Friday, April 12, 2013

Lemon-Scented Furniture Polish and Driveway Sealer

I am from Pine-Sol,
From lemon-scented furniture polish and driveway sealer.
"Where I'm From," the famous poem written by George Ella Lyon, is a tribute to all that makes us who we are.  From the mundane to crazy family stories, the poem is based on lists of ideas:  family names, specific foods or meals, family games and activities, nostalgic songs, oft repeated phrases, ordinary household items, religious experiences, and the places where family momentos are stored.  Composition students worked diligently to brainstorm the things that make them unique and to put words to their memories.  Then, they viewed Lyon's original poem along with a student-written example.  They analyzed each poem for meaning and looked for similarities and differences between the two.  Even more closely, students looked for sensory details and concrete examples, and paid particular attention to formatting and punctuation.  Finally, the kids were challenged to use the two poems as mentor texts to help them craft their own.  After conferring with me and participating in peer response, students began to type their pieces on Google Docs.  After some additional revision next week, the "Where I'm From" poems should be ready for publication.

Athena, the Greek goddess, is often associated with wisdom and war.  In fact, one of her symbols is the owl, an ageless representation of intelligence.  What is less known about Athena is her talent for weaving and the pride she took in her ability to spin thread.  A mortal by the name of Arachne, shared the same talent.  Because of her ability to weave incredible tapestries, many thought she was apprenticed to Athena.  This she denied.  Furthermore, Arachne had the audacity to claim that her work was superior to that of the goddess.  The boast raised the ire of Athena, and she descended from Mt. Olympus to challenge Arachne to a weaving contest.  The mortal fearlessly entered the competition confident that she would emerge victorious.  Both women created beautiful tapestries, but Arachne's mocked the gods.  With a vengeful fury, Athena cursed Arachne.  For all eternity, Arachne would be doomed to spin thread - as a spider!  Throughout the study of Greek mythology, literature students have been exploring how the stories were frequently used to explain not only the human condition, but nature as well.  Without extensive science and technology, these stories helped the ancient culture make sense of their world.  The influence of mythology continues today, as the scientific term for a spider is ... arachnid!

photo credit: misterjt via photopin cc
photo credit: jonycunha via photopin cc

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