The students are finishing Fences tonight.
I've never started the year with it before, and think it's working out great. It's a high-interest text, probably the most high-interest one they'll ever read in high school. There are some clear symbols and metaphors that students can analyze. I'm using it to teach some writing skills that I'm not sure any other text would have provided better opportunities for.
That being said, I'm having to hold myself back from letting them act it out too much in class. We did Act I.1 in class, but otherwise it's been all at-home reading. This is different than previous years, often when we did not have the texts, when we read it all in class.
Much of this is from the Folger Shakespeare Teaching Institute from the summer. One of the early examples of bad teaching was doing the whole 'read-it-in-class' thing.
Next week will be the first real test of some of the ideas I garnered from the institute: I'm going to try to use performance in different ways than I ever have in the classroom. This is the light at the end of the tunnel I've been offering to students as they beg and beg me to let them act it out in class - we will, I say, but, for now, you need to read and understand the plot at home while we analyze and write about it in class. So far, it's working. They finish it off tonight.
By a show of hands, most of the kids have already finished it on their own. I don't blame them. I wouldn't have been able to put it down, either.
2 years ago