Rebecca and I have been talking about what we'd like students to do for their final projects. In the past we've asked them to create mandalas to capture the worlds of their books, but this year we've really been pushing them to think about the subjects, questions, and issues that come up in their books that are points of conflict in the real world so that they can discuss them in productive ways. (Judging by the conversation on homosexuality I overheard on Monday, this is working in a big way with at least one book club.)
So as I've been trying to think of another final project that would also help them to think about how their worlds and the world of the text overlap and how they might represent their questions and interpretations in visual ways. On my bike road home from Centennial yesterday, I thought about the typical Venn diagram (bo-ring). Then when I was waiting for a light to change, I thought about intersections. That got me to thinking about maps, so today I did some searching of what features are typically included on maps and then came up with the following assignment. Could you take a look and tell me what you think? A more specific question I have is this: Rebecca and I usually require some kind of written accompaniment to the visual group project that students turn in individually. Could the "traveling tips" work this way?
Here's the assignment:
***Mapping the Terrain of Your Text***
From drawings in the sand to atlases to GPS devices, maps throughout history have used symbols, pictures, and color to guide travelers on their journeys through various lands. For your final project, we’d like for you to create a map directing the class toward your group’s interpretive journey through your book club book.
As suggested by the prompts below, it’s important that you think in symbolic terms as you create your map. In other words, we want you to think beyond the literal, physical locations mentioned in your book to symbolic landmarks and points of interest in characters’ lives as well as intersections between the book and your own lives.
GOALS & REQUIREMENTS
As your book club presents your map to the rest of the class, you’ll function as tour guides with 3 primary goals:
1) to translate the icons on your map’s legend and explain your use of color and spacing
2) to help us understand how and why your book club mapped the terrain of the text in the way you did
3) to offer traveling tips to other readers who might pick up this book
As for specific requirements, your map should include a minimum of 8-10 key symbols. Use the prompts below to help you brainstorm what to include on your map. While you need not address all the items listed, starred* items are required. Also include a legend at the bottom of your map, and create a list or booklet of traveling tips. Finally, as you prepare for your presentation, be sure to discuss spatial layout, that is, how you determined where particular features should be located and what the distance between them should be. Finally, be able to describe how you’ve used color in symbolic ways (for example, a red item might represent an event that provoked anger while a black item might represent a defining moment for the narrator since it contains all colors on the spectrum).
PROMPTS TO HELP YOU BRAINSTORM
Geographical Features – Think about the geographical features included on maps, like rivers, bodies of water, beaches, mountains, valleys, public parks, forests, etc. What features could you include that would work symbolically for your book? For instance, a forest might represent confusion, a mountain range could represent challenges, and so forth.
*Key Intersections – Where and how did your world intersect with the world of this text? What real-world connections, issues, and questions emerged in your sticky notes, Dailies, and book club discussions?
Landmarks & Monuments – Maps often indicate sites like Mount Rushmore or the Vietnam Wall that honor famous people or memorialize historic events. Who are the key people and what are the important events in this book that? How can you feature them on your map?
Leisure & Tourism – Maps sometimes feature sites geared toward leisure or tourism, such as museums, art galleries, amusement parks, golf courses, sports arenas, etc. What do your characters want to preserve or create? What amuses or inspires them? How do they exercise who they are?
Public Services – City maps typically mark locations where public services are offered, such as hospitals, police and fire stations, post offices, and libraries. When do your book’s characters experience distress or danger? What messages do they try to send? What do circumstances or people must they learn to read?
Roads – Almost all maps include different types of roads, such as highways, toll roads, residential streets, trails, bus routes, and railroads. How do the characters travel through your book? When is the going fast and easy, and when is it more bumpy or treacherous?
Sites of Learning - Some maps indicate the locations of schools, colleges, and universities. What do the characters in your book think about and realize? What didn’t they know at the beginning of the book that they know by the end? What provoked this learning?
Sites of Worship – Some maps show where churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples are located. How do your book’s characters develop spiritually or emotionally? What do they worship or idolize? Whom do they praise or appeal to for help?
*Traveling Tips – What advice do you have to offer about navigating the terrain of this text if we choose to read this book? In other words, what should we be aware of? What don’t we want to miss on this journey? What did you learn, realize, or think now that you didn’t know before you read this book?
* Uncharted Territory – Hundreds of years ago when English mapmakers wanted to indicate the limits of the known world on a map, they would write “Beyond this place, there be dragons.” What subjects, issues, and questions remained unresolved in your book club discussions? How did this book make you think? What questions are you asking now that you weren’t before you read this book?
* Xs and Arrows – On pirate maps, X usually marks the spot where buried treasure lies. On maps of campuses, malls, and airports, red arrows often indicate “You are here.” What treasures are to be found in this book? Where are they located? Where would you locate yourselves in the territory of this book?