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Reader Response: Pat Mora and James Welch Reader Response: Keith Gilyard and Mourning Dove Inquiry: Rudolfo Anaya and James Baldwin Inquiry: Tomás Rivera and Esmeralda Santiago Cultural Studies: Ishmael Reed and Graciela Limón Cultural Studies: N. Scott Momaday and Russell Leong Critical Pedagogy: Octavia E. Butler and Ruthanne Lum McCunn Critical Pedagogy: Abiodun Oyewole and Lawson Fusao Inada
Theory Overview Lesson Plans Teaching Strategies Authors and Literary Works Resources
Session 7 Critical Pedagogy: Octavia E. Butler and Ruthanne Lum McCunn - Lesson Plans

Introduction
Lesson Plan 1
Lesson Plan 2

 

REFLECTION - Interactive Forum

Explore two poems using four approaches.

ChannelTalk

Share your views on the discussion
board.




Download the Session 7 Guide


Author:
Octavia E. Butler
Title of work: Parable of the Sower
 


Overview
Using critical pedagogy, Cathie Wright-Lewis encourages students to connect current events with fiction. In this lesson, Wright-Lewis provides perspective on Octavia E. Butler's novel Parable of the Sower by asking students to make connections between newspaper articles and issues Butler raises in the book. Drawing on these texts, students then project how the world might change and how they can shape that change. Finally, Wright-Lewis encourages students to involve themselves politically by writing letters that call for social justice.

Preparation
To prepare for the lesson, view The Expanding Canon video program 7, Part I. Online, review the Session 7 theory overview, strategies, information about the authors and literature, resources, and the downloadable print guide. Read Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Sower.

Materials
  • board and/or chart paper
  • a screen or monitor on which to show a clip from the video program 3, Part I, either on a vhs tape or from the Web (optional)
  • newspapers or collections of newspaper articles (which the teacher may provide or ask students to provide)
  • copies of Parable of the Sower
Standards
Standards for the English Language Arts

Summary
Teachers may want to show students the interview with Octavia E. Butler from The Expanding Canon video program 7, Part 1.

1. Cathie Wright-Lewis begins her lesson with a discussion about Chapter 11 of Parable of the Sower with the whole class. Wright-Lewis asks questions such as:
  • What are some of Lauren's concerns?
  • What is the nature of the community environment? Why is it so dangerous?
  • What is the cause of these problems?
2. Students read a passage from Chapter 11 in Parable of the Sower. Wright-Lewis leads a discussion about the treatment of religion in the text, and encourages students to write down key points that come up in discussion. The discussion focuses on students' concerns, but Wright-Lewis makes sure that students consider:
  • Lauren's need to change God's name and to create her own concept of God
  • Her new concept of God
  • Her age/maturity and her commitment to shaping her own destiny
  • The positive changes Lauren is trying to make in the community
  • Hyperempathy
3. The students divide into six groups that focus on a single assigned news area: social news, political news, economic news, environmental news, spiritual news and, science/technological news. Wright-Lewis explains that students eventually will pool information from all the groups. Each class group receives a chart and writes their group's name (e.g., "Environmental News") on the top.

Sample Chart
NEWS EVENTS FOR ___________________ GROUP
  EVENT 1 EVENT 2 EVENT 3 EVENT 4
NAME OF NEWS EVENT        
NEWSPAPER ARTICLE ABOUT EVENT        
TRENDS REPRESENTED BY EVENT        
RELATED TRENDS IN PARABLE OF THE SOWER        
PASSAGES IN PARABLE OF THE SOWER DEPICTING RELATED TRENDS        

4. Each group compiles recent newspaper articles that describe current events in their news area. Students list news items on their charts, along with any ideas they may have about the trends they're tracking. Some of the questions that Wright-Lewis asks the class to consider include:
  • Are all the stories about your news area in one section of the newspaper? Are there tangential issues that you also need to track?
  • Can you describe any trends that are emerging?
  • How might these trends lead to the situation described in Parable of the Sower?
5. The groups share their findings with the class.

6. Students write a report using evidence from newspaper articles to demonstrate how contemporary American society might become like the society in Parable of the Sower. They consider some of the following questions:
  • What do you think should happen right now, or within the next 20 years, to change the course of history so we don't end up with problems like those in the book?
  • To whom should we write?
  • What should we say to that person?
7. Wright-Lewis asks students to take action for positive change by writing a letter to a politician based on the predictions they have made.

8. After students have begun to draft their letters, Wright-Lewis asks them to share portions with the class. Students finish these letters as a homework assignment.

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