Thursday, March 08, 2007

Huck Finn Project

While we are reading Huck Finn we will use various strategies to better understand the book and what it has to tell us. While it is easy to mock and ridicule the wide range of seemingly “unacademic” strategies teachers use to get info into their students’ heads, sometimes these actually work better than the old standards that consist of a series of leading questions to be written or spoken about. Sound familiar? So, warm up your wagging fingers, do your special eye-rolling exercises, practice your deep sighs and disgruntled huffs of resentment… It’s project time! You may propose some projects be done as a team but these must be approved. Any project that is turned in as a team and yet has not been approved by me will not be accepted. Moreover, I expect that two-person projects be twice as good!
Option I: Jim’s Journal: This option asks you to get in character as Jim and keep a DAILY journal as the story unfolds. In other words, you will keep a journal as if you were Jim. The quality of work here will be reflected in the following components:
o extent to which you inhabit the character (e.g., sound and think like he would)
o overall quality of your writing (note: you may write in the same vernacular style that Twain used but you must be consistent and effective in your use of this style)
o thoroughness: extent to which your journal reflects on and includes the entire novel
o insight: extent to which your entries show insight into the characters and the story
(Option: you could, if you prefered, write your journal as Mark Twain. Many writers keep journals of what they think while they write their books. What would Twain be thinking and saying to himself about this book as he writes it?)
Option II: Graphic Novel: This option allows the artistic students to use their skills to recreate the story in a graphic novel (i.e., comic book) format. If you are really technologically oriented and want to show off, you could make yours animated and interactive. The quality of your work here will be determined by the following:
o quality of the art work: it should look sharp--both the pictures and the text.
o extent to which your graphic novel includes the entire story of Huck Finn
o inclusion of an introduction in which you explain what you tried to capture in your recreation of the novel (e.g., "I wanted to emphasize the extent to which they reject society and reveal themselves as rebels in the American spirit. I did this because...and showed it by...")

Option III: Formal Essay: This option asks you to choose an idea or character central to the book and examine that idea in depth in an essay. You may also consider taking some recurring aspect of American history or culture and writing an essay in which you discuss how Huck Finn relates to that theme (e.g., the American spirit of independence). Your essay must accomplish the following:
o It must be at least five-pages typed (double-spaced, 12-point font).
o It should clearly identify the thesis of the paper early on and maintain that focus throughout.
o It must examine its subject carefully, supporting each of its supporting elements with examples from appropriate sources (e.g., Huck Finn , your history book, etc.).
o It must be original in its focus so as to avoid questions of whether it was or could have been lifted off the Internet.
(Note: you must approve your topic with me first.)
Option IV: Be the Teacher: You will teach an entire class period in which you lead a discussion on a particular set of themes or some other focused topic as it relates to Huck Finn. During this 45-minute period you will prepare and be ready to do the following:
o facilitate a class discussion on selected, important themes
o introduce your lesson with some opening remarks
o use visual aids--video clips, handouts, posters, overheads--to help the class think about and understand the ideas you present
o write a one page follow-up analysis of what you set out to accomplish, how well they/you accomplished this goal and a reflection about what you would do differently.
Option V: Publish your Own Newspaper: This option asks you to create a six-page newspaper with all the appropriate elements common to a newspaper of that era. (You can find examples of newspapers on the web by visiting the Cyberguide for Twain’s novel.) …
Your work will be assessed according to the quality of the following:
o the writing
o the formatting and overall appearance and layout of the paper
o the extent to which the paper shows understanding of and insight into the novel Huck Finn
o demonstrated mastery of the computer to create the paper

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