18.4.20

Quotation on Human Existence: To Be Or Not To Be

To be or not to be. That is the question.
Hamlet  William Shakespeare
Photo by Max Muselmann on Unsplash

7.4.20

A Pro Tip for Teachers: Using Text Sets on Newsela

Newsela is a website that curates news articles for teachers to share with their students. The idea is straightforward. Students engage with non-fiction texts to improve their reading levels (and critical thinking skills). Each news article on Newsela is calibrated to at least five reading levels which can be tweaked according to a student's grade level and reading proficiency. Articles come equipped with quizzes students can take (and teachers can see the results) and writing prompts students can respond to (which teachers can edit to align with their own classes).

Use Newsela for Non-Fiction ReadingI have been using Newsela for a long time. I use it to assign articles to my students that supplement what we're doing in class. For example, for a Ninth Grade English Shakespeare unit I have kids read about Shakespeare in the Park or after talking about whether or not "video games rot your mind" I have them read an opinion piece on the subject before they write their own essay.

Go Further With Teacher-created Text SetsA really powerful tool on Newsela is the ability to create text sets. I teach a series of "Philosophy in the Classroom" units that I developed with middle and high school students at my school. We read Plato and Nietzsche in class but I want to connect the abstract ideas of philosophers to current and relevant events going on in our society today. Newsela makes that possible. Here is a text set I recently made for my students that I have paired up with my unit on Justice.

Newsela Text Set: Philosophy in the High School Classroom: "The Ring of Gyges"
Essential Mystery: Why should I be a good person?

Cover Image of Philosophy in the Classroom: The Ring of Gyges in Plato's Republic
I based the Newsela Text Set On 
Supporting questions:
Should I be a good person even if I know I can get away with being bad?
Is being a good person in of itself a good thing? Why do those who do bad things not only sometimes get away with it but seem to benefit from their ill deeds while those who do good don't often prosper nor get as much recognition for the good they do?

Student/ Teacher Instructions:
Why be good? The texts in this set contribute to an overarching moral question first brought out by Plato in his book, The Republic. Plato's young student Glaucon complains to Socrates that good people never seem to benefit from their good deeds, while bad people who do bad deeds not only profit from it but seem to be better off than good people. So why be good at all?

  • Pre-Reading Assignment: Before going further watch the following video “The Myth of Gyges”. Copy and paste the link: https://youtu.be/4qjGp6TWqe4
  • Optional. Read the primary source material from The Republic. Copy and paste the link: http://sites.wofford.edu/kaycd/Plato/
  • Choose THREE compelling stories from this text set to read and to annotate. Respond to all prompts in YELLOW. These are my questions to you. 
  • Be both Glaucon and Socrates as you read. Highlight in RED ideas in the stories that support Glaucon. Highlight in GREEN views that support Socrates' view. 
  • Take the reading comprehension quizzes for the three stories you selected. 
  • Prepare the writing prompt for the article that you thought was the most compelling. Read the prompt carefully. 

In class, be ready to share your annotations for the articles you selected. You will be paired with different students to discuss the ideas of each article. Your grade for this assignment is a combination of your quiz scores (20%), your annotations and appropriate highlights (20%), group participation (30%), and finally, your writing prompt (30%).

Extension Resources:

Intended Grade Level(s): 7-10

Content Areas: English Language Arts, Social Studies, Humanities, Civics

Skills Practiced: This text set and its activities conform to the following Common Core Standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2 - Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.6 - Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.5 - Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

Estimated Time: Three 45-minute class periods.

5.4.20

Quotation: Mr. Keating from Dead Poets' Society on Writing

In the movie Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams plays the role of private school teacher Mr. Keating — a man who believes words can be bullets. Words matter. Maybe more so now than ever.
Even unintelligible text scribbled on a wall can be an idea.
Even unintelligible text scribbled on a wall can be an idea.
"No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world"
— Mr. Keating, Dead Poets Society (1989)

30.3.20

Library Poster: "Read a Book"

Printable poster from stonesoferasmus.com to encourage reading — Read a book

18.3.20

Video Repost: Cute Kid Gives Sage Criticism on Consumer Culture

In this video repost, listen to a cute kid give sage advice on how to avoid consumerism.
Girbaud Brand Jeans — Remember Them?
When I was a teenager, in the 1990s, the French jeans clothier Marithé et François Girbaud was in style. I remember I bought these jeans because I thought I needed them. They were cool! Everyone was wearing them. Now. They were cool. But, in retrospect — looking back on it — jeans are jeans. Girbaud jeans had a privileged quality attached to them. Wearing the Girbaud brand was like being christened with a superpower. Jeans with the Girbaud logo were easily noticeable, so everyone in your school could identify who had the right pair of jeans. If your jeans were Wal-mart storebought, you were doomed.

The Kid in the Video is Non-Plussed about Consumerism
What I like about the kid in this video is that not only is he non-plussed by consumerism, he also can make his own aesthetic judgments. He says he knows what he likes and Filas fit him well and he likes the color.

What shoes do the other kids in the park expect kids to wear to avoid being ostracized? I'd like to know.

What's Your Take on This Video?
Let me know if you have ever been made less because you did not conform to consumer culture.
stonesoferasmus.com

12.3.20

Writing About Coronavirus As a High School English Teacher (And What That Means for Students)

I write about the pestilence COVID-19 from the point of view of a high school English teacher.
Today, a kid asked me, "Mr. Roselli, will school be closed because of the Coronavirus?" I said, "Probably not. But the school is making preparations just in case."
My Kids at School Publicly Say They Want School to Close
I teach high schoolers, who in the main, will tell me that they wish school were closed. "Just close school!" While school may close, I remind them, we'll still have school available online. My school is in the process of figuring out how they'll do that properly. We have a meeting tomorrow to do just that.

I Don't Want School to Close 😟
I am dreading the possibility that school will close. Going to school everyday gives meaning to my life. I like seeing people and school often connects me to others in a way that helps me to go beyond myself. I feel like my co-teachers know this about me. "Yeah. You'd hate quarantine," observed one teacher. She's right!

COVID-19 is Spreading Around the World
Countries like China and South Korea have reported that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) cases have been steadily decreasing and Taiwan seems to be working hard to keep the virus at bay. In Italy, citizens are in lockdown - the country is at full stop; while, in the United States, actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have come forth saying they've both contracted the illness (although it appears to be a mild case). It appears we in North America are up for a real test of resilience and resolve.

Remaining Calm but Using Purell
I'm washing my hands, avoiding touching my face, and trying not to let the COVID-19 news coverage distract me to anxiety. However, it seems like things will get worse before they get better. I'm having flashbacks to living in Louisiana during hurricane Katrina. But this time 'round crisis mode seems to be set to slow motion mode. There's no outright panic on the streets, but people are anxious and nervous.

Let me know, yall!
Pour me a hot cup of tea, please. Raise a cup to the unknown. And let me know if you're a teacher (or even if you're not) - and what you're doing to ride this virus out.

4.3.20

On the Passing of a Friend and Mentor: Frank Levy, Storyteller

Francis Xavier Levy, Jr. passed away on Tuesday morning - Frank was a friend and a mentor to me. I’ll miss him terribly. I met him and his wife Bonnie when I was a volunteer page at the Mandeville branch of the Saint Tammany Parish Library. I was a teenager. I shelved books. But when Frank would visit the library, he and Bonnie enlisted me in their Stories in Motion program - I’ll never forget Flutterby the Butterfly (played fabulously by Bonnie Bess Wood). We even made the pages of the Saint Tammany edition of the New Orleans newspaper The Times-Picayune (My mom saved the clipping). I was the lepidopterist. That was about twenty-seven years ago (if I did the math correctly). I'll never forget Frank. He was (and is) a tour de force. Here are several things I learned from Frank Levy: 
  1. A great movie is a work of literature.
  2. Wal-Mart is better at 3 AM.
  3. Calculate the seconds it takes your local traffic light to turn red (and use this knowledge to help you know when to leave your house during rush hours).
  4. Sappho is awesome.
  5. Every kid can have a starring role.
  6. Back in 1992, Frank was already using the World Wide Web - and he taught himself HTML. I’ll never forget learning how to browse the web from him.
  7. Read. READ. Read.
  8. Stay quiet backstage.
  9. But own your lines on stage.
  10. Stage combat!
  11. Homemade beef jerky (DM me for the recipe).
  12. Talk to strangers. If they appear friendly. And invite them to dinner.
  13. Ask, and people might give you what you want.
  14. Frank was the lonely kid growing up. But as an adult, he dedicated his life to making kids happy.
  15. Your past doesn’t define you.
I’m sure I’ll think of more after I click “share now.” If you knew Frank Levy, please add to my list.
A snapshot of Mr. Frank Levy and his wife Bonnie Bess Wood.
Frank and his wife Bonnie