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Novels: TheEnglishPatient

The English Patient
Michael Ondaatje

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Do before class: Make two cubes large enough to hold a note-card on each side (these cubes will act as dice) and set them aside. Take three note-cards and write on them "make up your own" and attach them to any random side of the cubes. Then take 9 note-cards and write down quotes that are examples of the terms above (try to have two to three quotes per card) and attach them to the cubes.

In class: Take one of the dice and let a student roll it. Read a quote from whichever side is face up and have the students select which term is appropriate. If one of the sides pops up that says "make up your own," have the student create a statement using one of the styles and have the class determine which style it is.

Questions for Character Analysis: Who is your selected character? Why did you pick this character? What do you like and/or dislike about this character? Why? Do you identify with this character? Why? How? Do you know someone similar to him or her? Explain. How is the character revealed at the beginning of the novel? How is he or she described in the book? What do these quotes show about the character? Does the character change throughout the novel? If so, how? Why? What are two examples that illustrate how and why the character changes? Are the changes for the better or worse? Is your character the protagonist or the antagonist? Is your character named after a real person? If so, is there any relation between them? How does your character express symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder? Provide examples with quotes. If your character was an animal, what would he or she be and why? Did you character come to terms with his/her own identity? How? Predict what your character will be doing five years after the story has ended.

Sidenote 1: For many students, this idea of asking questions from a prompt or thesis statement may be difficult, and organizing the answers to those questions to formulate a paper even more difficult. If this is the case, there are a few things that can be done. One option is to demonstrate with a thesis that you wrote, how you develop your questions, how answering them allows you to develop a paper, and what the larger insight is that will be included in your conclusion. Another option is have class discussion to develop questions and to direct them to topics they may want to write on. Yet, another option can be to create small discussion groups where they can talk about the topics they are writing on, and see what other insights the other students in their small groups may have on their topic.

Sidenote 2: Writing a universal thesis statement is difficult and very different from the simple three prong thesis statement that many teachers teach. It requires a higher level of thinking and for some students this, too, will be very difficult. It will take time to teach and develop this ability.

The short thematic paper: Instruct them to state their theme in a form of a thesis statement. Encourage them to develop their essay by making specific references to the literature without lapsing into summary. Refer them to literary elements (i.e. plot development, suspense, rising action, climax, character, relationships, setting, irony, symbolism, tone, point of view, foreshadowing, allusions, motif, and imagery) that they can use as their supporting details. Remind them that they are to write about the insights that each of these gives about their theme, and then the great insight about life in their conclusion. Have them write it as a traditional paper including free write/brain storm, outline, first draft, revisions, and then the final. (Because this is a great deal of writing, have the first draft reviewed in peer editing, and for the second have a brief conference with each student.)

Museum Exhibit: For this portion of the unit, the students will need to select one of the literary elements that they selected to use in their paper and make a visual representation of it. Let them know that this can be displayed in any form of media (visual, audio, flat, three-dimensional, etc.). Along with their display, they need to include a three by five card stating the title of their exhibit, a brief explanation, and two to three reasons that it relates to the theme. (Remind them that this provides basic information about the object on view. The objective is to offer the information in the simplest, least distracting manner possible.)

Group Presentation: This will occur on the day in the museum, where each group will present all the exhibits connected to their themes. Let them know that this is not the time to read the three by five cards, though they may share some of the same information, but this is a time to discuss the theme as a whole and show how each exhibit is interconnected. Keep these short presentations, no more than 10 to 15 minutes. In addition to the presentation, have the groups create a pamphlet that they can hand the students that explains their group's exhibit. Encourage them to include pictures and short blurbs.

Museum Review: Encourage the students, after the group presentations, to go through again on their own and look at everything that was brought in. Have them identify their two favorite exhibits and explain why they liked them, and how believe that they relate to the book. Also, to cap it off, ask them to write a paragraph about their experience in the museum.

Note to Teacher: If you are going to have the class bring all of their "Museum Exhibits" on the same day, arrange the desks accordingly. If for space or time that would not be appropriate, you can have one or two groups present at a time and let them set the class up in a way that they feel it would be most conducive to their display.

After the students have completed the writing process and compiled their final narrative about the elderly resident’s life, coordinate with the retirement home or a local newspaper to use their papers as a “spotlight” on local residents.

Handout:

Your graphic poster has to have: • A picture in the middle which is a symbol from part of the book assigned from The English Patient. It can be an important object mentioned that ties to the main idea of the book. • At least three colors used to color the object. Each color has to represent a significant detail in the chapter, and you must write why you chose that color on the back of the poster. • Six to eight important quotes, placed around the edge of the poster. The quote can be any section that you think is significant, important, or tells something revealing about one of the characters. The quotes must contribute to the main idea of the chapter. For each quote, explain what it means and why you picked in a short paragraph on a separate page. • A "title" for the book. Determine the main idea of the book and make that the new title. Put your names at the top of the page.

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Page last modified on February 16, 2009, at 10:43 PM