Friday, April 28, 2017

If This Were Played Upon a Stage, Now, I Could Condemn It as an Improbable Fiction

Our justice projects are beginning to take shape. The students identified issues that are important to them and are moving on to take the next steps: determining which action to undertake. They may film a public service announcement. They may write letters to CEOs, ombudsmen, Congresswomen. The sky is more or less the limit. The rule is: no 'toy advocacy', meaning a mere gesture. They must determine an action that may be impactful and then undertake that.

In other news, TWELFTH NIGHT! 

In preparing for our performances, we have the following items in our classroom: elf shoes and hat; candy canes both massive and regular size; green tights; a Santa suit; strings of lights, tinsel, and crepe paper in red and green; three giant pairs of sunglasses; gold-plated shoes; a stack of green solo cups; a bright red bow tie; two Santa hats; a green felt porkpie hat; an apron reading 'Kiss the Cook'; a ukulele; and a parrot. 

We're enjoying ourselves, which is the right way to learn Shakespeare.

Friday, April 21, 2017

I Am Malala

This has been a very big week for both of our current major 7-8 projects. In the fledgling social justice unit, only in its second week, we delved deeper into the incredible story of nineteen-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai's life story. Together, we are reading her autobiography (written at age fifteen), I Am Malala. We've read about her native land, the Pashtun region of northern Pakistan, as well as her early family life, parents' history, and historical and sociological background of her people. We also introduced a few movements--including the Tea Party--and planned for four additional trips off campus, about which more later.

Twelfth Night rockets toward its performances. We have been polishing our plans for each scene and inventing new business and ideas for every single scene. We've also continued to acquire ring pops, elf shoes, and other props, costumes, and accoutrements for the production. Twelfth Night will be performed for all SK students at 2:00 on Friday, April 28, and for the wider community at 7:00 on Friday, April 28, and at 3:00 on Saturday, April 29. The play will be presented free of charge.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ai Wei Wei: Art Is Activism

Life in the 7-8 empire recommenced at a breakneck pace upon our return from spring vacation. We launched our lengthy social justice unit with a documentary about the Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei. Ai's work--and life!--renders the line between art and activism very hazy indeed. After watching the filmNever Sorry, we discussed the ways in which Ai's actions advocated for the people of China even as he put himself in danger over and over again. On Thursday, we travelled to Grand Rapids for a guided tour of Ai's exhibit Natural State at Meijer Gardens--his first installation in the American Midwest.

We continued rehearsing Twelfth Night and began putting costumes together. We have chosen a holiday theme for the production's look. One character will be in a sloppy Santa suit, another will dress as an elf; there will be plenty of red and green; and we will make use of tinsel, Christmas lights, candy canes, and other detritus of the commercial season. Twelfth Night will be performed at the end of the month, on April 27 and 28, in the 7-8 space.