Monday, June 1, 2009

Topic: Literary Discussion (2)

10-second review: Using the student question approach with a poem, Karl Shapiro’s “Auto Wreck.” Taken from Teaching English, How To… Raymond Stopper, Xlibris, 2004.

With Karl Shapiro’s “Auto Wreck” as an example, I will explain how I taught and organized a discussion of a literary work.

First Reading: Impressions and Vocabulary

I read the poem for the first time aloud. Students reacted with their first impressions: “What does _____ mean?” “Pretty vivid”; “Lot of stuff I don’t understand”; “I think I like the newspaper account better. It’s plainer.” “Kinda sets the mood.” “Makes you think—especially if you’ve been in an accident.” etc.

Students re-read the poem silently, underlining words they didn’t know: “pulsing,” “beacons,” “deranged,” “gauche,” “husks,” “convalescents,” “saw of commonsense,” “banal resolution,” “occult,” “denouement,” “expedient.” When they looked up the words, I asked the students to try to limit the definition to one or two key words to make the meanings manageable and to help them remember the meanings.

pulsing: briefly on and off

beacons: signals

deranged: disturbed mentally

husks: shell

convalescents: return to health after illness

gauche: lack social polish; tactless

saw: familiar saying

banal: commonplace

occult: supernatural

dénouement (day-new -mah): resolution of plot

expedient: quick but not always wise fix

To be continued.

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