Introducing Characterization with The Hunger Games

Although I didn’t always know I wanted to become a literature teacher, I have always loved to read.  When I think about the books that drew me in as a child, I remember the characters whose lives they followed – a girl who loved animals, a family who worked together to solve mysteries, a boy who just wanted to do the right thing.  I loved the stories because I resonated with each character in some way.

And although there are many aspects of literature that can attract a reader, I think developing powerful characters is one of the most effective.  Unfortunately, many of my high school students often lack the basic skill of understanding characterization by making inferences, reading between the lines, and analyzing character development.  For this reason, I developed a series of fun lesson plans to help students understand, analyze, and synthesize their knowledge of characterization with an engaging activity!  Check out the first in this series, an introduction to characterization! Continue reading “Introducing Characterization with The Hunger Games”

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Analyzing Metaphor in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

It’s funny how teaching a piece of literature often actually changes your own perception of it!  This is definitely true for me and T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”  I first read the poem in college, and as my professor was very passionate about it, we spent what felt like a very long time analyzing it.  At the time, I was not overly impressed, but the first year I taught it in my high school American Literature class everything changed. Continue reading “Analyzing Metaphor in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock””

Analyzing the Poetry of Billy Collins

During my time in college, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a poetry reading by Billy Collins.  I was not familiar with his work prior to this event, but I was immediately drawn to his sarcastic, dry, and playful style.  Fast forward to my first year of teaching American Literature a few years later, and I was excited to discover that Billy Collins was included as a contemporary author in my textbook.  However, as I began to plan my lessons over his poetry, I stumbled across a challenge.  Because Collins has a well known disdain for over-analyzing poetry in classrooms, I wanted to find a way to help provide an authentic experience for students to enjoy and appreciate his poetry, while still providing the support they would need to understand it.  Over the past few years and with a few tweaks, I think I finally designed a lesson that accomplishes both of these goals. Continue reading “Analyzing the Poetry of Billy Collins”

World War II Speed Dating

Although I absolutely love teaching American Literature, one challenge I find is that students have heard so much about certain periods in American history, that they find those topics boring.  Unfortunately, they don’t necessarily have all of the background knowledge they need to understand the literature written at that time.  One such topic is World War II.  While many students are familiar with some specific details, I often discover that they don’t really understand how all of the different components of the war connect.  Based on a technique I had the opportunity to observe in a U.S. History class, I have developed an activity to help provide students with important background knowledge in an an informative yet engaging way! Continue reading “World War II Speed Dating”

Using PSAs to Practice Persuasion

This year in my English III classes, we focused a lot on argument and persuasion, so I quickly found myself trying to find ways for students to demonstrate mastery of writing strong position statements and using rhetorical appeals effectively without asking them to write yet another dreaded essay.  Fortunately, I came up with one idea that students really enjoyed! Continue reading “Using PSAs to Practice Persuasion”

Analyzing Rhetoric with I Love Lucy

I recently shared about how I incorporate The Dick Van Dyke Show into my lesson about Evaluating Reliability in Historical Accounts.  Today I want to share another of my favorite shows, and how I use it to introduce or review Rhetorical Appeals – I Love Lucy!

I begin the lesson by showing my class the famous Vitameatavegamin scene, where Lucy films a commercial for a health product.  Most of my students have never seen it before, so I let them know that they will be seeing a commercial, and I want them to jot down all of the ways she tries to convince her audience to buy the product (if you are using this activity to review, you can specifically ask students to identify rhetorical appeals). Continue reading “Analyzing Rhetoric with I Love Lucy”