Monday, 14 March 2011

Here comes The Mani


Honorable Mention:
The Truth is Out there; problem is, so is the LIE:

Is it SEX or SFX?

Was one of Dr Seuss's books banned due to excessive violence?

Is the word 'news' an acronym of North East West South?

Though this site cannot be strictly classified as a literary resource, it could work well as a source of entertainment for the teacher as well as his/her class; as quite a few misconceptions about people, cultures and most importantly words are not only interesting but also hilarious. Snopes is a myth-busting website that points out hoaxes in popular culture that could be used effectively as hook activities in class. And if you are wondering, the answers are: No, Not exactly and what have you been smoking? Really.

1. Look beyond the bad portmanteau:
Yes folks. That's a real website. Get over the name. It has very interesting worksheets for teachers. This is not a substitute for making our own stuff up, but it could be a reference guide that provides for some good 'inspiration'. Strangely, the lesson that appealed most to me in this, was an acrostic poem about the solar system - aimed at first or second graders. Of course, there are more relevant stuff available as well, which you can have a look at.

2. Quick. Cheat. Sheet. 'Nuff said:
Have you suddenly broken off in the middle of a sentence in a poetry class and created a dramatic moment when a student asked you what aposiopesis is? If you don't get the joke, its time to hit the mentioned websites. Litt teachers are expected to be best friends with MH Abrams and JA Cudden but even those who have read these authors cover to cover (snort) could have memory lapses. So don't kill yourself over it; have your smart phone tuned into these university guides. And be very, very ashamed.

3. Improv for Kids:
Who doesn't like Improv? Well, a lot of people. But improv brings so much engagement to the table that it can be a very potent tool in the teacher's box of tricks. The site lists a set of basic games that could be used particularly when the class is turning out to be a snoozefest. If your kids look blank and enter a who blink's first contest with one another, I suggest you tune them in with a little Drew Carey on Whose line. I know that nobody cares, but Drew Carey is going into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. In literature, improv could be used beyond just animation of a text, in order to recontextualize the setting as well as responding organically to the text.

The Top5 things I roll with:
Each of these following unnumbered entities could be dealt with in a literature class and at some stage, I would do so. A couple of ideas that I toyed with until they were used in class: Using Disney movies to teach notions of race and gender. Running a Shakespeare & Film program that would compare different takes on the same text (shoutout to Trina and Leelian, my ICT groupmates). Approaching popular songs & literature (both literature in songs and songs as literature). But I guess, the other ideas have to wait.

Theatre - do what you read; dramatically! (Jazz Hands?!)

Music - though not fair to the musically challenged, setting a poem to tune could kick up one helluva literature class.

Movies - critical analysis of a movie until there is no more fun left in it.

Combat Sports - to study the structure of narration in a boxing match or a prowrestling bout.

Books - please let me borrow Homer's expression. Not the Greek guy. The other one. D'oh!

After a lengthy debate between combat sports and theatre, I have decided to use the magic of musical theatre as a literature teaching device in class. We can explore the layers of the Italian opera in La Boheme and fall asleep as a class before waking up to the energetic adaptation Rent by Jonathan Larson. We could watch Mufasa die in 2D and cry before burning a hole in the pocket with the Marina Bay Sands show and experience the difference. So many tales have been adapted back and forth in this surprisingly less utilized medium that I would like to take advantage of. Of course, I am put off as much as the next person when I hear about this musical based on a film adaptation of a play inspired by a novel expanded from a short story. But come on, stage legends are sometimes born that way.


  1. i'm surprised the idea of the combat musical has not come into this as the fabled and much sought after Elegant Solution.

  2. ok - so question: which musical? what will you use it to teach and what texts will you make the comparison with?