Poems are such a great resource to incorporate into the English classroom because, since they are usually fairly short, they pack a wallop of literary and poetic devices. One such device that many teachers capitalize on is imagery. Read more
Tag Archive for Edgar Allan Poe
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.
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
- Read and SOAPSTone the letter.
- Identify 3 elements of humor that Twain employs. Discuss their impact.
- Examine the images Twain includes in the margins. How does this add to the humor of the piece?
- Examine Twain’s sentence structure and language. What tone does he produce as a direct result?
- 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.
Abigail Adams, “Remember the ladies”
Ben Franklin, “You are now my enemy”
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”
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”
Thomas Pynchon, “In defense of Ian McEwan and Atonement”
Charles Dickens, “Happy Birthday, Dickens”
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”
Ah, the dreaded end of the novel or unit conundrum. It’s as if I believe F. Scott Fitzgerald himself is watching me to determine if I do justice to the end of The Great Gatsby or if I cop out and just quickly talk about the importance of being “ceaselessly born back into the past” while mouths yawn and eyes roll. Should I give them a full-length multiple-choice test? A culminating project? Oral presentation? Chances are that by the time anyone gets to the end of a novel, they’ve tired (at least a bit) of teaching the text. Does that mean quickly tie up loose ends and move on?
Most of us feel compelled to come up with some type of “fitting” conclusion when we finish teaching a book. It seems appropriate, as if we do a disservice to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chinua Achebe or Ian McEwan if we bow out with a brief in-class discussion. I often feel as though I owe it to that all knowing THEM. But do I? Or is it all in my head? Then there’s always the trouble with how “big” the project shoul be? How much class time should it usurp? Should it be creative or rigorous? Or both?
It should be clear, simply by the awful rhetorical questions, how plagued I feel by this issue. And guilty. I cop out, too.
Prep work for end of novel projects begins well before you even start passing out the books. That means that even if I plan on teaching All the King’s Men two months from now, it would be helpful to figure out my “angle” now. The first thing to do is considering making a list of all the books or “units” you plan on covering for the year. Decide which ones need a culminating activity. My argument this week is not to suggest that all novels must end with a bang. Even great final projects can be wearying to students and educators if overdone.
And it’s not Fitzgerald’s disapproval that should worry me. I mean come on. If anything I should probably be more concerned about Edgar Allan Poe’s power from behind the grave. Or maybe not.