Magnets And Twice

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Oct
  • 16
  • 2006

I just finished teaching 2 of my classes about a model of how to respond to literature. Working off a handout I got from a friend of mine (another guy who causes me think about teaching certain literature because of his interpretations), I tried to present 2 different views of the model. There are a few things that I don’t want to forget.


Your whiteboard is likely magnetic, too. Those magnets can work well to show students how to do all kinds of things. I used magnets to hold up pieces of paper with key terms on them (main character, conflict, decisions/choices, consequences) because I wanted a little interactivity in the way I presented and because I’d need to move those terms around. In order to show how to look at literature and just get the facts, I presented those terms in one order. Smaller cards held the phrases “tragic hero” and “personality flaws/virtues,” phrases used to give some detail about that main character. What I showed was a kind of linear plot diagram.

When I got to the part about how to look at literature and respond, I moved things around. Starting with the consequences/end result/new status quo, ask “why” (yet another card magneted to the board) those consequences occurred. The “answer” (still another card) is because of the decisions/choices. Further, ask why those choices were made. The answer is not because of the conflict, but because of the personality flaws/virtues of the main character. It’s the similarities in personality that makes for a good connection to the story.

Don’t worry; I explained this much better in class and it makes more sense if you watch me moving the cards around.


The essay assignment sheet then landed on each student’s desk. I’m having them connect an autobiographical incident to a reflection on Oedipus the King. Before we read the play, students wrote about a time when an accident happened to them, something that they now look back on and realize that they could have prevented.


I also had a nice chart on an overhead that showed the same information as the magnets and cards on the whiteboard. I had an idea that moving papers on the board might not click with everyone. But I also hoped that it would click for enough to make it worthwhile. As a backup, I turned the overhead on and stepped them through the questions I posed up there.

I need to remember to present information in more than one way as often as I can, while not necessarily repeating myself so those that understood in the first place aren’t bored.


1. Ben says:

[10/16/2006 - 7:17 pm]

Sounds like you’re preaching for the differentiated instruction camp. Not in a bad way either, as I whoel heartedly agree with trying to reach students in different ways. True, it’s a bit of work to make sure it’s done in anothe way so that it isn’t boring, but it sounds like you put a bit of thought into this one. Let us know how it works out.

2. Laurie says:

[10/16/2006 - 9:16 pm]

I really like being able to reposition key words and phrases as you talk about the key ideas. And I don’t think we can underestimate the power of the visual even if it is just magnets and index cards.