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Thread: Help for a first-year English teacher

  1. #16
    dreamer genoveva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NewTeacher View Post
    Native American Literature:
    "The World on Turtle's Back"
    "Song of the Sky Loom"
    --Coyote stories

    Puritian Lit:
    The Crucible
    William Bradford
    Anne Bradstreet
    Jonathan Edwards

    Colonial Lit:
    Patrick Henry
    Thoma Jefferson
    Phillis Wheatly
    Ben Franklin
    Thomas Paine
    Novels: The Crucible by Arthur Miller, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Douglass, Huck Finn by Twain, and The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald

    I know I'm asking quite a lot here, but any ideas, suggestions, or advice would be much appreciated!!! Thanks!
    Interesting that Puritan lit is separated from Colonial Lit. I teach it together, and then teach a section surrounding the American Revolution. Some suggestions on this period, try introducing some "lesser known authors" like Olaudah Equiano (first African American published autobiography), Jupiter Hammon (first African American published poet), and some more women authors like Mary Rowlandson. For Native American lit, consider Sherman Alexie (who is alive!). I'm curious as to what contemporary authors you will be including.
    "I have so often dreamed of you that you become unreal." ~ Robert Desnos

  2. #17
    Registered User Cien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redzeppelin View Post
    So, really, any good book/poem/play can be made relevant - that's where your talent as teacher comes in: find the works you think the most relevant and show the kids how the work applies to their lives. Beneath the swords, armor and "old English" (ha!) lies a human experience - who said it? "Nothing human is alien to me."
    True, and a perfect explanation of making things relevant. Somebody above was saying that a teacher had told them his/her students could not relate to To Kill a Mockingbird because they lived in a racially homogenous area. This is ridiculous. Any human situation can be compared to others. In racism, I see every sort of senselessly cruel judgment -- just as a biologist can see the entire body in a single cell. I read The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman as summer reading before the ninth grade, and my English teacher kept so much to only trying to explain what the situations in the book meant that she did not pull us towards comparisons in our own lives. On my own, I became terribly interested and active in civil rights of all sorts, particularly equal rights for those of every sexual orientation. I met some of the most inspiring, beautiful people I can ever hope to know. I met some people who had been punished in the most hateful of ways in their pasts -- set up and arrested, abandoned by their families, etc etc etc. And then I reread Autobiography. Well, I gave it my utmost attention once I understood what judgment meant, what cruelty meant, what standing up for one's beliefs even when it will ruin your earthly life meant. It wasn't that I enjoyed the writing more; it was that I appreciated it in my soul. I didn't need to have experienced racism to understand a book about racism; I just needed to understand that racism is a part of a bigger problem. I see, in Autobiography, the words of Christ "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (Jesus as quoted by John 13:34-35) And I see, in the words of Christ, what happens when we don't listen: the terrible sneer Dorian Gray finds in his portrait, the first visible sign of his sin and his soul and his cruelty. In the decay of Dorian Gray's soul, I see the quiet redemption of Professor Lurie's in Disgrace. In Professor Lurie, I see the ways he differs from the man I love, who has had similar opportunities and yet made different and better decisions. I see my life. And I am only seventeen, so it's not as though age stops us from seeing these things. Everything is connected, and I know this; the standard school system, with its subjects tied neatly into hour-long sessions, does not. If you can help your students see connections -- well, that in itself is the prize. They will see.
    Last edited by Cien; 01-22-2007 at 12:20 PM.

  3. #18
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    Miller's Crucible aint a novel. Seniors? What age is that? 17-18? Well if they aren't self- motivated they should be out working. For Pete's sake if they're unreceptive to literature don't force classical stuff on them - Beowulf and Chaucer- as that'll have the effect of making them hate what they already see as dull. Go for lots of poetry. Don't analyse but a few. Same with short stories. Hook 'em with entertainment first and then the ideas. You'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Get modern novels.

  4. #19
    Cur etiam hic es? Redzeppelin's Avatar
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    I'm sorry, ennison - I can't agree. "Modern novels" came from classic works. I like my students to know where the new books came from. Granted - this is not a hard, fast, rule - but I dislike the idea that kids are incapable of dealing with older literature because it's "harder" to read. Was Shakespeare any easier for kids in the 40s to read? I doubt it. When kids read the old books, they see them everywhere around them - in culture, in TV, movies and in new books. Give them just the new books, and they've read a book, but they've been denied the rich history behind that book, the history that helped create that book because all books come from prior books.
    "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis

  5. #20
    dreamer genoveva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ennison View Post

    What age is that? 17-18?

    For Pete's sake if they're unreceptive to literature don't force classical stuff on them - Beowulf and Chaucer- as that'll have the effect of making them hate what they already see as dull.

    Hook 'em with entertainment first and then the ideas. You'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

    Get modern novels.
    Although I don't agree with everything you've said, I do agree with the above, although I would search for more digestable stuff by "classic" authors. If your students don't like to read to begin with, I do highly suggest something more contemporary. Better yet, let them pick what they want to read. The teacher can provide suggestions.
    "I have so often dreamed of you that you become unreal." ~ Robert Desnos

  6. #21
    dreamer genoveva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redzeppelin View Post
    When kids read the old books, they see them everywhere around them - in culture, in TV, movies and in new books. Give them just the new books, and they've read a book,
    I used to trash contemporary books too, but the truth is that there is a lot of good contemporary stuff that can be used in the classroom. This stuff will reflect your student's culture (more or less). I think it is important for students to have reading experiences that they can relate to first, and then branch out from there. I think you are being a little hard on "new books". Besides, reading in itself is good for students- regardless of what is being read, in my opinion. So what if they want to read Neil Gaiman rather than Shakespeare. There is always discussion to be had.
    "I have so often dreamed of you that you become unreal." ~ Robert Desnos

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    I am just getting ready to teach lit to 18 yr old students. I don't have the luxory of choosing my own texts; I have to teach from the anthology I am given. Are there any other cool suggestions for generating discussion...in general?

  8. #23
    dreamer genoveva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by euterpe View Post
    Are there any other cool suggestions for generating discussion...in general?
    My students enjoy small group discussions. I also use the Socratic method to generate discussion. I.e. ask questions.

    But, I too would like to hear what has worked well from others.
    "I have so often dreamed of you that you become unreal." ~ Robert Desnos

  9. #24
    Cur etiam hic es? Redzeppelin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genoveva View Post
    I used to trash contemporary books too, but the truth is that there is a lot of good contemporary stuff that can be used in the classroom. This stuff will reflect your student's culture (more or less). I think it is important for students to have reading experiences that they can relate to first, and then branch out from there. I think you are being a little hard on "new books". Besides, reading in itself is good for students- regardless of what is being read, in my opinion. So what if they want to read Neil Gaiman rather than Shakespeare. There is always discussion to be had.
    Fair enough. But I'm not so much "trashing" new books as desiring that they become more valuable and rich to students throught the students' knowledge of how the new book and the old book "dialogue" with each other. Toni Morrison's books gain extra meaning and richness if you've read Faulkner's novels (Faulkner being an influence on Morrison); having the background of southern literature from Faulkner enriches the issues of race, etc that Morrison broaches in her works. I think there are plenty of contemporary novels that are stunning literature - but those books came from the older books, and I like my students to approach the new books through the "lens" of the older books.
    "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis

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