Their Eyes Were Watching God: Lessons

Over the past several weeks my students have read and dissected Zora Neale Hurston's fabulous novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. Given our Thanksgiving break, the end of the semester rush, and all the other fun stuff that comes up, I feel that we could have covered a few more things that we did, but I think that's always the way. Here are a few lessons* that went well, many of which could be adapted to other works:

Pastiche (50 minutes in class, a week at home)
My students were tasked with writing a pastiche for the text, something they found challenging, given Hurston's language. I gave them a few different scenarios to choose from and they had to write 700 words using the author's voice. They brought in drafts to share a week before they were due so that they could peer edit. They ended up being a lot of fun to grade- most kids got the basics and had fun with the creative writing element.

Skills: Literary analysis, creative writing, editing

Marriage Venn Diagram (50 minutes to create, 30 to present)
This is pretty basic, but I think incorporating graphic organizers with specific perimeters is really important. They had to analyze Janie's three marriages individually and in conjunction with each others, while providing textual support to back up their claims. They had to talk about the husbands, but also about what Janie learned from each situation. Students had to briefly present, as well, which is always good practice.

Skills: Literary analysis, utilizing textual support, public speaking

Language Activity (50 minutes)
Given the complexity of the language, we spent a decent amount of time analyzing what Neale was trying to say. For this activity I pulled ten rich passages from the text and copied them onto white paper. I broke the class into groups of ten(ish) and gave each student a passage. The timer was set for four minutes and within that time the student had to read their passage and write down one comment regarding the language or literary devices on the paper, along with their name. After four minutes the paper was passed and the next student had to read the new passage, the previous student comments, and then offer a new one of their own. The first few rounds are easy, but the final few are tough, since they can't be repetitive. 

Skills: Literary and language anaylsis 

*There weren't a lot of real world applications this time around, I must confess

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