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by Mary Buckelew

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The following incident occurred in my high school classroom on the West Side of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The occurrence — its details, the students, and the implications continue to inform my teaching.

“How is your life like Odysseus’s life?”  I read aloud with Monday morning enthusiasm to my ninth grade students.  Engage, Empower with your own Enthusiasm. The most recent inservice mantra echoed in my head or maybe throbbed is more accurate. Monday.

 I had pulled the Odysseus question from the student prompt bank/bowl. Students submitted their own questions or statements at the beginning of each week, and three to four times a week, I used a student generated prompt for our opening focused freewrite. The only requirement – the prompt needed to relate to our reading or a current event.

   We were in the midst of reading The Odyssey. A watered down version, but a riveting and rich story nonetheless for my ninth graders —  a story they were actually reading. And so – unbeknownst to me until this moment — one of my students had pondered the connection between his or her life and the challenges Odysseus faced as he made his way back to Penelope and home.  Read more