The centerpiece of the #BullockES ELA curriculum is a single schoolwide essential question to link all reading and writing activities for our students…and now that I think about it, it also appears on the header of every edition of the #BulldogBuzz! Our Schoolwide “BIG” Question (as it’s known to our students) changes each trimester, and helps to ensure that our students are thinking deeply about reading & writing. This practice also ensures that content area learning (history, science & social justice) stays at the forefront of our practices.
- 1st Trimester: What will you LEARN ABOUT THE WORLD by sharing stories from your life and the lives of others?
- 2nd Trimester: How will you think like a scientist to UNDERSTAND THE WORLD around you?
- 3rd Trimester: How will you CHANGE THE WORLD by sharing and supporting your opinion?
A personal goal that I have set for myself is to read (at least) one book each trimester that is aligned to our Schoolwide BIG Question...and so, as we conclude parent-teacher conferences, end the 1st Trimester, and move on to our next BIG question, I am excited to share my text! Keep reading to see what I LEARNED ABOUT THE WORLD by reading Strange Stars, by Jason Heller.
At it’s best, music & literature (in this case, science-fiction specifically) have provided a forum to critique, comment, reflect & respond to the world around us. In fact, there have been many times throughout history where the fine and performing arts have been the only safe way to engage in this type of commentary. There is a timelessness to many of the messages that are communicated through this forum and in many cases, the greatest works even seem to predict the future (remember the “seashells” from Fahrenheit 451, first published back in 1953?).
As the 60’s came to a close (and flower-power with it) man left the earth for the first time, and so began the promise (and perils) of technology & the modern age. Since then, we have integrated technology into our daily lives at an increasingly growing rate and there has been no looking back. Consume it or be left behind!
The fear then (and now?) was that the “exponential advances in technology had outpaced the human race’s ability to process and cope with such massive upheavals.” On one hand, we welcome the value/ease added to our lives because of technology, and on the other hand (as Orson Wells stated in the 1970 film Future Shock) we “live in an age of anxiety, a time of stress…with all our sophistication, we are in fact the victims of our own technological strength.” Talk about predicting the future!
This dichotomy set the stage for a science-fiction uprising in the music, literature & films of the 70’s (and beyond). On one hand we have Bowie’s astronaut, Major Tom, hopelessly floating into the void of space, and on the other we have Sir Nose D’voidoffunk & the Bop Gun. We have the menacing obelisk of 2001: A Space Odyssey & the hijinks of R2-D2 & C-3PO in Star Wars. We have Big Brother watching our every move in 1984 & the Babblefish helping us find the answer to “life, the universe & everything ” in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
In the years since Ziggy Stardust made his first appearance, technology (for better or worse) has continued to make our world smaller, and with that comes both optimism and fear, certainty and wonder, good and evil. And just where does that leave mankind? I guess we will have to wait for the next crop of science-fiction seers to tell us…
Looking towards the future (pun intended)…The 2nd Trimester has just begun and so has our next Schoolwide BIG Question! Just like the staff and students at Bullock I am ready to “think like a scientist” and have already selected my text (see below)! Stay tuned for my piece on Biocentrism (mid-March), and if you would like to participate in the journey by reading this text with me, please reach out!