I would really have preferred to title this blog post “Pimp my Lesson Plan” but then I figured it might be considered inappropriate by those who are not familiar with this particular usage of the word “pimp.” If you’re still confused see “Pimp my Ride.”
Anyhow, so yesterday I started teaching my grade 12s about different schools of literary criticism, beginning with Reader Response. I always feel like I need to do a really good job of explaining the purpose behind literary criticism right at the beginning of the unit. In the past, I’ve used analogies. Here’s the analogy I used to use:
That works, but this time I wanted to try something a little different, so instead, before I even started discussing literary criticism, I had two students come up to the front of the room and close their eyes. Then I gave each of them an object to hold and describe. One student got this:
while the other got this:
Then I asked them to describe the objects while keeping their eyes closed. As you might expect, they focused on the tactile features of the object. The matryoshka doll was hard and smooth and the student even felt the ridges of paint. The boa was light, soft, and flexible. Then I had the students open their eyes and describe the objects. This time the doll was “feminine, colourful, curvy” and the boa was … well … “red” (upon reflection the boa wasn’t the best choice). The point was that the object didn’t change, just their perception of what was important about that object. I explained that when we study a text, our perception of what is important about it changed depending on the lens we use to view it. These different lenses are different schools of literary criticism.
Then I went on to the slide with the cat. After that, I did a four corners exercise where I presented statements that either represented a “reader response” attitude toward literature, or the complete opposite. Students decided to what extent they agreed or disagreed with the statements and explained their reasons.
Finally, we did a short note explaining some of the key features of reader response theory.
In short, I’m happy with this, but I’d like to know what you’d do with it to make it better. I guess what I’m asking is, will you pimp my lesson plan?