Today we will launch in to a full discussion of the Post-Modern world, beginning with the historical features that are shaping the period. I always seek to contextualize literature with history, and though there are only a few periods before our final exams, I feel that I owe it to Post-Modernism to get to this unit and at least give students a taste of what our Post-Modern world is like. I will use the following set of questions to get at the heart of the time period:
Next, we will get more in-depth with the characteristic themes of Post-Modernism and differentiate those characteristics from Modernism. In order to save time and clarify these concepts for students, I will give them the "Modern vs. Post-Modern Characteristics Notes." We will then look at the similarities and differences between these two literary time periods and compare them to other time periods that we have already studied. Since we only have a little bit of time to get an understanding of Post-Modernism before the school year is over, I want to move through these themes rather quickly, but I also want to ensure that students truly understand this content.
Next, students will have a chance to apply their new knowledge of Post-Modern themes by reading and tracking them across a group of poems. Since we actually read and discussed a Sylvia Plath's poem, "Mirror," last class period, we will begin by reviewing that poem and entering into our class's "Post-Modern Poetry Analysis Spreadsheet" so students understand what they will ultimately be doing after our discussion.
We will pull up our copies of "Mirror," then reread the poem silently to ourselves. Next, we will go around the room from student to student, taking turns filling in each square of the "Post-Modern Poetry Analysis Spreadsheet" for the whole class. Since this document is editable and available to all students, this activity will serve as a fabulous, complete, and interactive way to share out top-quality responses with their peers without getting bogged down in typing every single thing that their peers are saying. Previously, I struggled with students who were more concerned about "getting down the notes" than participating in class, so we developed this collective note-taking strategy, and it's worked wonders since we started using it! One student will enter the author's name, and the next student will link the document (to aid in consolidating study material for finals!). I will then begin taking volunteers to offer information about the speaker and the tone (including evidence of why THAT particular 6+ letter word fits beautifully for tone), and the next students in line will note the class's agreed answers on the spreadsheet. We will continue the procedure to solicit and note a concise, clear summary of the poem and an overall theme. Finally, we will select from the provided Post-Modern themes (in the handout from earlier in the period) any themes which appear in the work. In all cases, the student discussion about entries should be justified with evidence, and the designated note-taker for that square will put down an answer only after it has been entirely agreed on by the class.
After we complete our initial look at "Mirror," we will repeat the note-taking process in this same fashion while/after we thoroughly discuss the poems in the following manner:
As I said, I will ask students a specific question for each poem outside of our theme discussion to help them more fully analyze or comprehend the poem. I picked these elements because to me, they are the crux of the poem or a feature that really makes it stand out from other poems with the same theme. This can help students see how the same theme is investigated in different works, which is a Common Core standard. It also allows me to draw attention to deeper content that the class may not have had time to investigate if I had let this poetry analysis unfold in an entirely organic, student-led manner. Unfortunately, with all of our snow days this year, I had to cut back on my activities in this unit. Rather than eliminate them entirely, I decided it would be better to craft ways to get them into the analysis more quickly than would usually happen. See how I would teach this if it wasn't in a school year riddled with snow days in the reflection!
Specific Items for Investigation in Each Poem
In the last minutes of class, I will give students their Semester II Final Exam Study Guide so that they can begin preparing for their finals. In our district, we have an entire day at the end of the school year entirely devoted to Semester Exam Review before finals. Often I see students wait until this day to get started on their studying. In an attempt to get them started on studying for my final NOW, I decided that I would give out this study guide and play the video below to encourage them to start their studying today!
In addition to studying for their upcoming final exam, students should look over the Modernism vs. Post-Modernism Themes handout again and generate any additional questions that they have about the material for a discussion in a future class period. A lot of these ideas take time to percolate, so that will be their assignment! Percolate!
Next hour we will continue to survey Post-Modernism, focusing on using informational texts to give students a better background of the time. I will also continue to harp at them to study in advance of their finals!