In my two featured talks at Azkatraz 2009 I gave out copies of my ‘spider-gram’ lecture notes and, when I ran out (the crowds were much larger than I anticipated), I took email addresses so I could send out the notes to those who wanted them. I sent some Azkatraz photos along with them and a link to the UChicago alumni Magazine article about Harry and the Great Books with an excerpt from Bookshelf.
I received a few notes in response, the best of which has been this note from an Elementary School teacher, whose name and location I edit out. I think you’ll see I couldn’t have made this up:
Thank you for the Azkatraz lecture notes and photo, in which you do not at all resemble a House Elf.
The University of Chicago article got it right, about the importance of shared text. I teach 4th and 5th grade, and this fall I will open the year with studying Sorcerer’s Stone. Some kids will be first-time readers, and others will be ready to talk about foreshadowing and symbolism, having read the whole series. It’s not just a book.
It gives our class a shared (and beloved) text to build upon for writing (let’s see how JKR does it), reading (this character is a bit like Hermione), maybe even some science (yeah, I can sell that).
Even history… As I’m reading David McCullough’s engaging biography of John Adams (all about my favorite patriot and her husband), I find myself sorting the Founding Fathers into houses. Not everyone would agree that Adams was a Hufflepuff, but it would spark an excellent class discussion.
Thank you for the inspiration and scholarship.
4th/5th Grade Teacher
Your thoughts? Me, I wish I had had a shared text and a teacher to talk about it with like this one. I say that even though was blessed to have had Mrs. Roth in Circleville, Ohio, who read aloud the Little House books to her 4th graders everyday at Nicholas Drive School. That changed my whole life…
And, speaking of Azkatraz, here are some great photos of the HogwartsProfessor gang in San Francisco courtesy of Toni Gras, Harry Potter Fan Zone feature photographer! Thank you, Toni, for sharing these.