At the end of our reading of All Quiet on the Western Front, I ask my 8th graders to produce a creative response to the book. This can take any form: a play, a poem, an image, a piece of music.
Today SD presented a painting of a soldier with mechanical parts like the automatons, Remarque describes, soldiers must become in order to survive in war (see above). IL made an image of a soldier beneath bleeding patriotic colors which she created melting red, white, and blue crayons with a hair dryer (see the end of this post). EV recreated what she imagined the play that Paul, the main character of the book, had in his top drawer. She Google-translated it into German, antiqued the paper with brown watercolor, then created bullet holes with blood on its pages for each of Paul’s friends who were killed. WN created Detering’s diary, ending with his execution, as he went AWOL after seeing the cherry blossoms which reminded him of his home. On their flutes AS and MJ played a piece of music they wrote based on national anthems of the countries involved in the First World War with battle and discordant sounds interwoven throughout. AT wrote a meta piece (below) about trying to figure out what to do for this creative project which ended with a reworking of the epigram of the book. Original epigram by Erich Maria Remarque:
This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war.
HD made a WWI board game in which no one wins and lots of men are lost. There were a variety of musical compositions using different computer apps. There were posters, letters, stories, and poems the students created. Today’s presentations were inspiring, serious, and meaningful—reflective of a book with which my students were totally engaged.