Making Curriculum Pop

I'm in the early stages of teaching A Separate Peace with a group of very reluctant freshmen (ILP-ers and drop-out risks) who find the book not only hard but extremely boring.


Does anyone do any fun activities with the book? Or more generally any media or fun activities to teach internal conflict, jealousy, friendship, or denial?


So far (and we're only into chapters 2 and 3) we've watched clips of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to show foil and prep schools.


Any Tom and Jerry cartoons work for the vocab word enmity


There's an episode of Emperor's New School (yes, I watch too many Saturday cartoons...) called "Kronk Moves In" where Kuzco's jealousy leads to Kronk being thrown away in a barrel.  I thought I'd have them compare it to Gene jouncing Finny from the tree limb.


While I know that Dead Poet's Society draws a lot of parallels, my students would hate that movie.


Anything you have is fabulous and thank you in advance!

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Replies to This Discussion

Have you done symbolism yet? The students you are describing would definitely get into the heavy symbolism in the text. You could first look at symbolism in media - tattoos, gestures, images that appear with certain artists. Then look at the text to find symbols that are associated with Phineas and Gene. You might have them design tattoos that Phineas, Gene, Brinker and Leper might get based on symbolism in the text...

Thanks so much!  We are going to look at symbolism this week.  I have a worksheet for the river symbolism and Gene, but this is much better!

I am not sure if this will help but I have found that the technique of the 'instant book' works well with reluctant readers. Simply divide the book into the number of students (or pairs of students) in your class so that each has to deal with a small section. If this reflects the number of chapters, so much the better.  I usually try giving the latter sections of the book to those few good students who have actually read it. Students then tell the rest of the class what is in their section - max. 2 minutes - so they all know what they are dealing with. These summaries are published on the class intranet or whatever technology you use. Each section of the book then has a resident expert who can be called on to advise on issues that emerge in that section.

Once the students have a sense of the content you can work with the book as a whole starting with some fairly simple ideas eg the content that they have already described can be entered into PowerPoint slides and students insert images that suggest the mood or some other aspect of the novel you are teaching. This gives them a sense of the feelings associated with the story. These slides can be printed out and made into into a frieze to reinforce the linearity of the narrative. It is often surprising what can emerge from these patterns.

This is very cool!  It's a bit too late for this book (we're about half way through) but I look forward to using this idea in the future.

Thank you!



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