Posted by: sammw2ms | December 7, 2009

about to hunker down and finish…

Facebook: Off. Two books on the myths of Harry Potter: next to my computer. The rest of the paper: Completely planned out and almost written in my head. Just need to catch up on a journal post before my final reflections come later this evening. I think the reason that I haven’t had so many is because I haven’t worked on it other than when things are due. Papers come very easily to me and I picked a topic that I already knew a lot about, so everything else followed suit. Most of the “work” was done in my head as my mind wandered to and from the idea of Harry Potter and what I did and did not want to include. Really, there is so much I would love to talk about, that I would love to be an author on one of these books, or have an article in some scholarly work on Harry Potter. But for now, I will settle on turning in a really good paper (I hope) and the boy wizard who captured my heart during my freshman year of college in 1999. I just realized as I wrote this that I probably started reading Harry Potter almost EXACTLY ten years ago! Now it’s off to learn a bit more about some of the crazy creatures in Rowling’s world as I put the final section and finishing touches on my research paper!!

Posted by: sammw2ms | December 3, 2009

Almost done…

This process has been a lot easier for me than I thought it would be. For one thing, my interest in the content means that I am actually interested in my research and don’t have to struggle to find motivation and keep my attention on the task. Each time I have had more pages due, it’s been an easy process of sitting down and doing more research and then incorporating that into my paper. I struggled with content, but once I started writing, that became easier and easier.

I am now at the point where I just have a little bit left. I want to do the section on myths and legends and then I will write the intro and also a conclusion to write, and I am hoping it will be a smooth process to incorporate the last few ideas. I have one lesson plan ready to go and will try to have a second as well. When I first thought of doing the lesson plans, it was partially because I didn’t think I would be able to write 25 pages and I thought doing a few lesson plans would help. Now they are really just a way to wrap up everything and have something practical in there. I know I am almost at the length that I need to be now.

Posted by: sammw2ms | November 15, 2009

15 down, 10 to go

Writing a paper of this size surprisingly hasn’t been too much of a challenge yet, but I think that is because I am currently at my desk, literally surrounded by books about Harry Potter, the boy who lived. Everything that I am reading is so fascinating that I want to include it all! Today I did the third installment of five more pages and I feel that it’s a little more connected now. I changed the headings so they were more specific, instead of broad like they were before. I added things all over, instead of just writing a brand new 5 pages and tacking them on somewhere. Most importantly though, I learned more about one of my favorite books, which is part of the reason that I chose this topic. I was frustrated last week when I started with the heading of “Theme” and then wrote five pages on Courage, which is just one of the themes. But, as I started detailing the character traits found in each of the four Houses, I realized why I could write 5 pages on courage, it’s the focal point of the Gryffindor house. And while I knew this before, it was interesting really analyzing why Harry, Ron, Hermione, and even Neville were in Gryffindor. So, I changed that subheading from “theme” to a title that was courage driven.

I think the last ten pages are fairly planned out in my head. I haven’t even covered any of the myths and legends that lend themselves to Harry Potter. That will be an easy 5-6 pages. I still need an introduction, which I am fairly certain will cover a page and then I want some lesson plans. One of these lesson plans has already been written and I turned in in as an assignment for another class. Might as well kill two birds with one stone, right? I will include this in my paper after I receive feed back from that professor. I am also trying to find a bit on the fandom and why it is so popular to make an argument that this book can be used to inspire kids to read. And I think I also need to catch up on the blog a bit… I might be one behind.

I also need to go over it all and look at it technically. I am hoping to get some prof feedback on that sometime soon… I want to make sure I don’t have too many quotes, or not enough, and that things are cohesive, and my writing isn’t crappy, etc. That’s what I am worried about a bit right now.

Other than that, I think the paper is in really good shape! 😀

Posted by: sammw2ms | October 29, 2009


I don’t know if this is going to be a subcategory, or the main focus, but I think I can incorporate most of my ideas under this broad topic. I want to get kids thinking critically about everything that they read, and Harry Potter might be a great vessel for this. I can still incorporate literary themes, while also asking questions that are challenging. I have already started doing this in the first few pages. Though those questions will be answered somewhat in the paper, when posed in a classroom, hopefully it will lead to deeper discussion.

My other challenge now, is how do I cite or research the things that I already know from thinking critically about it myself? I once met a friend at a restaurant and we hadn’t seen each other in a long time… we ended up spending 9 hours sitting there at the bar and about 2-3 of those hours were a deep discussion on Harry Potter… this was when only 4 or 5 of the books had even been published. I am not sure now how to go about using ideas that have come up from other sources that have long been forgotten.

Posted by: sammw2ms | October 16, 2009

5 page paper reflections

Just finished 5 pages and feel very unorganized. I can’t figure out where I am going with this. I have so many ideas, that it’s becoming very hard to narrow them down. I have decided to just focus on the first book. And as I was writing, I started to try and go through chapter by chapter to have some sort of organization. I have talked so far about the theme of friendship/teamwork and also of isolation. I am trying to include discussion questions that can be used in a classroom as the book is being read together. But I wanted to really try and find an new angle or edge that hasn’t been done before. That is what I am having a hard time with. And maybe my edge is just that this could be a good teacher’s companion guide to teaching the book. I want to have lesson plans involved and planned activities to go along with the book. I really want to focus too on how the reading of Harry Potter can hopefully inspire children to read more.

The next part I’d like to research and focus on are the myths and legends that are mentioned. For example, Nicholas Flamel’s legend of the sorcerer’s stone is a real legend. In the book, he is crafter into a real person who also happens to be friends with Dumbledore, the school’s headmaster.

I would also like to take a look at the schools discipline. In Britain, they employ the use of prefects and a Head Boy and Girl to help teachers make sure other students are following the rules. They also have the house system, where messing up or doing a good deed either loses or gains points for your house. This is a huge motivation for the students to do well in class and follow the rules, or everyone is going to know who lost the whole house points.

I am also having a hard time trying to find research to back up some of the things that I know. I have been in so many Harry Potter discussions, that a lot of the insight I have is from those and impossible to cite. I need to figure out how to go about being able to still include that information.

Posted by: sammw2ms | October 13, 2009

Page 1 of Harry Potter comic

Page 1 of Harry Potter comic

Picture 7

Posted by: sammw2ms | October 5, 2009


This week, we had to make a movie about our research topic.  This was incredibly helpful for me to try and hone in on what exactly I want to do with this.  And this is how I have tapered it down some more, without getting so specific that I will struggle to write 25 pages (which I have only ever done once).  I want to create an argument for Harry Potter’s validity in the classroom.  Maybe I will open on the controversy that Harry Potter has created and why it is banned in some places, so I give a justification for this argument needing to be out there.  From there, I will go into what I can teach kids from it.  One of my old professors mentioned the themes of being an outsider and bullying.  I could have them write a journal entry on how they might related to these themes.  I could also use Harry Potter as a basis for teaching them plot structure.  What part of the book is the climax?  The denouement?

Then, there is the idea of all of the myths and history embedded into this series.  I took a class in college on children’s literature and we studied the etymology of the names.  We could then, as a class, look at some of the sources behind everything and talk about how there is more to writing fiction that just writing what is in your head.  Many authors do a lot of research to make their books have deeper meaning.

I’d like to finish the project with a few pages of solid lesson plans that I hope to one day use in my classroom.  The age that I want to teach is fifth grade and this would be a perfect book to teach them many valuable lessons, but also maybe give them a hook to start enjoying reading.

Here is the movie that I made.  It’s a simple conversation where the teacher (me) is addressing the concerns of a parent regarding using Harry Potter for the classroom.

I have just tried everything to get this to either post as a link or a video and it won’t work. So, copy and paste this link into your browser to see the movie! If you have any other ideas on other angles or ways to expand this, please share!

Posted by: sammw2ms | September 29, 2009

Ideas for Research Paper

I just started my first quarter of grad school and part of that is taking an Advanced Composition class.  For that class, it is required that each student keep a blog about their research project, 25 pages due at the end of the quarter.  So far, all we have been assigned to do is to start coming up with ideas for this research project.  Being that I have just found my new passion in life of middle childhood education and have started my journey towards becoming a language arts and social studies teacher, I want to pick a topic that both interests me and can help me on this path.

Last week, I was brainstorming about Arts in Education, a topic that is of great importance to me as my undergrad was theatre education.  But I wanted a new angle and I feel that the value of arts in education is always my default topic, so why not challenge myself?  I started thinking of other things that interest me and I didn’t make it very far before the next idea worked its way into my brain… Harry Potter.  I have been obsessed/fascinated/enthralled with the Harry Potter books since the beginning of college, almost ten years ago when I read the first 4 over Christmas break in 1999.  Since then, I have read them all countless time and had just started rereading them a few weeks ago.

But enough of my history, this all brings me to one point.  I want to write my big research thesis paper on the Harry Potter books, specifically, what could I teach kids using these books as a tool in the classroom… or something along those lines.  Where do I go from here?  Well, I need to figure out what specifically I am going to research and what will be my thesis question.

Ideas: Teaching tools used by the Professors at Hogwarts, how they work, do they work, pros and cons (namely, the House Points), good and bad behaviors that children can learn through the characters of Harry Potter (honestly, loyalty, integrity… also good vs. evil), the history allusions in Harry Potter (parallels of WWII, etc.) and the myths and legends behind many of the names of people, places, and things.  Also, what can kids learn about their own creativity?  These are some of the things bouncing around in my head.  I am opening this to other people that I know that are huge fans of the books and have spent lots of time noticing the tiny details in each book.  The foreshadowing, the hidden meanings, etc. so that I can get feedback from people on my topic.

Two articles that I have already found that I want to explore further, thanks to

That’s that for now!  Feedback is welcome (and encouraged).  I am excited about virtual aspect of the blog and how that will help me in this research project.