Making Curriculum Pop

Alright gang; it looks like I'll be first to admit I'm having problems coming up with making Huck Finn POP! I've got plenty of ways to differentiate the material with topics dealing with racism, gender roles, education, society, symbolism, etc. And I've got a Huck Finn movie to use, but I'd like to attempt something else. Any ideas?

And I did note the comic Ryan posted a couple months ago.

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Hi Sean,

From a social studies angle, my suggestions would be mapping their route along the Mississippi and writing an "ethnography" of Southern culture of the late 19th century.
This may sound kinda corny, but what about using the RAFT strategy (role, audience, format, topic) to write about or construct a project that convinces an audience of ______ (something related to the book, like the things you listed above). I've used this before with students and they needed to convince a school board that this title should either be removed from a reading list or be made required reading. But, this is in a thematic course based on issues of censorship.

My kids liked the RAFT/ raft connection and really got into the writing process.

Good luck.
Have you thought about doing a Google Lit trip - that seems pretty cool? If you decide to do that contact Kelly Wood as she is a media specialist that does some of that work!

Also read this old post - ARTICLES+WEBTOOL: Google Lit Trips

And this note from MC POPPER Jim Holland might give you some ideas:

Comment by Jim Holland on November 24, 2009 at 5:08pm
Delete Comment We are using Google Earth extensively in various curricula- some with embedded Web 2.0 widgets and some with simple placemarks. Here are two KMZ files you can download and look at samples. ActivityTypes.kmz and Web2GEExamples.kmz.

These are from the Presentations page of my blog: http://digitalgoonies.com


There is also one allusion at Luke's Pop Allusion wiki:
http://useyourallusion.pbworks.com/Adventures-of-Huckleberry-Finn

Also this list of songs seems to have thematic links/allusions to Huck Finn. (from the Lit Tunes Database)

"Born to Run" Bruce Springsteen Born to Run 1975 Sony
"Fly Away" Nelly The Longest Yard Soundtrack 2005 Universal
"Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" Crash Test Dummies God Shuffled His Feet 1993 Arista
"Song for America" Kansas Song for America 1974 Sony
"Southern Accents" Tom Petty Southern Accents 1985 MCA
"Youth of the Nation" P.O.D. Satellite 2001 Atlantic
* "Barefoot Children" Jimmy Buffett Barometer Soup 1995 MCA Nashville
* "Tom Sawyer" Rush Moving Pictures 1981 Mercury/Universal

Also this Utah Philips/Ani DiFranco poem/song is all about Rivers as a metaphor from history - see study guide at MB.

Hope this gets you started - but it seems like you could make a lot of thematic connections between the themes of running away, journeys, race and discrimination, eh?

Hope this gets gives you some more ideas...

Happy New Year! Ry:)
These may not be exactly what you are looking for, but in our classroom we play the "toe the line" game from "The Freedom Writers" to discuss racism and other topics in the novel that apply to our own life. You bascially push all the desks to either side of the room, run a line of masking tape down the middle, divide the class in half and have them face each other, and then ask students to step up to the line for each question they can relate to. For example, "Step up to the line if you have been stereotyped. Step up to the line if you know someone who is racist. Step up to the line if you have been a target of racism." You can also have them take one step forward each time they can answer a question until some students are directly facing each other on the line.

I also pair the novel with "Finn" which is told from Pap's perspective. It came out a few years ago. You will have to edit some of the content for them, but generally they enjoy it.
Actually, you can also compare/contrast the book to the movie "The Freedom Writers" and the short story "A&P"
Sean,

Oh jeez, I love teaching Huck Finn, so I'm sorry in advance for these. If they're not what you're looking for all apologies.

I always watch the PBS documentary Born to Trouble in segmented parts with the kids. It covers a lot and the kiddos do get into it. We get into some great discussions.

Within the documentary there's a man who mentions that Jim knows Pap is dead. So after we watch that segment (long before the reveal at the end of the novel) I introduce the students to the CSI: St. Petersburg assignment. It's attached below, but without the documentary I'm not sure if it's any use. It takes a couple days but I use it as a way to make the students read closely, to think about all the events of the novel thus far (and there's a lot of them). It also is a good segue into thesis statements: their hypothesis has to be contention/qualifier and be backed up with evidence. We revisit the case at the end of the novel and see who gets to be head CSI.

Another song I do with my students which they abhor but remember forever that was not on Ryan's play list is "Moon River" and I go ahead and play the Andy Williams version. We look at it as a poem and SOAPSTone it (Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Setting, Tone).

There's a Simpsons "Bart on the Road" where Bart obtains a fake license and goes on a road trip with Millhouse, Martin, and Nelson. While the connections are loose, Bart and his actions can be compared to Huck down the river. They end up in Missouri where Nelson must see Andy Williams, and yes, he sings "Moon River". It's good if you have a spare 30 minutes.

When I get the the chapters where the duke and king lie and scheme I tell them an urban legend to point out the satire of gullibility. I totally copped the lesson from here. The one I use is about blush spiders living under toilet seats and I make it absurd and scary and it freaks them out. I tell it to them as a warning to check under the seats at school and then move into the "lesson". We discuss the actions of the duke and king and how absurd they are, yet people believe them. We talk about some modern day schemers/schemes that are obnoxious, yet people fall for them. Eventually a student will make the connections that I've lied to and schemed them and we really get to the lesson.

Another novel is My Jim by Nancy Rawles. It's through the point of view of Jim's wife. It's well-written and has been a summer read for our school with no objections from parents.

Finally, and I promise this is finally, if you've even come this far...
"Telephone Man" by Chris Crutcher (in his book Athletic Shorts) is a modern comparison to the novel that is phenomenal. Boys who never even attempted to read the novel eat up this story. I even had one of these said boys laugh out loud while reading.
CSI: St. Petersburg
Attachments:
Thank you, all!

Actually I heard of My Jim; one of my coworkers told me about it.

I think Bart on the Road sounds like it would be a good idea. Funny thing; I'm going to use the Halloween episode where Lisa grows her own world in a petri dish for Margaret Cavendish's "A World within an Eare-Ring." Simpsons works for a lot of literature, surprisingly.
Have you read The Secret Life of Bees(Kidd)? It has many parallels to Huck and Tom, with female protagonists. Also, what would happen if your students placed Huck and Tom in today's world? What would equivalent experiences be for them? Is there anywhere in the United States that one can be "free" or "uncivilized"?
So funny you mention this! I was watching this in class with my 10th graders today - I am trying to get them to draw parallels between Antigone as a tragic hero and Lily - and I thought, "Wow! this reminds me of Huck Finn!" I think that would be a great idea!
This is very interesting thread - thank you for sharing so many interesting ideas! I am interested to know how teachers have taught the part of the novel with the Duke and King. I want to design a fun lesson around the theme of "fraud" for my ELD class. My master teacher is teaching Huck Finn and has allowed me the responsibility of teaching the Duke and King section of the novel, and I am eager to make these chapters interactive, memorable, and effectively taught. Any help is much appreciated!

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