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Programs Certificate Programs Volunteer Opportunities. Member's Services. Has every preacher and old maid in Jefferson taken their pants down to the yellowbellied son of a bitch? But this study also reveals that Faulkner and his fiction are alive and well in many high school Advanced Placement classrooms. Teachers who embrace his writing point out that it has a beautiful eloquence as reflected in an entire section devoted to the character Addie Bundren in As I Lay Dying:. These teachers are also quick to point out that Faulkner's subject matter and racial language are reflections of his modernistic technique and that it is not Faulkner using the word "nigger," but his characters.
This brings me to the question, "Why Faulkner?
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After reading surveys and conducting interviews with 30 high school AP teachers, I found that 14 teach Faulkner's literature and 16 do not. Why shouldn't we teach Faulkner to high school students? Choose one or both," will help to answer the question "Why Faulkner? In my interview with James Elliot, he answered the question succinctly and eloquently, and perhaps, in a way that represents each Advanced Placement teacher in this study who chooses to teach Faulkner each year.
There are seven significant conclusions that I can make based on my completion of this study. First, the high school Advanced Placement teachers who participated in this study were divided on the significance of Faulkner in the American literary canon and the importance of incorporating his literature into their classroom syllabus.
The teachers who do not include Faulkner in the canon of American writers they teach cited his difficult writing style, his use of sex and violence, his use of racial language, and other curricular factors such as time and political-legal issues. Ironically, those teachers who do teach Faulkner responded that his writing style and realistic use of subject matter and language are the very reasons that they enjoy teaching Faulkner, and that they have found effective ways to deal with the various curricular frame factors.
Second, high school Advanced Placement teachers are highly professional and cooperative in their willingness to respond to a written survey or take part in an interview or a focus group. The teachers in this study were excited to be included in a study that involved Faulkner in the high school Advanced Placement classroom. Each of the thirty teachers who was involved in this study provided valuable information and several indicated that they would be interested in reading the findings at the conclusion of the study.
Third, in the process of completing this study, I found that there has been more critical writing on Faulkner than any other American writer. There exists an abundance of literary criticism that has been written in the past and continues to be produced each year that can help teachers, students, and the general reader of Faulkner to better understand his fiction.
Fourth, there are several valuable books, periodicals, and articles available to high school Advanced Placement teachers in their preparation for teaching Faulkner in their classroom. These teaching guides reflect the desire of literary scholars and teachers to make Faulkner's fiction more accessible to college and high school teachers. Fifth, the political? Many teachers would rather find other American writers than Faulkner to include in their syllabus than hear the voices of parents and community groups.
Providing an alternative assignment on Faulkner for parents and students who object to the literature assigned can be an important but necessary concession by the high school classroom teacher. Sixth, the quality of the lesson plans, materials, means of assessment, and student writing that I received for this study reveals that those Advanced Placement teachers who choose to teach Faulkner are creating exciting ways to engage students in the study of his novels and stories.
They are eager to share their approaches to teaching Faulkner and the excellent writing of their students. Finally, qualitative research is about listening to voices. Although the central voice was that of the Advanced Placement English teacher, there were four additional voices that contributed significantly to this study.
It was my goal at the beginning of this study to incorporate the literature and criticism of Faulkner with the responses I received from teacher surveys. As a result, the voices of literary critics and Faulkner himself play an important part in illuminating Faulkner's place in American literature and in the high school Advanced Placement classroom. In addition, the voice of curricularist George Posner contributed significantly with his frame factors which affect the pedagogy in today's high school classrooms. Finally, the students' voices can be heard in their individual papers which reflect a level of scholarly interpretation of Faulkner's writing and the excellent instruction which they have received from their teachers.
It is my hope that high school Advanced Placement teachers who are not teaching Faulkner will reexamine their reasons for not doing so. I hope that they will examine the literary criticism, sources for teaching Faulkner, and teaching methodologies and materials contained within this study.
It is also my hope that the voices included in this study will influence teachers to reevaluate their thinking on Faulkner's place in America's literary canon and in the high school Advanced Placement classroom. For those who teach Faulkner's novels, stories, and Nobel Prize speech, it is my hope that this study will provide valuable critical and pedagogical source materials, new and exciting teaching ideas, and the reassurance that Faulkner belongs in the high school's curriculum guide and that his work should be taught each year. I believe the goal of doing qualitative research is the production of knowledge.
The qualitative researcher must determine how the knowledge he or she constructs will be used. Based on the information I received from the Advanced Placement teachers who participated in this study, it is my recommendation that at least one novel and one short story by Faulkner be included in the English curriculum guide and on the recommended reading list for all Advanced Placement classes in high schools in the United States. They offer a mixture of Faulkner's writing that is both extremely challenging, but also accessible to most students.
I would also recommend the Nobel Prize speech in addition to the literature because of its message concerning the human spirit. The methods of teaching literature in today's high school classroom and the issues which are at the center of that teaching have changed since the death of Faulkner in Teachers are examining new and exciting ways to engage students in the study of a complicated writer such as Faulkner. These guides are written in a clear, accessible, and scholarly style by some of the most important critics of Faulkner today.
They enable teachers to better understand the complexities of Faulkner's writing style, his realistic subject matter, and his perception of the decline of the Old South and the rise of the New. Teachers who face resistance to Faulkner from administrators, community members or groups, parents, or other teachers because of his use of sex and violence and racial language can find suitable literature by Faulkner that does not contain these issues. There are viable options for students who would rather read another novel or story by Faulkner than that which is assigned to the class.
There is even the option of assigning a novel or story by another American writer of the twentieth century to these students. Finally, I recommend that teachers of high school Advanced Placement classes who do not include Faulkner in the list of American writers they teach begin a renewed reading of his novels and stories in order to determine how their themes and social issues relate to other literature they already teach each year.
The Deep South has always held an important historical, cultural, and literary place in this country. No other writer of American fiction has described the history, the people, the society, and the cultural issues of the South quite like William Faulkner. He allows us to see a South that is still struggling with the tragedy of the past but clinging to the hope for the future.
Faulkner unlocks the door of his cosmos to such realistic and controversial social issues as racism, miscegenation, incest, misogyny, and brutal sexuality and invites the reader to enter in order to better understand the baseness and the morality of the human condition. As both modernist and experimentalist, he presents the ordeal of wounded innocence in women, blacks, and children in a style that moves from incomprehensible and provocative to beautiful, poignant, and of genius.
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Each year high school English teachers assign literature that transports their students across a literary landscape that encompasses this nation. If this journey is to be complete, students must experience the characters, culture, and social issues of Faulkner's South in a place called Yoknapatawpha. You would have to be born there" , p.
Why Faulkner in the high school Advanced Placement classroom? Because no writer in America's literary heritage has been able to describe the history and culture of the Deep South and its people as well as William Faulkner in his "little postage stamp" called Yoknapatawpha County. Ask the high school teachers in this study who assign his literature each year--they've been there--they'll tell you.
Inge, M. Conversations with William Faulkner. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. Kinney, A. Critical essays on William Faulkner: The Compson family. Boston: G. Minter, D. William Faulkner: His life and work. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Singal, D.