The Hughes News

Sophomore Honors English Newsletter ~ December 2017

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If you haven't seen it yet, please check out Part I of the collaborative Gratitude Project that your student helped create right before Thanksgiving. (I emailed the link via iPass on Thanksgiving morning.)

Part 2 of the assignment was to commit a Random Act of Kindness over Thanksgiving. (HERE is a list of ideas for the whole family this holiday season!) On their first day back, the students reflected on their experiences. Take a look at some of the fabulous, very-adult realizations the students made. You're raising a kindhearted, magnanimous soul!

  • Over the break, I helped my mom put up all of the Christmas Decorations in our house, which actually took about 2 hours because we have WAY too many, and [which] I even had to wake up early to do...I knew that my mom had a lot of work to it was helpful to her. This action helped me feel good about myself because I usually do not help with decorations, but this year I decided to.

  • My random act of kindness...was volunteering to help set the table at Thanksgiving. My mom was certainly appreciative of my offering, but more so shocked...I could tell it took stress off of her...I saw her face instantly relax once the table was set, and her visually exhale out of relief. I felt good after setting the table, about myself and about my contribution. Helping my mom, when she so often helps me, was a really nice feeling.

  • Although I only got a small "thank you," I still felt better about my day, and I was glad that I got to help someone out that seemed like they needed it.

  • At work, I helped out a woman with a broken arm...It felt nice to help her out and it felt very empowering. She needed help and there was no one else who was going to help her so I did. When I think back on it I wonder, what if I was in her situation?

  • The effect of the random act on me was that I did more that day than sitting doing other things while my mom worked. I know that she enjoyed my help because she wasn't as tired as she would've been if I had not helped doing small but big tasks around the house.

  • My random act of kindness was bringing the dirty dishes to the sink. I was about to run upstairs to my room after eating, but both of my parents were still sitting down. I stopped and turned around. They just finished their food, so I offered to take their plates. They said "thank you" and continued to watch their show. It felt good to do this small act for my parents. After all, that is the least I could do considering my mom cooked all the food for us while I watched Netflix.


OUR ESSENTIAL QUESTION: Is there a difference between SEEING and KNOWING?

Your students and I are currently grappling with Sophocles' tragic play Oedipus the King as part of the Whole-Class Learning portion in Pearson. (Click HERE to see the entire unit we'll be exploring this term.) They will then select one of four texts to explore with a small group and finish the unit with a narrative essay that answers the essential question above. (As I've told the students, if they play their cards right, this narrative essay could be the bones of a solid college essay down the road.)

We first asked the question "What does it mean to see?" and were forced to refine our notion of sight after learning about blind teen Ben Underwood who, prior to losing his battle to cancer in 2009, used echolocation to "see."

Since then, we have been revisiting this question as we examine our tragic King Oedipus, who has 20/20 vision (at least initially!) but can't truly "see" a blessed thing that is happening around him.

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One of the toughest parts of my job is making classical literature relevant to students today. To anticipate, answer, and abandon the question "Why do we have to do this?," I asked the students to reflect--in writing--on why we still read Sophocles' Oedipus the King in 2017. The rub? They had to be thoughtful, rather than simply sharing what they thought I wanted to hear. (We're talking a lot about being an engaged learner versus being a compliant one.) The results are in: The students recognized that Oedipus still walks among them in 2017. The picture above shows the results of their brainstorming.
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