When I get the reading list for my school year (in whatever grade or college level I am teaching), my FAVORITE thing to do is to ask my students to fill a word-association inventory (pre and post reading) in which they will write a word, or phrase, that comes to their minds when they hear the title of the stories, or novels, that they have to read.
I do this so that they can compare and contrast their feelings before and after reading the stories, or novels.
I have had the funniest answers. It is enriching to contrast their before and after thoughts. You can tell that their lives are always somewhat touched by the selections.
I played the game with them this past year and shared with them what some of my own final thoughts were on the selections that they have to read, since I had already read them. They could not believe that I was honest about it. They also seemed to appreciate that I was not trying to sell them a story, but that I was more than willing to share my true feelings about what I read.
My answers: (I put them on the smart board using the cover clip art of the selection, an "equal" sign, and then my opinion):
Romeo and Juliet- Cheesy (my students argued with me on this one and we spent 20 minutes of beautiful academic conversation defending or arguing my point).
To Kill a Mockingbird- Those Ewells are TROLLS!
A Rose for Emily- Ewww!
The Great Gatsby- Fancy flappers, big cars, custom jewerly...I think.
Hamlet- Danish...with coffee.
One Hundred Years of Solitude- Macondo? How about Macweirdo?!
Your turn: WHAT TITLES WOULD YOU ASSOCIATE, AS A TEACHER, TO SHARE WITH YOUR STUDENTS?
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What a fun activity! I have never even thought of trying this with my students! Let me share a few ideas of my own:
The Canterbury Tales: New Perspectives on Bards and BEARDS.
Hamlet: Handsome and Incestuous!
The Scarlet Letter: Come to America! Free yourself from opression! ... Oh, and become a religiously oppressive people while you're at it.
Macbeth: Daggers, daggers, & more daggers.
The Iliad: Gods & Gals
I'll give it a shot--although I'm probably one of your less apt students!
Pride and Prejudice: A slight and a second sight.
Sense and Sensibility: Melodrama ... melodrama ... melodrama.
Jonson's The Alchemist: Shenanigans and consternation.
Goethe's Faust Part I: Conquering knowledge conquered by passion.
Goethe's Faust Part II: Hey! Where'd Faust go!?!
A Raisin in the Sun - explosion imminent
The Grapes of Wrath - picking fruit makes people angry
Antigone - Creon is not the boss of her
A Tale of Two Cities - ummm...I choose London
Beowulf - arm-wrestling, anyone?
I like to reflect on a text and perhaps do this activity the other way around,once a text has been read. My current senior class felt that 'Iago's Triumph' was a better title for 'Othello', and 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' became 'To hell with the Handkerchief'. Perhaps 'Othello' should have been that, too!
I love the whole idea - and the responses given above! A few more ideas:
The Gift of the Magi - good things come in small boxes
The Road Less Traveled (a poem, not a novel, I know) - where do I go from here?
The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland - LSD, anyone?
In a similar vein, when I did a similar activity brainstorming the title of Much Ado About Nothing, one of my more humorous students was heard to loudly whisper, "If it's actually about nothing, this is going to be a pretty boring play!" This was great, as it gave us the chance to discuss the role of rumour, deception and gossip and how often a big thing could be made of something that was very small. I might try this activity as well. I am going to be starting off with Pride and Prejudice with my Seniors. Wonder what they will come up with!
What a great, creative way to get students to interact about books that they usually give me blank stares about at the beginning of the year. Mind if I borrow this activity?
Ok...so let me try with the classics I teach.
Animal Farm...Gettin piggy with it.
Lord of the Flies...Pig on a stick
Brave New World...Gettin som(a)
Midsummer Night's Dream...Magic, love, and egos
The Odyssey...Around the world and back again.
Could be lots of fun!
One of my students wrote of Lord of the Flies: "No Lord, no flies...what's the deal?" in "Seinfeld"mode. It nearly killed me. I laughed so hard when he read it aloud like Jerry Seinfeld, especially because this is a youngster that was a kid during the Seinfeld years. Could his parents have helped him? If so, wouldn't that be GREAT?!
It is a very rewarding experience because the students know that they will be graded based on their creative criticism rather than just making smart comments. PLUS- They will find themselves more motivated to read the novels or stories in order to out-do their peers when it is time to share their comments.
In all, it has been a fun learning experience for all of us. I hope it can work for you as well!
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