Like The Odyssey, Sharp Teeth is a novel written in verse. Also like The Odyssey, Sharp Teeth is confident in its telling--so confident, in fact, that it speaks directly to Homer's classic tale in its very first line. If you teach The Odyssey, Sharp Teeth is the perfect choice to follow it up. Students love Sharp Teeth! And since the novel is quite easy to read, it works well with struggling readers.
Throughout the lesson students are steeped in the writing process. They begin in journalistic mode by transforming passages from the novel into straight newspaper reportage. Shortly thereafter they are taking articles from local newspapers and transforming them into poetry. Students likewise analyze and reinterpret poetry during the unit, and the final writing piece for the unit is an essay contrasting the fate of a character in a poem with the fate of the novel's main character.
Day 1 (see preview) of the Sharp Teeth lesson plan shows a typical day in the classroom.
Poetry and novel excerpts analyzed during the reading:
"Manza Gets Shot," by Don Delillo. (excerpted from Underworld)
"Monologue of a Dog Ensnared in History," Wislawa Szymborska.
The Sharp Teeth lesson plan is a three-week, day-to-day plan. Note: bolded headings in the plan are transitional points within the class period. All homework/handouts are copy-ready (see Blood Meridian preview and description for an example).