Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

16. The Search For Identity

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
•  Timeline
•  Activities
- Overview Questions
- Video
- Author
- Context
- Creative Response
- PBL Projects

Activities: Author Activities

Alice Walker - Teaching Tips

Back Back to Alice Walker Activities
  • Start by asking your students what kinds of heirlooms their families have, if any, and why they're meaningful. Pay attention to their reasons: some students may provide sentimental reasons (like Maggie's), some may provide "cultural" reasons (like Dee/Wangero's), and some may provide financial reasons ("it may be worth something someday").

  • Students might be interested in thinking about the quilt as an heirloom in relation to the phenomenon of "antiquing." You could start this discussion by talking about the PBS television series Antiques Roadshow. On the show, people bring family heirlooms, relics from their attics, mysterious found objects, and the like to antique appraisers. Usually, an object's owners tell the story of how the object came into their possession, and then the appraisers explain the object's cultural history (as far as they can tell) and provide estimates of its financial worth. Each episode of the show thus demonstrates many different types of valuation: personal (family stories, family heirlooms, sentimental value), cultural (historical value, the antique's place in larger narratives about the country, wars, places, etc.), and financial. What makes some antiques more "valuable" than others? Whose definition of "value" is most important? And why are television viewers so interested in watching other peoples' junk be appraised?

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