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Help! I'm an American Literature Teacher. What Resources Do You Have for Me?

posted on October 10, 2011

Help! I'm an American Literature Teacher. What Resources Do You Have for Me?

As an English teacher, it's easy to repeat yourself year after year. You may teach The Great Gatsby, because the novel is an integral piece of American literature that helps your students explore the ideas of the "American Dream" in ways that other pieces of literature cannot. When is it time to reinvigorate your curriculum with new resources, however? When should you exchange that same mimeographed handout from 30 years ago with other materials students can connect with?

There are several ways you can still share a great piece literature with your students, while updating the way they learn the important themes and elements.  Modernizing your curriculum with current resources can be a daunting task, however. But at Iowa Public Television, we’re making it easier for teachers to  find the best, most relevant resources available, all of which are vetted by educators and will help make learning meaningful for your students.

Whether you are a first-year American literature teacher or someone who has been teaching the same class for twenty years, these videos, lesson plans, and interactives will help engage your students in new ways.

The American Novel- Learn how the American Novel has evolved and in what ways it reflects an experience that is uniquely American. This site, from American Masters, offers a comprehensive exploration of 200 years of the American novel, including in-depth information on more than 50 American novels and authors, along with the literary movements they inspired.

Great American Authors: Since 1650- This TV series presents the lives and literary output of over 60 of America's most read authors. Designed for literary enthusiasts and history buffs, Great American Authors is a must-use series for every 21st century library and classroom. Authors are presented chronologically in concise, stand-alone clips.

Themes of the American Experience- This site uses six themes as a lens to explore the American novel throughout its history. Is the "American Dream" a reality or myth? What does it mean to be an American? Learn about the role of race, religion, and violence in American history and literature.

Louisa May Alcott- Watch six scenes from Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women. The program documents the life of the author and the elements from her own life that inspired her famous novel.

Walt Whitman- Use these resources to learn about the immense contribution Whitman gave to American poetry.

The Harlem Renaissance- The Harlem Renaissance represents a revolutionary era in American history when a great number of short stories, plays, poems and novels by and about African-Americans were created. This website offers several ideas, lesson plans, and resources to help your students better understand this pivotal time in American literature.

Langston Hughes- With this interactive timeline, help your students better connect the life of Hughes with other historical events happening at the same time.

Zora Neal Hurston: Analyze the writings of Zora Neal Hurston, learn about her literary output, and watch historical footage shot by Zora.

F. Scott Fitzgerald- Study the biography and work of F. Scott Fitzgerald and learn how the author used autobiographical elements in writing his stories, and then have your students try a hand at writing a Fitzgerald-style story with autobiographical elements of their own.

Ernest Hemmingway- Ambulance driver, fisherman, journalists. This is just a small snippet at what Hemmingway accomplished in his life. With this lesson plan, have your students create a resume for Ernest Hemingway by using the interactive timeline and Hemmingway's biography.

Arthur Miller- With this lesson plan, compare and contrast the Salem Witch Trials in Miller's play, The Crucible, to the McCarthy Era hearings of the 1950s.

Eugene O’Neille- Learn about the life and works of one of America’s greatest playwrights. 

Allen Ginsberg- Using the themes of the "Beat Generation" as a backdrop, study the art and politics of the 1960s with Allen Ginsberg's poetry.

Toni Morrison- Watch an interview with Toni Morrison as she talks about receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Poetry Everywhere- Hear celebrities, poets, and performers read poetry in unique and understandable ways.

PBS LearningMedia- Find resources on American Literature through PBS LearningMedia.

PBS Teachers- Find hundreds of resources on American Literature through PBS Teachers.

Tags: arts education educators Language and Literacy lesson plans literacy literature PBS LearningMedia PBS Teachers resources teachers video

Subjects: Literacy & Languages


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