Tag Archive for Abraham Lincoln

Non-fiction: Letters of Note for Literature & History

As overviewed yesterday, this week’s goal is to easily implement non-fiction in the classroom with resources from the website Letters of Note. One of the best things about Letters of Note is the simplicity of the website itself.  Letters are presented in their original copy as well as typed for easier reading.

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The archive on the site is also incredibly straightforward.  You can search by correspondence type, year of publication, topic categories, author and so on.  For a teacher these choices are incredibly helpful.  Say I’m teaching how satire and humor create distinctive voice.  I click the “Humorous” link under “categories” and immediately I’m taken to a series of letters that range from Mark Twain to the Simpsons.

Finding letters that supplement your preexisting units of study is so easy you might even become slightly giddy.  I know I did when I realized that Shaun Usher, the site curator, had posted a Fitzgerald letter that referred directly to The Great Gatsby

One of the most charming is Mark Twain’s letter to a burglar who broke into his home.  I’ve included some areas of focus for possible implementation.

Twain’s “To the Next Burglar

Consider using this if you’ve taught some of Twain’s shorter pieces such as “The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” or “How to Tell a Story.”  If not wait until you’ve taught them Twain’s style of humor via The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  You’ll want to have them examine the drawings as well in the letter since they add whimsy.  Pull up on your SmartBoard or have them examine on computers, tablets or SmartPhones.

Possible Areas of Focus

  1. Read and SOAPSTone the letter.
  2. Identify 3 elements of humor that Twain employs.  Discuss their impact.
  3. Examine the images Twain includes in the margins.  How does this add to the humor of the piece?
  4. Examine Twain’s sentence structure and language.  What tone does he produce as a direct result?
  5. Clearly, there is a limited chance that a burglar, any burglar would actually read this, let alone follow its “instructions.”   In that case, what is the purpose.

Below I’ve included a list of letters that would work fit perfectly into novel-to-time period studies.  While it would be quite simple to have students simply SOAPSTone these letters, you can choose to implement them as texts to respond to in student journals or as a means to understanding style.  These are of course just a few of the letters that would work in any classroom.

Federalism/Revolutionary War

Abigail Adams, “Remember the ladies

Ben Franklin, “You are now my enemy

Civil War/Slavery

Abraham Lincoln, “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong

Frederick Douglass, “I am your fellow man, but not your slave

Jourdan Anderson, “To my old master

Sullivan Ballou, “I shall always be near you

American Authors

Mark Twain to Walt Whitman, “What great births you have witnessed

Jack Kerouac to Marlon Brando, “Common on now Marlon put your dukes up

Issac Assmiov, “ A library is many things

Ernest Hemingway, “For your future information

Kurt Vonnegut, “Slaughterhouse Five

Harper Lee, “Advice from Harper Lee

British Authors

Thomas Pynchon, “In defense of Ian McEwan and Atonement

Charles Dickens, “Happy Birthday, Dickens

Poets

John Keats to Fanny Brawne, “If I cannot live with you, I will live alone

Sigfried Sasson, “Finished with war

Ralph Waldo Emerson to Walt Whitman, “ I greet you at the beginning

Presidents’ Day: Toyota’s Dancing Presidents

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The focus of this weekend’s impromptu posts is Presidents’ Day commercials highlighting the following key terms “presidents” and “dancing.”  Silly?  Yes.  Disturbing?  Most Certainly.  Opportunity to teach cultural point of view and highlight how silly we can be?   Absolutely.   Hopefully this weekend’s post can help you add social commentary, media literacy and humor to the classroom.

There is a chance, however small, that yesterday’s Value City Furniture “Dancing Presidents” commercial simply did not satisfy your need to see our founding fathers break it down.  Never fear.  Today, we’ll give you one more commercial featuring our newly minted back up dancers President Lincoln and President Washington.

Toyota Presidents’ Day 2011 Commercial –“Presidents Care”

At 30 seconds, this is a much more standard commercial.  Have student consider the patriotic elements as well as the highly choreographed presidents.  You may have students compare this “dancing presidents” commercial to the Value City Furniture commercial highlighted yesterday.  Questions for viewing, written response and discussion are below.

  1. Describe the reason that Toyota would feature “pseudo” hip hop music and dance moves in this commercial for car sales over President’s Day weekend.  What argument does this make about the audience they’re trying to reach?
  2. What patriotic elements are included in the commercial?  Explain their purpose?
  3. Again, why dancing presidents?  What difference does it make that these Presidents are choreographed and wearing tuxedos?
  4. Of the two dancing presidents commercial, Value City & Toyota, which is ultimately more effective?  Explain your reasoning.
  5. Considering that you’ve viewed two commercials that prominently feature dancing presidents, what argument could you make about society or culture?