Thursday, August 18, 2016
School Year Begins
The signs have been everywhere--the signs of another beginning of another school year.* School clothing in Kohl's, supplies in Office Depot, school buses on practice runs, photos on Facebook of kids in their new clothing, holding their new supplies, getting ready to head out for their first day in a new grade. (The facial expressions of those kids range from This is gonna be fun! to I hate this!)
One of the sure signs for an English teacher is the arrival in the mail of various prompts and publications, and even though I haven't taught at all in five years, and even though I haven't taught in a public school in almost twenty years, I still get, every fall, a sample copy of Scope magazine from its publisher, Scholastic, Inc. And just the other day--here it came (see image below). The hope of Scholastic? That I'll use the magazine once again with my students.
I loved using Scope when I was teaching in a public middle school. Some years all the kids subscribed; some years I got a classroom subscription; other years I would use things with the class--things I'd saved from previous years--or things from the newest issue (to which I subscribed). The half-dozen file cabinets out in the back of the house are chockablock with tear-outs from Scope (and countless other publications).
This current issue has an article on terrorism (a 9/11 survivor talks)--good way to start the school year?
There's a short story about a kid on Mars. Followed by a piece about the science of living on Mars.
There's a piece about how our phones are making us rude.
But the piece I would have used? A dramatization of Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." This version is narrated by a group of ravens. (One online site says such a group is called an "unkindness" of ravens. Seems fitting--at least for Poe.) There's also an Old Man and a Bad Guy (who--spoiler alert!--kills the Old Man, whose sleeping behavior bothers him). There are also a couple of stage directors--SD 1 and SD 2.
The dramatization ends with this:
All Ravens: Caw, caw, caw!
SD 1: The light fades to black and all falls still.
I think I would have had fun using this when we talked about Poe. Later on, at Western Reserve Academy, I had my eleventh graders read the original Poe story, and it might have been a hoot (or a caw?) to take a few minutes to read this aloud in class with the students--the text of the script is only three pages long.
So, yes, the arrival of Scope is something I now expect. When I see it in the mail, I have this farrago of feelings: happiness, nostalgia, worry (Am I teaching this year?--I sometimes have this dream), amusement, and on and on.
I miss teaching ... miss the kids ... but it ain't gonna happen again. Still, it's kind of Scope to assume it will--and to send me a copy of Scope. Just in case ...
*I've been writing about the commencement of my own teaching career, exactly fifty years ago, and I will get back to that soon.