Yesterday I posted a description of the interdisciplinary projects I'm having my high school language arts students create. Today, here's a series of snapshots of what they have chosen to do. They're not in any particular order; sort of arranged by media, but not exactly. Let me know if you want me to post the reading list.
1. Dramatic Monologue from Perelandra.
This student recently performed a memorized, dramatic recitation of "Out, Out" by Robert Frost. She was spectacular and moved us all to tears. Now she has set herself the daunting task of composing a monologue, entirely with lines from the text itself, that captures the essential nature of the conflict on Perelandra. She'll switch roles, playing both Ransom and Weston.
2. Original Soliloquy from The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene.
This student recently starred as Jo in a production of Little Women, where she astonished us all. She poured energy and emotion into that role until Jo just burst off that stage into reality. Now she is planning to write an original soliloquy, in the character of the priest. She will come in costume and show us the seriousness of sin and the eternal necessity of religion [I think those are the themes she's chosen].
3. Film Version of Waiting for Godot.
This student has made films before; indeed, I posted a link to a join project she did with the Graham Greene student above. Now she has devised a really brilliant way of showing the cyclical meaninglessness of this play. She's choosing a few scenes and filming them over and over with different actors, dressed in costumes from subsequent decades, to show the perennial nature of this sense of vanity. She's also planning to narrate transitions in French.
4. Film inspired by Catcher in the Rye.
This film will depart more from the text than the Samuel Beckett one. This student plans to set the film in the time just after the book closes, when the character is in a mental institution, and have it consist of conversations between the patient and the psychiatrist, which spark flashbacks into scenes from the novel.
5. 3-D Mobile expressing themes and techniques from W. H. Auden's The Shield of Achilles.
This is the one that I have the hardest time imagining. It takes an enormous conceptual leap to go from a series of poems to a 3-dimensional, tactile work of static art. She intends to have several physical layers that will explore/express themes, techniques, and (especially) Auden's individual view of the nature of Modern Man.
6. Series of drawings illustrating the central theme of Our Town by Thornton Wilder.
This student has excelled in the visual arts and hopes to create a series of fine, well-crafted pencil drawings. Rather than stock tableaux or literal illustrations, however, he intends to create scenes that resonate with the same sense of urgency that the play does, in retrospect (or on a second viewing). He wants to express the idea that every moment of everyday life is valuable and that we need to appreciate the fleeting life as it passes. Carpe Diem!
7. Original "journal entries" and illustrations for The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.
This will be a fascinating project, combining creative writing, visual art, and live performance. The student will take on the narrative persona of an omniscient character who views all of the disparate events presented in this series of 28 short stories. He'll write journal entries, draw pictures to illustrate, and then perform at least a chosen selection for his classmates.
8. Musical Performance accompanying a slide show of images and information about My Antonia by Willa Cather.
Piano studies have recently become more and more important to this student, and she wants to use that skill in conjunction with her presentation on this novel. So she has chosen a piece of music by Aaron Copeland, composed right around the same time that this novel was written. She'll create a slide show and time it to correspond with a live performance of this piano work. Copeland's wide, open harmonies well portray the sweeping spaces of the prairies.
9. Slide show of facts and original photography illustrating Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
This student wants to combine an academic approach with a creative approach. So his power point will have two parts. First, he'll go through the typical information we like to know about a book. When and where was it written, why, under what circumstances, what are its major themes and concerns, how does it connect to historical events surrounding it. But then he plans to do something really creative. He hopes to be able to stage photographs that illustrate important scenes in the book -- with people dressed as if they are from the time period, backed by farm scenes, etc -- and edit the photographs so that they look "authentic" and "vintage." I'm looking forward to seeing how that works out.
So there you have it! Your comments are welcome.