Reflection: Staircase of Complexity Ravin' About "The Raven": Inside Gothic Lit with Oates & Poe - Section 3: Building Knowledge


While students should undeniably read more and are encouraged, prodded, and cajoled to do so, one thing they do LOTS of already is watch movies.  I think it's a shame to let all of this content-area knowledge go to waste, especially when so many literary elements present themselves in video (and in musical lyrics too, for that matter)!  Until my students have developed a body of literature at their mental disposal to use as support for class discussion and examples, they are encouraged to use films as evidence to help them develop a background, make connections, and explore archetypes and other literary elements.  While I find that I haven't always seen the movies that they use as support, it doesn't hinder the activity at all.  In fact, it gives me the opportunity to ask more genuine questions, demand more evidence to support and "clarify" claims, and play the "I'm such an old lady!" card that entertains my students, who undoubtedly get frustrated and exclaim, "Ms. McCoy!  How have you NOT seen that movie?  You're killing me!"  

Ultimately, this activity of connecting Gothic elements to film helped my students get a clearer idea of what the genre looked like before reading (thereby developing a more accurate schema), had something very familiar to compare both works to as a consumer of literature/film, and were able to more actively participate in relevant discussion about Gothic literature.  The confidence built in this activity allowed them to jump right into "Where is Here?" as an informed reader, rather than a tentative student, and that definitely translated to students who were more willing to share opinions, be critical, bring up evidence, and interact with the text.  When they continued on with "The Raven" outside of class, I know that they used the same confidence, built by scaffolding, to tackle the challenge before them.  

Another bonus of incorporating more discussion about other types of media into the classroom is the increase in demands about media with the Common Core.  I was initially shocked to see how fluent students must be in using and evaluating media with the Core, but the more I thought about this, the more obvious the need for fluency in this area became!  My students' lives are absolutely saturated with media, so I find it very exhilarating to be given the flexibility to address this huge sector of their lives as well as the written sector.

  Using Movies to Discuss Literary Concepts
  Staircase of Complexity: Using Movies to Discuss Literary Concepts
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Ravin' About "The Raven": Inside Gothic Lit with Oates & Poe

Unit 3: Romanticism & Transcendentalism
Lesson 6 of 8

Objective: SWBAT identify Gothic themes in present-day media and literature and use textual evidence from "Where is Here?" and "The Raven" to compose a short essay comparing and contrasting the themes and effectiveness of author structure in portraying Gothic content.

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