An Excerpt from "Inquiry and Research through the I-Journey Project" (Classroom Notes Plus, January 2008)
In this project by James Penha and Margo Roby, student-made maps form the basis for "I-Journey" writings and presentations. In this excerpt, the authors describe one step they use to prepare students for the project.
Prior to the formal introduction of the I-Journey project, it’s useful for the class to read a collection of travel narratives, an anthology of short picaresque stories, or a novel in which the protagonist takes a physical or metaphorical journey.
These get students thinking about some of the same issues they’ll be exploring in planning their I-Journeys, and can also serve as references for the matters of style and structure the teacher, with an eye to her particular curriculum, will stress as students pursue their research and writing.
One work we have asked our students to read is Jostein Gaarder’s The Solitaire Mystery (Berkeley, 1997). Gaarder explores in this novel many of the same philosophical questions that comprise his better known Sophie’s World, but young Hans Thomas’s fabulous journey around Europe to find his mother, his roots, and himself makes his story a model I-Journey.
We have also used travel pieces by Pico Iyer and, for a while, All Quiet on the Western Front. Any picaresque, epic, or journey literature, fact or fiction, should work.
We accompany readings with opportunities for discussion and sharing. Here are a few examples of post-reading questions and prompts that can help prepare students for the I-Journey:
- Does this narrator encounter the unexpected during his or her travels? What are some of the new experiences or surprises that this narrator encounters?
- Do these experiences lead to new knowledge or growth for the traveler? What are examples of some of the things he/she learns?
- Have you ever had a similar experience in which you learned something as a result of a trip or journey? What did you learn?
Margo Roby and James Penha (now retired), taught this lesson together at Jakarta International School, Jakarta, Indonesia.