Orson Scott Card
More Information About Enchantment
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Before beginning the book, it would be helpful in making the story more interesting if the students knew about the background of the fairy tale told by Orson Scott Card. Therefore, becoming familiar with some Baba Yaga stories and various Sleeping Beauty Stories will be allow the students to understand certain references and ways in which the author manipulated the stories to create his own unique novel. Students will get to choose two of these stories or find another one and do a quick summary of one Baba Yaga story and one Sleeping Beauty story. Then as they read, they will keep track of the differences and similarities between the two on a worksheet and as a class discuss how they contribute to the themes and coherence of the story. What kind of effect does using the old stories have on the reader? and Why does the author hope for those effects? are types of questions the students will answer.
- History of Russia
Some of the languages and places that are part of Russia and its history are obscure and confusing. In order for the students to understand the history of what Russia and the United States was going through during the setting of the book, students will look up and learn the history of Russia during communism and the Berlin Wall. Also, the students will find out the origin of the languages in the book and know what people and time these languages would correspond to on a modern map. This can be considered a small research project, which can then be incorporated into a timeline with the dates, times, customs, and major events of the two time periods. This timeline will be added to as the students read the book. It can then be drawn on at the end of the unit to explore the connections between the two time periods and how the main characters were able to function together despite coming from two different backgrounds.
- Screenplay Fairy Tales
Another way of learning about the Baba Yaga stories and the Sleeping Beauty stories is to write a short screenplay of the story of their choice and act it out in front of the class. In groups, the students will have a class period to prepare and plan a short skit with a legitimate screenplay written out for it. Make sure to teach how to do dialogue and actions in a screenplay before this is done. The students will be using the same sources as used for “Parallel Fairy Tales”, but not the same activity. That will give the students a sense of how the old stories fit into the book as well, but will also help the students visualize the book in a theater setting, making the book more enjoyable to read. This teaches the skill that causes books to be enjoyable when students learn to picture the book happening in their mind.
- Teaching Orson Scott Card
Knowing the author of a book will help the students understand the purpose for the book and therefore what students should learn from the book. Students will do research on Orson Scott Card and come up with a PowerPoint in groups to teach to the class about him. There will be different aspects of him that can be taught by different groups so they are not all teaching the same thing. For example, his past books and overarching themes, his life, quotes from him about the book or about his other books, other authors’ comments of him, etc.
- Creating a Utopia
The intermixing of cultures is a big part of this novel. In order to teach how difficult it can be to adapt to a different culture, students will come up with a culture completely different from their own. This make-believe world will include weather, time period, social nuances, government, scientific advancement, way of life, religion, activities, and anything else that the teacher could think of. This world will be presented to the class. Then, the students will write a story about themselves if they were to be dropped into the world knowing nothing about it. This story will address those issues mentioned above and will have a plot. This activity is based on one I did in my sophomore class in which we created our own Utopias after reading Brave New World.
- Parallel Fairy Tales Road Map
Using the information found on Baba Yaga and Sleeping Beauty and other previous fairy tales, students will keep a chart that tracks comparisons between Enchantment and the old stories. So, as students read and learn the novel, they will note the differences and similarities between the two and discuss how they contribute to the themes and coherence of the story. What themes are similar between the stories? How do these themes affect the reader’s comprehension of the story? and Why does the author hope for those effects? Have a class discussion on these and other effects of the stories.
- Creating Screenplays from Novels
Acting out scenes in plays is an effective way of helping the class understand and enjoy the plot, characters, and themes. In the same way, by creating a screenplay out of scenes from a regular novel, the students will learn how to transfer characters and plot lines into dialogue and actions that reflect the story. Later on, students will be able to understand plays and Shakespeare and drama and search out new talents that they may enjoy. Plus, I have found in my own secondary school experiences that when I acted something out in front of the class, I remembered and learned it better.
- Getting the Characters Straight
Students will be able to characterize Card’s characters in a way that they better understand the play and why those characters do what they do. This will help to connect the characters to the students so they can learn from the mistakes and successes of the characters. They will do this by creating two basic charts, one for descriptions of each character, and the other for the relationships between characters. The students will receive these charts before starting to read the book and fill it out as they go along. Then we will have class discussions to understand Card’s method of characterization and why he chose to do it and what effect it has on the readers.
- Debating Cultures
The students will be able examine the religion and culture differences in the two time periods of the book and discuss the problems that we have in society with those differences. They will compare the way that many U.S. citizens expect immigrants to automatically be able to adapt to our culture and learn the language and how Katerina expected the same of Ivan, not realizing the huge differences between the culture and being ignorant of them. We will also discuss our egocentric thinking that our ideas are the best and everyone should adapt them, even though many cultures and places have great ideas about life that we could use to make our life better and happier. The way that the students will learn this is by recreating the worlds visually in groups, then taking on the identity of those worlds and participating in a class debate where they will debate about whose way of life is better and why. Then, as mediator, the teacher will try to help them combine their ideas in a way that they will come up with a culture and world that combines both cultures in a harmonious way. Discussion about the importance of this will help students learn how to function well in a society as a good citizen.
- Fairy Tale Motifs
Many fairy tales have recurring motifs that are tools to help us understand the themes in the book and how those themes teach us to live life and know things we should and should not do. For example, in Enchantment a common motif is that of the prince rescuing the princess from an evil witch. However, since there is a slight twist on this motif, that the princess in turn saves the prince and that it takes a lot for them to live Happily Ever After, the theme refers more to how much work there is in living Happily Ever After by both sides of the union, and that happiness doesn’t just happen. This is an idea that much of the world has forgotten as seen in many of the divorces of the day. Each day we go through the book, the students will find a motif or symbol common among fairy tales (after getting basic examples from the teacher) and as a class will discuss how Card uses the motif to make a point in the story. Students will then create a short story using at least two of the same motifs Card used to prove a point.
- Writing Parallel Fairy Tales
Students will have their choice of finding popular or obscure fairy tales to use as a basis for writing their own fairy tale story. It does not have to be very long, but afterwards the students will write a short essay on how their experience with writing their own paper helps them better understand how Card wrote his book, and visa versa. They will explore the way reading Card’s book helped them create their story. The emphasis on this project will be on understanding the purpose Card has for using a fairy tale basis for his story.
- Acting and Analyzing the Screenplay
The screenplays written by the students during the writing of the book will be studied and acted out in front of the class and possibly other classes with grades being given in how well the students incorporated the book onto the stage and how well they portrayed the characters. The screenplay will also be from a part of the book that proves a point, and after acting out the play, the students will submit a short paper on this point/theme and what methods Card used in portraying it in his novel and how it compared to how the students incorporated it into their play. Some scenes that could be used for this part of the activity are the picnic scene, which could focus on revenge or trust, the first time Ivan comes into Katerina’s town (sans naked of course), or when Ivan and Sergei become friends.
- Expressing the Characters
The students will write an essay focusing on one of the characters. They will explore the character’s actions and thoughts to explain if they were static or dynamic, main or supporting characters, and how they contributed to the points Card was trying to make. They will address the questions; “How do the characters contribute to the theme or themes of the book?” “What do the relationships between characters show about the themes of the book or about life?” “What do we learn from these characters?” “How do we relate to these characters?” Or, instead of writing the essay, students can choose to demonstrate their own interpretation of the character in front of the class, addressing their beliefs, their changes throughout the story, their relationships, their depth as characters, their unique traits and such. This can be done through acting, a poem, a song, PowerPoint presentation, or any other creative way that can be shown in front of the class. A written representation must be turned in prior to the presentation to the teacher so that he/she can okay it for the classroom. This will be graded according to how well the student portrays the character or his/her understanding of the character.
- Researching Cultures
After the debates, the students will research the clash of cultures within the United States, between countries, or even on a local or regional level. Their research will then be incorporated into individual papers in which they explore a cultural issue somewhere in the world, discuss what the problem is, contrast the sides to the issue, and come up with a solution. These papers will be graded according to ideas, and the best ideas will be implemented into a corresponding project. The student will create, in groups chosen based on the content of their papers, a slideshow or presentation to the class giving them a basic rundown of their ideas. That way the student will become more aware of various cultural problems that occur around the world and will make them more aware of what they can do in their own personal lives to change them.
- A New Class of Fairy Tales
After the class records various motifs and symbols from Enchantment, they will create their own stories using at least two of the same motifs Card used to prove a point in their own stories. These stories will be graded and given back to correct. Then the teacher will re-grade them and bind them together into a book of class fairy tales, which will cause the students to put more into their writing since the entire class will be getting a copy of their story. This could also be shared with other teachers and classes. The focus of this project will be on motifs and symbols found throughout literature that can help the students understand literature read in the future by recognizing when they are used. This will then help them understand the arguments of the author by way of his literary techniques.