English 9’s final assignment–equal parts project, presentation and reflection–was to peel off the many labels applied to Mark Haddon’s character, Christopher Boone, from his 2003 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and reveal the underlying truths of both character and tale.
The assignment, to create a visual representation of a literary analysis, was a formidable task considering the characteristics and experiences of the protagonist. The task became as much an exploration of each students’ own voice as it was an interpretation of the experiences in the novel.
In developing their project-based analysis–whether quilt, game, puzzle or other device–students revealed important aspects of the story, the character and themselves. Their unique talents and individuality reflecting what each believed to be the salient meaning and significance of the narrative.
At Kirby School, we encourage students to be active members of their classroom experiences. We believe that projects that require deliberate and thoughtful initiative, that inspire curiosity and encourage consideration of others–whether fictional or real life–will better prepare students to apply themselves to their ever-widening communities.
Here are a few student reflections from the project:
Margaret Melcher constructed a quilt in which each square reflected an aspect of Christopher’s experience:
I was inspired by the idea that we should use skills that we already possess. It took a long time for me to come up with an idea, as the project was up to interpretation and I had a lot of different themes that I was tempted to work with. I eventually decided on a quilt because I wanted to choose something that would relate to the book while still being fun for me to make (It was!). It was also challenging to try and look at things the way that Christopher does, as we think in very different ways. I’m proud that I managed to make my project look neat and orderly, not only because that would be of importance to Christopher, but also because the materials I used were very hard to work with. I’m also happy that I ended up with an explanation for every aspect of my project and that it reflected Christopher’s way of thinking.
Eli Brandt transformed a textbook into a representation of Christopher’s brain:
My project was inspired from the film and mechanical big ideas; it also started from floor plans. On top of this it connects to the left and right brain. I thought of it because of the Book Arts class. This project was difficult to cut out of the book, and also it just took a lot of time. I’m most proud of the outside of the book.
Ruby Price built a miniature train, each car containing important images and items from Christopher’s journey (banner image):
Knowing that the final project for the Curious Incident unit would be very open-ended, I kept a journal with notes and ideas about what I wanted to do. The assignment was very open, which kind of overwhelmed me at first. I had too many ideas and too many things I had to write down so I wouldn’t forget them. This seemed to be kind of a burden until I started to organize everything. I eventually really enjoyed the freedom of being able to make almost anything I wanted. Getting over the daunting nature of the project was one of the most challenging parts for me; the other was finding a way to compile all of my ideas into the final product. I can usually find something wrong with the finished projects that I have made, and I definitely could find some things that I would change about this one. But I was more proud of this than I have been of my other big assignments. I was very gratifying to see the month’s worth of work put together in this project and to know that I had put my best effort into making it.
Justin Roche created a board game in which players have to think the way Christopher thinks in order to succeed:
The art and creating was probably the most challenging part [of my project]. I am quite proud of myself for making it look moderately visually appealing, without the board being overly confusing. I had too much fun making the rules and cards to consider it particularly challenging.