August Wilson has been called our American bard, one of the greatest playwrights in American History. His Fences has also been called one of the Great American plays of the 20th Century. James Earl Jones in 1987 and Denzel Washington in 2007 earn awards for their portrayal of Troy Maxson, a former Negro league ballplayer who is raising a family in Pittsburgh, working as a garbage collector. It is Maxson’s moral ambiguity that makes him a compelling character for audiences and readers. The lessons work on collecting details for an essay assessment modeled on the 2002 AP Literature prompt on morally ambiguous characters in literature that fits in well into any American Literature class.
Students will study a persuasive review from The New York Times of the 2007 performance of the play. Also, students will work with two different scenes from the play, as a link is provided to the text and video performance. Students will, close read and annotate the text, view supporting video clips, and view a NPR story on Troy Maxson in their “in character” series. There is also a link to an 11 question multiple choice assessment from Fences.
Finally there is an extended clip from the HBO film “The Soul of the Game” where Troy Maxson is compared to Negro League Hall of Famer Josh Gibson. The resource packet works well with a study of the play, another story such as Raisin in the Sun, or independent of either of these choices.
There is also an opportunity to write a Rhetorical Précis, as well as supporting material for teaching this to your students. These four lessons prepares students for AP Language and Literature exams, Common Core extended response assessments, American and World Literature Course exams, the SAT and ACT essay and critical thinking activities
In this resource there is a unique detailed rubric that can be used to score Socratic Seminars in a way that encourages organic fluid discussions. In the guide there is a step by step explanation on how to conduct a fish-bowl discussion with the rubric. The packet includes complete lessons, common core standards, essential and key questions.
Tags: American Literature, Socratic Seminar, writing, argument, AP Literature, Pre-AP, critical thinking, baseball, family, fatherhood