Thursday, October 13, 2011

LTW Journal 10/13: Defining Boromir

(Part of an ongoing series detailing our Lost Tools of Writing adventures.  Previous posts here.)

One of the five tools in the Invention canon is Definition. Aravis and I went through workbook exercise to come up with this definition for Boromir:

"Boromir is the member of the Fellowship who does not want the Ring destroyed."

One result of this exercise was our realization that Boromir's motives place him directly in conflict with the rest of the Fellowship. Everyone else is committed to destroying the Ring by helping Frodo get to Mordor so he can throw it in the fire. But Boromir thinks he can use the Ring to destroy Sauron.

Cornflower observed and made comments, but Mariel was sick and stayed in bed. Cornflower then wanted to define her own term, so she and I came up with this about Sir Kay in the King Arthur legend:

"Sir Kay is a man who is Sir Ector's real son."

As the girls discovered, the exercise is a bit like a Venn diagram: How is this thing like others of its kind? How is it different?

The essay for this three-week cycle will be student's choice-- anything that has to do with their reading for school this year. I'm done giving them tough topics! Learning the form is tough enough.

Update:  Mariel is feeling better.  We worked together to come up with another definition for the Boromir issue.  She wanted to define the word, "take".  I was not sure this would be a good idea, but I was pleasantly surprised--

"The word, 'take', is an action verb with a negative connotation."

I am not sure we are using "connotation" correctly.  I think what we really want to say is that "take" is negative in this context.  I get context and connotation confused.

connotation:  an idea or feeling that a word evokes for a person in addition to its literal or primary meaning. (Google)

context:  the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.  (Google)


Michele said...

I have been looking at this curriculum for my 12 and 14 year olds. Do you like it? And do you still have them do written narrations, or do you use this in place of those? Also, how quickly are you moving through it and how much teacher time does it take you?



Katie said...

Hi, Michele,

I do like it. We are only in the seventh week, though! I have high hopes for this curriculum.

I spent hours and hours learning about the program this summer. I usually prep for around an hour per week and could easily spend more time than that, sometimes I jump in cold on a Monday morning,relying on my summer study to carry me through. (Sometimes it is enough, other times I find myself confused!)

In addition to prep time, I spend two thirty-minute sessions with the kids each week, and then offer individual help as needed. And of course I go over their work each week.

We breezed through the first three weeks' worth of assignments, but hit a wall somewhere in the second three weeks. (Each lesson is divided into three weeks-- one week for Invention, one for Arrangement and one for Elocution. These names come from the five canons of classical rhetoric. I explained them a bit in a previous post.)

At this point, I expect to finish LTW I by the end of the year.

I do have the kids still do narrations. If I used this program in place of narration, my kids would only do one narration every three weeks. This year they write in a 'reading journal' sort of way most of the time. I expect details, sequencing and accuracy. (Also proper spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.) Sometimes I ask them to give character sketches instead of a straight narration, and sometimes I request a poem or detailed answer to a question. Sometimes we have discussion back and forth. Each of the kids has more than one book they are narrating orally. Or I ask for clarification right on their written narration, and they write me back.

Probably more info than you wanted, lol! I am trying to convey that their narrations are thought-fodder for more polished writing. I know from the examples in CM's books that her students were able to produce polished writing spur-of-the-moment, but, for the most part, that doesn't happen at my house. ;o)