At all times, students should be reading a book independently, or in small groups. That book must be approved by Dr. Ayers, and will generally be expected to fit three criteria:
- its author is not American,
- it is at or just beyond the student’s reading level, and
- it is likely to generate ideas suitable for an independent project.
There are many possibilities for what that project might be. A student could do some research on the author and see what new understandings about the book that research reveals; he or she might produce a work, say, a drawing or sculpture that suggests some understanding of themes, characters, or settings of the book. A student might compare two books, if there is sufficient reason to believe such a comparison would reveal something interesting. I am open to many, many more possibilities; part of the point is to allow students to combine whatever creative skills or interests they possess with those we study in language arts.
Three important requirements for projects: First, artistic projects must be accompanied by a 400-600 word statement about what the student was trying to convey through the project, and why. Second, all projects must be turned in on the student’s website. Third, every project must, at least tangentially, be related to one of the four central questions of the course.