My students are supposed to read Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, Romeo & Juliet, a poetry unit, and an expository (non-fiction) unit. There are clear goals for each of the units, products laid out, and everything seems rather organized. It's the curriculum my lovely 9th grade partner-in-crime, er teaching, has sent me. She said to me, "Do it as you see fit." Thus, my problem: choice.
The thing I see, or rather, that I don't see, is a cohesion that unifies each, um, unit: a theme. Expeditionary Learning's taught me that a curriculum should be the investigation of a question, and one of my favorite things to look at is the question of power. I just don't know the question just yet. What I learned from this inquiry-based professional development thing that I did over the past two weeks, is that children (adolescents) have an innate curiosity about them (this is the supposed belief...I can dig it), and that they, themselves, can ask those kinds of questions. I just have to be mindful of what that question leads to.
A thought, though, and I think this might be it: What is power? What does it mean to have power? Usually, my thought process goes to things like superheroes, dictators, self-empowerment, and words. One of the goals that seems to be pervasive in this curriculum outline is the subject of power: censorship; propaganda; totalitarianism; the power of an author's choices and how that affects tone, theme, plot, and characters; the power of words and grammar in a student's writing; the tragic power of fate vs. the conflict of self-determination and fate (R&J). The list goes on.
Does this work? I'm going to have to think a little more about this, and figure out how to wrap these around, and also how to coax questions about power out of my new 9th graders.