Sunday, September 13, 2015

Literary Criticism

Saturday, September 12
In Language, I had originally chosen to focus on ballads, drama, tragedy, famous speeches, and the short story for my 8th grader this school year.

I'm thinking of putting together a Literary Criticism block.

I remember doing this type of thing at my CTY summer camps with Johns Hopkins and that was middle school, so I was doing it at this age.

I am NOT done sorting out my thoughts for this but I have spent all evening thinking through a short list of stories and scribbling on sticky notes, and so I want to collect my thoughts here in a more formal way. That's what a blog is for, after all. I haven't done literary criticism for many years, but I have a lot of helpful notes from attending the Summer Institute with the University of Maryland's branch of the National Writing Project. There were some very interesting Teacher Inquiry Workshops. And I also want to pick pieces which are well-known -- justifiably so because of their quality of writing -- and for which I can find ideas and inspiration online.

Now, I also need to look through all my Waldorf resources because something is in the back of my mind which I read, and I think it said that you are NOT to analyze the text. So I need to 1) find that something which I read, and 2) see if I can engage my daughter with these pieces in a way that is appropriate for her developmental stage. Naturally, I could always prepare the block and then change my mind and save it for high school.

Here is my tentative list of 9 pieces to consider.

This is TENTATIVE, mind you.

  • Beowulf
    oldest living poem of English literature - 8th to 11th century
    written in Old English
    lesson plan link
  • Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
    sermon by Jonathan Edwards - 1741
    preached in Northampton MA
    lesson plan link
  • The Cask of Amontillado
    short story by Edgar Allen Poe
    first published in the November 1846 issue of Godey's Lady's Book
    lesson plan link
  • The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
    short story by Mark Twain
    published in 1865
    lesson plan link
  • The Gift of the Magi
    short story by O. Henry
    published in 1905
    lesson plan link - $2.50
  • The Lottery
    short story by Shirley Jackson
    written in June 1948 and first published in the June 26, 1948 issue of The New Yorker
    lesson plan
    Socratic Seminar rubric
  • Lamb to the Slaughter
    short story by Roald Dahl
    initially rejected, along with four other stories, by The New Yorker, but was ultimately published in Harper's Magazine in September 1953
    lesson plan link - $2.50
  • Thank You, Ma'am
    short story by Langston Hughes
    published in 1958
    lesson plan link - $2.25
  • Inaugural Poem
    by Maya Angelou
    read at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton on January 20, 1993
    Angelou's audio recording of the poem won the 1994 Grammy Award in the "Best Spoken Word" category
    text of poem
    lesson plan link

Sunday, September 13
I've been thinking this through some more and I'm deciding to do a two week MLB on Beowulfas its own piece.

I was originally going to have Natalie's current Geometry review be two weeks, and then a three week Language MLB, but she's taking more time to go through String, Straight-Edge, and Shadow: The Story of Geometrythan I expected and I'm happy to go slower. I would much rather have her actually understand Geometry at the end, than have me be "on schedule." I erased two weeks out of my plan book and tomorrow morning, for the first time, I will be looking at a blank page and just write in how far we got and what we did.

So, now Mathematics is 3 weeks and our next Language block will be the 2 weeks. (Yes, I tell people to block out a month, and I'll definitely do that next year, but right now I'm trying to give an 8th grader a full Waldorf experience when she's never done Waldorf before. If we decide to keep her home for 9th grade I will definitely relax and feel less pressure!!!) Beowulf is perfect. We can go through the text nice and slowly.

Back to the Lit Crit unit idea. I can do this in High School or not at all. No big deal. But looking through materials got me interested in some other short stories, so I'm going to list them here just as a reminder. These are stories I've not yet read:

I just discovered Teachers Pay Teachers and am enjoying Laura Randazzo, who seems to have excellent taste. I can see that she's written lesson plans for classic short stories, which is what I was looking for, but is also leaning towards engaging students in science fiction. That feels very high school to me... more "Head" than "Heart." It's all a question in Waldorf of WHEN.

Anyway, perhaps someone out there has experience with any of these stories, or with how far to push an 8th grader, and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, September 13
Isn't it funny how sometimes things consume your mind? I can't stop thinking about this topic. But it is nice, I have to admit, to read something besides a parenting book. What a luxury!!! I'm enjoying working my way through some of these short stories, listening to the crickets, watching my girls knit, and knowing the baby is peacefully sleeping upstairs. How nice to ignore the dishes for a bit and READ.

    "Robot Dreams" is a yes.
    "The Scarlet Ibis" is a yes.
    "The Rules of the Game" is a no.
    "The Interlopers" is a maybe. storyboarding lesson plan
    "The Necklace" is a yes.
    "The Veldt" is a maybe. Holy Cow. These stories are bleak. This is a high school topic for sure.

I don't think I can read anymore. I found this type of grimness fascinating as an adolescent but it's rubbing me the wrong way as an adult. Too intense. Maybe I'm more sheltered than I think. Or maybe everyone gets chills at stories where kids kill their parents.

This level of intensity has to happen at some point in order for her to be able to grapple with college texts.


And HOW?

And is my job to grapple alongside her or to lead her? On the one hand, I have to model interacting with the text. On the other hand, I am the guide through tricky material and boundary-pushing and challenging concepts.

1 comment:

Sasha Sandenskog said...

Hi! I recently discovered your blog and I'm so happy! Firstly I see that 'waldorf curriculum' is your website, and I really want to thank you for all the work you put in to it - and for the fact that it is free!!!! I live in Sweden, with my four children (14, 11, 7 and 4), and it is my dream and belief that home education is the way to go - and I'm living the waldorf education - but sadly in Sweden home education os illegal. 😕 So I do my best and have 'after school and weekend home education' and it works 'fairly' well... But living in Sweden means being a long way from english written book shops, and paying for a whole waldorf curriculum seems crazy when my kids have to go to school (and just the postage is a fortune!). So I just want to say a big thank you to you for sharing and for giving, to those people, like myself, who don't have a) the oppotunity to homeschool full time, and b) the money to spend on whole curriculums. Just your ideas and reccomendations are wonderful! Thank you!
I was also intrigued to see that you were doing different grade blocks with your childrendespite them being older, and this was a relief for me to see - having had to accept public schooling, my kids havn't either done the 'correct' grade blocks. :)