Thursday, July 16, 2009

Edgar Allan Poe Works Magic in Baghdad

Did that title catch your attention?? "...let me tell you how healthily, how calmly I can tell you this story..."

Since I've started to take over the English portion of the GT Improvement class, I noticed that students have to read passages and then answer questions about main idea, author's point of view, or what a word means in a sentence. They also have the word knowledge portion where they get a word in a sentence and have to pick out the one-word definition from the four answer choices below.

One of the small passages on their last homework assignments was the first two paragraphs of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart. Now, if you ever talk to one of my former students, you'd know that I love teaching Poe. I time it to where I can teach all the Poe stuff (Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, and The Masque of the Red Death) during Halloween. I decorate my room and everything. The kids love it and I'm pretty sure a lot of them remember it well.

Anyways, we went over the passage and the questions. I told the Soldiers that I have the complete story and if they wanted the whole thing. They all said yes so I went to work. The next day of English I came in and handed it out. We then read it out loud and I was amused at the faces that some of them were making as we were reading. They obviously haven't read that story before or haven't seen it in a long time. A lot of them liked it though...and of course, I went nuts with how and why the narrator did this and that.

I then used that piece to review main idea, vocabulary via context clues (Poe's vocabulary is extensive), and sequence of events....all needed for the AFCT (Armed Forces Classification Test) that they'll take this weekend to try to increase their GT score.

I talked to several of the Soldiers last night, asking them why they're taking the class. A couple just wanted to increase their score, a couple told me that their platoon sergeant made them take it, and there are several who are putting in a packet to become a warrant officer or will go OCS (Officer Candidate School).

For those who don't know, your GT score determines what type of job you can perform in the military. If you have a high GT score, there are more jobs that you can pick from when you sit down with a recruiter.

Next month, I'll be the primary English instructor for the class. It gives me something to do at night and keeps me fresh with my teaching stuff that I miss. I think that I'll end each class set (there are 6 classes a week for 3 weeks) with Poe.

So now I must go, "hark, it is the beating of his hideous heart!"


  1. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 07/16/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  2. Great work - it's always worth promoting Poe! It seems appropriate for this crowd too, considering Poe's "attempts" at military life.