• “Translation for Mamá” by Richard Blanco

    Created August 8, 2016
    Richard Blanco

    This lesson plan is the eighth in the “Incredible Bridges: Poets Creating Community” series. It provides a video recording of the poet, Richard Blanco, reading the poem “Translation for Mamá.” The companion lesson contains a sequence of activities for use with secondary students before, during, and after reading to help them enter and experience the poem.

  • “Every Day We Get More Illegal” by Juan Felipe Herrera. Video

    Created April 8, 2016
  • “Gate A-4” by Naomi Shihab Nye

    Created February 2, 2016
    Naomi Shihab Nye

    This lesson plan provides a sequence of activities that you can use with your students before, during, and after reading Gate A-4. Use the whole sequence, or any of the activities, to help your diverse students enter and experience the poem.

  • Lesson 3. A Gallery of Grotesque Characters

    Created November 5, 2015
    Portrait of Sherwood Anderson

    This lesson undertakes an analysis of the story, "Adventure,” which depicts the character Alice Hindman, and her progress (or regression) from “normal” to grotesque. Students then work independently through other stories in the cycle to analyze examples of the grotesque among Anderson’s more minor characters.

  • Lesson 2. George Willard’s Development

    Created November 5, 2015
    Portrait of Sherwood Anderson

    This lesson focuses entirely on the central character of George Willard, who can be seen as the protagonist of Winesburg, Ohio, as a whole. Six stories are read and analyzed to see what they nuances they reveal about George’s personality and his relationships with Winesburg’s inhabitants.

  • Lesson 1. Introducing “Winesburg, Ohio”

    Created November 4, 2015
    Portrait of Sherwood Anderson

    The first lesson provides an introduction to the concept of “the grotesque” and to Anderson’s understanding of this concept in his prologue story. One short story in the Winesburg, Ohio story cycle, “Respectability,” is examined.

    Lesson Plans: Grades 9-12
    Curriculum Unit

    Sherwood Anderson’s “Winesburg, Ohio”: A Group of Tales of Ohio Small-Town Life (3 Lessons)

    Created November 3, 2015

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    The Unit

    Overview

    Portrait of Sherwood Anderson

    Portrait of Sherwood Anderson

    Credit: Photo, Carol Van Vechten, 1933. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

    The book is, of course, in no sense a burlesque, but it is an effort to treat the lives of simple ordinary people in an American Middle Western town with sympathy and understanding…. Certainly, I did not write to make fun of these people or to make them ridiculous or ugly, but instead to show by their example what happens to simple, ordinary people—particularly the unsuccessful ones—what life does to us here in America in our times—and on the whole how decent and real we nevertheless are.—Sherwood Anderson

    Winesburg, Ohio presents a galaxy of strange and distorted characters in a small town in Sandusky County, not far from Cleveland, well over one hundred years ago. Even a casual glance through a few of the stories leads inevitably to the question: Why are these people all so weird—so grotesque? By contrast, the central character of this short story cycle, George Willard, seems a perfectly normal young man on the brink of maturity and poised to make the life-changing decision to leave Winesburg behind.

    This curriculum unit includes three lessons. The first lesson introduces students to the concept of the grotesque, central to the Winesburg, Ohio story cycle, through a close reading of two stories: “The Book of the Grotesque” and “Respectability.”

    The second lesson focuses on character development within the short story sequence to analyze the experiences of the character, George Willard. While George is not mentioned in a few of the stories and figures only fleetingly in others, he dominates much of the action across the story cycle and serves as the central thread running throughout the text. This lesson has students focus on the evolution that George undergoes in the course of the following stories: “Mother;” “Nobody Knows;” “An Awakening;” “Death;” “Sophistication;” and “Departure.”

    The third lesson returns to the concept of the grotesque and with teachers modeling an analysis of this literary element in the story, “Adventure.” Students are then given the opportunity to independently investigate additional stories in the cycle for applications of this literary element. Extending the lesson activities provide a host of additional research, creative writing, and project opportunities.

    Winesburg, Ohio demonstrates Anderson’s belief that people are neither simple nor easily classified. Often distorted by life experiences, his grotesques nevertheless possess a “sweetness of the twisted apples” that evokes our understanding and empathy rather than distaste.

    Guiding Questions

    • How does Anderson’s use of the grotesque affect the reader’s understanding of character development and other literary elements in the short story cycle Winesburg, Ohio?
    • How does the central character, George, deepen our understanding of Anderson’s use of the grotesque in Winesburg, Ohio?  How does George contrast to/emphasize the grotesque characters surrounding him?

    College and Career Readiness Standards

    Common Core State Standards

    Anchor

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3
    Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

    Grade level Standards

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.5

    Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin a story) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy RL11-12.3

    Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy RL11-12.1

    Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

    Background

    Since its publication in 1919, the name “Winesburg” has become synonymous with small town life in the American Heartland. The stories in Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio depict a variety of residents, past and present, and center on George Willard, a young newspaper writer, coming of age in the first decade of the 20th century. The scenes and people in the short story cycle were drawn from Anderson’s formative years in Clyde, Ohio. His experiences there left an indelible mark on his consciousness—only to re-emerge many years later in this fictional narrative.                           

    Sherwood was born in 1876 into a family that was less than prosperous. His family moved frequently around the state of Ohio, settling in 1884 in Clyde, a frontier town where he lived for twelve formative years. As a boy, he was a voracious reader known for accessing books through his school library, as there was no public library in the town at that time. He had a reputation as a hard worker and was nicknamed "Jobby" for taking on a variety of odd jobs around town which occupied him upon dropping out of high school at the age of 14. 

    After a short stint in Chicago as a laborer, Anderson enlisted with a Clyde unit and served in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Upon discharge, he attended Wittenberg Academy in Springfield, Ohio, and then moved back to Chicago, where he soon gained some success as an advertising writer. He took a wife and began to raise a family, while running a business in Elyria, Ohio. Anderson continued on that track until the fateful day, November 28, 1912, when at the age of thirty-six, he walked out of his office as president of the Anderson Manufacturing Company in Elyria, Ohio, and threw off the accoutrements of middle class success to embark on an uncertain career as a writer. This event, the stuff of literary legend, is chronicled in an autobiographical essay entitled, “When I Left Business for Literature.”

    Viewed from the outside, Anderson’s personal life appears to have been tumultuous. Three of his marriages failed and he rarely saw his children and grandchildren. He did find happiness in his fourth marriage, though, and during that later phase of his life, he also achieved financial security, and set up a homestead in Virginia. He purchased the Marion Published Company, and became editor and publisher of two regional weekly newspapers. His life was cut short while on a vacation trip with his wife to South America. The inscription on Anderson’s grave reads, “Life, Not Death, Is The Great Adventure,” suggesting he had acquired insight into and made peace with the choices that had shaped his life.

    Highlights of Anderson’s life can be found in EDSITEment-reviewed Ohiana Authors.

    Information on Sherwood Anderson’s Influence on Modern America Literature can be found here.

    Assessment

    Write an essay providing a vivid explication of the nature of the grotesque that Anderson develops in his short story cycle, Winesburg, Ohio.

    In your response, discuss Anderson’s use of story elements—setting, plot structure, and character development. Be sure to use at least five of the characters from the short story cycle, including George Willard. Use evidence from the text in your response.

    Worksheet 7 provides a rubric that may assist teachers in developing, revising, and assessing student essays.

    Extending the Unit

    • Read one or more of the selections in Sherwood Anderson’s collection The Egg and Other Stories and have students write an essay in which they discuss how that narrative voice resembles the one in Winesburg, Ohio.
    • Read a short story that uses the device of the grotesque, such as Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” or Bret Harte’s “Outcasts of Poker Flat.” Have students write an essay in which they evaluate that author’s use of the grotesque against Sherwood Anderson’s model in Winesburg, Ohio.
    • Review examples of the grotesque, such as aspect of fairytale figures, found in visual art and/or in film and determine how the artists/directors depict these characters and their impact on the viewer. Have students compare these depictions with Anderson’s grotesques in Winesburg, Ohio.   
    • Examine Sherwood Anderson’s influence on one or more modern American authors, such as Hemingway or Faulkner. Read stories by these authors to identify their use of the grotesque and/or draw other connections with Anderson’s work. Have students write an essay discussing how the story and the author benefited from Anderson’s influence.  (Refer to the Extended Background essay, “Sherwood Anderson’s Influence on Modern America Literature.”)

    Additional Resources

    Suggestions for historical newspaper and archival resources for Pre-lesson Activity Lesson 1. 

    The Lessons

    • Lesson 1. Introducing “Winesburg, Ohio”

      Created November 4, 2015
      Portrait of Sherwood Anderson

      The first lesson provides an introduction to the concept of “the grotesque” and to Anderson’s understanding of this concept in his prologue story. One short story in the Winesburg, Ohio story cycle, “Respectability,” is examined.

    • Lesson 2. George Willard’s Development

      Created November 5, 2015
      Portrait of Sherwood Anderson

      This lesson focuses entirely on the central character of George Willard, who can be seen as the protagonist of Winesburg, Ohio, as a whole. Six stories are read and analyzed to see what they nuances they reveal about George’s personality and his relationships with Winesburg’s inhabitants.

    • Lesson 3. A Gallery of Grotesque Characters

      Created November 5, 2015
      Portrait of Sherwood Anderson

      This lesson undertakes an analysis of the story, "Adventure,” which depicts the character Alice Hindman, and her progress (or regression) from “normal” to grotesque. Students then work independently through other stories in the cycle to analyze examples of the grotesque among Anderson’s more minor characters.

    The Basics

    Grade Level

    9-12

    Subject Areas
    • Literature and Language Arts > Place > American
    • Literature and Language Arts > Genre > Common Core
    • Literature and Language Arts > Genre > AP Literature
    • Literature and Language Arts > Place > Modern World
    • Literature and Language Arts > Genre > Novels
    • Literature and Language Arts > Genre > Short Stories
    Skills
    • Creative writing
    • Critical analysis
    • Critical thinking
    • Cultural analysis
    • Evaluating arguments
    • Expository writing
    • Interpretation
    • Literary analysis
    • Summarizing
    Lesson Plans: Grades 9-12
    Curriculum Unit

    Schisms and Divisions in “Crime and Punishment”: A Common Core Exemplar (3 Lessons)

    Created January 12, 2015

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    The Unit

    Overview

    Portrait of the Writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1972, Vasily Perov

    Portrait of the Writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    Credit: 1872, Vasily Perov

    In Dostoevsky there were things unbelievable and not to be believed, but some so true they changed you as you read them; frailty and madness, wickedness and saintliness, and the insanity of gambling were there to know as you knew the landscape and the roads in Turgenev. ― Ernest Hemingway

    Today Fyodor Dostoevsky is universally viewed as one of the nineteenth century’s greatest and most influential writers. Dostoevsky’s experiences were broad—including brushes with death, the loss of loved ones, political oppression, and years spent in a hard labor camp. His observations of those around him, as well as his own reactions and emotions, are reflected in his fiction, giving it great psychological depth.

    Crime and Punishment, first published in 1866 in serial form, is a complex text with a riveting and troubling story line about a young man who steps outside the boundaries of legality and decency and pays a great price for it. It is not a novel for the faint of heart, but it is a superb choice for college-bound juniors and seniors, especially those in Advanced Placement, honors, and International Baccalaureate programs. Several translations are available, including the long-favored one by Constance Garnett, a popular one by David McDuff, and the highly acclaimed one by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhansky. Translations vary slightly with some characters' names (for example, Dounia, Dunia, Dunechka). The worksheets included in this unit use Garnett’s interpretations but can be altered, if necessary.

    The first lesson focuses on Dostoevsky’s view of human nature and delves into the character Raskolnikov, whose name derives from the Russian word for "schism" or "split." Throughout the text he, as well as other characters, displays a dualistic nature that draws in conflicting directions. The second lesson deals with the theoretical division of human beings into those who are ordinary and the other few who are not bound by limits that affect everyone else. This motif, a split between logic/reason and emotion/instinct, is analyzed to determine the difference between theory and Rakskolnikov's actual experience. The third lesson demonstrates that the societal setting in the novel is also characterized by splits and divisions. Students are challenged to learn from Dostoevsky, as thinkers as diverse as Hemingway and Einstein did, and to articulate what they learn in both classroom discussion and assessment essays.

    Each lesson requires students to go beyond character analysis to comprehend Dostoyevsky's underlying themes. What does the novel imply about human nature? Dostoevsky shows his readers that people are neither simple nor easily classified; they are often torn in opposite directions by forces both inside of and outside of themselves, sometimes with catastrophic results.

    Guiding Questions

    • How does Dostoyevsky develop the character of Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment to reflect his views of the schisms inherent in human nature?
    • In what way does Dostoevsky set up a dichotomy between Man and Superman, as well as between reason and emotion?
    • How does Dostoyevsky use a variety of individual and societal divisions to underpin the central themes of Crime and Punishment?

    College and Career Readiness Standards

    Anchor Standard

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2

    Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize key supporting details and ideas.

    Grade Standards

    CCSS ELA LITERACY RL 11-12.1

    Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including where the text leaves matters uncertain.

    CCSA ELA LITERACY RL 11-12.2

    Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

    CCSS ELA LITERACY RL 11-12.6

    Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).

    Summative Assessment: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1

    Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

    Background

    Crime and Punishment demonstrates Dostoevsky's keen awareness of the society in which he lived. He knew well the chasm between the many have-nots and the few wealthy, as well as the tensions between the Westernizers (who wanted Russia to become more European) and the Slavophiles (who thought the best path for Russia was a return to its Slavic roots.). He had firsthand knowledge of what his character, Raskolnikov, would have experienced being sentenced to a labor camp in Siberia. Dostoevsky also discovered increasing radicalism among young people, including the rise of a political movement popularly called "nihilism," which was based on utilitarian thinking and rejection of religious faith. In its most radical form, Russian nihilism rejected all institutions and laws—it was a complete abrogation of everything that Russian people had believed and practiced for centuries. The novel reflects both the appeal and the limitations of this way of thinking. It shows us the tremendous injustice in 19th-century Russian society, while also suggesting that the rejection of every aspect of this social structure is not the way to create justice.

    This is a complex and lengthy literary work about a young man torn in conflicting directions. On one hand instinctively compassionate and kind, Raskolnikov is also coldly intellectual and aloof. The crime he seems to have been contemplating for a long time occurs at the end of Part 1. Punishment fills the rest of the novel; although his mind insists that the old woman he killed was barely human and the world was better off without her, he is wretchedly unhappy and caught in what he sees as a kind of cat-and-mouse game with the authorities. His confession, conviction, and deportation to Siberia comes as a relief, and the novel’s conclusion implies but does not fully explain his redemption as a human being.

    The three lessons in this unit stress the polarizations that dominate the novel: characters torn by opposing tendencies; theories that separate ordinary people from the extraordinary; disconnects between intellect and emotion; societal divides that formed the fermenting mixture that led to revolution half a century later.

    For information on the life of Dostoyevsky as contextual background to teaching the novel see PDF #1.

    For tips on how to handle Russian names and notes on Russian culture in the 19th-century see PDF #2.

    Assessment

    Choose a topic about which Dostoevsky demonstrates polarization or division in Crime and Punishment. Write an essay to demonstrate how the author's treatment of the topic underpins a theme or central idea of his novel. Provide specific textual evidence, including carefully chosen quotations from the text, to support your analysis.

    Worksheet 8. Final Assessment Rubric provides a tool for both student writing and teacher evaluation.

    Extending the Unit

    • Find and examine a significant example of situational or dramatic irony in the novel. Then write an essay in which you explain how that irony functions within the story as a whole.
    • Make a list of different crimes that you see in the novel. You can interpret the idea of crime very broadly: so, for example, Luzhin’s attempt to ruin Sonia by accusing her of theft can be seen as a kind of crime, even though he did nothing punishable by law. Pick two of these crimes and write an essay comparing them. How are these crimes punished? What does the comparison of these two crimes tell us about the social world of Crime and Punishment?
    • Create and present a dramatic monologue from Raskolnikov’s point of view or from that of another character at a specific point in the story. Dress appropriately for your role.
    • Analyze similarities and differences between the ways two or more translators render a specific section of the text; consider how differences affect readers’ responses.

    Additional Resources

    Translations for Crime and Punishment

    • For many years, the translation by Constance Garnett, published by The Modern Library

    (Random House), has been a classroom staple. It is also available online;

    • Some commentators prefer the translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhovsky, which sticks very close to Dostoevsky’s original Russian. It is also published by Random House (1991);
    • Still another popular choice is the translation by David McDuff (Penguin Books, 2003).

    Film adaptations of Crime and Punishment

    Several recent film adaptations of the novel are available, some more useful than others. Selected clips from one or more versions can be more useful than showing an entire film.

    • Crime and Punishment (2002): film adaptation produced by Crime and Punishment Productions Limited, starring Crispin Glover, John Hurt, Vanessa Redgrave, and Margot Kidder;
    • Crime and Punishment (2002): television serial produced by the BBC, starring John Simm and Ian McDiarmid;
    • Crime and Punishment (1998): television movie produced by Hallmark Entertainment and NBC Studios, starring Patrick Dempsey, Ben Kingsley, and Julie Delpy.

    The Lessons

    • Lesson 1: Dualistic Portrayal of Characters

      Created January 12, 2015
      Portrait of the Writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1972, Vasily Perov

      Students examine the divided nature of Raskolnikov’s character and personality. Then they uncover the divided natures of other characters—a fact that becomes increasingly evident as the novel progresses to go beyond character analysis to comprehend Dostoyevsky’s underlying themes. What does the novel imply about human nature? Dostoevsky clearly perceived that people are neither simple nor easily classified; they are often torn in opposite directions by forces both inside of and outside of themselves, sometimes with catastrophic results.

    • Lesson 2: Man and Superman

      Created January 12, 2015
      Portrait of the Writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1972, Vasily Perov

      Students examine the theory Man vs. Superman as it is revealed in several scenes within the novel and tackle the larger questions it bring up: Are humans really divided into two distinct categories, the ordinary and the extraordinary? Is this division a figment created by an overactive intellect? What did Dostoevsky think? Then they learn the theory differs radically from Dostoyevsky’s fictional reality—and reader’s—uncover yet another split in the world of the novel, one between intellect and emotion/instinct.

    • Lesson 3: Societal Schisms and Divisions

      Created January 12, 2015
      Portrait of the Writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1972, Vasily Perov

      Students examine the novel’s societal setting, which is also fraught with division. Crime and Punishment is more than just a demonstration of the idea that crime does not pay, it is a vivid depiction of societal injustice. For example, Dostoyevsky’s mid-nineteenth century Russia offered women narrowly circumscribed roles, most often resulting in their dependence on men and/or a life of poverty. The negative effects of several other societal divisions raise additional questions.

    The Basics

    Grade Level

    9-12

    Subject Areas
    • Literature and Language Arts > Place > Modern World
    • Literature and Language Arts > Place > Other
    • Literature and Language Arts > Genre > Novels
    Skills
    • Auditory analysis
    • Compare and contrast
    • Creative writing
    • Critical analysis
    • Critical thinking
    • Cultural analysis
    • Debate
    • Essay writing
    • Interpretation
    • Literary analysis
    • Representing ideas and information orally, graphically and in writing
    • Summarizing
    • Textual analysis
    • Writing skills
    James McNeill Whistler's "Girl in White"

    How to Make the Most of “James McNeill Whistler & The Case for Beauty” in the Classroom

    “James McNeill Whistler & The Case for Beauty” is a treasure trove of information for the classroom on this pivotal American artist, tracing his life and development as an artist. Connect with a streaming version of the film, classroom resources aligned with Common Core and the new arts standards, and more.

  • Lesson 1: Magical Elements in Magical Realism

    Created October 6, 2014

    In this triumph of magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude chronicles a century of the remarkable Buendía family’s history in the fictional Colombian town of Macondo. The three lessons presented here explore the fantastic elements of this imaginary world, the real history that lies behind them, and García Márquez’s own philosophical musings on writing about Latin America.