24 February 2011

Reading Goal

I have given my students the requirement of reading twenty books by the end of the school year. I assigned the requirement the second week of January, and I am giving them up to the very last day of school, May 26th, to fulfill it. So, naturally, I am going to meet the same goal. You can see my progress on the left side of this blog.

My inspiration came from a book by Donalyn Miller called, The Book Whisperer. I have been astonished at the difference this goal has already made in my classroom - which is, of course, combined with at least fifteen minutes of reading time every day. Just barely over a month and my students have read and written more

20 February 2011

Reflection on Yeats' "Leda and the Swan"

I finished reading my little book of Yeats. It wasn't the first time I had read it, and I didn't realize how much he wrote about mythology, and especially about Troy and Helen. The poem in the title of this post, "Leda and the Swan," is about the rape of Leda by Zeus. In the myth, Zeus takes the form of a Swan and forces himself on the beautiful Leda, who then bares Helen. The poem Yeats wrote about it is short, and if I didn't know the myth I would have been lost.

Yeats mentions Helen and Troy in several of his other poems, such as "No Second Troy," and, "A Prayer for my Daughter." All of these poems got me to thinking about Zeus and how he functioned as the god of gods; "Leda and the Swan," the poem and the myth, make him a father to beautiful Helen.

Zeus the deadbeat.

05 February 2011

An English Teacher Confession

Here it is: I'm a horrible speller. I lean on spell check heavily. So heavily in fact that the other day, when I was responding to student letters, I opened a Word document to check myself (this is a normal practice). I just typed the words in and left them there throughout the day.

Well, when I was done with my document, I looked at the words I had checked. And they are:

Butterflies harbor dying succeeded likable similar easier nickname criticize suspenseful? Awful verse sonnets explain nonsense mean description rereading

I'm not sure where the question mark came from, but it fits, doesn't it? Maybe this doesn't make any sense to anyone else, but I thought it was entertaining. Not to mention the "Awful verse...explain nonsense mean...rereading." Ha! I love poetry, but I know there is so much awful verse out there. If you can call it verse at all - does anyone actually try and write verse anymore? And don't tell me free verse is "verse." Gag. That's poetry (poetry?) I rarely read because I find it so lacking.

I recently picked up my lone copy of Yeats. I'm rediscovering a few gems, including lines like, And live alone in the bee-loud glade, ("The Lake Isle of Innisfree") and, Come away, O human child!/For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand, ("The Stolen Child"). And even though I don't like all that I read of his, Yeats has his moments - some very profound. I like what he says about the nobleness of his well-beloved in "The Folly of Being Comforted." Not a quality of a woman that is much praised these days.

My human child is crawling on me, so I'll stop.
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