I think she did enjoy the nonfiction projects. The were, as usual, too easy for her—she has no problem coming up with food items related to a theme, and her poster describing the tarted-up women populating her book was visually interesting, but not something that required Dixie to think too deeply. Still, she smiled through it all, laughed with her group members, and rattled off several funny bits from the book.
I worry, though, because most of the time she just looks bored. An exaggerated look of patience seems almost permanently plastered on her face. Where other students are puzzled or confused by the AP curriculum,
The beige, metal building I teach in sits on a burning-hot asphalt parking lot behind _______________. (Of course we are only 50 yards from a multi-million dollar football stadium, but my students and I work in a tin building. However, that is an issue for another day). The corrugated roof rattles in the slightest breeze, the pounding of a good rain can drown out all conversation, and (since all four garbage dumpsters are just behind us) all discussion pauses when the gigantic garbage trucks make their daily run. I never cease to be amazed at how fascinated high school boys become watching the process of emptying a dumpster. I know they're just waiting for the driver to miss getting the giant mechanical arms into the slots on either side of the dumpster. Personally, I worry that the drivers (who come up our driveway pretty fast) will puncture our little tin building with those giant metal arms. I also have recurring nightmares about them setting one of those behemoths down on top of a wandering student. SPLAT. Not a pretty picture.
The air conditioner in my room whirs constantly and loudly, cooling the room but making us shout to be heard over it. Reading aloud and class discussion are difficult, but we perservere, prefering to pit our voices against the pounding machine rather than perspire profusely. From the back of the room,
“How could they miss what happened in that scene?”
The musty, dusty smell of paper is in the air as students go back and forth, back and forth in the text, striving to understand characters and their motivations. They're trying to see if, as has been asserted, Steinbeck was advocating a communist system and the book is a diatribe against capitalism. Or, was he simply highlighting a social problem, seeking solutions, but not advocating any single plan. It's a fairly complex writing assignment, and I’m hoping that
I have often apologized to her for being unable to actually conduct the class at her level, but if I went there, no one else would be able to keep up. So, I try to push her to write at ever higher levels and read more complex, rich texts. And, she is patient with the rest of us mere mortals.