella Parody, and Parker Continues Writing About Pokemon

Jenny and I were studying 'The Raven' by Edgar Allan Poe, but we made a pivot. Her school teacher had been the one to originally urge her in the direction of studying English poetry. I urge my students to bring anything to me that they want to learn. That's how we end up on such interesting subjects. Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken' went well, and 'The Raven' was going well also. But Jenny's teacher made a new suggestion, that she work on writing a story. This came up in our conversation, so now we're doing it. Jenny read Cinderella originally when she was 4, I assume in Chinese. She's been thinking about writing her own version of Cinderella for about a month. I asked her to tell me the basic version of Cinderella just to get a feel for what she felt was important in the story, but she's been thinking about this for too long already and here's what came out instead. -----------------------------------------------------

Creator and Destroyer Archetypes, Creation and Destruction Myths

This is going to sound like I'm trying to sort these ideas out for myself. That's because I am. Which story isn't about the creation or destruction of something? Not many. Books like 'Harry Potter' and 'The Lord of the Rings' are obviously about destroying things. Horcruxes and rings mostly. But it's more than that. The whole point of Harry destroying the Horcruxes is that it will destroy Voldemort. The whole point of Frodo destroying the One Ring is that it will destroy Sauron. But it's more than that too. By destroying Voldemort Harry destroys the thing that threatens to destroy (or remake) the world. By destroying Sauron Frodo destroys the thing that threatens to destroy (or remake) the world. Most people view it as Harry and Frodo destroying evil itself. That can only be so if Voldemort and Sauron represent the ideal forms of evil, the archetypes of evil. Now, these are the two most loved epic stories in all of history, but they do ha

The Never-Ending Procession of Ideas

It's more like ideas are happening to me rather than that I'm having ideas. I couldn't stop if I wanted to. My only choice is to ignore them or to not ignore them. It's a lot like dreaming while awake. If I ignore the dream then I will soon forget it. So, here are some of the ideas that have floated through my head concerning stories recently. I have a student named Alex. We've read a number of small story books. Recently I asked him if he wanted to change it up, look into something else. "What do you want to learn?" As it turns out he wants to learn about flowers. I like tulips. We are now getting dangerously close to the limits of my knowledge pertaining to flowers. That is sarcasm, but it's slight. We started looking at various kinds of flowers and I found out that his favorite flower is the lotus flower, which is a cool flower. Looking through all of these flowers my mind began to turn. A magic system based on flowers could be interesting.

Exploring the Case Study of an Eight-Year-Old Second Language Speaker's Writing Process Using Transcription and Dialectic

This is one of the most interesting things I've ever done, and my list includes making a mistake skydiving, being trapped on a ledge and stepping into a crevasse mountain climbing, being hit while running with bulls, scuba diving through jellyfish, whitewater rafting, mountain biking over the cascade mountains, being poisoned while on the beach of the Indian Ocean in Kenya, getting a black eye and a bloody nose in a giant tomato fight, and many other things. My point is, it's awesome! My article from a couple of days ago was about the Pokemon story that I wrote for Parker in one class, and how he came up with the ideas for his own story. When we started this lesson he said, "If I can write a Pokemon story I will die!" I associate that kind of phrase with teenage American girls, but it basically means it's so good that it's overwhelming. Here are the notes that we had to work with from our last lesson. ------------------------------------------------

Translating "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe from English to English

I have a student, Jenny, that wants to learn popular English poetry. We went through "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost and now we're working on "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe. We are working on the third stanza right now; going over the individual words, the phrases, the lines, and the stanzas. She is doing well. We puzzle through it. I focus on asking questions at first, as we progress my explanations become more clear, I think. That way she can hopefully figure it out before I fully explain what everything means. I do try to go through each stanza after we finish talking about it and give a simplified contemporary version. I told her that I would do that for the first three stanzas and send it to her. That's what I'm going to do right now. Here are the first three stanzas from "The Raven." ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Ove

An Eight-Year-Old Chinese Student, Pokemon,, and the Narrative Nature of the Human Soul

I teach English to kids in China every morning and every evening. Sometimes progress can be tough, but at other times it's great. I've been teaching Parker twice a week for the last 16 months. Parker is eight-years-old and loves Pokemon. I've tried to use that before in our lessons, but it's been more distracting than anything. Now, though, we're really on to something. We had tried to read, or rather have Parker read, some Pokemon stories online, but we ran into some trouble. One, Parker really has a hard time focusing once we start reading about Pokemon, or looking at them, or talking about them, or if one is mentioned a single time. We've been working on that for awhile; easing our way into it. The second problem is worse. There are tons of Pokemon stories available online. There are many sites online where anyone can write and post a story, Wattpad is very popular. "The Martian" was originally published on Wattpad. The problem is that

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