MCAS Rankings came out for the state and my school sits pretty at #4 in the state for math (I'd say #3 since the #1 school only tested 23 sophomores) and #8 in English. We beat out the Newton's and the Wellesley's and such, so we're pretty psyched.
As a 9th grade English teacher, my focus is on introducing things to them that they will see in MCAS year so it will be more of a review then and less teaching. Sonnets are frequently on the MCAS so i decided to introduce them to Petrarch and Shakespeare's Sonnets. At this point in their academic careers, they only know Shakespeare as the man who writes the sucky plays.
I play up to them asking if they have boy/girl friends and if not, do they have crushes. I always have to model the thinking for them so I start telling them about my crush. Once I have sufficiently embarrassed myself, it is cool for them to open up. Once we have that discussion, I introduce them to Petrarch's Laura and we talk about the notions of love and beauty.
Then I ask them what a parody is. **crickets**
What I love about working with kids is when I give a name to something they already know and they can make the connection. I know they will never forget it. I ask them if they watch the Scary Movie movies. Yup. So what are those movies about? "Well they make fun of other scary movies." Ok, then, we are almost there. I give them the literary definition of parody. Then I present my coup de grace... Ridin' Dirty and White and Nerdy. Once the kids analyze the language of both songs. i present Shakespeare's sonnet 130 My mistress' eyes are nothing like then sun... and BAM! (as Emeril says, I got 'em) Still high off of something they enjoyed, they were more than willing to dive into this sonnet and examine how Shakespeare undermines Petrarch's ideal of beauty.
Then the fabulistic part of it all, when we get to the couplet.... they nailed it hook, line, and sinker. I think I teared up a bit. It's not honest to compare a woman to things they can in no way actually be like. Just like when men say they don't like women with makeup and then they think all those singers are so pretty. It is great that he says, no, you aren't those things. You are beautiful the way you are. You are worth more than those false comparisons. And I. Still. Love. You.
There is hope after all.