Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What Are Your Thoughts?

I am on the horns of a dilemma ... Frankenstein or A Lesson Before Dying for the final text of ninth grade? I am seeking a challenging text that prepares students for the rigorous reading levels of British Literature in sophomore year but also one that grabs ninth graders deeply. Here are my thoughts ...
  • The reading level of Frankenstein is more challenging overall with its vocabulary and sentence structure. Is this a good thing? Is the reading level of Frankenstein appropriate for ninth grade?
  • The historical background of A Lesson Before Dying seems like it would be more challenging to ninth grade students -- one can read Frankenstein separate from its historical time period much more readily. Yet, the history embedded in A Lesson ... is so vital to our nation's history. Does teaching this book become more of a history lesson than a literature one?
  • In A Lesson ..., is the sex and the use of the f--- word one time appropriate for ninth grade? I was surprised by this content. How do you handle it?
I would love to hear everyone's thoughts and even other titles to achieve my goal if you have them.


  1. Is Frankenstein a part of the British literature curriculum? It is at my school. My gut response is to go with A Lesson Before Dying. I have written a UbD unit for it, if you want to check it out:

  2. You know, I flipped through my copy of the Penguin Three Gothic Novels I have left over from college while I was rearranging my bookshelf. I thought to myself, "I probably know enough about the 19th century to actually get something out of reading Frankenstein now, but it looks really hard."

    And I just looked at it again, and it still looks really hard.

    otoh, I can't really consider whether or not it is too hard without immediately falling back on "Why do we teach literature again?" which I don't have a ready answer for anymore.

  3. What if you ditched both texts, assigned a particular genre/time period/theme within Brit Lit, let the students choose their own novel (maybe from a list...) and then weave meaning/connections through discussion or assessment/project with multiple modalities?