Let me tell you about my Zombie Project.
It all started when I heard my husband and sons talking about that one episode of “The Walking Dead.”
“Oh, man, I didn’t expect that ending.”
“Sheesh, he got it out of the blue, didn’t he?”
“Merle just died. Died. And he was the tough guy.”
I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about, nor why they were so talkative. (I live with four men. It’s true: they usually use up their word allotment by lunch time.)
So, I slipped into my teacher hat and asked some book-chat type questions: Tell me about this show that has you all riled up. Does this character remind you of anyone you know? Why do you think the show ended this way? Did the characters learn anything?
One thing led to another, and we were talking about how this zombie craze is a pretty good metaphor for our society.
Then, I talked to my friend Trista, and she told me she was doing this zombie project with her students.
Hmmm. I’m thinking.
Then, like a flailing limb, it hit me: Standardized testing. Test prep. Zombies. Pretty good metaphor.
I teach English I to mostly non-readers. They are sweet kids with bright smiles and fun personalities, but they are below grade level when it comes to reading and writing. Many of them need a lot more help than I can give them. We have little time for one-on-one when my class size is 32.
Our state testing date is looming. I know I need my students engaged, and I need them thinking and reading critically, and I need them writing effectively. The Golden Question: HOW?
The creepy, undead, flesh eating answer: ZOMBIES.
First, I made a list of the most pressing skills students needed to review, and then I became a zombie expert.
Did you know there are zombie poets and zombie poems?
Did you know there is an ongoing argument about which is more awesome zombies or unicorns? There’s even a Facebook page.
Did you know that a high school librarian, at a teacher’s request, can find 37 or so books that all have something to do with zombies?
Did you know that there are websites that “match” zombie-loving people to other zombie-loving people? and you can upload a picture and turn your image into a blood oozing zombie?
Really, now. Who knew?
So, I created this Zombie Project that included some pretty intense test prep and a whole lot of fun.
The video below is how I introduced it to my students. They watched it, and then on large poster paper at each table of four students, they did some silent thinking. I gave them each a different colored marker, and they had to write, based on the clues in the video, what they thought they’d have to do in the project.
You try it. Watch the video and see if you can come up with all the parts of the project. I’ll post more –handouts, articles, book lists, etc., as soon as I have a chance.