Teach classic literature without boring your students to death

Tips for Teaching the Classics Without Boring Your Students to Death

Classic literature can be exciting. You can teach classic literature like a pro with today's insight from Starr Sackstein. What do Rodney Dangerfield, Alfred Hitchcock, and Harry Potter have to do with teaching students about classical literature? You'll have to listen to find out. ;-) (I can't believe all of them came up in one episode!) This wide-ranging conversation hits at the heart of teaching literature. Just because a piece was written hundreds of years ago doesn't mean that it be irrelevant to the students who read the text.

From making annotations to making the book relevant, to finding the “right answer,” Starr talks about the pitfalls and successful strategies she has used to teach kids about classical literature.

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Today's Sponsor, Owl Eyes

[callout]If you teach classical literature, you'll want to check out Owl Eyes! Owl Eyes has a free library with lots of free exemplar texts like Beowulf, Hamlet, and others. Teachers can include their annotations in the book before students download them. As students read, teachers can see student annotations as they're making them. You can even embed quizzes in the text. (No more waiting — the moment students finish a section, you can check for understanding.)

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Owl Eyes is a game changer for people who teach classic literature. Take time to download Owl Eyes now and see if they have the books your teaching this year in their library. It can save you a lot of time and give you the ability to do things you never could before. [/callout]

Show Notes on how to Teach Classic Literature:

  • How do you encourage students to find evidence for their conclusions?
  • What if their evidence or conclusions don't align with those of “experts”?
  • How do you make literature relate to students who may not be interested in that book? (I like the example of how Starr relates Pride and Prejudice to some of the male readers in her class who don't care for the book.) 
  • How do you use annotations and close reading techniques to help students read more deeply?
  • What mistakes did Starr make in her earlier years and how did she change to level up her teaching?

Who is Starr Sackstein?

Starr Sackstein teaches writing and journalism in New York City. She is a National Board-certified teacher and the New York director for the Journalism Education Association. Sackstein is also the author of the book Teaching Mythology. @mssackstein. Starr also appeared in Episode 125.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere