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in my classes this year. Freshman English Troy (selections) Interested in showing parts of the movie, removing much of the conversations between Achilles and Minerva, but retaining the narrative flow of the story in all other respects. Because my lesson plan is more ambitious this year, I cannot choose to focus as deeply on each time period and culture as I would like. The contrast between the Iliad and the Odyssey (the nature of the heroes, the concepts of bravery vs. cunning, and the role of the gods in each story) is important going forward, but I just don’t have the time to highlight it this year if I want to get everything else done. The role of the epic hero and his place in literature and myth is important for two reasons. First, it has relevance due to the plethora of superhero movies being released (modern superheroes are Greek epic heroes in every major respect), and secondly, because of the way I have designed my four-year curriculum. Because I have access to the students for four years (theoretically), I have structured my lesson plans as one massive four-year lesson, rather than a series of smaller ones. This allows me to scaffold concepts across years, reinforcing ideas at each point constantly. Gladiator (Opening fight scene) I used this clip last year to great effect with my freshman before we started the Aeneid. I had to drop the book this year for space reasons, but the lecture associated with it is easy to keep, and I believe is important. The Roman culture shifts away from the Greek concepts of powerful individuals, and focuses on collective effort. This leads to the concept of the “comitatus,” or retinue for a king or hero. From this concept comes the knighthood and from there, chivalry. The image of a collective force overcoming enemies on the field is a powerful visual aid, and one that I want them to have going forward into medieval literature. Sophomore Class Much Ado About Nothing (Kenneth Branaugh ) Shakespeare is pretty much required in an English class, but too much of him at once hurts rather than helps. The class will be looking at three of his plays this year (this one, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth) as well as doing a creative writing unit on plays and stage direction (learning to show details rather than tell them). Showing this film solves two problems – it shortens the amount of time the class is focused on one author, and it demonstrates the visual element of playwriting, which the class will use in the writing part of the unit. West Side Story Originally, I was going to avoid this one (I personally dislike the film), but the common core wants students to be exposed to how author’s reimagine older works. Rather than read two different versions
of the same story. The visual has another important element as well – it grounds the story in a time and place. and because it reinforces a lesson on comedy and tragedy. a comparison between the work and any of the films could prove profitable. Heart of Darkness (Tim Roth) I searched for months to find a film of this movie that wasn’t Apocalypse Now. It serves both as a reinforcer and a point of study. as well as having enough changes that the class can write and discuss the alterations. which the story fails to do (written as it was for a “contemporary” audience). One of the most prevalent themes in the story is the separation from civilization and the feelings of isolation that can drive a man to madness in the dark. Junior/Senior Classes A Christmas Carol Most interpretations of this work are flawed – they make the work about greed and redemption rather than about fear and insecurity crippling an otherwise good man. The class watches this movie. and the movie gets this right. where comedy comes from suffering. The movie is a short one. Part of the comparison has to do with the fact that the world Dickens lived in is different socially from ours in many important respects. however. The focus on individual interaction is key. The Producers (Gene Wilder) This piece is designed specifically for a writing assignment. this is a movie that understands that Frankenstein isn’t about science gone mad. breaking down the elements of the movie well. Frankenstein (Kenneth Branaugh ) This film is powerfully acted and well-paced. and each student pulls 20 lines from it. so it falls well short of the others in terms of potentially objectionable material. made for TV. and the anxiety and fear that that world engenders is mostly absent from our modern life. I chose this film for its pacing (superior to the remake). I felt it would be faster to show this film after the class reads the play and have them compare changes both in content and in execution. As a result. but about responsibility and parenthood. The play must follow all requirements of the narrative story. and may be funny or not at each group’s discretion. . Above all. Then the students are separated into groups and work together to write a one-act play that uses at least 20 lines from the movie in different contexts.