05 January 2011

Fresh Start and a Clean Slate

I've set a goal for myself. I only read 16 books last year. My reading consistency always falls off a cliff in the months between September and December because I get caught up in grading a whole ton of papers for the lit project. Still, I could be spending the time I am not grading on reading as opposed to watching TV or playing video games. So my goal this year is to read 25 books in 2011. Like I did in 2010, I'll crosspost my Goodreads reviews here to keep track and as a way to keep me honest.

We started the semester off with a discussion about grades and how second semester works. The first semester of high school is tough; you have to make many adjustments in your expectations as well as figuring out what others expect of you. Because of the time it takes some folks to get themselves situated, grades and work ethic have a tendency to fall by the wayside. Second semester gives those people a chance to get back on track. Every single student starts second semester with a clean slate; grades start over from scratch. Look at second semester as an opportunity to right the wrongs of the first semester or to continue on a path that has already been working for you.

The class also discussed their Shakespeare knowledge, most of which consisted of people sharing that the Bard is a poet. At least I know the page everybody is on going into this unit.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, you started reading the first chapter of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Shakespeare, a title I hope no one takes at face value. The beauty of the Complete Idiot's Guide series is the way it is able to take complex and sometimes daunting subjects and simplify them into easily digestible books. You began to fill out the outline for the biographical chapter. To understand the creator is to better understand the work, so we study Shakespeare prior to reading Romeo & Juliet. Makes perfect sense, right?

Today is much of the same. I also will give you the newest ORU incarnation for second semester.

It's a new semester! On Monday, we reviewed the slightly updated class syllabus for everyone's benefit, especially those new to the class due to a change in class schedules for second semester.

Here's the thing: I like second semester better than the first. We're in a rhythm as a class, and there's a bit more focus due to the fact that everyone reads the same text. The lit project is great, but for my own sanity, I prefer everyone reading the same work. There's also, at least in the fourth quarter, a renewed sense of urgency in the class because everyone wants to graduate.

Tuesday, we discussed our bucket lists, but the underlying premise was to discuss what each individual would be willing to do in order to achieve the things on said lists, as well as how far each person would go for the people in their lives and their respective lists. It's an interesting moral dilemma that we will constantly revisit in our Macbeth discussions.

Oh yeah, did I mention we started our Macbeth unit? 'Cause we did. Today will see us get some terms under our belts, some new and some old. Some of the terms will be your responsibility when I give you the fabled Shakespacket tomorrow, but if you ever have questions about the terms, let me know. The test on these terms won't be taking place until January 20, so there's some time.

Also, if anyone wants to purchase Macbeth or Romeo & Juliet, I've provided a link below to their respective Amazon pages.

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