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October 5, 2016

IDEAS Reads Super, Natural, Great Books

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It might not surprise you that our English Language Arts teachers love books. They love reading them, recommending them, discussing them, and, most importantly, deploying them as centerpieces for critical and relevant learning. If you've met our staff, you'd know that the love for book extends beyond our English department. And we have students who take care of our classroom libraries and little school library, and some some students who write books of their own. That's some serious book love right there. 

IDEAS Academy's English Language Arts teachers, Addie Degenhardt and Heather Sheets, along with their students, have been selected to participate in the University of Wisconsin - Madison Center for the Humanities program called Great World Texts in Wisconsin. According to the website, this program connects scholars with a diverse group teachers and students across the state through the shared project of reading and discussing a classic piece of world literature. Drawing from world literature throughout the ages, the program’s selection of texts reflects a capacious understanding of the idea of the “literary classic.” The program includes workshops in which participating teachers work with UW faculty members on interpreting and understanding each text, extensive supporting curriculum materials, and an Annual Student Conference in which students from all participating schools come together to share their work and hear from distinguished speakers. Now in its eleventh year, Great World Texts has reached hundreds of students and teachers in dozens of school districts throughout the state of Wisconsin.

William Shakespeare's The Tempest is this year's Great World Text in Wisconsin. Today, Addie and Heather are in Madison are at a workshop with UW scholars and other teachers. For people who love books, this is a very exciting experience. Not only do our teachers get to "nerd out" with their peers, they are always energized by the opportunity to share our unique project-based practices with other teachers. 

The Center for the Humanities touts that when students read The Tempest this year, they will join worldwide celebrations of Shakespeare’s 400-year legacy. At UW-Madison will include an exhibit of Shakespeare’s original First Folio, arguably the most treasured book to date. The Tempest is the last play Shakespeare wrote and one of its most enigmatic and inspiring, anticipating contemporary debates around colonialism, imperialism, racism, indigeneity, gender, and disability. As they read the play and explore its hundreds of adaptations (including sci-fi movies, prison dramas, and classic opera, and an adaptation by Margaret Atwood), students and educators will engage with a historical background of transatlantic travel, conquest, and slavery throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.

Students look forward to this study and sharing their exhibitions at the Great World Texts in Wisconsin Annual Student Conference will take place on Monday, April 3, 2017. Booker Prize-winning novelist Margaret Atwood, will give the keynote address at the conference. (Yes, you read that correctly, Margaret Atwood.) We can't think of a better way to continue the contemplation of the super natural, which began with our mini-project week and observing the exhibition at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center this fall.

There's even more book love happening right now!

One of our Étude Sessions Season 4 artists, Peter Mulvey, is closing out his Kickstarter campaign for his innovative book "Vlad the Astrophysicist - An Illustrated Book for Old Souls." Support him if you can!

Finally, the Sheboygan Children's Book Festival is this coming weekend, October 7-9th. With so many opportunities to engage with stories, authors, and illustrators, there is too much to list here. 


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