My two freshman English classes moved in the master schedule to my first two periods of the day. I met with my co-freshman English teacher before Christmas break to lay out our game plan for this new semester, and we are beginning it with Homer’s The Odyssey, which is excerpted in their textbook.
Most of my freshmen are new to me because of schedule changes, so Tuesday, our first day back, felt like the first day of school all over again. This makes it easy to “start over,” and implement some new resolutions. Each week, I plan to have my students:
– write something every week, even if it’s just a quickwrite reflection to their reading
– work with new vocabulary every week
– do assigned some reading outside of class (My freshmen during first semester rarely had any homework outside of class, and I felt like class dragged. I’m hoping to stay on a faster pace if I start the semester by increasing their workload)
– continue my habit of DEAR day every Monday, where we Drop Everything and Read something fun
My new students and I are still getting a handle on each other, but while some have more confidence than they did as new freshmen back in August, others are still skittish. Here’s an excerpt from a class Friday:
Synopsis of The Odyssey so far: After fighting ten long years during the Trojan War, Odysseus has spent another ten trying to get home to his wife and son in Ithaca. The last seven of these years were spent as a “not entirely unwilling” captive of Calypso, a beautiful goddess who loves him and offers him immortality. The goddess Athena intervened on Odysseus’ behalf, and Calypso has just received the order from Zeus to release him.
Here is part of the passage we read together, the last two lines of which were my focus:
The strong god glittering left her as he spoke,
and now her ladyship, having given heed
to Zeus’s mandate, went to find Odysseus
in his stone seat to seaward—tear on tear
brimming his eyes. The sweet days of his life time
were running out in anguish over his exile,
for long ago the nymph had ceased to please.
Though he fought shy of her and her desire,
he lay with her each night, for she compelled him.
We then talked about the connotation of the word “compel.” Some of my freshmen are still a little upset to have to do real cognitive work the first week back, but most are joining me on our little journey through Homer, which, like most of my freshmen curriculum, I am experiencing for the first time since I sat in their desks…twelve years ago.
When I last read The Odyssey my freshmen weren’t potty-trained.
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