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This unit delves into the heart of why we study literature. From the very first day of class, I talk to my students about the reasons we study literature. One of those reasons is because we learn best through story, and literature is a culture’s way of passing its values on. So, long after students have forgotten the author’s name (and the characters’ names, the setting, etc.), hopefully, the lessons about our culture’s values will stay with them. I tell them that I’m not prepping them for Jeopardy; literature helps prepare them for life.
In the four years I have taught this unit, I’ve never had a class ask not to read it. After making a big deal of the controversy, students are eager to see for themselves. However, because we spend so much time on the controversy, we’re short on time for the actual novel. So instead of a test over trivia—like “Who owned Jim?”—we focus just on the life lessons—the themes—of the book. I’ve designed all the assignments with this in mind (no multiple-choice, try-to-trip-you-up, Jeopardy-style questions—ever!)
COMMON CORE STANDARDS
(ELA 11) RIT 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7; RL 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9; W 1, 2, 5, 7, 9, 10; SL1, 2, 4