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Topic: Teaching American Literature - Any Ideas/Resources to Share

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Subject: Teaching American Literature - Any Ideas/Resources to Share
Date Posted: 3/11/2011 7:16 PM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2008
Posts: 1,362
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I found out a couple of weeks ago that I'm going to be teaching an advanced Junior-Level American Literature course next year.  This will be my 5th curriculum change in 5 years!  If anyone has any resources for American Literature that they would care to share, I would be very grateful.  I am getting some things from the former teacher, but she wasn't teaching an advanced course, like I am supposed to do (I was told to teach it writing-enhanced). 

I also have to think of what novel I want to add to the curriculum.  Even though we're on a very tight budget (the only reason my curriculum is changing is because we're cutting an English position), I got permission to buy a new novel.  I have copies of Night, A Rasin in the Sun and Winesburg, Ohio.  I need teaching materials for all of these books, since I have nothing...I've never taught American Literature...only Compostition, Applied Communications, British Literature, Creative Writing and Science Fiction.  I'm thinking of Huckleberry Finn, since it isn't taught at our school, what do you think? 

Date Posted: 6/2/2011 2:35 PM ET
Member Since: 1/18/2010
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I've been teaching American Literature for 8 years. I do teach A Raisin in the Sun, but am not allowed to teach Huck Finn because of the language. The one thing that I've never been willing to part with in an American Lit class is The Great Gatsby. I don't have a lot in the way of resources because I tend to make up what I need as I go.

Date Posted: 6/3/2011 5:26 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
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Huck Finn is a hard sell in many areas now, which is a shame.  What about something a little more contemporary like Catch-22 or One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. 

Date Posted: 6/6/2011 6:11 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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or something about the Westward Expansion, such as The Way West or The Big Sky, by A.B. Guthrie, or O Pioneers by Willa Cather?

Last Edited on: 6/6/11 6:11 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/14/2011 6:32 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2011
Posts: 111
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My school uses The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible with our juniors.  When I previously worked in another district, they used these two as well as The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and The Jungle as well as several essays from early American writers.  Walden is another one typically used.

Good luck!

- Lisa K. (a fellow HS English teacher)

Date Posted: 7/12/2011 12:01 AM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2008
Posts: 1,362
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Here are the books I've chosen (most of them the school already had, we found them by cleaning out closets, I only had to order two of them): 

Night - Elie Weisel (to discuss the history of WW 2 and the Holocaust)

The Jungle - Upton Sinclair (to compare the Chicago slaughter house industry of the past to the current situation in our state with regard to large scale hog manufacturing, and to talk about the rise of mechanization in Amercia)

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury (to cover censorship, social and political issues of the past and present)

A Raisin in the Sun - Lorraine Hansberry (to cover racial issues, women's rights and the time period)

Death of a Salesman - Arthur Miller (to cover class issues and the time period)

Seabiscuit - Laura Hillenbrand (to cover the rise of the mechanical age, the Great Depression, and a history Seabiscuit)

And, if I feel like them I found class sets of

The Pilot's Wife - Anita Shreve

Bleachers - John Grisham

Date Posted: 1/13/2012 1:13 AM ET
Member Since: 1/13/2012
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**Edited by PBS**

Last Edited on: 1/13/12 1:13 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/27/2012 10:53 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
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How about No Life for a Lady? It is by Agnes Cleaveland and it is her story about growing up on a cattle ranch in New Mexico in the 1880s. A wonderful tale that shows kids how hard, but also how enjoyable, life was then. It is full of wonderful stories about her and her brother.

Date Posted: 2/24/2012 10:39 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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How's the year going Vitallia?  I like the less traditional suggestions by Thomas & Bonnie  smiley

I just finished processing Night and Cyrano for our British Lit teacher.

Date Posted: 4/2/2012 10:01 PM ET
Member Since: 2/18/2006
Posts: 1,241
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I am teaching 10th grade English and also have one class of 11th this semester. Our 10th grade does Night as well as a whole unit on the Holocaust so I would check before investing time in that one. Most 10th grade books have an excerpt which lends itself to a novel study. I am doing The Book Thief with that unit for honors but our Sr English teacher borrowed the set for her class as well because it is such a great book. My one Jr class is non-honors but we did the whole of The Crucible with much sucess, we would read (act some) an act, then watch on video for different perspectives and to pull in the media standards. They have several novels to choose from that they read on their own: Huck Finn, 1984, My Antoina, A Seperate Peace, Animal Farm, The Scarlet Letter, seems like there is another but I don't have the list in front of me. They choose one of those per 9 weeks to read and AR test on. We are currently doing the novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson in class and the students are enjoying it. It is more 'modern' American lit after weeks of Puriatns and Poe. It has lots of discussion and writing opportunities. If you want to message me your email I'd be happy to share what I've got on that one. I cobbled together the class set fairly cheaply between here and half.com and Goodwill. Goodluck. Oh' if you decide to go with Night I have study guides, quizzes and some other stuff I'd be happy to send along. If you can find the video of Oprah and Weisel when they go back to Auschwitz. I downloaded from Youtube and you could hear a pin drop in my room the days we watched that. Seeing it first hand through his eyes after reading the book really hit home with my kids.

ETA: A great companion to No Life for a Lady would be Half Brok Horses by Jeannette Wells.

Last Edited on: 4/2/12 10:08 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 4/2/2012 10:05 PM ET
Member Since: 2/18/2006
Posts: 1,241
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A history teacher uses my room during my planning and they were talking about The Jungle just the other day and kids were connecting it with this ''pink slime" everyone has been talking about in beef. Ewww.