EL-GHS students participate in Great World Books Conference

Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah High School teachers Lei Lund (English) and Leslie Corbin (foreign language) took seven students to the Great World Texts Annual Student Conference at UW-Madison- March 25.

The ELGHS participants were Hunter Schoenborn, Adam Kuhn, Chieri Yasko, Olivia Stelter, Krista Landwehr-Hitsman, Hannah Jenny, and Gary Higgins. The conference was the culminating event of a nearly yearlong project called “Teaching Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions in Wisconsin,” sponsored by the UW’s Center for the Humanities.

At the conference, students from 18 high schools from all around the state displayed their projects related to their study of Confessions — which ranged from essays to visual art pieces to multi- media presentations to musical or dance compositions and performances — in a presentation hall or in a salon.

One student or group from each school was also selected to present his/her/their project to all participants in a plenary session. Since Rousseau himself was not available to attend the conference, Dr. Danielle S. Allen, professor of social sciences, political theorist, and author of Our Declaration, gave a keynote address and then answered questions from the students about Rousseau and about her work and writing. At the end of the day, selected students from each school who were part of a theater workshop gave in impromptu performance to the group.

The opportunity to participate in the annual Great World Texts project came last spring. Lund and Corbin applied for a grant to be a part of the project, which required them to teach all or parts of Rousseau’s autobiography in their classes and to have students individually or in groups complete a project based on the study of the text.

They also had to commit to bringing students and their projects to the conference. The ELGHS classes involved were European Literature II, College Credit English, and French II and III—in all, about 35 students.

Lund and Corbin were able to attend two workshops at the university, one in September and one in February, to become more familiar with the text and project expectations in preparation for teaching the text to their respective classes.

The Great World Texts project was definitely a worthwhile one, not just for the students who attended the conference but for all of the students involved in the various classes. All of the projects completed showed great engagement with the text and a deeper understanding of a famous person from history.

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