December 6, 2006

Teaching Shakespeare, The Crucible

Posted in curriculum, grad school at 9:20 pm by mrsmauck

This is the last week of classes at Local U, and I gave a presentation on teaching Shakespeare Monday, and Wednesday, a lesson presentation from a unit plan I did for my Methods class titled *deep breath* “Personal freedom vs. Institutional control” (using The Crucible, McCarthyism projects, and YA novels The Chocolate War, After, and The Wave). Getting this unit ready was intense! Five weeks’ worth of discussion questions, daily plans, assignment sheets, rubrics, a test, a PowerPoint, etc.

My Methods teacher’s comment was that my lesson was very well-organized and I used questions very effectively with the students, but that a discussion on McCarthyism might be a bit over 11th graders’ heads. The lesson I presented was an intro to the unit: background on McCarthyism, introduction of themes, etc. What do you all think? Can you discuss The Crucible without discussing McCarthyism? I never learned about McCarthyism until I got to college, and then I found it fascinating, and for my teaching philosophy of forming critical thinkers, I think a unit on it is very appropriate. I tied in racial profiling after 9/11, NSA Wiretapping, and used a fable by James Thurber called “A Very Proper Gander” to introduce the ideas of policing your neighbors and a culture of fear and suspicion. What do you all real teachers think? Is this stuff too heavy for high schoolers? Or do they need it? How do you simplify it?



  1. Anonymous said,

    I think that things a bit over their heads are good for them- stretches them. But I don’t think McCarthyism is over their heads- how on earth will they avoid it in US History? I remember learning about it tied to the Crucible when I was a junior. I just taught my junior IB class about nihilism and Plato’s theory of ideas in connection with the Great Gatsby. It was hard for them until they saw the principles played out in the book, but then they got it.

  2. rbarr said,

    O, please dear G*d, teach them to think. As a college of education professor with a previous 25 yr of hs teaching. . .i know from experience that they need to be forced to think deeply and criticaly. however, we are getting too many college age students who can’t think — do what you can. thanks!!

  3. mex said,

    Sounds like you are doin’ well. I’ve heard great thangs ’bout the Choc War….. think I’d enjoy it, even as a retiree?

    Syb (mex)

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