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Exploring Greek Literature in the BCIL Fabrication Lab
by Stacey Siegel, Upper School Learning Specialist Chair

The Upper School English Department is always expanding ways it can explore texts. This year, the 9th Grade English team decided to team up with the BCIL in order to provide the students with a project that encouraged a real world connection to history and the text.

One of our texts this year is Circe, which is a modern interpretation of the story from The Odyssey. In the original Greek classic, the hero, Odysseus finds himself on an island with a witch that turns his men into swine. Circe appears in three of the books of The Odyssey, and she helps Odysseus find his way home. Our modern text, Circe, develops the character as a heroine in her own right. The text explores the story told about Circe and other mythological characters from Greek literature with a focus on gender, family, and power within the context of Greek history.

In order to connect the present and the past, students were asked to examine some Greek vases, which served as a conduit for storytelling during ancient times. They chose a moment or storyline from Circe and recreated it on a vase that they created in the BCIL Fabrication Lab. This part of the project brought students from other classes together, as we spent three class periods working on the physical part of the project. They began by drawing their chosen story, and then used clay to make vases. Lastly, they painted their story onto the clay. Having the opportunity to meet together with other classes gave us all an informal opportunity to chat and better get to know one another.  The project allowed the 9th graders to work as a team as the students helped one another with their drawings and their vases. The banter around the room was lively and inclusive. Students talked about recent movies, TV shows, and music and we could also hear offers of help and compliments about each other’s work.  

The last part of the assignment involved students writing vignettes about their own connection to the many themes throughout the text. Students created beautiful and rich tales of their own life and shared them with their teachers.

It has been a pleasure to work with the BCIL on this project and find new ways for students to connect with texts. We look forward to continuing this project with our future students.

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