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  • Writer's pictureTrey Adams

American Lit has been acting up

Updated: Jan 30, 2022

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

New teacher Sean Spofford has been focused on two essential elements in his instruction of American Literature in eleventh grade-reading great works from the canon and writing reflectively and critically about literature. So, why did he choose a more dramatic approach to teach F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby?

"By giving the students a chance to see how the conversation or arguments plays out in real time, with real moving and interacting, reinforces the emotions that Fitzgerald is attempting to convey," shared Spofford. "It also allows the students to interpret the dialogue themselves as actors and actresses, rather than having to rely on the interpretations of actors, actresses, and directors that are portrayed in film."

"It was helpful to me because it gave a better understanding than just reading it to my self," shared Devin Fisher '23. "I think it’s a good way to learn the text because it gives the text deeper meaning. It also gives us an opportunity to envision it from the characters perspective--seeing it versus just reading it." Enactment of portions of a novel or text gives abstract ideas (word on the page) concrete meaning (visibly real). Allen, Hill, Eddy, and Waterman published research in 2020 in the Journal of Memory and Cognition summarizing that demonstration improves memory and recall. View a short video of the enactment lesson here.

Project-oriented work also has tremendous potential for supporting memory and learning through direct (rather than passive) engagement in the critical-thinking and problem-solving.

SA empowers teachers with autonomy to explore the instructional approaches in their classrooms that most effectively impact the students.

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