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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

English II (World Literature)

English II (World Literature)

Related Tags: Project-Based Learning
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Hello to all,
I am looking at turning my Honors English II World Literature into a straight PBL curriculum. I have approval from my principal. Has anyone else done this, or have any thoughts or ideas they wish to share?
Thanks,
Christy Fipps, NC

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Suzie Boss's picture
Suzie Boss
Journalist and PBL advocate
Blogger

Hi Christy,
Good for you (and your students). One strategy is to start with a unit you have taught in the past and "remodel" it into a project--with authentic inquiry, real -world products, student voice, and a public audience.
If you will share some information about your content and learning goals, I'm sure we can enlist the Edutopia community to help you imagine project opportunities.
Good luck!
~Suzie

Christy Fipps's picture
Christy Fipps
High school English teacher from Tabor City, North Carolina

Our district and state uses Common Core. We are required to teach the following in our honors curriculum: books from The Iliad; short stories from Africa, Austalia, and India; Elie Wiesel's memoir Night; Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Markus Zusak's The Book Thief; Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me Ultima.

Suzie Boss's picture
Suzie Boss
Journalist and PBL advocate
Blogger

What a rich reading list. Here are just a couple examples of literature projects I've seen that might give you some ideas:

--Google Lit Trips (www.googlelittrips.com) is well suited for "road" stories, such as The Iliad. It's also a good entry point for PBL because there's already some structure. As students read, they follow the journey on Google Earth, exploring or adding placemarks that take their understanding deeper. Here's some background: http://www.edutopia.org/google-lit-trip You can use a ready-made trip, design your own, or (for a more student-driven project) have students design their own trips.

--I've seen interesting projects that focus specifically on the reading list. Which books belong on the required list? Why? Students tackle that question and defend (or reject) specific choices. Ideally, they will make their case to those with power! Here's an example from a few years back (but still applicable): http://www.edutopia.org/economic-stimulus-education-technology-colorado

--For more project ideas, check out the project search feature at the Buck Institute for Education: http://bie.org/object/tools/project_search

Let's hear what other ideas emerge from the Edutopia community.

Dori's picture
Dori
Community Expert Educator

Christy,

I taught Advanced English Lit in a PBL school for 6 years. With careful planning, I was able to stay true to PBL while meeting all the CCSS and school curriculum requirements. It really comes down to introducing Literary Theory, teaching in a heavily multidisciplinary method to introduce the students to a large variety of ideas and themes, and keeping each student on task by mapping out goals and strategies individually. I begin with having the kids do all the same basic reading (novel, background information, etc.). Every day, the students are given an open-ended discussion question based on the reading--this allows them to explore ideas for themselves. Usually within a couple of weeks, you will see a vein of thought forming. (I also let this be my guide toward developing emergent curriculum lesson plans). On average, each student produced 2 major projects and several formative papers on the topics of their choosing.

A few examples of what I've taught and projects that have come from them:

Chaucer's Tales of Canterbury: filmography, High Medieval culture as seen in the Tales, Politic of Chaucer's England, Finishing the Tale (written), Finishing the Tale (Dungeons & Dragons RPG-style), costuming based on descriptions in the Prologue, Comparison of Bubble Gum Pop's :It's a Barbie World" to "The Wife of Bath's Tale"

Chinese Myth and Legend (this class was reading intense, but the projects that came from it were amazing): Temple architecture that exemplifies the evolution of religion in China, How Imperial beliefs and edicts transformed Buddhism, Journey to the West: the humanizing of Monkey art project, one student created a Magic the Gathering deck using Taoist Deities and the characters from Monkey, Religious significance in Ancient Chinese burial practices. (Note: we also went to the Asian Galleries at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and each person had to devise a second project based on one or more pieces of art).

Dori's picture
Dori
Community Expert Educator

It always bothers me when a school has a required set of books to teach from. It doesn't allow the teachers nearly as many options and limits the students' choice of projects dramatically. I wonder about The Book Thief being taught for honors since it is written at an 8-9th grade reading level, but the story is certainly beautiful. Do you only teach one book per semester? If you are allowed to add reading, you may get better results from your students by picking a couple of books and a variety of supplemental reading that work together on multiple levels to allow student to recognize themes. My favorite class was probably Post-Colonial African Literature.Ad a class, they chose 4 major readings to concentrate on: Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions, Abrahams A Wreath for Udomo, Achebe's Things Fall Apart, Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and a variety of pre-colonial and post-colonial African poetry. I got a broad range of projects: the History of Leopold III, the symbolism of Belgium's famous hand-shaped chocolates, deconstructing a passage of Heart of Darkness, comparison/contrast of HoD to Apocalypse Now, the advent of western mental illness in African society, the power of women in pre-colonial women in Ibo Society.and cultural integration/migration due to a forced western education.

It was an amazing class.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Community Manager at Edutopia
Staff

Dori, there are so many good ideas there. The Magic the Gathering deck idea is brilliant. So many students are into collectible card games...

Christy Fipps's picture
Christy Fipps
High school English teacher from Tabor City, North Carolina

Thanks to all for the great ideas! I feel that I have a wide variety to help guide me in this process.
Christy Fipps

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