Catcher in the Rye Lessons

And I mean lessons as in things you can do with your students, not like the life ones. 

I am in no way turning this into a teacher blog (ew), but I do plan on occasionally posting some of the more interesting lessons I do with my students this year. I always do some of the basics with each book we read- themes, symbols, motifs, background on author, some literary criticism, character analysis, author's style, etc... I also try to do a few more "fun" lessons that connects the students to the text in different ways and allows them an alternative way of showing knowledge, as opposed to an essay or test.

I'm not one of those awesome teachers that are constantly creating new, exciting lessons that drive their students crazy with exciting. I don't dress up in costumes or rap. Sorry. I am consistent, though, and try to make the content I deliver interesting and get my students to actively participate every day. They do well and we usually end up liking, or at least tolerating, each other, so I think this works for me. These lessons aren't anything groundbreaking, but maybe something a little different for some (and boring as hell to others). 

With Common Core upon us, I try to integrate those standards into what I'm doing as well (integrating Common Core into the IB curriculum is an interesting discussion, which I'll save for another day). Basically, how can we connect a work of fiction to supplemental nonfiction material? And integrate writing and speaking? 

I do my best.

Here are three lessons/projects/tasks that my students seem to have enjoyed that, to some degree (some more than others) integrate the new standards.

Diagnosing Holden
In order to get students on-board, they first read a quick handout on teenage depression and determine eight symptoms/causes that apply to Holden Caulfield, filling out a graphic organizer that calls for analysis and textual evidece. Then, students are required to write a 800-1,000 word psychiatrist's report (they're taking on the role of a mental health practitioner) evaluating Holden's mental state. They must write it in a report-like format, use textual support from the novel, and must research mental health illnesses to determine which one they think he suffers from (if any at all). Students must include background, symptoms, treatment, and prognosis sections. They are encouraged to include supplemental information like brain scans, interviews, and anything else they can come up with to strengthen their case. Depending on time, students will either present their findings to the class, small group, or partner.

Skills: research, using the text as evidence, writing a report, analysis of fiction and non-fiction text, creativity, oral presentation 

Boarding Schools
Students are asked to research the effects boarding schools have on children and teenagers, finding at least two semi-recent articles. Students must annotate both articles fully and finish a "SOAPSTone" (an AVID strategy) and rhetorical precis. Students must then determine their own stance, and use evidence from the novel and articles to support their claims. Students will write a one-page response in their notebooks, expressing their own opinions. After this has been finished, students will participate in a Socratic Seminar (fancy word for "class discussion") in which they discuss whether or not boarding schools are positive or negative institutions and how they impacted Holden.

Skills: research, in-depth analysis of both nonfiction and fiction texts, debate and discussion skills

Episodic Narrative (the "Picaresque Novel")- Charades*
After giving the class information about what a episodic/picaresque novel is, students then brainstorm a list of episodes that occurred in the novel. Students are then placed in groups and are given a card with their episode on it. They must discuss the significance of it in the text and then act out the scene silently (beware for hysterics, and inappropriateness, with the Sunny/Maurice scene). After the class guesses what scene they performed, the group discusses the importance while the rest of the class takes notes in a graphic organizer

Skills: analysis, creativity, public speaking
* This is obviously a lighter activity- it makes for something nice to do after a heavy couple of days, during a weird schedule, or as a sort of review before the test 

1 comment:

  1. These sound awesome! I don't teach Catcher, but my pre-AP 7th graders need more of a challenge than some of the stuff we've done so far. I might co-opt these ideas and repurpose them to go with what we read. Also, I have you heard of a website called Teachers Pay Teachers (or something like that)? You could totally make money off your geniusness.