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Discovering Humanity through Literature
Discovering Humanity through Literature
Kelli Jones

Reading has the power to transport you to another time and place. Students are learning the power of this, specifically through Mrs. Sarah Carrel's American Literature class. Since 2003, she motivates students in her classes to not simply read, but to fully immerse themselves in the novels through project-based learning and adapting her classroom for each student so that they're able to grasp the material in ways they know best.

The question students are asked to solve is "how can we retain our humanity in modern society?" From creating a video explaining this, studying the works of Mark Twain, Flannery O'Connor, T.S. Eliot and other articles, to writing reflections and video journals, the class participated in a few volunteer projects this past weekend. Mrs. Carrel shares that "this piece of the project was to understand our humanity by helping others."

Through the class's help, over 9,000 bags of food were filled for children in Africa on Saturday. The following day, boys served food and assisted at the Kharma Kitchen in Ashtabula (students in the past have helped this organization through the GRA Youth Philanthropy Club as well). By making these lessons involving literature transcend the boundaries classroom walls, Mrs. Carrel hopes to create enduring connections between the classics and modern day questions her students may be asking.

As she shares "I want my students to learn the literature and connect it to their world by embracing the ongoing story of humanity from the past, present, and future. I want them to think beyond the text, experience humanity, and tell their story. The project gives them the opportunity to read, think, agree or disagree, give back, and ultimately share their voices. Through this project-based learning, I'm hoping to show them that these are the authentic skills needed to be human."

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