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Mr. Blythe was concerned that his 9th Grade class of IEP* learners were having a hard time engaging with online learning (really who wasn't?!).  Rockstar Librarian Marcia Melkonian and The Friends of the Canoga Park Library reached out to Connectopod because engagement is our game! Mr. Blythe shared his curriculum and together we came up with the idea to have them narrate Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart."  The crazed narrator provided the perfect vehicle for the class to become an ensemble of different personalities in his murderous head. Betsy Foldes Meiman directed the piece as if it were a take on Batman's Joker or popular video game homicidal maniacs, some of which she has voiced. The class took up the challenge and dug deep into the text, ingesting and performing Poe's words with deep understanding. Language and literacy barriers were smashed. The shy became killers, and of course Mr. Blythe himself, the poor victim. Recorded remotely by Betsy over zoom over a week's time, the edited files were given to professional sound designer Eric Willhelm who then created an eerie and ever more stressful atmosphere driving the story to its explosive conclusion. 

We had so much fun with this class and are grateful for their hard work and the joyful spirit with which they took to learning through art. We think they will never forget The Tell-Tale Heart!                                                                                *Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is a plan or program developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives specialized instruction and related services.

Listen to the Full Narration if you dare!

TTH full narrationMr. Blythe's 9th Grade Class
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The Letters

Mr. Blythe had his student write letters from 'Dr. Poe' to the insane asylum about his 'patients' (his characters!). They are as creepy as Mr. Poe's characters themselves! We thought it would be fun to have them read by professional artists.

Letter 1 from "Dr. Poe". 
Narrated by Playwright and film commentator Richard Harland Smith

Letter 2 from "Dr. Poe".
Narrated by Voice over artist and therapist    Steve Morris

Letter 3 from "Dr. Poe".
Narrated by Voice over artist  
Betsy Foldes Meiman

Letter 4 from "Dr. Poe".
Narrated by Voice over artist 
Laz Meiman (of Nickelodeon's Harvey Beaks) 

This was ninth-grader T's first brush with      Edgar Allan Poe.  She had a definite opinion! 

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What's Cookin' at Canoga Park?

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Summer programming at your local library can mean lots different things to lots of different people. This past summer at the Canoga Park Branch Library, the teens not only served lunch to community youth (as part of the Summer Lunch program), but really thought about what’s involved when preparing food. The branch received a $2,000 California Library Association grant in conjunction with the Summer Lunch program. The teens had lots of ideas about how to use the grant. They wanted to focus on nutrition, connect it to cultures, and give the community information they could use for self-improvement. The teens decided to put their STEAM skills to use, and with the grant money, create a series of podcasts about nutrition. 

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Librarian Emily Meehan is calling all teens this summer for Los Angeles Public Library's initiative "Teens Leading Change." Palms Rancho Park is teaming up with the Mar Vista and Robertson branches to to create their program "Support and Advocate for Youth in Need." Emily asks "What does homelessnes look like?" Did you think of families and fellow students? After a short interview workshop, first time reporters Rana Almahdi, Rasha Almahdi, and Ben Santos, interviewed Emily to find out what the project entails, its goals, and how to get involved. Great job team!

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