Supplements for a high school English class
Random collection of things I incorporate into class that are fun and/or interesting for students who *think* they hate English
- •"The Lizzy Bennet Diaries"This is a 100-episode YouTube series updating "Pride & Prejudice." I show six or seven key episodes (they're like 5 minutes long) that help make the relationships and situations make more sense to the students. I had one boy who complained about the book when we started out end up watching all 100 episodes and buying a fan shirt online.
- •The Monty Python "witch" sketch (from & The Holy Grail)Perfect parallel to how ridiculous the Salem Witch Trials were in The Crucible.
- •"Texts From Jane Eyre"Mallory Ortberg from The Toast (which, travesty of travesties, is now a retired website (and no I'm totally not bitter that we went to college together and were Facebook friends yet she promptly deleted me after graduation (hint I'm so bitter, wtf))) wrote a series of text messages between literary characters. I LOVE them. Works especially well with Emily Dickinson and Wuthering Heights. I have students create their own, too, and they rock it, showing understanding of characters and voice.
- •Political speechesWe look at a few historical ones but then they can pick their own modern ones to read afterward (some go with politicians they like, to defend and get to know them better, but most go for politicians they can't stand, because finding flaws in their arguments is fun). And then annotate for logical fallacies, logos vs ethos vs pathos, persuasive devices, etc.
- •Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsUnderstanding character motivations and conflicts helps when we can tie in psychology resources. This one seems to be the most useful in my class.
- •Psychology diagnosesKind of related to the above... for example, we try to figure out what's up in Holden Caulfield's head...
- •The creepy news stories of when people keep dead loved ones aroundThere are waaaaay too many stories like this. Fits right in with Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily." Sadly a lot of them are from the South like Emily, too...
- •SNL skits, mostly commercial parodiesGreat for teaching parody, irony, hyperbole, and more... and now that I'm thinking about it, we never do enough with parody. It's such an awesome skill. Maybe I should make them create their own parody commercials this year.
- •The SimpsonsAlso great for parody. They have a whole scene for The Raven, and Hamlet, and Lord of the Flies, and a few authors have had cameos, etc.
- •Hark! A Vagrant comicsAll of The Great Gatsby ones are spot-on but require a lot of editing for language, haha
- •Snoopy/Peanuts comic stripsDid you know Snoopy was partially inspired by "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"? Some of the strips work for teaching understatement, too.
- •And more as I find themThere's so much room in English to fit stuff in—and so much of pop culture relates back to literary classics or English skills. That's why it kills me when students approach the course with bad attitudes, expecting to hate English. Give it a chance! Don't be a turd! You'll use this stuff all throughout your lives. Rawr
- •**edited for a special message**I had a bad day yesterday—one of those days that makes me question what I've done with my life and whether or not I belong in the classroom. So I wrote this list to remember some things I love about my career, and then you all showed so much love and made it trend!!! (Confetti!!!) AND THEN at the staff meeting at work today, I found out I was nominated Staff of the Month by some co-workers (so I won free lunch out of it!)! Best random Tuesday ever. Thank you, li.sters ❤️👍🏻🌻📖😍