For our final, “Reflection” unit, I decided to pair watching a movie with a low-key writing assignment in my class. I chose Into the Wild because 1) I think it is great 2) Alaskan students generally have a lot to say about it 3) students can relate to the main character, which makes for good discussion.
At the end of the unit, I thought it went really well. The movie-watching was low-key during an otherwise stressful time for most of the students. And the postcard writing activity (see attached file) was equally low-key in terms of perceived workload, but required the students to think critically and reflect back on the whole semester while also taking into account important rhetorical choices (audience, the relationship between image and text …). The activity had the additional advantage of providing me feedback on what stuck with students throughout the semester – hints for what I should do again next time around.
Watch the first 50 minutes of Into the Wild
Hand out “Greetings from English 111X” assignment. Read aloud in class and review expectations.
Collect first postcard
Watch the next hour of Into the Wild
Collect second postcard
Watch the final section of Into the Wild
Day 4 (final class):
Discuss Into the Wild with particular focus on pulling in the units and lessons that we’ve been working on throughout the semester. Use the following discussion questions to guide conversation:
- What is this movie saying? What’s its message? (beyond the storyline of Chris/Alex’s journey)
- Could you relate to Chris/Alex? How/why?
- What did you think of his choices?
- In what ways did you NOT relate to Chris/Alex?
- What does this movie have to do with our class? Why would I have us watch it?
- The students are in college and many of them are taking responsibility for their own lives in a bigger way than they ever have before. Chris/Alex doesn’t really do it until after he is out of college. But these students can do it now …
- Chris/Alex is doing what we have been doing all semester. He cuts his life down to the simplest things so that he can observe everything more closely. Then he analyzes it using both his education and life experiences (synthesis). And finally, he decides to act on what he believes. This is the next step for students.