NEXUS INTERDISCIPLINARY EDUCATION
WHY IS NEXUS A NONPROFIT?
Because improving American secondary education is our bottom line, not profits.
HOW CAN NEXUS BE BOTH A TEACHER AND A STUDENT INTERDISCIPLINARY RESOURCE?
- NEXUS provides expert interdisciplinary research that a single teacher doesn't have the time to do.
- NEXUS stimulates and inspires students to think and link, and to enjoy learning.
HOW DOES NEXUS INSPIRE STUDENTS?
- NEXUS books inspire students by spicing up the learning material with lively, well-researched anecdotes (see samples by clicking on the large NEXUS book covers at the bottom of the home page).
- NEXUS frequently employs an exciting narrative writing style that engages students much more than the dry writing in traditional textbooks. (see samples by clicking on the large NEXUS book covers below).
- NEXUS links learning to teenage life. Kids no longer say, "How does what I'm learning apply to me? When am I going to use it? With NEXUS books they see the relevance to their own lives.
WHY IS LITERATURE THE HUB OF THE NEXUS INTERDISCIPLINARY CURRICULUM?
- Many great literary works like Antigone, The Grapes of Wrath, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Harlem Renaissance poetry and fiction have natural links to history. In each case knowing the history facilitates a deeper and richer understanding of the literature. In addition, history is much more interesting to students if they can link it to characters in literature they care about. For example, connecting a unit on the Crusades to characters in the play The Lion Winter (Eleanor of Aquitaine who accompanied King Louis VII on the 2nd Crusade, and Richard the Lionheart and Philip II who led the 3rd Crusade) makes the topic much more meaningful to students, particularly when they read about the exploits of Richard the Lionheart during the 3rd Crusade in the NEXUS Lion in Winter and the Middle Ages supplement "Lionhearted Tidbits." Also, in The Lion in Winter and the Middle Ages NEXUS book we explore feudalism and the Magna Carta in relation to Henry II, Richard I and John Lackland - all characters in The Lion in Winter.
- Literary figurative language is analogous to visual figurative language and a doorway into it. Similarly, interpreting visual metaphors and irony in paintings gives visual learners a more comfortable portal into literary figurative language, especially poetry and the figurative language in Shakespeare's plays.
WHEN WAS NEXUS FOUNDED?
WHY DOES NEXUS STRESS EXPLICATING SHAKESPEARE'S FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE MORE THAN TRADITIONAL TEXTBOOKS?
- Because Shakespeare's plays are much more than theme, plot and character. What makes Shakespeare special is his glorious use of language.
- Too often textbooks focus on helping students navigate theme, plot and archaic vocabulary, while largely ignoring or simplifying the figurative language in the plays. While plot and theme comprise the skeleton of Shakespeare's plays, the beautiful language is the flesh.
- Why don't American's flock to see Shakespeare plays or film versions of his plays? Largely because Shakespeare's complex language is a stumbling block and traditional textbooks have not warmed American students up to it.
- NEXUS interdisciplinary Shakespeare books (covering Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Julius Caesar) fill this gap by delving deeply into the language in the Nexus books and support supplements. Explicating Shakespeare's language is one of the best brain exercises students can have.
- NEXUS uses cartoons and games to help students explicate Shakespeare's figurative language.
- In addition, Shakepeare's plays are chockful of insights into human nature; these insights are often couched in figurative language. If the figurative language is skipped or glossed over, the insights are lost. In Nexus we explore these insights and link them to real life.
WHAT'S A NEXPLICATION?
A Nexplication is a four-step explication of figurative language that links the figurative passage to real life.
- STEP 1 - Identify the figure or figures of speech in a passage.
- STEP 2 - Explain why the passage is a metaphor, simile, personification, where it uses alliteration, consonance or assonance, and/or why it's ironic.
- STEP 3 - Explicate the passage, bearing in mind that if a great writer used fifteen words to express herself or himself in compressed (figurative language), it should take twice as many words to decompress the passage into literal language.
- STEP 4 - Find a NEXUS (a connection) between the passage and real life (see Macbeth and Antigone samples by clicking large covers below).
WHY IS A CHAPTER ON CHARLIE CHAPLIN'S FILM MODERN TIMES INCLUDED IN THE GRAPES OF WRATH AND THE AMERICAN DREAM VOLUME OF NEXUS?
- Because Modern Times explores some of the themes in The Grapes of Wrath in an entertaining manner.
- Seeing and discussing the film gives students another entry point into themes in The Grapes of Wrath and reveals other sides of the Great Depression.
WHY IS MUSIC INCLUDED IN THE NEXUS BOOKS?
- Like literature and visual art, great music employs patterns (themes and variations of themes). Learning to recognize repeated patterns in complex music [Orlando di Lasso in Romeo and Juliet and the Renaissance or Jelly Roll Morton in The Harlem Renaissance volume of Nexus] trains students to look for patterns in literature (themes in plays, novels and poems), paintings, and in nature.
- Common Core standards stress the importance of pattern recognition in literature, music, and the sciences.
DO NEXUS BOOKS MEET COMMON CORE STANDARDS?
Nexus books are perfectly aligned with Common Core Standards; they motivate and teach students to meet and surpass these standards.
NEXUS BOOKS and COMMON CORE STANDARDS
- CCSS-ELA Literacy. CCRA R.1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
- CCRA R.4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
NEXUS books specialize in teaching close-reading, including making logical inferences (see chapter excerpts by clicking on the large Nexus covers below).
- CCRA R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
- CCRA R.9: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
NEXUS teaches students to recognize theme and variation patterns in music, art, literature and science, to link literature to history and art, and to interpret VISUAL LANGUAGE in WORLD-CLASS ART (visual metaphors, contrasts, thematic patterns, etc) in ways that are ANALOGOUS to literary interpretation of figurative language in poetry and prose.
In THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE volume of NEXUS students examine poetry and short stories that employ themes of “double-consciousness” (articulated by W.E.B. Du Bois in SOULS OF BLACK FOLKand quoted in the NEXUS Harlem Renaissance volume.
In The GRAPES OF WRATH & THE AMERICAN DREAM, students compare Steinbeck’s artistic response to the Great Depression to FDR’s alphabet programs, labor strikes, Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times to WPA art, and Federal Theatre Project productions.
In the Romeo & Juliet volume students compare courtly love themes in the play, with troubadour poetry and the original Arthurian romances of Chretien de Troyes discussed in the NEXUS Lion in Winter & the Middle Ages volume and in the R&J supplement MERCUTIO AND MR. MANNERS.
Students read scientific texts about period inventions and duplicate the discovery process of physicists like Galileo (in the Romeo and Juliet volume) and Archimedes (in the Antigone volume). In the former, they learn that analogy is the metaphor of science and that it was often central to the discovery process of Galileo and Leonardo da Vinci.
In NEXUS books, analogical/metaphorical thinking is reinforced in science, literature and art.