Green's Hill-Amy Lane's Home - News

Friday, October 16, 2009

Going but not flowing...

*Yawn* Okay... my eyeball is throbbing with exhaustion again... oi! But a good night's sleep is hard to track down with a spear, isn't it?

So I've been thinking about the suggestions for the lexicon yesterday, and have come to a couple of conclusions.

A. As much as I loved Master Clorklish and Twilight and Cocklebur (from Vulnerable) I think I'm going to leave anyone who ISN'T related to the plot of Rampant out of the lexicon--it's pretty damned confusing as it is right now!

B. I can't even imagine a flow chart or a family tree. Seriously--could be the fact that my eyeball is twitching, but I'm not feeling it.

C. I CAN however, add a few more details and group the people according to which book they are introduced in.

D. Jack and Teague & Katy have practically their own book (okay, it will BE their own book when I'm done with the next two stories) but not everybody will have read it when RAMPANT comes out, so yes, they get longer blurbs. They just do.

E. I may possibly add a few notes on each species and it's peculiarities before I send the book to press. Whenever that may be, because right now, it's looking like we'll have to sell a kid, and I don't think the markets that good--our children are willful and therefore flawed, and I don't think anyone's giving us too much cash for them. But Chicken did clean the house today-- she might fetch a pretty price;-)

*whew* There--I think that's all.

Oh yes... I've broken paper on the new Jack & Teague story, BECOMING, and I've been doing this thing for a few people--it's sort of a chapter club. I just e-mail people with chapters of the story as I write. Of course, the work is really raw, and VERY un-edited--if that's the sort of thing that drives you batshit, you may want to wait until the final edit hits online. Some folks have enjoyed having a little niblet appear in their mailboxes every other day or so. Anyway, if you're interested in being a part of the club, e-mail me and I'll put you on the list.

And other than that?

I had THE most frustrating week at work. Part of it was my fault, but part of it was just... just... kids and politics. Here--let's see if I can explain.

We were asked to teach a single skill this week. As a small group, the English teachers of each grade had to come up a single skill we wanted to teach--and then an assessment for that skill. Just one skill.

The skill we came up with was a one sentence summary. Sounds easy, right? I thought so.

A one sentence summary breaks down to the following things: character + setting + conflict, all in one sentence. It passes no judgments and spoils no endings. It depends on knowing the following skills:

character epithet-- an adjective + a specific common noun --not Ms. Lane, absent-minded English teacher--right?

setting --general time + general place --not Natomas, 2009, it's Northern California classroom, present day --right?

conflict-- needs to rely on the six basic conflicts --man vs. man, technology, supernatural, self, natural world or society--still following me?

An example would be:

An orphaned girl and her alien friend fight their own insecurities and social services to forge a new family in modern day Hawaii. (Lilo & Stitch)

or

A masked vigilante pursues a homicidal lunatic through the streets of a corrupt metropolis while debating the nature of heroism and public perception. (The Dark Knight)

or

An orphaned lion cub faces his homicidal uncle as well as his own demons on the African savannah. (The Lion King)

And you get the picture.

Now I've taught this lesson before. I taught it to my AP classes. It took fifteen minutes. No shit. Fifteen minutes. I gave them the formula and we spent the rest of the period churning out summaries for every movie we'd ever seen and giggling our asses off. But that's AP. I figured we'd need to read a short story with these classes first, and that would take a day, and then we'd spend a day doing the rest of the assignment. Two days, right? And then I'd just give them a little piece of paper and (after warning them extensively that they'd have to do this) ask them for a one-sentence-summary on the work of fiction of their choice as a part of their weekly quiz.

You guys followed that, right? Did I lose anyone? Anyone at all?

It took me a week and they all flunked the quiz.

No shit.

A week.

Let's start with the story. It was short. "The Murderer" by Ray Bradbury. It features (and oh the irony as I give you a one sentence summary) a technophobic mental patient engaged in a passionate debate with his indifferent psychiatrist over whether or not technology actually dehumanizes us and should be destroyed, in a psyche ward of the not-so-distant future.

The first problem was, they didn't get the story. Wait--let me amend that. My second period (SHOCKER!) didn't WANT to get the story. It just totally didn't occur to him that just because the guy was in the psyche ward, the whole point of the fucking story was that the dude WASN'T CRAZY. Explaining this to them hurt me, physically and mentally. I may never recover.

The second problem was they didn't know what an adjective was. Or a specific common noun. Or how to generalize time and place. Or why a crazy person might have a problem with society.

The third problem was that their sentence writing skills aren't that great, and putting these things together was really hard. Of all the problems, the third problem was the one that I could understand the most, but had the biggest problem addressing--so much of that is rhythm and transition phrases--you know, picking things up by example.

But I'd done it. After four days (give or take some vocabulary exercises and sentence revising drills that are part of our everyday schtick) I had finally gotten to the point where everybody had a sentence and had either had the sentence okayed or was told to work on it some more.

Today, I passed out their little papers. "We will do the vocab quiz first, write the sentence second on this little sheet of paper, and then continue with the rest of the quiz as it's on the board. Then we will put the quizzes into two piles--the little sheet of paper separate. See. Like this example."

Madness and chaos ensued.

So, at lunch today, I apologized to my coworker--"Gees, I'm sorry I ever suggested that. I don't know about you, but my week S.U.C.K.E.D."

"Oh. I didn't do it. I'm not going to be here for the breakdown of the stats, so I figured why bother."

*sob* I'm going to go write some gay werewolf sex now. I need to get some shit out of my system.

4 comments:

Roxie said...

Homosexual werewolf love is a much better option than banging your head repeatedly against your desktop or throttling your lazy ass co-worker, - the two responses which occurred to me. Those of us who love the written word are going to become magicians to the rest of the world, as our knowledge becomes ever more arcane.

NeedleTart said...

Yeah, I asked fourth graders which one was the verb, "You know, the one that's an action?" and got the following responses: the? dog? she? they? Let's all move to those ivory towers (or possibly the Merchant/Ivory towers, where everyone speaks so beautifully).
I may have to break out the art side of word and give that flow chart a shot. If I make the vampires triangles and two of them hook up, will I get fangs?

TinkingBell said...

What a great exercise - and it says much more about the previous education of your kids byt he time they get to you, than your teaching skills

Many teachers suck. This is truth.
You are not one of them

This is also truth.

In Australia, teachers are well paid and get 3 months paid holiday a year, Many of them go straight to teaching from university and have never met the real world. Basically they have no vocation - they are in it for the pay and holidays.
Your kids are the result of this type of system. The great teachers are rare gems who whould be paid double and worshipped. - You are one!

Louiz said...

I forgot to say I'd like to be part of the chapter club! CanICanICanI, please?:)