Tag Archive for The Grapes of Wrath

Tiny Texts: Overview

Books Don’t Take You Anywhere” is one my favorite articles from The Onion for classroom use.  Under 400 words, it is tiny in comparison to the heft of All

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the King’s Men or The Grapes of Wrath.  It can be used to teach satire, SOAPSTone, and argument.  I also use it as a warm-up before using the AP Language and Composition’s 2005 rhetorical analysis taken from The Onion and have students use it to construct AP argument and rhetorical analysis prompts.

What isn’t there to love about a text that argues our reading never physically transports us to “evil witches, messianic lions or closet portals to other universes”?  Hah.  Even fifteen years later it holds up.  This is not the moment where I make the argument that this is a more important text or where I suggest that students will actually laugh out loud while reading it.  But it is where I argue that small texts are important classroom supplements.

As we enter mid January 2012, it seems appropriate that we deal with a series of small and unusual “texts” that make arguments about… well, texts.  Why?  Text, in all of its various forms, drives us to teach.  Sometimes, too, it’s nice to be reminded in the “bleak mid-winter” that small texts can be just as powerful and meaningful.  This week we will help remind you of just that with lessons highlighting Tiny Stories, book artists and phantoms, and Google Doodles.  Our hope is that somewhere during these “darker” days you finding something meaningful in something small.

Novel & Unit Projects: Day Three

I have this tendency to want something incredibly creative from students as we end the study of a unit.  I want something bright, colorful, thoughtful, artistic.  I want to be blown away.  I forget the following: I’m no artist and most of them aren’t either.  Drawing always ends badly in my class.  Even though we long for something “creative” that spans multiple disciplines we still have a responsibility to have students consider motivation and purpose.

The New York Times ran an article about a high school student who curated a city-wide art show for teens.  The story was remarkable. It reminded me that often we do our students a disservice when we don’t make them reach.  They are capable.  This article reminded me of a synthesis question the AP Language and Composition exam used in 2007.  The premise of the prompt was that every single exhibition depends upon a series of “decisions” made by a curator. It is in this that we have the basis of an alternative project.  This project itself asks that students identify themes.  It’s particularly good for weightier works like The Grapes of Wrath, The Odyssey, All the King’s Men, MacBeth, The Poisonwood Bible, etc. The basic premise is that you want the novel or the characters or the unit to serve as the exhibition itself.  You will have students become “curators” for their own exhibition using the microblogging platform Tumblr.

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