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LAE 6389 Practice Teaching Literature

Class 6: Teaching Methods - Active Learning Strategies

    Class Objectives:

    Guest Teacher: Paul Corrigan

    Discuss methods for teaching literature, featuring reading as craft

    Reading Assignment:

    Scholes, Introduction, Reading Poetry, Sacred Reading and Conclusion (pp. xi-75, 212-243) and a chapter of your choice on a genre that interests you
    McKeachie, chapters 4,5, and 6, in course docs

    Due: Mid-term eval survey; sample assignment
    Post #5

    Notes and Discussion Questions:

    Our readings for today review the common methods of teaching: lecture, discussion, and modeling. Interspersed throughout there are tips and suggestions for active learning methods.


    I've added Scholes' (pronounced skoles) The Crafty Reader to explore in more detail what critical thinking in the literature classroom might look like. Let's take some time to consider some of his ideas.

    What is the difference between thinking of reading literature as art versus craft?

    What are the causes of poetry anxiety and how does Scholes' text help us understand what to do with it?

    What is the difference between a crafty reader and a naive one?

    "A major feature of that craft [of reading] is the understanding of what kind of text one is reading" (11).

    "What I am calling modernist in their [New Critics'] teaching ... can be reduced to a powerful opposition between the rhetorical and the poetical" (14).

    How does rejecting this New Critical view promise to bring poetry back into touch with life?

    Irony, symbolism, tone are all safe topics in teaching literature. "My point is that, by playing it 'safe,' we are losing the game" (24).

    Discuss the implications of the exclusion of mass, female and African-American voices in New Criticism.

    What might be the benefit of devoting class to multiple poems (works) by a single author?

    Evaluate his sketch of the craft of reading, starting on p. 44.

    What is the difference between a fundamentalist way of reading and a crafty way of reading?

    "Textual fidelity, which should be a goal of the crafty reader, requires scrupulous attention to what is left out of the text and what is self-contradictory in the text, as well as to what is said clearly in the text -- whether we want to get that message or not" (223).


    Recall your reading from Showalter, as you consider the ideas in McKeachie's book.

    In light of our discussion of Blau from last week, evaluate the three methods of teaching literature: lecture, discussion, modeling. What are the strengths and weaknesses? Which are you likely to embrace and why?

    What is the role of close-reading in the teaching of literature? (This is not an opportunity merely for bashing New Criticism.) Here is an opportunity to apply some of the ideas from Scholes.

    How can you model effective reading of literature for your students?

    If students attention span is limited to fifteen minutes, how can you use lecturing effectively?

    If it is your responsibility to engage as many students as possible in your class, what methods might work best?

    How can you turn lecturing into active learning?

    These texts suggest that it is much more difficult to prepare for an effective discussion than a lecture. Why? [Here, Blau's text may offer insights.] What does it take to make a good discussion of literature?

    What are some examples of good discussion questions? What questions are likely to fall flat?

    How can you get more students involved in discussion? What do you do with discussion hogs?

    How important is your body language in class discussion?


    Active learning and discussion

    Showalter and McKeachie agree that active learning methods in the classroom are the most effective. My experiences suggest the same. Let's focus on what active learning is and how it is achieved.

    What active learning / creative assignment can you come up with? Describe in detail an assignment you want to try in your class. Consider whether this will be graded or not. If so, be clear about what you are looking to evaluate and how it will be scored. If not, consider what learning objectives this assignment meets. How long will the assignment take? At what point in the semester will your students be able to do this assignment? What skills are needed to complete this assignment and do the students have them? What is the benefit of doing this assignment?

    For Peer Review,get into small groups and discuss the different assignments. Evaluate and offer constructive feedback. Share ideas!!


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