Friday, June 05, 2009

My kids like torture

I put my students in Poe groups and each group had to present a different short story. The Tell-Tale Heart group did a rap video. That was some funny shit.

My sophomores are doing one of my favorite projects - writing stories. I find that having the students write their own stories is the best possible way to get them to remember and understand story elements. I've got three groups writing their stories together this time, which is especially awesome because I get to read the same story from different characters' perspectives. I'm telling you guys, they love being creative. They don't think it's work.

Yesterday as I was explaining how to construct a plot I said "Torture your protagonist." For once I had them all in rapt attention as I explained what was wrong with T4. "You have a character who's a robot but thinks he's human. But he never questions who he is. In a story you have to make your character suffer. You have to make him question what he believes in. Torture him."

Then yesterday something connected. Last time I did this assignment most of my stories were about rape and gang violence and suicide and I thought my entire class was depressed. Then yesterday I connected the fact that I told then to torture the protagonist with the fact that I had really depressing stories.

So today I came back with "I don't mean literally torture your protagonist. I mean make his life more difficult. Harold and Kumar are tortured but it's funny."

And they all nodded and some were like "ooooh" as if they hadn't thought of this before.

So I figured maybe I'll get some fun stories this time around.

The one girl who was really excited about her idea showed me her outline and it was about a boy who gets raped by his mom and then becomes a rapist himself.

So maybe they are depressed.

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