I am student teaching this semester, and will be teaching Inherit the Wind and All Quiet on the Western Front to 9th graders. I am not familiar with either of these pieces, but am researching both. Any suggestions to help me successfully introduce these works to my students?
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For Inherit the Wind I would start by reading all of the materials here at the enotes site. There are several topics for consideration in regards to the historical time period and the critical reception of the work. I would also see if you could find some non-fiction accounts of the time from the time period. It might be interesting for students to read interviews of the key lawyers, or perhaps a judicial review of the case from that kind of perspective. I would also encourage you to view the movie -- a very good adaptation!
You might use "Dulce et Decorum est," a poem by Wilfred Owen to introduce All Quiet on the Western Front. In this poem, Owen depicts the ghastly death of a soldier breathing poisoned gas, and decries the propaganda that promoted war as something glorious. The poem, like the novel, concerns WWI, a war that Owen served in and eventually died from. It is quite powerful and serves as an appropriate introduction to Remarque's own accounts of poison gas and trench warfare, as well as the disparity between an idealized view of war and its very grim reality.
Maybe this is too simple, but the first thing I would suggest is to read both texts. They are both great books and you will enjoy them and I am sure it will really help you as you appproach teaching them.
I have a particular fondness for All Quiet on the Western Front. It is difficult to approach them historically for 9th graders as you will not find many 9th graders that know anything about WWI. You might consider approaching it from the angle that all these boys/men were classmates who went off to fight in an incredibly futile and terribly bloody war and the ideas and powerful feelings that surround those ideas.
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