The "Alice Project"

A 10th Grade Honors English Tour of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

Day 8 Recommendations November 4, 2009

Filed under: Student Entries,Week 1 of the Project — Christian Long @ 12:24 am

The following are a few student posts that caught my eye on Day 6 of the 6-week “Alice Project” detailing the discoveries made by my 3 Honors English 10 classes.

Feel free to leave comments on any of of the students’ entries that catch your attention.

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Team #1:

  • Writing and Death “, Alex C. Excerpt:  “I say high school students last because most high school students would not read this story, unless they were required to do so. Adults read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland because they are required, by some supernatural force (as parents), to read the story to their kids. It’s interesting that not even a novelist, but a mathematician, has the imagination to create a story now worth millions.”
  • People Turning Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland “, Erin M. Excerpt:  “Like many authors, Lewis Carroll was fascinated with psychic phenomena and automatic writing. He was not trying to send a message about human nature or the structure of society. He did not intend for readers to glean a specific lesson from Alice and her story. On an individual basis, the story lends itself to many analytical interpretations, but these are the works of the reader.”
  • Alice vs. The Matrix “, Alex C. Excerpt:  “I was confused by Mr. Long’s comment and Carroll’s writing. If Mr. Long is correct about his comment then why does Carroll write about things that are not possible, such as falling down a hole and being able to grab objects while falling. Do you think that this book was written for children or adults, and do you think if  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is ruined if it is over-analyzed?”
  • The Mouse in the Water “, Hagen F. Excerpt:  “Just as in Alice’s case when she is ’swimming in her sadness’ and the little mouse falls in as well and her sad mood causes him trouble, in addition to the other animals that fall victim to her tears. Alice’s self-pity causes trouble not only for herself, but for the other animals that are now struggling in the water. The mouse, and other animals have trouble with the water and it is all because of Alice’s self-pity.”

Team #2

Team #3

  • Changing Sizes “, Colton C. Excerpt:  “I think Carroll is sending a message about a child’s innocence. She doesn’t instantly think about the bigger problem of her growing so big. She didn’t think that if she grew too big that she would die. Then she starts talking to herself about having the bigger shoes. I don’t really know what Carroll is doing with Alice’s conversation with herself. Is he telling us that children’s minds can wander off even when there are more pressing matters going on around them.”
  • Who Am I?“, Colton C. Excerpt:  “During Alice’s time in the tunnel, she could not remember who she was. She thought because she did not feel like herself, than she was somebody else. She thought to herself about all of the girls her age that she could have changed to. For some reason this is not unusual to Alice. Throughout most of the book, Alice has had a wild imagination. Almost nothing seems weird or unusual to her. And just because she did not feel the same, she immediately thought that she was somebody else.”
  • Alice’s Tumble “, Ryan S. Excerpt:  “The idea of the rabbit hole and Alice’s tumble down it, means very little to me, her transition through our realm to theirs, could have been just as simple as walking through a door. However, the metaphorical waiting room we find Alice and ourselves in next is far more interesting. Whether Alice is dreaming or not, we do not know, but for the sake of argument let’s say she isn’t. If she is sleeping than this is merely a step down her path to her dreams in wonderland. If she’s not sleeping and the happy world of wonderland is a world under the very feet of our own, then I submit to you, that this room with the golden key, is a gateway to many realms not just the wonderlandian’s.”
  • The Lord of the Flies “, Ryan S. Excerpt:  “Throughout history and pop culture, whenever there is a profit figure they use drugs to either get a spiritual “high”, or else to enter a dream or trance like state, that allows a better understanding. Examples, are everywhere from, Native American Indian warriors, to Kobala form “Battlestar Galactica”. One thing Alice is famous for is its political and spiritual humor through the use of wonderlandian characters. By accepting that the Caterpillar and its hookah are a part of that we get a better understanding of why Lewis Carroll would have this character, “under the influence””

Team #4

  • What Would Alice’s Feet Do? “, Angela W. Excerpt:  “When Alice is worried about her feet not going in the direction she desires, I find it interesting because how does Alice know where she wants to go? She is in a rabbit hole and has no idea what is going on or where to go. Carroll might be suggesting another ‘adult’ like trait, in which resembling a sense of direction and calmness. But the truth is, she is a young girl who has no idea where she is or where to go. Where would Alice’s feet go if she had no control?”
  • Analyzing Illustration “, Angela W. Excerpt:  “When we read the text and she is getting taller we would think her full body is getting bigger but in perspective of the rest of her body. When we look at this picture, only her neck is elongated while nothing else is proportionally correct. Why would this be? Carroll could be suggesting that Alice is loosing her sanity (mind)  because of her head being so far away from the rest of her body. Think about it, of course Alice is loosing her mind. She has seen a rabbit with a pocket watch talking, fallen down a rabbit hole, transformed sizes, and in this chapter, she talks to a mouse, first in english then in french. It would only make sense that Alice is loosing her sanity, but i find it interesting that this illustration is put into the book.”
  • “Of Mice and [Wo]men” “, Derek M. Excerpt:  “She is always trying to make everyone in this world happy, but one theme in the book is that no two things are alike. The theme translates  into the two separate worlds, showing the unrealistic as well as realistic views because in one place some things are strange, but in another they are common. This seems to be a theme that Carroll is playing around with in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Does Alice have to show her two different sides to fit in the fantastical and realistic world?”
  • Pool of Consequences “, Brittany M. Excerpt:  “When the cake  causes Alice to grow to a unhuman size, she begins to cry giant tears which she soon finds herself swimming in while hanging on for dear life. If she had investigated the liquid as well as the cake more thoroughly she may not have been in the situation of nearly drowning from her own tears. How many times in life do we simply accustom ourselves to our surroundings without stopping and thinking out what exactly we are doing or have gotten ourselves into?”

Team #5

  • Merely Innocent? “, Katherine H. Excerpt:  “Lewis Carroll had a specific love for little girls, only little girls. His story includes a statement in which he avoided little boys as much as possible. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland thus far has not emphasized anything much inappropriate towards little girls. Though it seems an innocent parental-like action, Carroll had a set of safety pins for little girls to pin their skirts up to play in the waves. If it had been a mother or father to do this, it would not be so strange.”
  • The Pioneer of the “Dream Sequence” ‘”, Sylvia A. Excerpt:  “This book was written with such vivid imagination and intricate riddles, that as people we accept it and even enjoy the ending. After the crazy journey Alice goes through, the reader wants an ending that can peacefully end the book with out more perplexing ideas. Most of them are still trying to figure out The White Rabbit. The ending also gives us time to wonder what path the story would have taken if all of Alice’s encounters were real and this was just another facet of Alice’s reality.”
  • It Could Be Real “,  Rivu D. Excerpt:  “Probably the most interesting concept is the idea of two different and distinct worlds. Many books have played around with a magical land before Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but why is Alice so special? Perhaps because the idea of both a wonderland and a real world is a perfectly real possibilty. Right now, there could be a rabbit hole somewhere near you that leads to a magical place that completely defies all logic. Perhaps some people realized this, and fell in love with the idea of there being a world with different rules, a world where things didnt have to make sense. The statement may seem a bit ludacris, but you could be sitting above a wonderland right this second, and you wouldnt know it. At the time this was probably a breakthrough concept, and perhaps it still is.”
  • Following Her Own Footsteps “, Sylvia A. Excerpt: “Are her feet controlling her? Or is it the fact that she gets “curiouser and curiouser” that propels Alice further into the heart of Wonderland? Her feet could be either hindering her journey, by not taking the right path, or they could be the catalysts of her adventure by helping her advance through this new world. What do you think?”
  • A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words “, Sylvia A. Excerpt: “This strange picture shows Alice after she is “shutting up like a telescope” (page 17). Alice is only elongated from the neck up. Is this supposed to mean Alice is losing her head (as in mind, sense of reality, and focus…and maybe literally too!)? While this is happening she is also loosing sight of her feet which, for me, symbolize her path* and the force enabling her to move through Wonderland. This makes it almost seem like Alice is loosing her way, but how can she loose her way when there is no destination in the first place? The Cheshire cat will give us more to chew on on the that subject soon enough.”
  • Going Once, Going Twice, Going Twelve Times“, Rivu D. Excerpt:  “My personal interpretation deals with the idea that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a full fledged coming of age story, with Alice growing not only physically, represented by the frequent changes in size, but also mentally. Perhaps the size changes also represent how Alice’s mind is growing and accepting new ideas, ideas that would be considered crazy in the world away from her wonderland.”
  • Step 2: Refusal Of The Call “, Melissa H. Excerpt:  “While I’ve been reading I haven’t found the ‘refusal of the call.’ This may be because it’s too early in the story or it may be that it will never happen. Alice seems to be up for anything. She goes into the rabbit hole (not knowing where it leads), she drinks the bottle that states “drink me“, and the once again she eats the cake. So, step two wasn’t fulfilled by Alice. Alice isn’t on the path to becoming much of a hero to me anymore. She now just seems like an average girl whose looking for something fun and interesting to do!”
  • Two People and Four Personalities “, Rivu D. Excerpt:  “When one looks at Lewis Carroll and his character Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, one can begin to see that each of them has two distinct personalities, perhaps conflicting. Lewis Carroll’s personality  can be divided into two basic groups. One of them being that of an author of fictional children’s books and a lover of children, and one being the sickly Oxford mathematician. Why does this matter? Because Alice seems to have two personalities as well, the little girl who uses reason and logic and the little girl who believes in and follows the rules of a  magical wonderland. But why does this all matter?”
  • “Banned Book?“, Melissa H. Excerpt:  “In 1931, China decided that it wasn’t appropriate to place animals on the same level as humans. The book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was forbidden. The governor didn’t like the story because it demonstrated that animals were using human language. In my personal opinion, I don’t see anything wrong with this. It’s a story meant to keep kids wondering, laughing, and keep them wanted to explore. Putting animals in stories that talk doesn’t seem offense at all. Now my question to you is what is your opinion about this situation? Do you think it was right to ban the book for putting animals on the same level as humans?”
  • Hookah For Everyone “, Melissa H. Excerpt:  “rroll makes a statement in the book, “Alice felt a little irritated at the Caterpillar’s making such very short remarks…” This could definitely be a side effect of him smoking this hookah. He doesn’t seem like he is all there and into the conversation. He has to repeat himself very many times and kept asking Alice.. “Who are you?” Although smoking hookah may not be nearly as bad as smoking a cigarette, I think it was wrong of Carroll to put this is a children’s book. It could put parents in awkward situation if a young one asks what hookah is.”

Team #6

  • “Unanswered Questions”, Caroline M. Excerpt: “We may never know the purpose behind Carrol’s writing style that seems aimed at adult and children as said in Kristen’s blog entry, “Adult Lessons Laced With Whimsy”. The mysteries behind the authors, and why their brains work the way they do, and why they wrote what they wrote is, for me, one of the most interesting parts of a book. The thought of not knowing the whys is far more intriguing than comprehending it all. As annoying as it is to not know everything, it’s fun and more open-ended, to believe what you want and have your own wonderland.”

Team #7

  • Is It Really That Big a Deal?“, Alex D. Excerpt:  “Many book critics and avid readers have taken Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and made such a big deal about it, which is what puzzles me. Although being in Mr. Long’s class has forever taught me to look past the words written, I can’t help but feel that many people are over-analyzing this book. There is no way I can unlearn my new desire to try to connect everything I read with a bigger picture, but what if there is no bigger picture in this story.
  • “Misadventure(s) in the Hall: Analysis of Chapter Two (1 of 2)“, Connor M. Excerpt:  “As I have proposed in my analysis of Chapter One entry, the hall could have been a sort of security system. Clearly this world and its inhabitants are irrational and illogical compared to the “real world,” so maybe anyone of the regular world would be shut out from the startling puzzle of the key and the door. All others would easily enter their world, for they did not use rational thinking, and were, in a way, “mad.” It would be an ingenious system.”
  • “Intruders will Be Overwhelmingly Confused”, Connor M. Excerpt:  “Alice begins talking to herself all over again, proposing that maybe she has become someone else, this place is so queer. Who is she now? She is certainly the same person, we say, but a change has certainly begun. This “world” is opening her up to new and very strange things. There is no way to return the same, as symbolized from the long fall through the rabbit-hole. Also, as she says, she’ll “stay down here till (she’s) somebody else.” (page 24 of Annotated Alice)”
  • “Cats, Dogs, and a Talking Mouse: Analysis of Chapter 2 (Part 2 of 2)“, Lindsay R. Excerpt:  “This seems like a reoccuring theme in the book and I think this has to do with some type of symbolism that we will find out later in the book. Alice keeps referring to the mouse as “O mouse” as she talks to it. Referring to the mouse like this shows that again she was trying to sound smart, like in Chapter One, by using it from Latin Grammar. It is also present that Alice is not very good at history because she possibly thought the mouse was French and came over with William the Conquerer. Thoroughout this book Lewis Carroll shows many spots where Alice is not very smart and says the wrong things.”
  • A Staged Arrival to Wonderland?” Keith C. Excerpt: “In my opinion the bottle did not even have to say, drink me on  it, and  she still would have drank it. To me it is like someone is watching Alice through her trials and setting her up for the next round and giving her options for her obstacles.”

Team #8

  • Journey or Destination?“, Hersh T. Excerpt:  “As this is a child’s book it seems as though it is very desultory and just jumbled around. However, it also gives us the feeling that Carroll knows where he is going. He distracts us with the rabbit hole, the drink, the cake etc. and leaves us to find our own path. But, if we know where we are going and where he is leading us, then do you think it changes our path and vision?”
  • Is It Necessary?“, Daniel L. Excerpt:  “The one thing that I have noticed about many children’s story today is that there is alot of adult humor in them. The reason this happens is because the movie director’s think that they have to have the adults involved in the movie in order for them to go see it. Now as a kid, you don’t realize the adult humor because you don’t understand it.”
  • Curiosity as Protection?“, Hersh T. Excerpt:  “Would she not be completely scared and running for her life? As I read this story the feelings of shock and fear pervaded my mind yet this little girl is completely calm and even wanting to know more?! When we are curious are we able to do more than we normally can do?”
  • We Are Wrong, and We Like It“, Hersh T. Excerpt:  “However, the thrill of discovering something new or intriguing, and the ability to be able to draw conclusions that make sense is something that we all wish to achieve. Matin Gardner, the annotater, does not know everything. His actions and annotations are solely based on an assumption that was based on an assumption that was based on an assumption and this continues on until we reach a final fact. This means that if one assumption was wrong then this overall equation is wrong. However, the knowledge and excitement we gain from making these educated guesses provides us with an invaluable skill. When we realize that what we are analyzing could truly be just a wild goose chase that makes absolutely no sense, it frees us.”

Team #9

  • Age is but a Number“, Beth A. Excerpt: “Whoever said that adults know more? Yes, they are wiser as their years go on, but kids have something that many adults often forget about as they get older-how to live a little. Yes, there are many that have fun with their children, and kudos to them.  However, that tight rope that adults have to balance on is a tricky one.”
  • A Race of Life and Politics“, Benedikt K. Excerpt:  “But I like to think of the Caucus race as something different, yet related. Just like politicians when they run for office, we oftentimes run in circles in our daily lives. Life itself, so it seems, is a constant struggle that cannot be won and is as repetitive as running in a circle. We oftentimes ask ourselves why we even keep on going, when we think we never can win. But after some time we realize that we do win. We do get our own piece of Comfit, made up of the toiling and the perils of life. It is the experience that makes us win, it is the action that emerges victorious.”
  • Alice’s Own Pandora’s Box“, Beth A. Excerpt:  “Pandora is told not to open the box or jar (Alice is probably told not to wander off, considering she is a child) but temptation lures her to open it (Alice follows the white rabbit), and all of the world’s evils come out (Alice is lost and confused and scared) yet, at the very bottom of the box laid Hope. Now, Alice’s ‘hope’ is the hope to get home and out of this strange world. All she wants is to see her cat, Dinah, and be home before supper.”
  • We Are the Difference“, Benedikt K. Excerpt: “And here we come to my final, oh so wonderfully biased conclusion. The youth is the answer. We are the ones to be molded, or rather to be prevented from molding. Control the youth and you shall conquer the world. Let them control themselves and humanity is better off than you could ever imagine. Give the youth the ability to think for themselves and you have created an avalanche of thought prone to destroy whatever may come into its way. Any problem could be solved by this generation of thinkers. Just make sure that it’s not you.”
  • Lost in a Haze“, Gabriella B. Excerpt:  “If looked at from the perspective of a dreamer perhaps Alice is experiencing bouts of near wakefulness and is therefore able to dredge up these twisted connections to reality. Or perhaps the more likely scenario is that these common place items are only thrown in to keep the reader from being drawn to deeply into the strange world of wonderland. So in the end has Wonderland become a hodgepodge of whimsical acts through which Alice wonders or is there some underlying factor which governs this alternate reality?”

Team #10

  • Who’s the Dealer?“, Shannon L. Excerpt:  “I immediately thought of the song “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane. That song made me think the rabbit represents a drug dealer and the watch represents the drugs, while Alice represents the addict. In the song “White Rabbit“, she describes Alice being addicted to the rabbit. Carroll maybe using the rabbit hole as a symbol for Alice’s first instance of drug use. Her fall indicates her immediate addiction. When Alice is falling down the rabbit hole, she is in an almost “dreamlike” and relaxed state.”

Team #11

  • The Real Alice“, Scott M. Excerpt:  “The real Alice Lidell seems just like any other normal little girl in the fact that she is rambunctious and careless, but she is more mature in how she has feelings for others. If Lewis Carroll really did use Alice Lidell as the base for his story’s character, then he executed it perfectly, as she has the perfect children’s story personality, as well as the average little girl’s personality.”
  • Where Would We Be…“, team in general. Excerpt:  “I have a question for my fellow classmates: Do you honestly think we could be analyzing Alice’s adventures without first deciphering Lord of the Flies? Yes, we were intelligent before tenth grade English (if I may toot our horns), but do you all think that Lord of the Flies helped substantially towards our ability to really understand what Carroll wrote?”

Team #12

  • Dig Deeper?“, Vivian H. Excerpt:  “However even with the interest of the children taking first priority, we must not forget the nature of the author. Carroll was a mathematician who loved to create puzzles for the mind. His writing seem to provoke thought, allowing any person to notice a few coincidences. It may be that Carroll could not completely cut off his own voice and instead hid it in the double meanings of his words. There are times when speculation seems apparent, and times when all the events seem random. This may have been intentional, a simple puzzling tale given to deeper thought, if pursued.”

Team #13

  • Alice’s Right Foot“, Susan C. Excerpt: “Is all of this ridiculous pondering an attempt by Alice to deal with her situation? Perhaps, but I find it much more likely that he added this whole discussion to make the Liddell girls laugh at Alice’s silliness. But hey, it worked didn’t it. I don’t know about you, but that passage made me chuckle. It is definitely worth reading again for a good laugh, just as I’m sure Carroll intended it to be.”
 

Week 1 Student Surveys Now Complete November 2, 2009

Filed under: Student Entries,Week 1 of the Project — Christian Long @ 5:09 pm

Wonder what the students thought of their 1st week with the “Alice Project”?

If so, check out the survey that they filled out today.

And tell me what you think when you ‘add it up’.

 

Week 1 Student Survey

Filed under: Surveys,Week 1 of the Project — Christian Long @ 12:48 am

Before you leave class on Monday, please

click here to take a survey about the 1st week of the “Alice Project.

Mr. Long would like to get a sense from all the students:

  • what is working
  • what needs to be adjusted
  • what you’ve uniquely noticed along the way

All answers will be combined to help him see trends and new ideas.

There are only a few questions in total. It’ll probably take you 5 minutes total.

Thanks in advance.

 

Day 4 Observations October 31, 2009

Filed under: Observations,Week 1 of the Project — Christian Long @ 7:43 pm

Now that we’ve hit our first weekend in the midst of the “Alice Project”, I’m realizing just how ‘absurd’ the project is when one looks at the following realities:

1. Neither the students nor I have done anything like this.

This truly is a ‘beta’ project in every conceivable way. While this may not be terribly off-putting to a student who rarely controls the academic assignments he/she is given, to a teacher this is radical stuff.  I’m used to being at the front/center of the room/assignment.  For the next 6 weeks, however, I’m just ‘some guy’ who the kids turn to when they deem it necessary.
I exaggerate to make a point, of course. That being said, it’s much more accurate than anything else I’ve ever done as a teacher.

What has been a lovely off-shoot of this reality is that I no longer have to be the all-knowing expert in the room.  While I believe I can ‘find’ a reasonable answer or solution — both regarding how we are analyzing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and how we can best use WordPress’ tools to help us develop remarkable digital portfolios — my students are truly rising to the occasion with regards to the text and the technological experience.

They are the best resources I have in terms of what the story can mean (and inspire) and how we can effectively use the technology to showcase a wide array of discoveries, points of view, and portfolio design solutions.  Period.

2. Because this is so new, the scope of the project — no matter how well intentioned — is guess work.

While its easy to lay back on mottos like “the journey is the destination”, there are very real consequences if something significant doesn’t go right, the students don’t buy in, the technology fails, and/or the text is a poor fit for the process.

Luckily, fingers very much crossed, we’re progressing quite nicely in spite of uncertain footing ahead.  Like one of Joseph Campbell’s heroes entering a vague forest, we simply trust that our destiny lies down the path.

3.  Everything we’re doing is ‘live’ from day one.  Oh, my!

This literally inverts what typically takes place in a classroom, that is if a classroom project even sees the light-of-day at the end of the unit/experience.  Traditionally, most of the academic ‘work’ we ask of our students remains behind closed doors with only the single teacher having any real access to it. This project, however, is immediately global. And that changes everything when you let even the edges of that idea filter down into one’s teacher strategy side of the brain.

Furthermore — and most dangerous/exhilarating — as their teacher, I am no longer their most valuable audience as they consider how to express, edit, or finalize their written and creative work.  I’m just one of ‘many’, but certainly not the most important.  No.  Not even close, actually.

4.  Our  mistakes and half-steps —  both mine and those of my students — are visible from the very beginning.

Instead of hiding them or ‘cleaning up’ everything before going live, our walls are very transparent.

Even more, the very process and rough-cut discoveries along the way ‘are’ our project.  Sure, after the 6-week project comes to an end, there will be a ‘finished’ and ‘published’ project that will appear ‘complete’, but along the way each student/team must embrace the fact that what they have done on a day-to-day basis is also ‘the project’ that is recognized by their multiple audiences.

5. I’m wrestling over whether quantity (of blog entries, comments written and received, etc) really matters at this point, esp. if there is only one true ‘deadline.’

I haven’t quite figure out what truly matters ‘today’ in terms of the quantity of work that has been published so far since there is only one ‘deadline’ (when all work must be ‘in’ for final individual and team grades).

Some groups have really come out of the shoot fast, choosing an aggressive writing/publishing/designing schedule.

Others, however, are more modest in terms of current output.  Some of this is because they are crafting their drafts via Google Docs well in advance of putting them on the blog.  Some are slower, possibly, because they are simply trying to get the hang of the project, the text, the team dynamics, and the technology, let alone the ‘buy-in’ to be invested in the first place.

I also don’t know if its useful to tell all of my students what the ‘tally’ is for team blog entries, individual comments (written and received), site design/layout changes, etc.  I probably will, but I’m not sure if that’s a) motivation or b) tangential.

6.  It’s time for me to start commenting on the students’ writing (aka ‘blog posts’).

While there are a million moving parts (or so it seems most days), I’m their English teacher first, and their technology guide second.  I’ve been very pleased with the vast majority of written analysis so far — esp. since they are literally falling the rabbit hole with this story without any real context or explanation from me (which is because they are a bright group who need to be trusted to discover what they discover) — but I do owe them real feedback as they write.

My goal, after this first weekend, is to begin commenting on over post I see published.  Most of it will be idea/argument-based, but some of it needs to be in terms of technical writing, too, although I’m pretty impressed with what I’ve seen so far due to their understanding of the ‘public’ nature of it all.

7.  I’ll publish my first Survey Monkey poll on Monday for the kids to fill out.

I’m definitely looking forward to aggregating their reactions to a series of questions re: vision, process, technology, and the story itself.

Likewise, I’m looking forward over time to seeing how their opinions evolve and how I can adjust elements of the project to better ensure success on their part.

As I said earlier, this is all a tad absurd when you really compare it to ‘traditional’ classroom projects.

But I can’t help but also see it as ‘beautifully absurd’.

And that, IMHO, is a good thing indeed.

 

Day 4 Recommendations

Filed under: Student Entries,Week 1 of the Project — Christian Long @ 4:00 pm

The following are a few student posts that caught my eye on Day 3 of the 6-week “Alice Project” detailing the discoveries made by my 3 Honors English 10 classes.

Feel free to leave comments on any of of the students’ entries that catch your attention:

  • “I Am Me, Right?”, Alex F. Excerpt:  “Her as a character is taking on more of a hidden-philosopher type role. She doesn’t seem to realize that she’s just posed one of the most baffling questions in history, she just goes on trying to figure out if she’s become someone else. Because of course none of this could be happening to HER.”
  • “Eh, It’s Just a Rabbit”, Miles W. Excerpt:  “Then, when the rabbit pulls out a pocket watch, the story truly seems like a joking, childish story, that hides the darkness within this beloved “children’s” story. But the Rabbit serves a greater purpose in the story than only giving the reader a character to start off with.”
  • “What Do Alice’s Actions Say about Her?”, Meighan A. Excerpt:  “I think it may have to do with her being a child that causes her to be so visually drawn to things without considering any consequences that could arise. Then again, she could have a naturally carefree personality, and her age not matter at all.”
  • “Curiouser and Curiouser”, Jenna K. Excerpt:  “Are her strange thought patterns in these instances a result of the oddities that have occurred or are they the cause? Does this show how our thought processes and views on situations effect our actions?”
  • “Mad as Rabbits:  Panic at the Disco”, Abbie P. Excerpt:  “I noticed that Alice never really seems to care what shall happen to herself, but more of what is going to happen to other people. Whilst she’s falling down what seems to be an abyss at the time, she has not a care in the world other than what other people will think of her. Not once does she mention being worried about dying, but more so worried about killing someone else if she drops an empty jar of orange marmalade.”
  • “The Rabbit Hole”, Colton C. Excerpt:  “It seems to me that Lewis Carroll is playing with the laws of physics during her fall.”
  • “On the Topic of Falling”, Alex F.  Excerpt:  “Different people react to situations differently; some panic and freak out, some become very calm and logical as they asses the situation. Alice’s tactic is focusing on the little things that are happening right at that very moment, and her train of thought gets derailed with the slightest push. You’ll notice that she thinks very little of where she’s headed, and more on what others would think of what is happening in a very frank and distracted manner.”
  • “Dr. Seuss in Disguise”, Derek M. Excerpt:  “Once an author relinquishes their work into the world, they are allowing all of the various interpretations to be held and the modern day readers take advantage of this fact.”
  • “Down, Down, Down”, Sylvia A. Excerpt:  “As Alice falls deeper in her world of imagination, she believes in it more and more. She then stops being a spectator of these bizarre things, becoming involved as “the way of expecting nothing but out-of the-way things to happen” is the norm. She lives her life in this dream, but to Alice, is this really a dream at all?”
  • “Wake Up, Alice”, Rivu D. Excerpt:  “Both The Matrix and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland have protagonists who are thrown into two different worlds as previously mentioned. For Alice, it is a dream world, or a wonderland, and for Thomas Anderson, or Neo, it is a separate world known as the matrix. This similarity sets the foundations for both works.”
  • “Real Life Acting”, Caroline M. Excerpt:  “In Chapter One it states that Alice was “…fond of pretending to be two people.” (p. 18) Alice, like many children, liked to play and act, but does it go further? Does she want to be someone else, does she want to be the person she is playing? When the invitation to another world, where she can be who she wants to be is made she takes it.”
  • “Alice: The Stereotypical Child”, Haley M. Excerpt:  “In a way, this is showing us how kids learn from their mistakes. Since they truly believe in anything, they will go with it and this can sometimes lead to problems. This is teaching us a lesson to think before we do something. Sadly, in the end of chapter one she is stuck at the bottom of the rabbit hole upset and confused.”
  • “Will This Fall Ever Be Over: Analysis of Chapter One (2 of 3)”, Lindsay R. Excerpt:  “Also Alice starts talking to herself again and also starts using big words like antipathies, which wasn’t the right word. The author also hints that Alice would be glad that there was no one listening so it didn’t sound like she was not smart. Alice wonders where she might come out of the hole. She wonders will she be in New Zealand or Australia and she tries to curtsy while she is falling, which you would think was not very possible.”
  • “Behind the Key and the Bottle:  Analysis of Chapter One (3 of 3)”, Alex D. Excerpt:  “The final idea that I stumbled upon was the realization that when the bottle asked Alice to drink it, she did so. Again, when the cake asked Alice to eat it, she did so. I saw Alice responding to all these demands as a representation of people following society’s rules; people tend to not act out because they think of what society would think of them. In this case, Alice did as society told, literally in an attempt to ‘fit in.'”
  • “Stepping Into Wonderland: Analysis of Chapter One”, Connor M. Excerpt:  “This may be the case with the strangeness concerning the hall of doors at the entrance to Wonderland. The rabbit is now gone, of course, concluding that he must have entered a door and been on his way. The whole concept, though, is to use irrationality to enter a door. This is another hint that this world is so different, for the past “real world” was full of rational thought.”
  • “Stages of Sensitivity”, Jackson H. Excerpt:  “We, the aware readers, who are not hot, sleepy, and stupid, are quick to notice that this is an extraordinary event. However, Alice has still not arrived at the conclusion that this is something to take note of. In this state of stupor, her “awareness level” has diminished severely, and is not comprehending the scenario. The rabbit has to remove a watch from its waistcoat pocket for the incredulity of the situation to dawn on Alice.”
  • “Will Alice Live to See Another Day?”, Katie R. Excerpt:  “At the same time, Alice is still relying on her sort of “second person.” When she starts to grow tall to the point where she can’t see her own feet, she starts acting like her feet are the “second person.””
  • “The Morbidity of Morals”, Gabriella B. Excerpt:  “How many of us have ever invested any time in the reading of the Children’s and Household Tales or far more recognizable to modern readers the Tales of the Brothers Grimm? Not to be mistaken with the lighthearted and magical stories from many a modern reader’s childhood the Tales Grimm are quite morbid and on the whole, not something one would usually recommend as a good children’s story. A very similar motif seems to be working its way into Alice.”
  • “May the Alice Be With You”, Benedikt K. Excerpt:  “Once we become adults, our own worlds very often still exist, but they are crippled by our own intelligence. We still perceive things differently from other people, but not in an interesting fashion. We are not creative, but simply different. And just because one is different, one is not necessarily useful.”
  • “Has Childhood Passed Us By?”, Deron M. Excerpt:  “This also plays back into my previous post on whether or not we are killing literature. Are adults eliminating our childhood? How are children nowadays supposed to hold on to their childhood innocence and act like adults at the same time?”
  • “Beneath the Surface of the Looking Glass”, Gabriella B. Excerpt:  “You reminisce and think fondly on the quaintness of it all but setting the book down walk away without a backward glance. But this is not true with Alice. Upon deeper reading how can any even begin to consider it a sweet but meaningless children’s story. So many darker references that easily overlooked by a child are noticed by an adult mind, make this story into an immortal piece of literature.”
  • “First CoverItLive Sesssion”, all of Team 9. Excerpt:  “We talked about our interpretations of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and what Carroll attempted to create with this novel.  We also addressed some views we have on blogs and on layout. Feedback is appreciated greatly, be it to the ideas or the layout of the site.”
  • “Neoalicism”, Benedikt K. Excerpt: “So, like so many authors before, Carroll has finally arrived at the age-old question of whether we exist. Interestingly, he is able to package a thought process intriguingly similar to Descartes derivation of “Cogito ergo sum”. Alice concludes by simple exclusion, a logical principle that even a child can approach, that she must be Alice, and not anyone else. She may not put it this way, but the fact that she is wondering about her existence and her identity proves that and who she is, not her exclusion.”
  • “Possible Revelations on the White Rabbit”, Rachel M. Excerpt:  “As it turns out, rabbits are often a symbol of rebirth and are associated with spring. It is also a symbol of innocence, being helpless prey in nature. More strikingly, rabbits are often used as symbols of playful sexuality. This is attributed to the human understanding of innocence, as well as their prolific reproduction rate. Similarly, the color white also traditionally symbolizes purity.”
  • “Scientific Revolution”, Brendon O-L. Excerpt:  “Galileo and Newton proposed the law of inertia and the idea gravity during this time of scientific revelations. It does not take Dodgson long to include these ideas and concepts in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, they are brought up in chapter one when Alice falls down the rabbit hole. She believes if she drops the jar labeled “ORANGE MARMALADE,” it will kill somebody below her. Galileo proved in his experiments that two object, no matter what the difference in weight is, accelerate at the same rate, thus they would hit the ground at the same time. This would mean that the jar would not fall, but rather be suspended in front of her.”
  • “Adults are Really Just Big Kids”, Brendon O-L. Excerpt:  “I was just reading posts and comments left on various blogs when I stumbled upon one of Deron’s posts (“Has Childhood Passed Us By?”). Right then, I had an epiphany. I finally understood what Carroll was trying to say about children and adults, although my thoughts contradict Deron’s. I do not believe Carroll is implying that children grow up too fast and become  ’mature’ adults; to me, it is the exact opposite: Adults are really kids.”
  • “Alice Gone Rock”, Devon H. Excerpt:  “In their video* there is this creepy little bunny thing that leads this girl through a “time warp”. The passage is through the bass guitarist. All of a sudden they are transported into this alternate world of color and cartoon. The rabbit leads this girl on a miniature journey to find the band. All the while you get to listen to a great song. Sounds like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, huh?”
  • “What Was Alice Thinking?”, Morgan P. Excerpt: “It seemed very strange to me that as Alice was falling down the rabbit hole, she was thinking about what her family would say when she returns home. If I were falling down a rabbit hole I would probably be worrying, but maybe that is just my anxiety.”
  • “The ‘Hero’s Journey’ of Alice”, Emma L. Excerpt:  “The road of trials I believe have been occurring sense she arrived into the hallway of doors. There are numerous tasks or signs that Alice sees and undergoes in the first three chapters. I wouldn’t say she “failed” the tasks but merely explored the outcomes of each which provide knowledge for her to use to her advantage in the future. These are in fact critical tasks for her to undergo her transformation.”
  • “First Thought?  Of Course I Ought! (Ch 2)”, Emma L. Excerpt:  “Adult wisdom vs. child innocence is a reoccurring theme thus far. From Alice’s thoughts about how people would portray her at home to feeling ashamed of herself whenever she is emotional conveys Alice’s struggle to conquer adolescence and discover the adult Alice within. During this struggle, many childhood elements still act as an aid to her which probably allows her to keep her sanity(how little of it she has left).”
 

Day 3 Recommendations October 30, 2009

Filed under: Student Entries,Week 1 of the Project — Christian Long @ 2:48 am

The following are a few student posts that caught my eye on Day 3 of the 6-week “Alice Project” detailing the discoveries made by my 3 Honors English 10 classes.

Feel free to leave comments on any of of the students’ entries that catch your attention:

  • “Alice Making Us Young Again”, Erin M. Excerpt: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a story that customarily reminds people of their youth. This remainder is not just the physical aspect of being young but the simple thought process and imagination that goes along with it.”
  • “Dissection”, Rachel L. Excerpt: “Most children sitting in their homes watching Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland would never think that someday they would be reading the same story in high school. To young kids the story is just a fun adventure through a magical land.”
  • “Should We Analyze Alice?”, Jenna K. Excerpt: “In the introduction, Gilvert K. Chesterton says that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was not meant to be analyzed, that the story was not meant to be in the hands of scholars and analysts.”
  • “Just An Innocent Story”, Brittany M. Excerpt: “It is an enjoyable tale told by many parents to young children who see the innocence in the story but was it written with innocent intentions?”
  • “Step 1: The Call to Adventure”, Melissa H. Excerpt: “In class awhile back we were taught Joseph Cambell’s ” The Hero’s Journey.” For most stories, and or movies most plots follows the sixteen steps for a character to qualify as a hero. Some people wouldn’t consider Alice a hero, but I am starting to see the connection between her story and Joseph Campbell’s explanation.”
  • “The Peculiar Writing Style of Lewis Carroll”, Rivu D. Excerpt:  “I would say that this “unprofessional” style of writing that Carroll employs is what lets the story be more than just any other tale. It exudes energy throughout and makes the process of reading interesting.”
  • “Adventurous Alice”, Caroline M. Excerpt:  “Alice was introduced as a regular girl, bored of her routine life and wanting an invitation to something spectacular. The rabbit is her invitation, pulling her further into an unknown world which she is driven to explore.”
  • “Real Life Acting”, Caroline M. Excerpt: “Why is it that humans so easily want and grasp a new persona when presented with the opportunity? In Alice’s story she is presented a door to a new world where she can be anyone she wants with no expectations.”‘
  • “Alice:  The Stereotypical Girl”, Haley M. Excerpt: “Any adult reading this would know that a rabbit cannot talk, but Alice believes what she hears. Because children believe magical things can happen, they go along with it.”
  • “It’s Just a Talking Rabbit: Analysis of Chapter 1 (1 of 3)”, Keith C. Excerpt:  “What confuses me is that Alice did not think it strange, the rabbit talking in front of her. I know that she is young, but how can a talking animal seem “quite natural.””
  • “The Story Inside the Story”, Daniel L. Excerpt: “I always just thought that it was about a little girl that had an adventure in fairy-tale land. I never thought anything of it.”
  • “Double Meaning”, Hersh T. Excerpt:  “Similarly, if we do not understand all the references that Carroll is making, then we will not be able to fully enjoy the wit and mastery over language that he possesses.”
  • “Are ‘Two Persons’ Really Necessary?”, Katie R. Excerpt:  “She is still talking to herself and scolds herself to the point that she wants to cry again. Alice feels like she needs this sort of “second person” to give her useful advice to help her. But, this proves troublesome in a real life situation.”
  • “Analytical or Arbitrary?”, Gabriella B. Excerpt: “One wonders if Carroll intentionally wrote from the rather capricious and distracted perspective of a child or if the story flowed into that format without his conscious decision because that truly is his mindset/writing style. All at once one can see the more adult humor and wit interwoven into the story as well a Alice’s simplistic and childish mindset.”
  • “Are We Killing Literature?”, Deron M. Excerpt: “Are we destroying great literary works by over-analyzing them? Should we even analyze stories at all?”
  • “The Sleeping Beauty”, Benedikt K. Excerpt:  “Carroll uses these styles of writing to further lure us into the world he is creating. By subtly introducing the irrational, he can later go into more unrealistic actions without the reader having a repulsive reaction to the writing.”
  • “In Her Dreams”, Brendon O-L. Excerpt: “She can be dreaming or she can be awake. Did Dodgson and Carroll manipulate reality in Alice’s dreams? Or did Carroll create a new world all together not bound by the laws of physics?”
  • “Drugs in a Children’s Book?”, Brendon O-L. Excerpt:  “Drugs are a theme that Carroll brings up frequently in this scene, but why would he include this in book created to tease the minds of children?”
  • “Perplexing Nonsense”, Darcy S. Excerpt: “This was the most peculiar(for me) rabbit in chapter two. It had neon lights dangling from it head, and was dashing across the page like spider man. So, my question is: If the knowledge she knew from the real world is nonsense, does that mean the knowledge from the nonsense world is real?”
  • “More Than a Little White Rabbit (Version 1)”, Kierston R. Excerpt: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland explores a little girl’s adventures in a magical place that only the mind of a child could understand, but the question I want to answer is:  Why did she go down the rabbit hole in the first place?”
  • “First Thought?  Of Course I Ought! (Ch 1 part 1)”, Emma L. Excerpt:  “The dark references play a factor into whether or not Carroll is symbolizing evil or bad, or if Carroll is just stating the hole was too dark to see anything. This could also tie into the death references and/or the drug references. Could Alice be dreaming or could this be a hallucination or perhaps a concussion?”
  • “The Peculiarity of Thought”, Vivian H. Excerpt:  “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland highlight the mind of a child infused with quaint tales to capture the imagination. For children these trips provide the perfect vessel to fully explore the realm of childhood creativity, but beyond the simple bedtime story, the musings of a mathematician reveals its play with logic.”
 

Day 3 Observations October 29, 2009

Filed under: Observations,Week 1 of the Project — Christian Long @ 3:32 pm

Sitting here this morning as students dive back into the project (their 3rd day being fully in charge of their teams, blogs, writing, design choices, research, analysis, etc), the following thoughts come to mind about the project as a whole:

1. Glad that I finally came up the strategy of this “Alice Project” highlight blog (rather than trying to analyze everything back on the “Chase the Rabbit” class blog.

This also allows me to conveniently share one link with colleagues to collections of student writing, rather than asking them to subscribe to (and keep track of) 13 blogs all at once.

This — by the way — was a very last minute, late-night decision yesterday as I struggled to figure out a simple way to share some great student writing (as various colleagues asked for recommendations on which of the 13 blogs to read) only 2 days into the project.  Funny that such an obvious solution was right in front of my eyes the entire time.

2. The quality of student writing — overall — is far better than I hoped it would be so early.

While the obvious — ‘IM’-speak, punctuation, being consistent with the accurate title of Carroll’s classic story, and some basic formatting choices — always need editor attention, the way that their minds are engaging with The Annotated Alice (and all of the various idea ‘rabbits’ they’re beginning to chase) gives me a great deal of confidence.

3. Please to see that a few groups have asked for ‘administrator’ access to their WordPress blog to work on the design/layout of their blogs.

While it is not a necessary step at this point (since content & team processes should dominate their focus), I’m pleased to see kids really find their own visual style…and grasp how that might be a difference-maker when it comes to gathering an audience beyond the 4 walls of the classroom.

Simultaneously, I was thrilled to see one student realize that his early efforts to create a savvy design for his team’s blog could easily become a distraction over time.  Such wisdom only comes through trial/error.

4. Comments between student entries — as well as cross-linking — have started showing up.

While the typical comment is to be expected, I’m pleased to see some of the students realize the strategic value (and ‘good will’) that occurs when you begin referencing each other’s blog posts (and ideas) in your own writing. This is the heart, I believe, of any legitimate Web 2.0 project.  The tools are valuable, of course, as is the content.

The true game-changer, however, is when they begin to see the symbiotic/exponential impact of blogs linking to blogs linking to blogs (etc).  Not only does Google and its algorithm love this sort of behavior when it comes to page ranking ‘cross the Internet, but it’s tremendous strategy for them as they shift to college and collaborative work in professional settings.

5. Process-wise, we seem to be in good shape.

The teams are functioning smoothly during class time (and only minor hints of tension have been mentioned, which is to be expected).  Given all the develop-process/techniques focus that happens whenever any major project begins, the kids are looking really graceful and focused.  The ‘editors’ are doing great work on behalf of their teams. Likewise, ‘contributors’ are really hitting their stride in terms of research/writing.

And any potential technology issues (laptops, classroom WiFi access, figuring out how to use WordPress, etc) seem to be minor at this point.  In other words: so far, so good.

 

Day 2 Recommendations

Filed under: Student Entries,Week 1 of the Project — Christian Long @ 5:30 am

The following are a few student posts that caught my eye on Day 2 of the 6-week “Alice Project” detailing the discoveries made by my 3 Honors English 10 classes.

Feel free to leave comments on any of of the students’ entries that catch your attention:

  • “Pre-Thoughts and Chapter One”, Hagen F. Excerpt: “I do not think Alice is of sound mind. I am not saying that she is dumb or has some sort of mental defect, but only that she may be tired or very imaginative. I mean she is bored in the beginning of the story, so maybe she drifts into a day dream of some sort.”
  • “‘Down the Rabbit Hole’: What Does It Mean?”, Kyle M. Excerpt:  “In a nut shell, going “down the rabbit-hole” represents embarking on an adventure; while yours, dear reader, might not be quite as fanciful as Alice’s, they are perhaps even more compelling and, dare I say, wonderful.”
  • “Labeling Temptation”, Angela W. Excerpt:  “Temptation is also something we humans deal with everyday of our lives. We are curious. We want to know what is in the box and what is behind the door. Labels, signs and warnings leads to temptation.”
  • “The Common Misconception of Labels”, Derek M. Excerpt: “In a time of need, people often resort to trying things more than once, without any speculation. This is seen by Alice’s quote, “Well I’ll eat it ,” said Alice, “and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door…and I don’t care which happens.””
  • “Who Was Lewis Carroll?”, Rivu D. Excerpt:  “When we combine the factors of his assumed love of children and his incredibly sick life, one can begin to understand why Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a story for children, has a underlying theme of death.”
  • “Questions on ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland'”, Alex E. Excerpt:  “Furthermore, why is it that there is such a dark underlying tone throughout the story, such as some of the jokes about death that Carroll includes?”
  • “What is the Use of Books without Pictures or Conversations?”, Katherine H. Excerpt:  “The fact that Alice has scolded herself so severely as to bring tears to her eyes felt very strange to me, and that she had played croquet with herself. Pretending to be two people seems quite unnatural for a child to do habitually as Alice seems to do.”
  • “More Than a Children’s Story?”, Rivu D. Excerpt:  “After doing so, I can go back and re-read it from a more mature and analytical mindset, and I can read the annotations and make my own interpretations based off of them. By reading and re-reading the book with this method, I believe I can understand the book from two different perspectives, one of an innocent child, and one of a mature adult.”
  • Lessons in Alice”, Mike N. Excerpt:  “So, is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland trying to do more than just tell a story, but also teach a few basic life lessons that everyone needs to know to function well in the world?  And if this is true, is it not ironic that the setting used for teaching us about our world is actually located in a world that is completely different than our own?”
  • “Dual Personalities”, Kristen K. Excerpt:  “Finally, did Mr. Dodgeson’s dream world (not necessarily in Alice but rather the world he personally dreamed about) involve fictional Alice and Lewis Carroll together harmoniously since Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgeson never could be?”
  • “Different vs. Normal, Reality vs. Imaginary”, Hersh T. Excerpt:  “Now the conclusion that can be drawn from this series of events is that first and foremost, the albino idea is representative of anything out of the ordinary, and second that true imagination and fanciful thinking can be more powerful than reason in certain situations.”
  • “The Regained Innocence”, Benedikt K. Excerpt:  “Children seem to love the book, not only because it is an adventure story in which they can relate to the main character, but also because the presentation given by Carroll is so extremely interactive and tangential that it is easy to keep reading. While these interactions and different layers give the story a very interactive, discrete, ever-changing feel to it, they do make it harder to follow specifics within the story, however, and keep the children to the main focus of the story, the entertainment.”
  • “That Thin White Line”, Beth A. Excerpt:  “I believe that Carroll was stuck in a children’s world, and this oppritunity for a book allowed his inner child to thrust outward. I think that he wasn’t in love with little Alice Liddell, just in love with him being a part of her childhood.”
  • “Carroll’s Writing Style:  Interesting?”, Connor S. Excerpt: “The book seems to be written from the point of view of Alice, and this obscures the philosophy and references to the real world in the book (I’ll go more into detail on that later). Children look at everything with a sense of innocence, just like the children in Lord of the Flies do. Third person limited has a profound effect when being done from a child’s point of view, as it forces the reader to have to work to understand parts of the story, as they aren’t as easy to identify from a child’s perspective.”
  • “More Than A Silly Little Girl?”, Darcy S. Excerpt: “I remember my first encounter with Alice. I believe I was six, sitting on the floor of my living room with my eyes fixed on the television and probably had some sort of sticky food smeared all over my face. To a colourful* six year old girl, Alice was the girl to be.”