Daily Log – July 22, 2008

The sun peeked out from behind the clouds as we enjoyed a delicious breakfast together after our long weekend apart. Ruth and Scott laid out a fantastic buffet of croissants, biscuits and fresh fruit. We added some coffee and our brains slowly began to roll into action.

Brooke read a chapter from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love” for the morning reflection. In our small group we discussed best friends, depression, the amazing synchronicity of events and ‘being your own best friend’. Joel read his thoughts about the eternal question, “who am I?” to the whole group and gave us many questions to ponder as we headed off to writing groups.

Upon our return from writing groups, a gray blanket of clouds literally rolled over Canisius as Joel prepared to share his lesson: “Exploring Historical Imagination: 18th Century Atlantic Slavery”, perhaps this was a bit of foreshadowing for the mood to follow? Joel’s PhD in history was evident as he expertly guided us through an exploration of the Atlantic slave trade. His goal was to get us to think creatively and construct our own perspectives while learning about this cruel episode in our history. Mission accomplished! We spent an intense 75 minutes investigating our feelings and connections to the brutality of slavery.

Patty commented, “I wish I had a social studies teacher that taught this way. The most exciting thing that ever happened in my class was getting to turn the film strip knob. Today I didn’t want to stop writing!”

Ellen agreed that, “Joel really brought the subject to life. It was so vivid, nothing like reading about slavery in a textbook.

During our discussion afterwards Tom commented that he had felt the full effect of the disturbing reality of the slave trade during the lesson.

I don’t think anyone will forget this remarkable opportunity to investigate an appalling part of history and, as Ruth noted, use our writing as a way to further our thinking and deepen our understanding.

After a subdued lunch (we couldn’t stop talking about slavery, then we moved on to book banning!) we headed into the computer lab with Jonathan. He showed us how to access the E-Anthology on the National Writing Project website. This site makes it possible to share our writing with a virtual community of writing project members around the country. He also directed us to a section called ‘Classroom Matters’, an area of the website where teachers write about classroom events.

The rest of the afternoon was devoted to our inquiry projects. One group began filming while the rest of us used our time to finish up our storyboards and organize our ideas. Our goal is to finish filming our videos by Thursday afternoon and use the following days to edit.

Finally, under threatening clouds. we trudged home to digest our biscuits and the powerful events of the day – thank you everyone!

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