Tag Archive for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Ad Analysis: Contemporary Ads Paired With Novels

I think all teachers cringe when they hear “when I am ever going to use this again.”  I like to believe the dumbfounded look combined with annoyance is part of a teacher’s DNA.  I can’t help it.  It is unnatural for me to respond any other way.  Even though I think yesterday’s discussion of using primary source advertisements in the classroom is valid and important, I think a lot of students feel so detached from them because of their publication.  But that doesn’t mean the skills are lost.  It just means that, as teachers, we need to find current advertisements that connect thematically to the literature.  Today we are celebrating Digital Literacy Day and suggesting online print ads that are much more striking and Read more

Tiny Texts: Google Doodles

It’s usually the worst when they’re sitting in the front row.  It’s flagrant, disrespectful, and as I was digging through some of my notebooks from high school I noticed the sheer number of times I had doodled in the margins of my notes, my AP literature notes.

As much as I hate to say this, doodling has and always will exist in the classroom.  Much as Vi Hart wants to turn doodling into the Fibonacci number and math equations, I’d like to do the same for English.  Except this time I’d like Google to do the doodling.

Google Doodles are tiny little texts that we often forget about on our “way” to somewhere else.  In actuality, they are perfect for teaching students about point of view, audience and argument.  Have students start with the “About” page for Google Doodles.

After they read, consider having them use the questions below for written response or class discussion.

  • What is the significance of calling them “doodles” and not sketches?
  • Why would people be interested in such a tiny text?  What is the impact?
  • What “aesthetics” are important to create a good doodle?
  • What argument does Google make by turning someone or something into a doodle?

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Then have students search the Google Doodle archives or choose from the doodles below.  They can search by year and country.  You may want to direct them to only write on doodles that have accompanying text that describes the creation process.  It helps to give background/perspective that will help them look for greater importance as they write.

As they explore give them a number of doodles to write over.  Consider using the questions below as a starting point.  I’ve also included some of my favorite doodles overall and for the English classroom.  All of these Doodles include an overview on the process, storyboarding and sometimes even video.  Enjoy!

Possible Questions for Doodle Exploration

  • What do the drafts of the doodle explain about the specific “process” of this doodle?  Be specific.
  • What argument does the creator make about their work?
  • Which elements of the doodle are the most striking?  Explain.
  • What impact does this doodle have on the event or person?   Be specific.
  • What is most striking about the doodle?

 

Doodles for the English classroom

Favorite Doodles Overall

Extension: Consider having students create their own doodle for a unit of study or an author’s birthday.  My suggestion?  Edgar Allan Poe or Ernest Hemingway, of course.

Non-Fiction to Pair with Coming of Age: Conflict

Ugh…junior high.  Even though I interviewed for a high school position, the first job offer I received was for 6th grade.  It was also the first job I rejected.  People told me I was a dumb naïve 22-year-old (which I very well might have been), but I remembered too vividly how horrible junior high and the early years of high school were.  We were all on a quest to understand ourselves and in the process created insecurities and anxieties, all of which came about because of envy.  While I’ve worked through (most of) my deep-seeded insecurities, I’m still surrounded by them through my students.  There is something about adolescence that perpetuates this sense of envy and usually serves as the largest source of conflict in high school.  Even though the students might not realize it, so many of their disputes and problems come from a type of envy they feel toward another.  The same is true of the literature that reflects this growth and initiation into adulthood.  When studying the conflict that arises in coming-of-age novels, students need to consider the root of it:  envy.  The below examples of non-fiction pair nicely with fiction because they pose questions about the nature and effects of envy and fighting. 

Excerpt from The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer, Arthur Schopenhauer.  A more challenging piece of non-fiction, Schopenhauer delineates the different types of envy and the cause of them.  Have students identify the various types of envy described by Schopenhauer and argue which type best correlates with characters from the fiction they are reading.  Natural connections with fiction can be found with Lord of the Flies, Hamlet, House on Mango Street, the Harry Potter series, and Atonement.

Excerpt from On Duties, Cicero.  Another challenging essay, Cicero evaluates the nature of fighting as it is born out of envy.  He ascertains that the way in which we treat others during battle reveals a lot about the character of the individual.  Even though this text deals primarily with war, this could be explored in a more figurative sense with the conflict between two characters.  Again, provide the essay and have students determine how Cicero would describe the moral fiber of the characters based on their knowledge of both the non-fiction and fiction pieces.  Consider pairing this with The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, Hamlet, and Lord of the Flies.

Coming of Age Non-Fiction Pairings: Overview

 

     Like most 18-year-olds, I entered college having no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I had narrowed down the search and decided to take a class in each of the majors hoping it would produce an existential moment of clarity: I was destined to be a ________. As a result, I took an English class on Shakespeare. The course description said we would read and study a variety of Shakespearean plays and I knew from my in-depth study of Shakespeare in high school (which is code for Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet) that I love, love, loved Shakespeare. Then I got the syllabus and saw we were reading 14 plays in 16 weeks. I suddenly became terrified. To me, this was like running a marathon. Intense, vigorous, and entirely unnecessary. Yet, I committed to the cause. By the end of the semester, my puerile ponderings were correct: I was in love with Shakespeare except now I could justify my infatuation with a variety of histories, tragedies, and comedies. During that semester I realized that I would never be a writer. However, I knew I wanted reading to be a prevalent part of my career: hence the decision to pursue English education.

     With the implementation of the Common Core standards, many teachers, myself included, are nervous about what will happen to our beloved literature, the pieces that we connected with so deeply that we were willing to enter into a professional marriage just to be able to read the same play every year and have a fresh experience through our students’ first reading. With the emphasis on non-fiction in the Common Core (because on-the-job reading rarely requires reciting Tennyson) is it possible to still teach the canon?

     The answer is a resounding yes. However, the way in which we teach the classics will (and should) change. The key is to use solid non-fiction to supplement the core pieces of fiction found in the book rooms of most high schools. In the coming weeks we are going to provide suggestions of companion texts to major types/themes of fiction. This week we will be exploring non-fiction pieces to supplement a variety of coming-of-age novels, with titles ranging from The House on Mango Street to Hamlet

 

 

Photo from marie-II