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Educational Technology - (Grades 9-12)
7 class periods of 90 minutes each
Students study Charles Dickens's Great Expectations to gain insight into a classical piece of fiction and to understand how writers respond to social conditions. Students also consider how that response is important today.
In a high school literature unit, students study Dickens's Great Expectations. The unit asks students to:
By selecting appropriate materials and resources, teachers can adapt this learning activity for students whose first language is not English.
For a film study of Great Expectations, use videotapes or digital versions (e.g., DVD, laserdisc) of David Lean's 1946 version, the BBC series, or other versions. Digital copies and multimedia-authoring software, such as HyperStudio, make it easier for students to explore how different filmmakers establish character. (Compare, for example, Dickens's verbal description of Miss Havisham, Lean's gradual revelation, and the Disney version. Play the video and discuss analogies between verbal and visual language.) Other areas that lend themselves to this type of examination are (1) setting, (2) emotional tone, and (3) mood (atmosphere). Perform a Web search on Great Expectations through www.hotbot.com/. Movie-related sites, although not long-lasting, have considerable detail and comparative information.
CRITIQUE OF SOCIETY
Students' outside reading should concentrate on contemporary writers who are responding to social issues, for example: Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago, John Grisham's The Chamber, or Stephen King's The Shawshank Redemption. Students collaborate on a class timeline (posted on a classroom bulletin board or a class Web site), placing younger authors on a timeline with Dickens. Posting student notes about contemporary social conditions helps students grasp each author's relationship to Dickens.
This activity combines elements from many teachers' classrooms as well as my own experience. Kate Breen of Louisville, Kentucky, has pioneered research into weaving Victorian social research into the teaching of Dickens's novels. Many ideas here have grown from the summer 1997 National Endowment for the Humanities seminar "Serial Production: Dickens Bleak House" held at the University of California-Santa Cruz.
Students develop a rubric for evaluating presentations. Consider audience response to each presentation.
Hold conferences with students and keep a record of class participation.
Compare with students the iterations of student-developed concept maps.
The Utah Education Network received permission from ISTE (The International Society for Technology in Education) to share this lesson.
Written by: Werner Leipolt, Coleytown Middle School, Westport, Connecticut