Topic: INTEGRITY AND JUSTICE
Students will explore thematic concepts of integrity and justice as they were presented in the movie, “The Star Chamber,” and the story of Oedipus. They will design collage poems and write vignettes (prose or poetry) on these concepts.
Thematic concepts are introduced by narratives that are told by the teacher. In the case of the first story, “The Star Chamber,” clips will be played (on VCR) and intermittently interrupted for discussion concerning the courtroom scenes that appear in the film.
Students will create a poetic collage that will be constructed from various words and concepts used in, or relating to “The Star Chamber,” and the Oedipus story. This is an imaging exercise that will enable them to give some visual impact to the work they have seen, read, and discussed.
Students will do stream-of-consciousness writing to cluster ideas and write vignettes on the thematic concepts. Background music will be played during the writing activities.
Students are told that they will be exploring the concepts of integrity and justice through writing. They are given cardstock sheets with selected words taken from the stories and discussions included in this section. The words will appear in various typefaces and point sizes, and will be photocopied in a variety of colors.
Students are instructed to cut the words out and organize them into a poem. They should try to use as many words as they can. The poem does not have to rhyme, and they should not be too concerned with forming perfect phrases. The poem just has to convey an idea, and that idea can be placed anyway they like—side to side, up and down, criss-cross, in a circle, etc. Once they are satisfied with their arrangements, they paste the words onto an 11” by 17” sheet of white paper. They may augment the collage with designs and illustrations as they like.
Students are then instructed to look over their poem collages, and write (on a blank sheet of white paper) word pairs that are similar such as: reality/truth; reason/sanity; righteousness/virtue. They repeat this process for dissimilar words.
The clustering and vignette writing method is reviewed, and students are instructed that they will be writing two vignettes. First students work out a cluster for the words, “due process.” They may cluster the words separately or together and may use words from their word pairs (similar and dissimilar). From their clusters, they are to construct vignettes (either in sentences or phrases). They prune their vignettes (revision and correction), and rewrite or type the piece. The process is repeated for the word pair “conscience/integrity.” Their final presentations may take the form of prose or poetry.
Evaluation: After students have completed their activities, a poetry reading is presented in class. Students share their work, which is then critiqued by their peers. Complimentary and constructive comments are supported by the teacher. A strongly negative or insulting comment by a peer is treated as a mistake, and the student is coached in constructive criticism. Since creative writing requires that we share our individual voices, finding young voices involves creating a nurturing environment that fosters sharing. Students are applauded for genuine effort, and mistakes are treated as opportunities to learn more. I have found that by participating in some of the exercises personally (and sharing my work with students) adds to the creative freedom of the class as they get the opportunity to teach and instruct me. When students can teach the teacher, you know that they’ve learned.
A bulletin board display will be posted showing the cluster/vignette process, samples of student clusters and vignettes, collage poems, and the titles and supporting graphics for “The Star Chamber” and the Oedipus stories (pictures of justice scales, a courtroom scene, Apollo, Sphinx, etc.). All student work will also be kept on file for the class anthology which will be published during the last marking period of the school year.