In addition to adding more spontaneous breakdancing routines in front of my blackboard saying "What up, yo?" as a routine response to all student questions, and dressing up like little-known historical figures on Mondays, I've got a few other things up my teacher sleeve that should bend my kiddos' minds a bit.
Nothing says, "Yes, English class rocks!", than the early-in-the-year lesson on highlighting our books.
Like a good family Bible passed down through the generations, books we read should show highlighter scar tissue on every page. Every page.
And while my students certainly advance the principal of 'active reading' throughout the year, I'm always amazed by how many pristine, snow-white pages still exist in my student's books after we've completed the novel/play.
Well, no more.
Part of this will come with the 'incentive' of losing daily points when I do random 'book highlighting/margination' checks:
Yup, open your book to page 89. Show me the margination!
Part of this -- in an more enlightened, funky way -- will come from talking about information design a bit more (just like Dan does down on the math hall). 99.9% of my kids will not grasp why I'm geeking out so much, but over time I'll shift that needle to 83.5% by January, and who knows how my percentage will improve by next summer.
Case in point, UK information design student/artist, Stefanie Posavec, and her oh-my mapping of Jack Kerouac's classic, On the Road (started out with the previously shown book image & 'highlighting' poster she crafted).
Let me show you a bit more of what I mean (although you'll need a little time to let it all sink in visually since it can spark some info-overload in the process):
Example one: "Sentence Drawings" from On the Road. Essentially, she took every sentence in this mad ones travel 'novel', drawing their length & relationships by virtue of using colored lines to determine how many words, turning 'right' when it came to an end. Hence, the rectangles that look like an Etch-a-Sketch routine. Zoom in to see what I mean.
Example two: "Sentence Length" from On the Road. You can probably figure this one out. Every sentence compared by the # of words. Every one. Across the entire work. Zoom in to see what I mean.
Examples three/four: comparing "Sentence Drawings from On the Road and Orwell's 1984. Makes an interesting talking point about author's voices and writing styles, although I'm gonna need some time to figure out what the level of interest will be for my kiddos. Perhaps 'pretty pictures' are enough.