Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Literary Analysis and my love of the internet

I'm in the process of lesson planning for next year; I've offered and it's been accepted for me to teach a high school class on literary analysis at our homeschool learning center. I have always loved to read, and English was always my favorite subject in school. Although I ended up majoring in human services and minoring in classes in the fine arts (I worked most of my life as a recreation/music therapist), I still loved English. I married a fellow bookworm, and have two girls who are both avid readers and excellent writers. Consequently, I went to them to help come up with a reading list for next year that doesn't follow the "norm"....

You see, I never really liked reading Hemingway, and Faulkner I liked even less. An awful lot of American authors just don't do alot for me. I like most of the British authors, but didn't want to teach a class on just British Literature. My family and I brainstormed one night to come up with a reading list for this class -- comprised of OUR family favorites that we feel also have merit out there in the world.

To start with, I chose FARENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury. I have always loved this book, and feel it's a great one to start the year with. We will then also include Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, Baroness Orczy's THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL (one of my all time favorites!), Shakespeare's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, and Tolkein's THE HOBBIT. Major excerpts will be read from Thoreau's WALDEN and Ben Franklin's AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BEN FRANKLIN.
Add to that numerous short stories, poems, other excerpts, and one or two books chosen by the student. Because we meet once weekly, I will use the classroom to illustrate the elements of the readings, and have them orally discuss and analyze in groups. Homework will include reading, comprehension questions, and various assignments and essays on different aspects of the work. They will also have one or two oral presentations to the class during the year. The class will earn them a full English credit, and satisfy both reading and writing requirements for our PA homeschool diploma programs.

This is my first CORE class I'm teaching. I've been the "fine arts" lady for several years, and this year offered a high school world geography class using broadway musicals as a starting point. I'm EXCITED about finally teaching one of the "nuts & bolts" classes! This is where my love of the internet comes in. The internet and the search engines are a dream for teachers looking for lesson plans. I have a stack of lesson plans, study guides, and worksheets about three inches high at this point -- and that's just the stuff I LIKED!! I've waded through hundreds of high school literature websites, as well as countless others from textbook publishers and homeschool sites. Granted, some of what I found was just short of appalling, and a huge amount was lackluster at best, but there were some "jewels" out there that I have found, as well as some ideas of my own. I still have a few more cracks to fill in, but my basic structure for the next year is really taking shape. My daughter is already excited about the class, as well as several others in the homeschool community that we know.

Now if we could just figure out how to spread that enthusiasm to math & science....


Angela said...

And I am so thrilled that you will be teaching this class, so that my children can learn from someone with so much enthusiasm and talent!
I'm starting to collect the books we don't have!

I have been equally busy prepping for my middle school class.... I can hardly wait!

Kyle Mahaney said...

Fahrenheit 451... such a good book.