Going Deep with Gilgamesh
When is the last time you read deeply? Read something over and over again to peel back the layers and find the meaning underneath. Paused at the moments when you "trip on" something in a text because that's where a meaning is deepest. Noticed contradictions, places where a character behaves unexpectedly, or a story takes an unexpected turn, to see the story's deeper meanings. That's what sixth-grade humanities is all about.
Janice Moy's students learn the process of close reading through developing the habits of re-reading, annotating as they read, and asking questions, but there is more to it than that. It's a lesson in slowing down and understanding that first looks are never enough. Questions lead to other questions. "It takes patience to find profound meaning," shared Moy. It also takes some hands-on projects that motivate students to want to dive into a text and make it their own.
Moy leads her students through this process with one of the world's oldest written stories—Gilgamesh. "It's such an old text and can feel strange and hard to relate to, but through their projects, it comes to life," said Moy. Dioramas, stop motion films, sculptures, and newspapers fill Moy's classroom as a testament to the investment she and her students have in unpacking this age-old text. Where curiosity and creativity meet, the result is a beautiful array of projects made with hard work and care and also a cohort of sixth graders ready for a lifetime of critical reading and thinking.
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