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Summer SAVY 2019: Session 3, Day 2 – Archetypes in Literature (Rising 5th/6th)

Posted by on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 in Grade 5, Grade 6, SAVY.

It is obvious that our SAVY students are enjoying making new friends AND stretching their minds! We started the day with the puzzle of the Ship of Theseus: If a ship is rebuilt one plank at a time, is it still the same ship? Students considered how the Ship of Theseus related to the idea of identity, particularly in light of the story we read yesterday. Students made strong connections between the transition Sandra Cisneros dramatized for us in “Eleven,” experiences of growing up, and the idea of a gradually transitioning identity that changes in response to significant encounters. We considered figurative language within “Eleven” and how creative uses of language can help create positive or negative moods in a story.

Then, it was time to write! Students started stories about experiences common to their own age, including internal or external encounters and figurative language. After writing time, we had a good discussion about what to do when we get stuck. It’s so exciting to be in a room with so many experienced writers with so many valuable perspectives to share. This group of SAVY students generously shared lots of strategies they’ve picked up over the years for how to get “unstuck,” so many that we decided to post a list to refer to throughout the week! Next, Ms. Allison and Ms. Mary Beth modeled three effective ways to request and give feedback on a work in progress:
  • “bless” (encourage; tell the writer what is working well and why)
  • “address” something specific (such as the beginning, the ending, the conflict, character development, or creative use of language – whatever the writer specifies)
  • “press” (offer any and all constructive feedback to make the piece as strong as it can possibly be)
One important thing we talked about was the responsibility of the writer in entering a writing conference situation. It is the writer who decides what to share, who decides what kind of feedback to request and makes the request, and who decides what to do with whatever feedback he or she receives. Fellow writers also have the responsibility to read and listen well, to honor the writer’s request with regard to type of feedback, and to always seek to support the writer in moving the writing forward. After a productive time of sharing and discussing writing-in-progress, students offered insightful generalizations about the experience of exchanging feedback:
  • It helps the writer to hear multiple interpretations.
  • It’s nice to “press,” but in a nice way.
  • Asking for feedback can be risky.
  • Writing in process is unevenly good.
After lunch, we talked about what a personality is and then took this personality test. We learned some new vocabulary along the way, and then students tallied up their results! It was fun to see who was a “lion,” “golden retriever,” “otter,” or “beaver”–and whose results showed a tie! Some of our results were illuminating, and some were surprising. The personality test helped show ways people’s personalities can follow certain patterns, even though a personality “type” can’t completely define a person.
This consideration of “types” among people helped set the stage for a deep-dive into the fascinating subject that brought us here: archetypes! We settled in for a storytelling session to figure out the main similarities between “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” We observed that, among other things, both stories involve a young character that goes on a journey, faces a frightening foe, and changes in some way (Jack becomes richer, Little Red Riding Hood wiser).
Students quickly figured out similarities between other pairs of characters from books and movies, and then we entered my–Ms. Allison’s–personal favorite part of the day: our encounter with Carl Jung’s Theory of Archetypes. Carl Jung was a psychologist who studied myths, fairy tales, and dreams, and his theory of how archetypes work is deep, abstract, and complex. After discussing the basics of the theory and defining key terms like psyche, symbol, and collective unconscious, students embarked on the challenging task of representing Jung’s theory visually. Some creative depictions emerged, many quite insightful!
We’ll learn even more about archetypes tomorrow. I predict that soon our SAVY students will start finding archetypes everywhere!

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