(12/10/00 2:02:40 pm)
|Lesson Plans/Workshop Ideas|
I thought I'd bring Kate's suggestion for lesson plans to a new thread.
Now, I'm not a teacher, but in college I gave a few stress workshops, one of which was focused on fairies. One of the meditations I used was from Ted Andrews "Enchantment of the Fairy Realm." For each element, he lists several fairy tales that one can use to conncect with nature energies. Now, aside from the New Age sound of it, the exercises are interesting, as he asks you to enter your favorite fairytale, walk through the story. It may be a relaxing way to break the ice with a new class, without being overly embarrassing to any parties.
(12/10/00 7:28:56 pm)
That's a good idea! I dislike Ted Andrews in general, and that book in particular, but you've come up with a great use for it -- spinning gold out of straw, indeed! I'm teaching a 300-level folklore course next quarter, and my focus will be on fairy tales; discussing with the students what their favorite fairy tales are, and why, will be interesting. Any other ideas?
(12/11/00 9:19:09 am)
|Working on ideas...|
I understand what you mean- I've encountered many who don't like it. It's one of my favorite books, only because of the detail, imagery, etc it lends towards. It's more of a spark, I guess.
Could you tell me a little more about the writing course you'll
be teaching? I've written up a few exercises already- some from
writing courses I've taken, some from workshops I've presented,
some I've only scribbled about, leaving them on the page. I love
brainstorming, but need a little focus or I'll go completely out
of control! (good thing, unless order, not creative chaos, is desired)
Hope to hear from you soon!
(12/11/00 8:49:24 pm)
My course is English 367.05, "The U.S. Folk Experience." It's under the aegis of the writing program (it's an intermediate writing course), but there are specific sections designated by field -- there is a literature section, an African-American section, a business section, etc. All students at Ohio State are required to take one of these sections, and they've sorted them by interest (not all are run through the English dept., either). It also functions as a 300-level course in whatever the field is, but with an emphasis on writing. It's expected, but not required, that students in each section will have taken a 200-level introduction to the field (Folklore is English 210, I think), and know some basic terms, etc.
The course is supposed to have something to do with "The American Experience," but there's lots of leeway; people who don't work primarily with American materials in their fields (medievalists, Victorian scholars, etc.) connect things up by discussing American reactions to European materials -- it enables us to talk about perspective, audience, etc. In my case, I'm also teaching my area of expertise, the classic European fairy tale (Tatar's Norton anthology will be the text), and how they were reinterpreted by Americans, particularly Walt Disney. I'm also going to discuss American tales (like Uncle Remus or the Appalachian "Jack" tales) in relation to the European ones. We're also going to discuss the components that make up a story (action vs. evaluation, intros, codas, etc.), and how it relates to their own writing.
I've always had a problem integrating writing into the courses I teach -- I find composition theory, and talk about the mechanics of writing in general, to be insufferably boring and not obviously helpful; any suggestions you have that can make the process less painful for me and my students would be greatly appreciated! One of my ideas is to have them rewrite a classic tale from the point of view of one of the characters (Atwood's "Bluebeard's Egg" inspired me there); I prefer creative writing assignments, and that seemed like a fun one. Another would be to take one specific tale and its European analogue and compare them, or a tale from the Grimms or Perrault vs. the Disney movie. With folk tales, it's very easy to talk about audience, context, and rhetorical devices, and less easy to talk about constructing arguments -- though I suppose I could use some of the criticism, like Zipes and Tatar, for that. Any ideas?
(12/12/00 2:31:11 pm)
|It's just a start...|
I began typing this up last night before you posted, but maybe there's something here you can use. Please be gentle and courteous in using them, I hope to publish books of lesson plans someday, but can't until I no longer work at Houghton Mifflin (I'm in School division and can publish my trade stuff, but nothing school related.) Let me know if any of this is helpful!
Take a fairy tale and change one element. What would be the new outcome? For example, what if Little Red Riding Hood’s cloak was blue? Would her tale take place by the ocean, or under the ocean?
Elements to change- prop, setting, character, point of view, culture, theme, etc
INTO THE WOODS
This musical features the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, the Baker and His Wife, Rapunzel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty. (The last two are minor) Example of what happens if you combine stories and let the characters interact.
Take a few stories and intermingle them using a common element- theme, prop, setting, character, etc.
There is no one version for a fairytale. There are many variants
depending upon culture and the author’s interests: some will focus
on one element and bring that forward into a new light, or remove
it. Study several variants in one category of theme or tale. Note
the common elements as well as the differences. (See Heidi’s site
SurLaLune Fairy Tale Pages )
An actor or actress, a dancer or magician, needs to know the illusion they are weaving for the audience so well that they must become part of it, or the illusion is lost. So too must a writer. Use the skills of a performance artist to enter your story. Try this with a fairy tale, improvising with your group- what does the character know that the audience does not, and vice versa? What are the interactions like, attitudes towards each other, internal thoughts, body language? Is there a soundtrack that sets the mood? Use this with your writing.
List the elements of a typical fairy tale. Use them to write a new one. Or take a fairytale and focus on one element, symbol, archetype for a poem or story.
In every story, each object, character, event must fall into place, or it won’t be believable. In addition to literature in general, this holds true for cultures, genders, age: when are exceptions allowed? When is a variant appropriate, and when is it not?
Elements, Themes, Characters, etc
Cultural differences- example: Trickster varies among different Native American tribes. In some he is a crow, in others a coyote. They are common in class, though specific to a location, a group of people, even one person.
Often the form of a story suggested the purpose of the tale: entertainment? Teaching a lesson? Passing on history (sometimes stretched to keep attentions)? Hope for the future?
Dreamer of Oz
Hans Christian Anderson
Variants of the following:
Cinderella (including Ever After)
Little Red Riding Hood
Beauty and the Beast
(There are entire collections of fairy tale films: Fairy Tale Theatre is a good one, Golan Globus did several also.)
Ballet (Nutcracker, Ondine, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood are some)
Opera (Hansel and Gretel)
Musical Theatre (Into the Woods, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast)
Music (Childhood Remembered- by various Narada Artists)
Fine Arts and Illustration
Edited by: Kerrie at: 12/12/00
(12/12/00 7:07:00 pm)
Kerrie~~ You are just overflowing with incredible ideas aren't you?!?! These are wonderful and a pure joy. I only am sad that I couldn't have had more teachers with your creativity and imagination in the past, ah but for the future! I am always learning and am constantly reminded that there are real people out there who do care and who really enjoy sharing their radiant essence. Before I get off into a patch of brambles....
I think it's terrific that you are going to make a book of lesson plans. With the taste you just gave us I've no doubt it will be a success.
(12/13/00 4:43:46 am)
|Yeah, what GanFae said!|
Thank you so much for all the wonderful ideas! My students will have as much fun with these exercises as I will. I'll keep you posted as I sort out my lesson plans -- you've been very helpful, and any further advice you have would be greatly appreciated!
(12/13/00 5:03:42 pm)
|Not exactly fairy tale oriented, but...|
When I was at Wheelock College (short of it- went to be a K teacher, went into Child Life (working with kids and families in medical settings), decided to write for them), I took a wonderful course taught by Leland Clarke called Music for Children. We had to create and execute in the class 2 lesson plans utilizing music and other disciplines. Most of the class worked with very young children and did a lot of the more traditional songs with counting, rhyming, sign langueage, etc. I chose more abstract exercises for older kids. One I did was with the hallucination scene in Labyrinth (As the World Falls Down) to show appropriateness. I first played it with no soundtrack, then with "Morning" from Peer Gynt Suite, then with "Blue Room" from the Legend soundtrack. Then I played it with the full soundtrack. As I neared the end, I showed less, as it was a long scene to repeat 4 times! Something like this may make a good writing/discussing exercise on what is appropriate to a story, what can affect the mood, etc.
Will think of more!
(12/13/00 7:35:41 pm)
|Another that can be adjusted...|
I was looking through one of my MANY writing books (Room to Write, by Bonni Goldberg), and found this interesting exercise. It's about personal altars and how we all have them- whether it's trophies, little knicknaks, or just a certain spot to write in. It might be interesting to write about what special things would be in a character's list of special items. Would it be what they are best known for? Something obscure?
You can take almost any personal writing exercise and adapt it to
fit a charater- what did they do for summer vacation? What do they
think the perfect job is? What they feel they use as security blankets
in life? What they think of a stranger? What secrets do they have?
Limitations they set? Use your imagination! Let me know if you want
Edited by: Kerrie at: 12/13/00
(12/13/00 8:44:21 pm)
I teach an upper division literature seminar (English 326, which I call Enchantment Literature, but is mostly European fairy tales--with some contemporary things mixed in). It has a strong a writing focus. So I have lots of writing ideas . . . which I present here in a somewhat inchoate manner. I've chosen three stand-bys, but have at least ten more to offer if you want them. By the way, I approach this body of work as a novelist so my own angle is always as an artist—not as one who studies rhetoric or composition. Like you I find the approaches to writing assignments from that field sorely lacking.
In general for this class, the very first class period, I set the tone (which encourages serious thinking but relies heavily on the willingness of students to creatively participate) by presenting two selections from Angela Carter’s collection Strange Things Still Sometimes Happen--“The Height of Purple Passion” and “Mother and Father Both Fast.” These are American folktales—most of my class concentrates (actually exclusively) on European tales. I use these as an icebreaker of sorts. They're excellent narratives on sexuality, quite mysterious and cool. Next, students play a sort of giant game of telephone; after a few minutes of quiet thinking, they pair up and exchange one story from their family lore. They are asked to provide as much detail as possible (names, locations, descriptions of the people involved) to the listener. The listener does not take notes. Next, the pairs change partners, and the new pairs tell each other the stories they just heard—with again, as much detail as possible. I allow them to add ‘asides’ in the telling, mentions of what they can’t remember or didn’t find out. They are encouraged to embellish slightly when their memory fails them. The pairs again change pairs and retell the second story they heard, and again for a third, and a fourth if there is time. Then each student is asked to write down the last story he or she heard in as much detail as possible, as well as his/her original story (own story) in as much detail as possible. Then, we begin to read out loud. A student reads the story he/she heard last; then, we find whose original story it was. They read the original story, and then the story he or she heard last, and so on and so on. It is great fun and the students write hilarious and often quite touching tales that provide a perfect introduction to so many folklore elements.
An essay assignment (now, I know you prefer creative assignments, and believe me so do I, but this one is pretty decent too) I have given to great success asks students (usually midway through the semester) to find a newspaper or magazine article that reminds them of a motif from fairy tales, and to explore that theme in an essay. The reason this satisfies my desire to allow students to be creative is that often the links are quite far-fetched, but extremely compelling. I find that encouraging students to make connections between ‘real life’ stories and fairy tales that may strike them as bizarre often leads them to quite original thinking. I’ve gotten compelling essays on tennis player Rene Richards’ sex change (drawing upon Beast themes), transvestitism (and Red Riding Hood), adoption columns (you know, those Thursday’s child ones some papers have, ‘Meet Johnny, who needs loving parents who have patience with frustration…linked to abandonment themes), stories of abuse (that girl who was kept in a box for years, woven in with coffin imagery). Of course you may get your share of so-called ‘Cinderella stories,’ but I tend to discourage them.
This is a quite personal assignment but again, I find it works wonders in class. When we are discussing incest tales, students write—anonymously—about their first ‘awareness’ of incest, whether it was negative or positive, in either first or third person, in the form of a story of a young person finding out about incest. I give them quite a bit of quiet time to do this in class. This prompts interesting discussion about changing cultural approaches to the subject. For that class, before the writing takes place, I also show excerpts from several films: “Spanking the Monkey,” “A Murmur of the Heart,” and—the name is escaping me for some stupid reason—Atom Ergoyan’s adaptation of the novel about the bus in Canada that crashes? I show the scene where the daughter (abused by her father) reads children ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin.’ A haunting scene. Why can't I think of the film's name? Sorry! For this class we read the Cinderella chapter in Tatar’s Norton anthology, and excerpts from Oedipus.
As a brief example of other classes centered on writing: in another class, we see excerpts from 'The Company of Wolves' and Maddin's 'Careful,' and write about childhood prohibitions--this is often an intense class as well, and triggers wonderful writing.
Please let me know if any of these are helpful to you at all, because I have TEN MORE I can share! But I don’t want to waste your time if these aren’t what you have in mind.
(12/13/00 9:02:24 pm)
|Re: Writing Assignments|
Oh, here's an idea- as extra credit
maybe. The other day I found a site on writing guided meditations:
Perhaps after walking them through the fairy tale meditation, they
could try their hand at their own? Just an idea.
(12/13/00 9:25:51 pm)
Sorry to interrupt the flow of this strong, but Kerrie, did you ever get the chapter I mailed you? I just got word that some packets I'd sent out three weeks ago, via Priority Mail, just arrived at their destinations. So I am curious to know if you got yours. Distrust of my local p.o. abounds . . .
(Now, back to Lesson Plans, sorry.)
(12/14/00 1:00:31 am)
Those are all excellent ideas -- I especially like the "Telephone" game! It will serve as a springboard not only for discussions of oral transmission, but also ideas of entitlement, tellability, "ownership," etc. We can then talk about versions, and how they relate to each other, and also genre -- personal stories have a rather different notion of versions and variants than do folk tales, primarily because there is an original source. Broader issues, too, of how experience is transmitted through narrative...the possibilities are endless! I'd love to hear your 10 other odeas as well. You and Kerrie have given me so many terrific activities, and I'm immensely grateful -- not least because I won't have to rely on brainless composition theory drivel to get concepts across. The creative approach, even when dealing with research papers, is so much more rewarding, and produces better results.
BTW, the film you're thinking of is _The Sweet Hereafter_. It's one of the saddest, most beautiful movies I've ever seen, and would be great to show.
(12/16/00 2:31:23 am)
Kate, speaking of incest tales, have you seen my anthology The Armless Maiden, in which writers use fairy tales to explore child abuse themes? I'm not bringing this up to blow my own horn (promise!), but rather to toot the horn for some of the writers in the volume (like Midori and Ellen), who have done great work with this theme. Tappan King's story, "Wolf's Heart," is one of my favorites in the book -- an original fairy tale woven together from several traditional motifs, which address the subject of "survivor's guilt." The book is out of print now, but I can probably scare up a copy if you haven't come across it.
(12/17/00 3:58:09 pm)
I'm so sorry to say that I am not familiar with your collection. It sounds immensely useful. And it obviously includes work I should already know.
I'll check at Powell's (which has used and new books, a great resource for out of print titles) for a copy this week.
And please, do toot your horn more often. Or as my grandmother always says, hak manaken chanek (Yiddish for 'go bang your own teakettle' which can be used either insultingly, for braggarts, or nurturing, for less egotistical types like ourselves).
Why do such important books go out of print so often. Mass rebellion is in order.
Thanks again for the tip,
p.s. My 'Piano' essay won't be done until well into spring, but when it is I would be honored for you to read it. Thanks for expressing interest. Perhaps you will even have some advice about places to send it. If it's vaguely readable . . .! Of course, I've been working on it for two years in between other projects, so I believe in the end it will be quite presentable.
(12/17/00 8:16:41 pm)
|Out of print books...|
I actually have a suggestion for those out of print books. When I went to the New England Booksellers Association conference a couple months ago (same weekend as Omega), I learned a lot about these new small print companies that do print-on-demand. Basically, if someone wants to order a book, they print in quantities as small as one and ship next day! (Of course, I think they have to have the file in the system first) The quality of the books was amazing and undetectible from the major publishing house quality. Companies like iUniverse, Lightning Source, Ingram Industries, and Replica Books. I've even thought about using Lightning Source once things get more established (and thicker) for my little business. Let me know if anyone wants more info on them! Maybe we can have a reprint revolution!
(12/19/00 6:41:12 pm)
|Re: Out of print books...|
Geez, with all the wonderful books that have gone out of print that we as a collective whole know of and would like to see a revival of.....we could easily keep a 'new small company' very busy indeed!!
(1/4/01 7:32:18 am)
I just thought I'd post and follow-up,
see how our teachers are doing! Have classes started yet? Lesson
plans finalized? Any initiated- worked/didn't work? Let us know!
Also, just wanted to recheck- was anyone interested in the info about "print-on-demand"?
Hope everyone is happy and healthy!
(2/16/01 4:25:13 pm)
I was just wondering if our teacher's
were still with us and how the lesson ideas went, if they were adapted,
new ideas to share, etc.