Today’s teaching video is a bit different. Today I am sharing our first book discussion on the classic work of Beowulf from my Middle and High School literature class. You can think of this book discussion as the first stage of the mimetic sequence. Essentially an introduction to a work of literature is like an elongated invitation stage. As with all invitations there are elements of narration and possibly Socratic moments as well. When I think about what I am going to present and how I am going to present it, i am considering the book and its background in terms of the 3 columns, created by Mortimer Adler, including knowledge, concepts, and skills. As you listen try to notice the when facts/knowledge are discussed, when concepts are being taught, and then when I coach the students on specific skills. Just so you know, I don’t recall giving any coaching on skills. However, in subsequent lessons in the Beowulf class, I will be engaging in coaching sessions related to reading skills. The lessons on reading skills usually relate to Andrew Kern’s highlighting system. Also, it is important o note that I did not spend months researching in order to share what I shared. We integrate history and literature in our community nad our homeschool, so I was already learning about this time period. In addition, I looked up Beowulf articles on the CiRCE Institute and read a small amount of additional commentary. Then I imitated, thought about what I learned, made some of my own connections, and presented the class. I wanted to share that so you knew how doable it really is to introduce a book to a class, even if you are reading it for the first, and especially if you are integrating history and literature.
Enjoy the discussion.
What was done well
I think overall it was successful if for no other reason than the students and I were awakened to Beowulf. I think I can say with confidence that each student took some sort of personal interest in the ideas and the story and are looking forward to learning more. In other words. The invitation was accepted. I think it was the time spent on narrating what everyone knew about the medieval Anglo-Saxons. This painted a picture in which it was easy to see the characters of Beowulf existing in.
What could be improved
I think telling more stories might have been helpful in painting a broader picture. Maybe it is necessary, maybe not. I know I did not tell any stories and I have been recently learning that storytelling is a really good idea for introducing literature, not necessarily telling the story of the book you are about to read, but telling some story that parallels the book in some way, maybe in an analogous way.
What are your favorite ways to introduce a classic work of literature? Join the conversation in the comments section and share your experience.
Expanding wisdom, extending grace,