The day before kids went out trick-or-treating, one school had the teachers dressing up.
On Thursday eighth-grade teachers at Liberty Middle School dressed in spooky costumes and decorations to celebrate their new education rollout based around famed author Edgar Allan Poe. With Halloween and the grade’s poetry unit coming up, Poe was a natural choice.
“Poe is high interest especially for adults, but for middle school kids as well,” said English teacher Sarah Loftus. “He was twisted and dark and scary.”
“He was messed up, and the kids love to talk about him,” she said. “The stories, once they get into that critical analysis, tearing it apart and breaking it down and they get it, it’s like a light bulb going off and it’s really cool to see.”
The event had the hallways decorated in dark decorations, including a pendulum in the hallway and several references to Poe’s works.
“All of our classes are interweaving their lessons today through some type of connection to Poe,” said teacher Suzanne Kelly. “We are going to actually translate six different pieces, excerpts from Poe to modern day language today, and that will lead us into a poetry unit where we use the Raven.”
Poe is extending beyond English classes at the school, in Marc Bottoms’ math class students are learning to apply geometry to football plays for the Baltimore Ravens, the NFL team in Poe’s hometown named after his most famous poem.
“The great thing is they see the connection amongst the classes not just in one classroom,” Loftus said. “The idea is to make it more real world, to make it more applicable, so they don’t walk into a classroom and say, “Why do I have to learn the Pythagorean Theorem?”
In her science class, eighth-grade student Jillian White is learning about the spread of disease and relating it back to Poe’s
“Mask of the Red Death.” Her class is mixing cups of water, one of which has chemicals in it, to find who patient zero is.
“We’re mixing water, and one person has chemicals in their water and then at the end after we’ve made all the swaps we just pour our water into one cup and you get back half,” White said. “At the end she’ll put chemicals in it … and only one person will glow hot pink.”
Overall the rollout is intended to be a fun way for students to look at information across classes, and see how it all connects.
“The goal of the rollout is to get students engaged, get them excited about what we’re about to learn,” Loftus said. “If they’re seeing connections in all of the disciplines and they’re able to see the value in it, then it makes their learning more important, and they can really wrap their heads around it.”