Today in eleventh grade English class, we studied the Declaration of Independence. Studied like READ it, aloud, analyzing sentence structure (and holy cow, our boy Thomas could structure a sentence). We took the “We hold these truths to be self evident” sentence (which goes on and on and on) and dissected it.
(I think they might have feared that I’d make them diagram it. I love me some sentence diagramming.)
Then I made them rewrite the sentence as a Tweet. No more than 140 characters. They thought they couldn’t do it, but in fact they were awesome.
“When in doubt about the government, dissolve it. Start over. #1776”
“England. We are never, ever, ever getting back together.”
“England needs to back off. They are not the #boss, #Godis. Let’s bail because…#Declaration #Independence #Englandsucks”
“All men are equal with rights given by God. None can take them away. #life #liberty #happiness”
See? Aren’t they clever?
Then we read the document. We looked at Jefferson’s claim: George is a tyrant. And his evidence: (there’s a long list that’s most of the document, right?) And his repetition of the claim: Down with Tyrants. And the conclusion. Then I wrote them a sentence (just a normal, short-ish sentence) and they had to Jeffersonize it. The first class had the possibility of a few minutes free time before their next period. Here is how they thought Jefferson might have asked for their break:
“We, as the people of Period 1 under the leadership of Mrs. Wilhite, ought to have the rights bestowed to us by the school district, to have a break within our day of school learning and studying even if it be but a mere moment within the world of education before us.”
“As the pursuit of happiness otherwise known as bliss is best achieved by ignorance and as that will be better achieved by doing something that will not have the potential to cause us to gain crucial knowledge and instead do things that we would consider fun we the students of Mrs. Wilhite’s 1st period English class find it self-evident that we should be allowed to leave for intervention.”
The next class didn’t have a break option. So we talked about how they deserved snacks.
“We the suffering, hungry, humble children of 3rd period do wish to satisfy our stomachs. It is unfair to have to wake up at such an unruly time of day and have to sit in a room and starve ourselves. There should be a snack awaiting us at our desks every day to keep us healthy and full of energy. With this energy, we will be driven to learn and thirst for knowledge. Please. FOR THE CHILDREN.”
“We the students of third period English declare through the emptiness and grumbling of our tummies, that the people should always have snacks on hand, if not through this class may guerrilla warfare come about, spilling of bloodshed until we have what we the people want.”
SEE THE CLEVERNESS. FEEL IT. BOW TO THE CLEVERNESS.
I love my job. (They pay me for this.)