Examining the Portrayal of Family in Twentieth Century African American Literature: Theory and Practice for the High School English Classroom

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Title: Examining the Portrayal of Family in Twentieth Century African American Literature: Theory and Practice for the High School English Classroom
Author: Hayhoe, Rebecca Sims
Advisors: Sheila Smith McKoy, Committee Member
Barbara Bennett, Committee Chair
Lucinda MacKethan, Committee Member
Abstract: In this project, I explore the need for an improved approach to incorporating multiculturalism in the high school English classroom. Research has shown that teachers who do desire more multicultural classes often face two problems: 1) lack of materials that fairly and accurately represent minority writers and 2) fear of teaching literature that raises controversial issues. I have designed a three-and-one-half-week thematic unit focused on family life in twentieth century African American novels. This unit, by using Harvey Daniels' strategy of literature circles, introduces students to at least six African American novels and includes numerous poems and short stories from other African American writers. I include detailed lesson plans for each day; the structure provided by these plans should help teachers confront and manage the anxiety they might feel about teaching literature that provokes sensitive and sometimes difficult conversations. These plans provide a more complete and balanced approach to introducing minority works than the approaches of traditional literature anthologies. Within this project, I provide a brief overview of how each novel on the reading list relates to the theme of family life. I also explain the value of literature circles and the steps that must be taken to incorporate this strategy in the classroom. In addition to explaining the benefits and uses of literature circles, I also explore the importance of teaching students about dialect. I include several lesson plans that help students evaluate the use and significance of literary dialect. The final chapter of this project includes the specific plans for each day of the unit. I have provided detailed assignment sheets for each of the major forms of assessment within the unit. This thematic unit provides students with choice and responsibility, which should increase their interest and investment in the readings and activities. They will finish the unit with a greater exposure to African American literature, and because of their ability to be active learners in the unit, the students should also gain a deeper understanding of this literature.
Date: 2006-08-02
Degree: MA
Discipline: English
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/2352


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