Tag Archives: English

Watching “An Evening with Chinua Achebe” via @LibraryCongress

7th graders in Albert DeGrasse’s classes are about to begin reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

Today they read Chinua’s recent NY Times obituary from March, 2013. Albert asked them to consider this quote from the article:

“I grew up among very eloquent elders,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2008. “In the village, or even in the church, which my father made sure we attended, there were eloquent speakers.” That eloquence was not reflected in Western books about Africa, he said, but he understood the challenge in trying to rectify the portrayal.
“You know that it’s going to be a battle to turn it around, to say to people, ‘That’s not the way my people respond in this situation, by unintelligible grunts, and so on; they would speak,’ ” Mr. Achebe said. “And it is that speech that I knew I wanted to be written down.”

They also watched 24 minutes (from 13:00 – 37:00) of An Evening with Chinua Achebe which commemorated his birthday and the book’s 50th anniversary in 2008. The video is available on the Library of Congress YouTube channel and embedded below. Considering the quote above, it is particularly interesting that in the video, Chinua specifically chose to read a passage where the protagonist, Okonkwo, is offered advice from an eloquent elder, Okonkwo’s maternal uncle. Before reading the passage aloud, Chinua says that the words have a very different meaning for him now than it did 50 years previously, probably as he is now an elder. Meta, indeed.

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6th graders are uploading/sharing their finished StoryCorps-esque interviews today

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StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 40,000 interviews from nearly 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and on our Listen pages.

Students interviewed someone at home and used Garageband to extract a 2-3 minutes story. These audio pieces were exported as .m4a files and then converted to either .mp4 or .mov files that were then uploaded to TheTube (our internal video server powered by Drupal). Finally, students gathered links to their audio files, a description of their piece, a direct quote from the story, and an image. These were added to a table on a collaborative GoogleDoc to loosely model how StoryCorps organizes their files.

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iMovie versus Garageband for podcasts

Marisa Guastaferro and I collaborate on a Romeo and Juliet podcast. In previous years, the students have used Garageband to put merge images, audio, and music. However, the finished product is a small video that is really ideal for viewing on an iPod and not a big screen. I used to use Quicktime to export their podcast into a bigger format, but it was still pixelated. This year, we decided to use iMovie to blend our projects. I found the above tutorial for creating a slideshow with soundtrack in iMovie.

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