Puck Origins – Pre-AP 8th grade, TEKS 1(a), 6 (b)(e)(i)
One of the most rewarding aspects of being an English teacher is presenting students with a challenging text and then offering them the scaffolding and knowledge needed to fully interact with it. In this lesson, pulling from the A+ College Ready Pre-AP curriculum big idea of “Nothing New Under the Sun,” students explore how different directors have cast and staged the character Puck in various performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They are then presented with the historical background Shakespeare himself used to create his version of the character. Throughout, students draft their own written responses to reflection questions to ensure they have understood and can synthesize the information learned.
Author’s Tone Intro – AP Lang, College Board Components 3, 8
I try to incorporate music and videos into my lessons whenever possible. Doing so not only assists in keeping students engaged, but can help to make abstract concepts easier to understand. In this lesson, students view movie trailers for the film The Shining and two versions of the song “The Sound of Silence” to explore how artistic choices can be used to determine tone, or an author’s attitude toward the subject. Students can then apply the same concept to evaluate how diction, imagery, and other literary elements can be used to determine an author’s tone when reading complex texts.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – 11th grade, TEKS 4 (e)(g)(h), 6(b)(d)
Bringing in information from other disciplines can make for a more well-rounded experience in a literature classroom. In this lesson, I pull from Psychology, using Abraham Maslow’s theory of the Hierarchy of Humans Needs to guide students in a class discussion on the Creature’s motivation in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Taking what they learn from this lesson, along with their reading of the novel, students later compose an argumentative essay explaining who they believe (based on evidence from the text) is ultimately responsible for the Creature’s acts of destruction.
To ensure students fully master the material and get as much writing practice as possible, I like to use handwritten in-class essay tests to assess student understanding at the close of units and novels. Doing so gives me a much clearer picture of student mastery than a basic multiple choice test and provides students with the added benefit of composing hand-written timed essays, something they will need to be comfortable doing on the ACT and SAT for college.
Peer editing is one of the best strategies I’ve found to help students develop their skills as writers and self-editors. On a typical peer-edit day, each student essay will be read by two other students and evaluated using a guide to ensure it is in the correct format, grammatically correct, and meets the parameters of the assignment. The peer edit exercise has a symbiotic effect on students — the writer being evaluated gets constructive feedback on how to improve his/her paper, and the more students evaluate others’ writing, the better they become at self-editing and evaluating their own work.
STUDENT WORK SAMPLES
10th Grade Honors English, The Great Gatsby essay
11th Grade English, guided close-reading on “The Hollow Men”