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LR 3.6 Americas Seventh Grade ELA Initiative Lesson.

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1 LR 3.6 Americas Seventh Grade ELA Initiative Lesson

2  You’ve just finished reading a story in class.  Your teacher looks at you and says, “Why don’t you start the discussion?”  What do you say?  Often students respond to such a question in very general ways, like the following:  Student #1…“Well, I liked it OK.”  Student #2…“It was boring.”  Student #3…“Boring? That was one of the best stories I’ve ever read.”

3  Do you know anything—anything at all— about the story that these students read?  You know that some students liked the story, and some didn’t, but you don’t know why.

4  Literary criticism helps you answer the question, why. Why did you think that book was one of the best you’ve ever read? Why are you telling everyone to see that movie? Why do the lines of that poem stick in your head?

5  So, what is literary criticism?  Literary criticism is the analysis and evaluation of literature. Analysis: Evaluation: How does the writer Is the piece of use literary elements literature well written? and devices? Is it entertaining, informing, or inspiring?

6  The worst kind of literary criticism consists of simple, unsupported, responses: “I hated that!” “That was great!”

7  The best kind of Literary Criticism includes an explanation of how a literary element shaped your response.  The plot of “The Highwayman” was so suspenseful that I could not stop reading.

8  Is this example of literary criticism good or poor? Turn and explain your answer to a neighbor. “Rikki-tikki-tavi” is a story that I really enjoyed. It is about a mongoose who saves a family that is threatened by cobras. It is a good story.  This is a poor example of literary criticism. The writer mentions the plot, but does not explain how the plot or any other literary element shaped his or her response.

9  When you write literary criticism of a short story, think about how the elements of the story shaped your response: Were you affected by one element or did several elements contribute to your response?  Example:The writer’s only method of characterization seemed to be direct. The first three pages of the story were devoted to describing the setting. There were lots of details, but the details didn’t do much to create a creepy mood...

10  Three central elements usually form the core of literary criticism of a short story:  Plot…what happens in a story.  Character…the actors in a story.  Theme…the truth about life that the story reveals.

11  When you want to write about how the plot shaped your response, ask yourself: Is the plot believable? Is the plot clear? Do I understand the sequence of causes and effects in the story?

12  When you write a literary criticism of a story, you almost always have something to say about the characters and characterization.

13  Focus on these questions when you want to talk about how the characterization shaped your response:  Are the characters believable?  What motivated the characters?  How do I feel about the characters? Did the author bring them to life?

14  Theme is the truth about life that a story reveals.  When you want to talk about how a story’s theme shaped your response, focus on these questions:  1.What truth did the story reveal to me?  2.Does the writer say something fresh and interesting—or even timeless—about life?  3.Does the theme reflect a view of life that I share or at least understand?

15  Which literary elements shaped this writer’s response to the story?  “Rikki-tikki-tavi” is brilliant because of its exciting plot and its animal characters. The plot creates suspense, as the mongoose tries to get rid of the snakes. The final encounter, when the cobra almost kills the boy Teddy, made my hair stand on end. The characters in the story seem like humans, especially the mongoose, who is fierce but also loyal to his family.  Turn and talk to your neighbor…good or bad?

16  You’re right! It works!  The writer relates his or her response to the story to certain events in the plot. The writer also considers how characterization shaped his or her response to the story.

17  When you write a literary criticism of a poem, think about how these elements of poetry shaped your response:  Sound  Figures of Speech  Imagery

18  Sound  Is the poem written with a strict rhyme scheme and meter? Do the sounds make reading pleasurable or difficult?

19  Figures of Speech  What figures of speech are in the poem? Are they fresh and original, or old clichés? Were they easy or difficult to understand?

20  Imagery  What major images are in the poem? Is the imagery fresh and new? How did the images help me understand the poet’s message?

21  Sound effects in poems include rhythm, rhyme, and other types of sound patterns. Sound is often used to reinforce the the meaning of a poem.  The house came together with  an awful, constant clamoring. Bad weather and good, workers pounded, welded, and wedged the walls into place.

22  Figures of speech describe one thing in terms of something else. The ocean rose up like the claw of a great beast and wrapped itself around the salty air.  A figure of speech makes a comparison between seemingly unlike things.

23  Imagery is language that appeals to the senses. My dad’s old, cool car –and palm trees tasting the salty air the faint smell of fish and gasoline

24  “Rikki-tikki tavi” is brilliant because of its exciting plot and because of its animal characters. The plot of the story creates suspense, as the mongoose tries one strategy after another to get rid of the snakes that could kill the family. The final encounter, when Teddy is frozen in fear because the cobra is ready to kill him, made my hair stand on end.

25  … and explain two or three reasons why this literary criticism is worthy and would be acceptable.

26  Good, you’re correct.  Right at the beginning, the writer relates her response to literary elements.  The writer describes how the plot affected her in general.  The writer gives a specific detail from the plot to support her response.

27  The characters in the story are memorable and seem like humans. The mongoose is so sweet, but he is a fierce fighter and very loyal to his family. He is willing to die to save Teddy. The other animal characters are also memorable, especially the evil snakes and the funny birds and featherbrained Darzee. I loved reading this story, mostly because of the plot and characters.

28  The writer tells why she liked all the characters in general.  The writer responds to the main character.  The writer also describes how some other characters are memorable.  The writer restates her general response.

29  “Rikki-tikki-tavi” is about a mongoose who lives with a family in India. One day the family is threatened by cobras. Rikki saves the family by fighting the cobras, and by the end everyone lives happily every after. All the animals are safe and the family is too.

30  The writer mentions a few characters and summarizes the plot.  The writer does not explain how any literary element shaped her response.  You cannot tell anything at all about this writer’s response to the events or characters in the story, or even whether she liked or disliked the story.

31 (Taken from LR 3.6 Empires) Would someone volunteer to read this passage aloud?  When we read stories, we shape our criticism partially by the literary elements of plot, character, setting, point of view, theme and figurative language and partially by our own life experiences. The author’s use of language brings to mind certain images, remembrances, and ideas. These personal associations determine the way we will respond to the story.  If you are reading a story that features a character who speaks with some type of dialect, you will be influenced by experiences you have had with people who talk like that and by what the character says and does.  Because everyone’s experiences are different, people respond to the same story in different ways. 

32  Your Turn…  Choose one story or poem you have all read in class. Then, divide into three groups and discuss the story or poem for five minutes, focusing on one of the numbered questions from these slides.  When you finish, be prepared to report on your discussions.

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