Friday, September 21, 2007

A Unit of One's Own

I'm trying to figure out ways for my students to develop meaningful "portfolios" at the end of each unit. As my American Literature students have been reading The Crucible, for example, we've covered a way array of topics. However, they each wrote on five personal philosophy statements at the beginning of the unit, and I'd like them to use The Crucible to complicate and strengthen at least one of these initial personal philosophies so that months or years from now, they can say "This is what I took from The Crucible."

I'm thinking they can pick one personal philosophy statement as a focus and then support it with a selection of blogs, in-class writing prompts, pieces of essays, and other work they've done with the play; I'd also like them to extend their understanding by doing something "creative" with this focus, such as producing a short story, song, photo album, etc.

What I really need help with is finding a tool that would bring together mixed media and help organize these bits and pieces into a thematic whole that could be shared not only with me but with the rest of class and possibly linked from our class blog.

Any ideas?

62 Comments:

Blogger J said...

Ms. Kakos, I love the idea of Collaborating all of the unit's information in a way that is unique and meaningful to the students. An idea I had (although a little top-notch[for me, not so much as I am learned in HTML, but that is getting away from the point.]) is that they could try making a simple web page. There are numerous tools out there that are free and easy.You(your students) can write text, post links and music files, and all kinds of things on a web page. Just an idea...
--J. Sheeran

7:13 AM  
Blogger lgaffney said...

What a great idea, Kristin! I also embrace the portfolion concept but struggle to make it meaningful. I will be interested to hear what you come up with!
Your student had a great idea, though. I website (or personal blog) would allow students to collect this information, upload pictures, videos, word documents, etc.
Keep me updated on your great idea!

12:45 PM  
Blogger JoshB901 said...

What I think would be a really good idea is that we play lacrosse game or any sports game of The Crucible where the characters are battling each other on a sports field. The game would start out witht Agigail team againist the Proctor team with the Abigial having more players until the turning point then more players join the Proctor team.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Madisonm said...

I think that, as we talked about in class, the actual project could be up to each person individually. Because each student learns and expresses themselves differently, I think that each student could get the most out of their The Crucible project/portfolio thing if they were able to create their project in a way that works best for them. In this way, there will be a lot of varieties in which people's projects will be presented.
I liked the ideas, especially, about making a journal or a portfolio of artwork that could be connected with The Crucible. And one other thing that I thought would be great to do for this would be some sort of cd project, like some of us probably did in Honors English 9 last year. I really liked this project and it was probably my favorite of all the ones we did last year. If we could do this, we could find different songs that represent main characters or main conflicts throughout the play and we could write about how the songs connect in a bookcover sort of dealy.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Ms. Kakos said...

Josh--Your comment reminded me of a prompt I used last year: "If the characters in The Crucible were playing on a football team, what position would each character occupy and why?"

As part of your project, you could argue why players turn from one team to the other, how power shifts, and who ultimately wins and why (if anyone wins). Also, think about which philosophy statement this would support and why.

(Also, check both of your spellings of "Abigail").

2:57 PM  
Blogger hannahs said...

I agree with Madison's idea of allowing each student to pick their style of project. I would appreciate that kind of project because I would get to decide which style of project would enable me to do my best work. Also, I was curious if we could find evidence of Miller’s personal philosophies and give examples of how he expressed them in The Crucible.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Brynn Holstein said...

I think that, as Madison said, each project should be up to the individual. That way we can express ourselves and really show what we learned. Personally, I like to see everthing so I would want to make a poster or an art portfolio that shows all of the symbolism in The Crucible. I also think, as you said, we would have to be able to tell why we see the symbolism for everything.

3:19 PM  
Blogger hannahs said...

What I would like to get out of this project is an understanding of how much power fear has in society, and how emotions can either empower people or hold them back. I think that The Crucible is a great example of how a society allows their emotions to govern their actions, and I would like to expand on why societies (especially Salem, which has a constraining Puritan lifestyle) allow ignorance to suddenly rule them.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Lara McDougald said...

For me, this project would be most meaningful if I could apply it to the society today. I was thinking of comparing several examples in history and today in which the society uses scapegoats to obtain power. Some historic examples would be the Holocaust, McCarthy witch hunts. Right now I can't really decide what type of format would be best for my idea.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Lara McDougald said...

Oops. I forgot to say what I wanted to get out of the project. I want to get a deeper understanding of scapegoats. I hope to answer if the society truly needs a scapegoat to function.

3:46 PM  
Blogger zachf said...

What I want to get out of this project is seeing how The Crucible relates to all the personal philosophies we did early in the year.

As for what this project should be is based upon individual guidelines. Each person should do something they are passionate about but they must still be able to explain how what they did relates to The Crucible and other parts of the assignment. It should be pretty interesting.

4:47 PM  
Blogger erikaw said...

I strongly believe that our final projects or "portfolios" should be based on what we, as the students personally choose. Like Madison stated earlier, each one of us pupils learns by different means and methods. What I really hope to get out of this project is a deeper meaning on one of the five statements made at the beginning of the reading of "The Crucible"

4:57 PM  
Blogger CMeghan said...

Hello there fellas!

Hahaha, just kidding. That one was for you, Bryan. No, I am posting to ALL genders here ;).

So hey: The Crucible! How exciting! For my individual project, I really want to take a closer look at characters: what drives them, how their lives are influenced by others, everything. I am espically interested in Abigail. Big surprise eh? Hahaha! No, but really, I find her character to be interesting, and what I specifically want to address is the theme of desire and the impossiblity of achieving what you desire. (My personal philosophy question would be can people who do cruel things still be good people? and vice versa, of course.)

I know I sound like a broken record, but you should all come to the fall drama 'Our Town!' If you have a boyfriend, girlfriend, group of friends, a friend, family, or another person in your life, this is an awesome (and cheap!) bonding night because for only $5 you can afford to see an amazing show! Just ask me if you want me to get you some tickets, and you'll be on your way to enjoying an extraordinary evening!

Love and regards~CMeghan

5:15 PM  
Blogger kenna_d said...

I love the whole pick your own project idea because I feel like the project will be that much better if each student is allowed to do something they are really good at. Whatever that might be. The lacrosse idea was really awesome, but thats what I mean, everyone likes to do things a little differently from the next.

I think also that we should have a basic criteria that each project has so follow, that way they won't be so difficult to grade, and they will have what they need in order for us to get what you want us to out of them.

For me individually, I would like to write a scene according to Abby, it is acting because it is role playing, and I also love to write so that would be perfect for me I think.

5:25 PM  
Blogger kyle said...

I think that we should be allowed to chose our own books that we want to read. This would make any assignment much more personal and we would get more from it. In terms of what we can do with The Crucible, I liked Josh's idea, and am O.K. with the idea of picking your own kind of style of project. What I want to get out of The Crucible is quite hpnestly good grades on any project or assignment having to do with the book. It would be cool if I could learn more about the way humans act or a better understanding of what evil is, but I personally found the play a little boring, even though the Salem Witch Hunts are a very interesting event, and don't think I can really get anything new out of it. Basically, The Crucible wouldn't make my list of favorite books.

5:26 PM  
Blogger jberry said...

I personally, would like to create a film strip, or maybe a photostory about The Crucible and link it to my personal philosophy. I think the only way for me to actually take meaning from a book that I am basically forced to read (not that i didn't enjoy the crucible :]) would be to connect it to the outside world and see how it is portrayed today.
For me, doing a photostory would be a great way of portraying my ideas.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Annika_EP said...

I agree with everyone in that we should choose what to do, and I especially loved the theory of having a website, or even a blog page with your project. Then, it is easily accessible at school and even at home. Artwork can be posted, music files/lyrics, papers and everything that anyone did. I think it is a pretty easy way to do that, other than CDs, because last year, it became too confusing trying to figure what type of file went onto which cd, and it was just a mess!

I think I would like to do something like a song or acting. I think it would also be fun to do it in a group. Thank you so much for that option! I want to look into the goodness in the people of Salem Village, and really disect (I know, it sounds weird) how they could still be good.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Declan "Danger" said...

I agree with kyle. I'm not sure if there's much more i can learn about The Crucible, if only because it isn't as interesting to me as other books could be. I like the idea of picking our own type of project, but like i said, i'm not entirely sure what more i would actually learn from it. and i'd also like to point out that josh's idea is awesome.

6:33 PM  
Blogger TyC said...

I liked J's idea of making a web page. This is a way that students could use creativity but the projects would still be the same basic format. Designing a web page would also be a good way to make links and connections to other things such as the Stanford Prison Experiment.

6:41 PM  
Blogger sweta said...

Heyyyy guys!!!!
Sorry im just a little hyper because of all the cookies i ate.
Anyways, wow these are some amazing idea. I like Josh's idea because it is very creative. But not all us play sports so that would be kind of difficult to do.
Like every body else said before me, I think we should do the project in our own way. We all have different ways of expressing ourselves so we all should do different projects.
Some might want to do it musically, some might want to do it artistically and some might want to do some creative writing.
The only problem would probably be on the grading category. I mean the rubric. It would be hard for Ms.Leclaire to grade it because we all have different ideas.
So im just in confusion!

6:45 PM  
Blogger jordancard said...

I totally agree with Madison's idea that it should be totally up to each individual person as to what they want to do for their final Crucible project. That way we would have a variety of projects to see each with a personal understanding to the student who made that project. :]

6:46 PM  
Blogger Laurab said...

I personally think that this project is one of the best projects, because we have our own ideas, without a set criteria as to what we must do, and in what format. I am very excited for this project.

For my project, I am going to write a story from a different time period, but with the same Crucible plot and themes, to analyze if the time period and writing style changes the way the reader perceives the characters and ideas. I can't wait to get started!

Laura

6:51 PM  
Blogger KylieYoum said...

I thought that Lacrosse idea was AWESOME. You could do that with swimming, in like a bracket, and then have them race against each other in comparison and then the winner in the end would be anyone spared. It would be rather complex though. Hmm...

I was going to come in and ask you about this tomorrow, but I was thinking I would do something along the lines of analyzing the cross between good and evil, and maybe what is just and unjust (is that the right way to right that?) by a comparison of characters.

I certainly hope this doesn't have to be our complete final decision because if I think of something that sounds more intriguing I would be bummed!

7:24 PM  
Blogger juliab said...

Like most everyone else, I am estatic about doing an individual project that just involves me and the play. I love making photostories, so I think that I am going to compile my project that way, and possibly linking the Crucible to other events in history, but not necessarily the McCarthy trials.

Julia

7:29 PM  
Blogger Dev said...

I definitly agree with practly all of the people here that said we should be able to choose our own project and style. Personally, I would live to do a photo journal or even a diary of one of the characters to really understand their view of the world. I also think that madison's idea of a CD project would be really cool. All of these sound like such great ideas can we share the final project in class? What I would like to get out of the crucible is to better understand the needs of people and why the people in Salem so willingly followed a leader to murder 19 people.

7:36 PM  
Blogger lauraf said...

I also really like the idea of coming up with our own ways of making a final "portfolio" because the freedom allows for a lot more creativity. For me, I'm thinking about making a photostory with a song(s) that go with the philosophy statement and connect to the Crucible, but I'm still a little confused on what we are exactly doing so I'm not completely positive yet.

7:39 PM  
Blogger emilya said...

What I want to get out of this project is to have a better understanding of evil and the pressures and persuasions it puts on us, so i can truly resist it.
I would love to be able to choose my own project instead of having Ms Leclaire assign a certain porject to us. I would like to have a wide variety of projects to see at the end too. I think it would be fun to see what everyone comes up with. I think if I had to choose a diary would be fun or a photo album (something to do with art).

7:45 PM  
Blogger briang said...

I like the idea about people choosing their own route they take on this final Crucible project. I think when teachers assign projects after readings that nothing is really taken away from that story. By allowing everyone to do something that is meaningful to them, we can help ensure a lasting impact from The Crucible.

I was trying to think of a way to make this project meaningful to me. I like the lacrosse idea because playing lacrosse as a project sounds like the greatest project ever created. However, I think I would be more interested in playing lacrosse than taking something out of it from The Crucible. I like Madison's idea about the cd. I love music so some sort of project involving music would appeal to me. I would really get in depth into it so that would make it meaningful to me. I thought some kind of collage of symbolic pictures would be cool too. Photostories and short films appeal to me too.

Most of the personal philosophies we looked at I was able to make up my mind immidiatly, however the one that said something about "can you still be a good person if you don't do what the government tells you" stumped me, so I think I would like to go more in depth on that one.

Oh, and meghan, its brIan and thank you for being more gender friendly in this blog.

One more thing, I'd like to add that all the ideas from people from 4th hour have been really good so far.

7:50 PM  
Blogger briang said...

Emily, understanding evil is a good point too. That would be somthing I'd like to get out of this project as well. Maybe by then end I can actually make a personal definition of evil.

7:56 PM  
Blogger karib said...

Like basically everyone else has said thus far, I think this should be a completely individualized project in which people can choose their own route to understanding The Crucible.

I am really interested in both the possible technological and musical sides of this project. Right now I'm leaning towards something on Photostory or Movie Maker, as that incorporates both, but I have no idea what I want to focus on. I'm thinking possibly ties to current events (like Lara) or something on the philosophical side like the psychoanalytic or feminist readings that we worked with.

And Brian; way to bring back last year's class rivalries.

7:59 PM  
Blogger christas said...

I am still feeling a little confused about what the project is even really about, but I agree with Madison and everyone who said that we should each choose our own preference of how to do the project, whether it be through art, a web page, a lacrosse game between characters, photographs, Photostory, etc. I agree with Brian’s comment about how the project will be more meaningful if we are allowed to create the project in a way that will be important to us personally and allows us to express ourselves in our own style of our choosing. I think that I would probably choose something to do with art, like a collage, scrapbook, photo album, or something else of that nature. However, I still need to look back at my personal philosophy statements and decide which one to connect to The Crucible. Also, I have a question: would we be able to do other creative things for the project, like cooking, for instance? I’m not sure how that could be connected to our philosophy statements or The Crucible, but I think it would be interesting to see what people could come up with.

8:02 PM  
Blogger emmalb said...

i really like the idea about each student getting to choose their own format for The Crucible project because I never like having too many guidelines on projects, I like to do my own thing. But I'm with Laura F so far on what format I'll use because I don't completely understand what will be included in the requirements for the project.. until i know I would say I'd probably make it into some kind of artsy thing that I can have fun with like a photostory that would represent my personal philosophy.

I don't know what Brian is even talking about because 6th hour's comments are BOMB.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Tina L said...

If only to make it unanimous, I agree with everyone in saying that we should all choose our own format. I am one of those people, however, that likes to have a little creative license but with too much I don't function. :P So I enjoy the idea of having some sort of main focus like choosing one of the philosophy statements. I have very mixed up thoughts about two of them, which means I like two of them, and the one about good people doing bad things would apply to the Crucible well for me. I think. I shall have to experiment a bit.

Yes, I read EVERYONE's blog, and you all have such great ideas! I love Madison's cd idea, and love Kenna's writing a scene idea, and lots and lots of ideas! My brain is so scrambled!!

Meghan, I love how you write to ALL the genders. All both of them. hahah.

And Brian, BRING IT. 6TH HOUR RULES!!!!!!

8:23 PM  
Blogger maria said...

I really like the idea of each person being able to choose something that would show off their strengths, but honestly, I have no idea what I would do. I really like the sports idea, we could pull out so much symbolism in that. Brynn, I also like your portfolio/collage idea.

I also think it would be fun if we could do this in groups as maybe an optional choice. That way, we could all combine our strengths make something incredible.

8:29 PM  
Blogger erinl said...

I also enjoy the idea of eveyone getting to choose somthing meaningful and make it into a project with The Crucible. The only problem with me is, my strenghts might not make a project that I can bring to school and share. I'm just not sure how to tie our strenghts into an English project. I agree with Christa that I don't really understand what is going on but I do like the idea of getting to bring in something that we are passionate about.

8:36 PM  
Blogger kyle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:45 PM  
Blogger kyle said...

I propose our Cricible project should be some sort of competition between 4th and 6th hour to prove that 6th hour rules, and to rub it in brians face.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Kjerstinl said...

Like Christa, I really am not sure how this project is really supposed to work quite yet. I guess that I'm not exactly seeing the symbolism in everything quite yet, but I'm getting there.
I did have the idea of the current events thing like Lara, and somehow I think of something to do with a newspaper also.
I LOVE the sports idea and I really think that you can do that with any kind of sport which I am TOTALLY in to. I agree that the CD project is one of the best projects we did last year, THAT's really something that is personal and shows unique understanding from one person to another and it's something that isn't boring and keeps people's attention.

8:49 PM  
Blogger chelseah said...

I agree with what most people are saying, which is that each individual could do pretty much anything they wanted. I think it would be so cool to have a huge variety of projects, and then to see them all in class. (I know Jordan and I want to do a Hannah Montana episode, haha.) But I definitely think that it would just be really interesting to see what everyone comes up with.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

I really like Lara and Julia's idea of applying the Crucible to real modern day events. We all know that the Crucible was really written about McCarthyism but how else can it apply? Where else are scapegoats being used to maintain power? What other parallels can be found between the Crucible and the outside world? I think by researching the real life occurences similar to Salem Witch Trials, it could make a bigger impact on us. Photostory/Moviemaker could be very useful if someone used this idea, as would a poster or possibly a simple essay.

9:13 PM  
Blogger maddyg said...

I am focusing on the philosophy statement about good people doing bad things. I think it would be cool ot compare Abigail to modern teenage girls. I'm not really sure how this would work, but I also agree that we should do lots of individual projects.I'm still not exactly sure about this project, but these posts have had some really good ideas in them.

9:15 PM  
Blogger tanal said...

I agree with what a lot of individuals have already suggested in that each student has a different personal philosophy and different ways of learning so it should be up to them how they would like to present it. I personally like using photo story or maybe movie maker for the project. Also last year I remember we had to do a survivor episode for Romeo and Juliet, and I think that something like this could work for the Crucible too. This is also kind of similar to Josh's idea of the sports game in that people would be battling. Wow, you guys defiantly have some great and creative ideas though!!!

9:20 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I think that the idea of a photo album sounds very interesting. It would show different perspectives of what people think about throughout the book. Overall in this project, i want to understand the metaphors and deep meanings inside The Crucible. Reading it is one thing but understanding the meanings is another.

9:30 PM  
Blogger jimmym92 said...

I think that you should be able to do what you want to (like in meyer last year) I think that we should all just have to write a letter or something about why our project would work and mrs. Kakos could approve it or not. I know I want to make a CD (like the invertebrate project in biology) and explain why each song connects to each character and why that supports my personal philosophy or something like that.

9:42 PM  
Blogger shaunam said...

I think that this project will be really interesting because it will give us an opportunity to express what we took out of the book in our own way. I personally like the photo album, because they will all be different. Like most people already said, I have a better understanding of this project but still am a little bit confused.

9:43 PM  
Blogger jessie w said...

I personally would prefer doing a project with music and pictures or something. I also like the idea of a photo album. That would be a neat way of understanding The Crucible better.

9:48 PM  
Blogger ShannonH said...

Last year we had this option in Mr. Meyer's class too, and i loved it! Good remembering, Jimmy! I think that the best way for me to connect this story to one of my personal philosophy statements is to write a children's book. My friend tim did it on the holocaust last year, and i found it so raw and emotional, and in an easy to understand way. I think it shows that you can connect with yourself and others in a deeper level, if you can share a moralistic story with someone else, and have it make sense to a child no less. Well, that is my idea, and i thought the lacrosse and CD idea were really good too! Good work everone! KEEP IT UP!
Shannon

9:49 PM  
Blogger blair said...

I really like projects where I get t pick the topic becuase then i feel like I am acutally getting something out of it.

I really liked the photo college idea with pictures. And I also love music so something to do with lyrics and songs.

I was interested in reading other peoples ideas for topics as well.

10:29 PM  
Blogger cvanessen2 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:56 PM  
Blogger cvanessen2 said...

I think that this will be really cool to see everyone else's projects and what they gained from the book. It sounds like it will be a fun project. I have no idea what I will do, alot of them caught my eye. I think this project will be a great opportunity to really think about the different themes and symbolism in this book,analyize it, and see how it can apply to today too.

10:59 PM  
Blogger kfasold said...

I really like the idea of everyone choosing their own project so I can see what everyone is passionate about. I would liek to do some type of short film or photostory with music and really cool photograpy. Also I could relate some books or known characters throughout history or novel that realte to this book.

11:12 PM  
Blogger Laine G said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Laine G said...

I agree with Madison, everyone should find their own way to do the final project. We should not be limited by our weaknesses while others are working in an area of their strengths. As we have all found out through other projects some people will be good at the art assignments and fail at the technology assignments while other people are the exact opposite. The real purpose of this project is to learn more, not to show that we are good at painting or making power points.
Through this project I would like to gain a greater knowledge of similar situations that have happened throughout history. I know that The Crucible was written during the McCarthy era and I am sure that there are many similar times in US and world history.
For my project I would like to do some sort of a short movie. I have already made a movie comparing the witch trials to the McCarthy era that I would like to show in class.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Collin L! said...

Mrs. Kakos, its that time of year again...photostory! I think that a photostory would adaquatly fit all of the specifications you lay down. However, i think that we should be abel to use our own philosophy statement, if desired. We would have to clear it with you, and it would have to be appropiate, and you can still use one that you gave to us. For instance, i would use a philosophy statement from an ancient greek philosopher, or possible one of our nations founding fathers statements. I think that in order for us students to take the most out of The Crucible, we need to make it "our own", putting everything into our own words, even the outline of our project.
love collin...

11:22 PM  
Blogger Lane C. said...

I really like the idea of this project. First of all congratulations, Ms. Kakos, on setting a project with a good balance of freedom and guidelines. I feel like I know what I'm supposed to accomplish and that's a really great thing.
I love taking pictures so I was thinking about doing a photo album. I also want to focus on the blog. We have some really quite amazing things in the one about evil. I was thinking, and this may not work, of doing just a photo or two on each page with just a quote from the blog, The Crucible or, "Young Goodman Brown." My thought is that it would be more powerful to not have a long explanation of each picture and to let the viewer glean from each what they want. Other people may find completely different things in the pictures to relate to the quotes which they could take to mean any number of things. I'm actually excited for a project. Who knew it was even possible? I'll probably over do this one too. Spend way more time on it than I need to. But I'll enjoy it. Anyway there's my idea.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Damian L. said...

My comment is useless really just restating that everyone should be able to pick their own topic. This way they will get the most out of The Crucible because they have to think about what they might do.

7:34 AM  
Blogger adamb said...

Yeah, Damien's right, I also agree with everyone else.

10:00 AM  
Blogger clewis said...

Yeah I think it's great that we get to do our own project ideas. A video, or something that is visual would be good. I really want to understand how all of these people in Salem found the witch trials so interesting and why they would blame their own families.

10:21 AM  
Blogger CMeghan said...

Note: there is a correction on my blog. Brian is spelled B-R-I-A-N.

Thank you, and sorry for the mistake everybody!

10:55 AM  
Blogger Hannah J said...

I really like the lacrosse idea! Very creative. Ms. Kakos mentioned something about a photography book, where you take pictures of things and connect different symbols from the Crucible to your pictures. I really like that idea.

10:58 AM  
Blogger *AlexxM_* said...

I think one good way to show what we've learned is to have a massive circle, and go around and dicuss. Really, that seems better than learning how to use MovieMaker and wasting time when one could be doing somthing fun.

I really hate when my internet is down. This is the second blog in a row.

1:34 PM  
Blogger endsleye said...

I'm really sorry! I completely spaced this blog last night. I'm still really confused about this project but it sounds really fun none the less. I understand it a lot better after class today. I can't really figure how we would incoporate the philosophy statements and The Crucible into a project dealing with lacross, singing, pictures, and or any of the other ideas. I'm really interested in any one of the performing projects such as dancing, singing, or acting. But I dont really know how you would do it!. But im still really excited!

9:08 PM  

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