Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Question

"Miss Kelley, you know those lines you were talking about yesterday?" (It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . . ) "Well, I don't see how that was the best of times."

Yesterday we finished looking at the first chapter of A Tale of Two Cities. We also starting studying the French Revolution (we're using this). Students read about the class structure in France before the revolution, about peasants and the bourgeoisie and the nobility, and about the divine right of kings. I read aloud Charles Dickens' description of the brutal violence of the time period.

And then a student asked me the question.

Last year, a student asked why the US was prosperous after our independence from Britain when other countries haven't been so lucky. This year, a different student asked about Dickens' famous opening line. Both are questions that you can spend a year answering.

As teachers do, I turned the question back on the class. Was it the best of times? For whom? Was it the best of times for the peasants? What happened to them? Our study of history is lined up with out study of literature, so they had answers.

On our best days, this is what we'll do this year. We'll talk about literature and history. We'll talk about current events (What does a revolution look like today?). We'll compare A Tale of Two Cities to our independent reading (What books have you read that are divided into volumes?). And we'll write about what we've learned.

Third grader reads A Tale of Two Cities.

(Can't get enough? Today I'm also on the Nerdy Book Club reviewing David Levithan's Two Boys Kissing.)


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