Slaying the Jabberwocky of Textual Difficulty I Wish I’d Ended with More Razzmatazz

Reflection on Teaching Presentation

April 30th, 2008 JJ

Well, I have to start off by saying that I wish I hadn’t been so careless with my time. I knew that I was going to be pushing my luck with only a 20 minute presentation to explain how I would teach what has turned into about a 2 1/2 hour lesson. However, I didn’t want to just stand up at the front of the room and lecture to everyone about what I would do I wanted to get people involved a little bit, but in doing so I didn’t really get the opportunity to really get into the meat and potatoes of the lesson and the assessment components. Basically, I chose this story for this final project because I felt like we had already covered the more interesting stories in our class readings, but also because I truly enjoy Alexie’s work and I wanted to explore the possiblility of teaching some of his short stories. Because of the timing with this project and finishing up the teaching of Ceremony I received a lot of good feedback about what my students wanted in the way of background information, and the parallels between “Indian Education” and those elements the students indicated. Additionally, “Indian Education” is great for studing inferences because with each reading you find yourself asking ‘why?’, then you read and come up with an answer, but you also find another question. Which leads to another aspect of the story, it truly encourages re-reading and demonstrates the benefits of employing this strategy.
In addition to running short on time, I was kind of surprised that the encounter story did not generate more discussion, but I guess that’s what happens when you put a bunch of English majors in the same room. Really, this does work with high school students and I’ve seen it work well with Education majors…you know the culturally insensitive ones.
I enjoyed the opportunity of preparing this lesson and found it to be very valuable because I see myself employing it next year as an introduction to Ceremony. It has been great seeing how everyone would use the strategies that we learned in class, and I have enjoyed all of your insights and comments as we have worked through the course work. Best of luck to each of you.

Entry Filed under: Teaching Presentations

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. tlarson  |  May 1st, 2008 at 10:07 am

    When you shared the point of the lesson, my first thought was that it was ironic that in our group discussion, the first thing out of my mouth was "It’s tragic from both perspectives." In reading our version, I was specifically thinking about criticism I had to read in undergrad about The Heart of Darkness and that lesson on perspective. I’m sure we’ve all had such lessons that set the stage for our empathy with the other side. So I think you are right, our expertise worked against you in this case. I did, however, come away from your presentation thinking this would be a fantastic lesson on perspective for a younger (or less sensitive) class.

  • 2. FrancoisGuidry  |  May 1st, 2008 at 11:06 am

    I thought the idea of splitting the groups in half to handle two different tones/points of view was clever.  That’s precisely the kind of activity that provides students with a clear understanding of seemingly abstract literary terms, like tone or style.

  • 3. laurelchinn  |  May 1st, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    JJ- I liked your lesson and as will all of the others, plan to steal it.   I like the tie in with the articles that pertain to each segment of the story.  Just like what I found with McKay, I think that the Reservation lit. is so insightful, a little more gritty and real.  I liked your presentation.  lc

  • 4. Edith  |  May 3rd, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    JJ   One of the most interesting and revealing aspects of your lesson was the request from students for more informaotion. I think as teachers we sometimes forget our own expertise. We have not only more "literary" skills but also more life skills than most of the students we teach. This was a good reminder that we need to remember that.


  • 5. naomip  |  May 6th, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Your introductory activity was a good one, even though it didn’t exactly "work" in our class.  When you explained the kind of response you expected to get from the class, I felt really bad for you that we had let you down.  If I had been in your shoes, I would have gone through a hole in the floor.  You handled the disappointing results beautifully, and I believed you when you explained what normally happens in a classroom.  Part of my personal problem was the shortage of time.  I am a slow reader, and I felt pressured to finish quickly, and therefore, I was not able to absorb what I was reading.  I wonder how many others skimmed it so quickly they missed the details they needed to give an authentic reaction to your question.  Naomi

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ENGL 610:002 // Spring 2008

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