It is a balmy 71 degrees Fahrenheit, 22 Celcius, and there is nothing but blue skies and Palamino ponies as far as the eye can see. Admittedly, a bit difficult to get my head back to a dreary, dark December, and knocks on chamber doors, but if I don’t do this now, I might lose the moment. Recently on the Notice and Note Facebook page, there was a wonderful thread on how to teach theme. This question provided a chance to go through some of my previous research on this question, and see other’s grand ideas. One thing I didn’t get to share was what my coach Vicky walked me through last fall: it was a new way to teach one of my favorites, The Raven, and though I need to modify the lesson and add a bit more of my personality to it, this is a wonderful approach.
Is it just me or does one become a veteran teacher far too soon in one’s journey? Meaning, how did I get so old?! Well, as scary as that is, it’s better than the alternative, right Poe?
Allow me to present the context: through December I have a student teacher, and boy oh boy am I happy to know her. She’s going to be a fantastic teacher, wants to do well and jump right in. This has been an especially chaotic start to the new school year for me: our administration takes great care and time to balance the master schedule, so it’s had to change multiple times to get it right. When one considers how many of our students need what is called “Essentials” in our district (it’s probably called that other places, too), it changes the dynamic quite a bit. To the point, for me personally I gave up my planning period and will be teaching six periods a day, so having an eager student teacher/intern will be enormously helpful.
One of the requirements of her program is a three-day scoped lesson, and since she and I are both enthusiastic fans of all things macabre and October, we sat down to discuss a possible text. One of the first short stories I planned on handing over to her was The Monkey’s Paw. I’ve used this story for many years and add the Vimeo film, too. It’s accessible in terms of understanding themes/tropes (be careful what you wish for! Magic has a cost! Be grateful for what you have!) and is grand, classic fun.
And that was the problem.
As I am describing the story, written in 1902, with its archaic language and cultural tropes (exotic foreign lands! Grand Fakir! Seargent Major in the grand India wars….!) her eyes seemed to glaze over, not in boredom, but in overwhelmed fear: these old stories are not this generation’s stories. She’s two years older than my oldest son, and if I may make one sweeping generalization about millennials it’s not that they haven’t read the classics, but perhaps have rejected them because they are not multicultural or diverse. Coming from my old white lady perspective, many of my beloved stories are from a narrow Victorian smelling salts place of overly tight corsets and ladies locked in boxes/towers/coffins.
The Monkey’s Paw is not a place to start when you’re a 23-year-old student teacher.
I put the word out on the Notice and Note page:
I’m going to the well once again — 🙂 I have a great student teacher, and many of the classic horror stories are not in her wheelhouse. We’re thinking of her three-day filmed lessons of doing RL8.3 and a scary story. Things like The Monkey’s Paw or The Raven are not comfortable for her necessarily, so was wondering if anyone knows of poetry or short story horror that’s more contemporary? The guiding question is ‘what do we know as readers that the character(s) don’t know?’ among others. Please and thank you–
To all of you: you honor me with your amazing resources and suggestions. What I think we all struggled with though was at the heart of my question: something more contemporary. I should have just flat-out said: diverse. Multicultural. Not Dead White Guy. Not that there’s a darn thing wrong with dead white guys. Those are some of my favorite guys.
From Notice and Note Educator Experts:
But these are wonderful pieces of literature, and though I’ve used most of them extensively, have some new ones to check out:
I want to thank you all for your suggestions and insights: it reminds me again that we cannot do this alone. It’s up to my student teacher to poke around and find one that feels comfortable for her now, just like all of us have and had to do. She’s going to craft and curate her own stories to tell — and I can’t wait to hear them!
Okay, I admit. Birds freak me out a little bit. I can see their resemblance to ancient dinosaurs, lizard-y scaly creatures, all talons and beaks…and curiosity. And now a recent NPR (National Public Radio) on-line article confirms my fears: crows remember us. Don’t make them mad. I took the test to see if I could find the crow in the crowd, use my memory and visual skills, and alas, could not. I couldn’t get a job as a scarecrow. I looked for a rounder eye, fluffier feathers, a scratched or hooked beak, and still, the crows escaped my memory. If one mean raven can ruin Edgar Allan Poe’s night, surely a few surly crows can make me feel uncomfortable. I know birds are vital to our planet’s health and ecosystem. Heck, where do you think the phrase ‘canary in a coalmine’ comes from? They are watching out for earth, and it’s probably best not to personify them too much, if at all. But, fears are irrational. And I knew crows were smart — I just didn’t know they were smarter than I am.
To check out the NPR video, article, and test your knowledge of crows, click here: