Welcome to Mr. Sullivan’s blog–or digital sandbox, if you will, at Suffield Academy. Why crowsnest? If you were standing in our classroom and looking west out of our windows, the logic of sanctifying our learning space with this literary name would strike you immediately. From our perch, we can see most of campus, Bell Hill, and the beautiful Metacomet ridge, which frames our glorious sunsets. That said, Crowsnest is also a better name than Mast-Head, which comes from Melville’s masterpiece. And just as Ishmael finds the look-out of a whaling ship to be transcendent, contempative, heroic and platonic experience, hopefully students find the learning and all of the vistas of our curriculum in our classroom just as rich and rewarding.
Another way to appreciate the name of our classroom is to reread Emily Dickinson’s poem, I Dwell in Possibility, which she claims is a fairer house than prose. So too do I hope to establish a classroom where students can learning can reach all sorts of possible depths. So, we all work together in a Crowsnest.
Crowsnest is also a cool 19th century idea for what I like to do with 21st century technology in an English classroom. As a class, we chart our course through an era of literature. Then, as individuals, students are charged to find patterns (motifs), which they must explain and show how they made the discovery. The more passion, the better the find and eventual explanation. Thus, individuals read texts independently and now have a stake (or share, to borrow whaling terminology) to express what they found to the rest of the crew. So we all working in our shared enterprise. Enjoy this blog that blends the inquiries and discoveries of all my classes. If you are new to blogs, this blog is organized by the content being catagorized, tagged, and dated.
All students writing for the blog, should apply sandbox rules: be creative, act collaboratively and play fairly; or, in the words of his Holiness, the 14th Dali Lama, before participating on this blog, consider one’s contribution to be sure it is useful and kind.
Beyond this blog for all of my classes, there are individual wiki and web pages for each class’ curriculum. I foresee each class wiki page becoming a digital notebook or an intellectual sandbox where we create meaningful connections with our curriculum in a collaborative environment. The blog can become a transparent write-read-write environment for our curriculum. Most importantly, students will experience our curriculum through this digital medium. We will use the blog for all sorts of writing projects. We will try to create a “read/write/read environment” (Will Richardson) with this one blog. This one blog is a departure from previous years where I had a blog for each class. See older pages if you are interested: http://web.suffieldacademy.org/~bsullivan/ or http://englishsandbox.wikispaces.com/
Let’s open the year with a sendoff image from N C Wyeth’s The Giant. Here’s to happy and productive play!
Here is the writing exercise to help you remember about the importance of having your book in class. W.S.Writing.Reminder.Bring.Book