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”

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”

Evaluating Reliability in Historical Accounts

One of the challenges in teaching American Literature is creating relevance when studying very old texts with antiquated language.  A strategy I have found to be useful is creating connections to more contemporary texts and videos, particularly in my Warm Ups.  While there is definitely value in using pop culture references to engage students, I sometimes like to use videos from before their time.  This way, it modernizes the topic but is still new and maybe outside of their comfort zone.  One of my favorite types of resources to pull from are fifties sitcoms!  In this lesson, I use The Dick Van Dyke Show to help students recognize bias and evaluate reliability in historical accounts. Continue reading “Evaluating Reliability in Historical Accounts”