First Reading of Beowulf

We are smack dab in the middle of our first reading of Beowulf. I think everyone is enjoying it, at least they always seem to know what is going on at any given moment which I take as a good sign.

We are carrying out an experiment in our literature class this year. We are going to read the assigned book three times. Yes, three times! Each time for a different goal. The first reading will be just for content, to get the groove of the story, to get all the characters and plot straightened out. The second time through will be for literary analysis–plot structure and literary devices and elements used. The final read through will be for creativity. I will have a list of projects/hands on activities that they can do during this week. These projects will be carried out through choice. I won’t assign a specific activity but, rather, let them choose the one that speaks to them.

Sometimes, though, you can’t rein in creativity. This past week was our first week of our first reading (we will take two weeks for each reading,) I had told the kids what my plan was for each week. We read the first 300 lines and talked a bit about the background of the poem and what was happening in those 300 lines. We, then, went on to our work: Tessa went to her room for a break, Caleb and I worked together on his math and Emma went to the basement to do her school work. In between a few trips to the basement, Tessa would ask for the whereabouts of things like tape, index cards, et. I never gave it much thought because these questions are a staple of Tessa’s life. It was inching towards lunch time when Tessa came out holding a cardboard box. Inside was a replica of a large table, those used in the Medieval Era (at least the ones they show in the movies) with chairs situated around it, all made from cardboard and put together with tape. The scene was complete with tapestries hung on the walls (index cards that she had personally designed.) She had made Heurot, the mead-hall in Beowulf.

I have to say that I was impressed with this spontaneous burst of creativity. It was a nice beginning to our reading experiment.

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