Lesson 1 Historical Context-
Provide students with historical context moving into slavery and Mark Twain’s biography. (Jigsaw learning method) This is especially necessary for ESL students who may have no knowledge of the role slavery played in US history. It is also helpful for students who have fear of speaking in front of large groups and also students who have trouble reading since they will be learning mostly through group discussions instead of long research papers.
SWBAT explain the culture and society of the books historical period, especially slavery and how it impacted not only the story, but also the society it was based on.
SWBAT connect the visualizations and information from the book to modern day society and their own lives.
Lesson 2 Using The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to Explore Racial and Linguistic Profiling-
Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is often-times banned due to its overtly racial stereotypes, and racist language. As an educator, it can be difficult and challenging to be motivated to teach a novel that has the potential to be challenged by students, other faculty, parents, and community members. Because of the potential challenges that educators will face, it is important to tackle and explore the issues that the novel brings to light, especially in relation to racial and linguistic profiling. The novel can (and I would argue, should) be used as a vehicle to discuss these issues. The follow set of lesson plans would be implemented at different points in the semester in order to keep the discussion relevant to the students’ reading. The first three of the suggested activities would be done before reading the novel, the fourth would occur while reading, and the final activity would take place after finishing the novel.
Lesson 3- African American SpiritualsPurpose:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has many themes. One of these themes is the blending of cultures (specifically the southern white Huck and African American Jim). This is first seen in the book through the use of superstitions that both characters believe in. However, Twain wrote this novel in the decades after the Civil War. By that time, the Blues was being born in the South. In his introduction to the book, Robert O’ Meally, the Zora Neale Hurston professor of Literature at Columbia University, argues that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn anticipates the musical form of Blues through certain passages. The African American spirituals and sorrow songs preceded the Blues. This is important because through various activities, students will be able to analyze both the culture of the antebellum south as well as their own culture.
Lesson/Mini-Unit 4 – Censorship #6 (8 days)Objective:SWBAT analyze the language of Huck Finn and argue their position for or against the use of this novel in schools by engaging in a class debate.Goal: The goal of this lesson is to engage the students in a conversation about what, if anything, the book can teach us and stimulate a discussion about why the students’ chose their position in the debate. We hope to help students see literature as historical artifacts and representations of the time and settings in which they were written, and to alter literary content would be like trying to erase and re-write history.
Reasoning for Guiding questions/ideas
Over the course of this mini-unit these questions will be posted around the classroom and will serve as prompts or questions to consider throughout all the lessons. By the end of the week, we hope to have answers or ideas written beneath all of the questions.What do you think was Mark Twain’s purpose in using derogatory language in the novel?What do you think the use of derogatory language adds to literature?Which characters use that type of language? Why do you think those characters do?Who do you think the intended audience of this novel was?What would happen if you altered the words/language? How would this change affect the overall idea?
Does reading Huck Finn help or harm race relations? Is the language helpful in understanding past and present racial and cultural tensions? (this could be part of the debate-evidence for why or why not to teach/ban the book)
Should The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn be taught? If yes, then what is important to highlight in the novel?
*The complete Lesson/Unit Plan for Censorship is attached to this page.
Lesson/Mini-Unit 4 on Censorship
Lesson 5 (Final Assessment) – Cultural AutobiographyObjective:SWBAT examine the characters of Huck Finn in combination with their own lives in order to see the affect of society in a person’s culture.Purpose: Students will compose a cultural autobiography at the end of reading and all of the other activities because they will have resources to connect to. The Game of Life will serve as review of the book and the situations Huck Finn and other characters experience, the debating and linguistic/racial profiling activity will give the students insight to their internal morals and the way they are being affected by their surroundings. The Cultural Autobiography connects directly with the students while also encouraging self-exploration, writing skills and creativity.