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The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature in High School

Reader Response: Keith Gilyard and Mourning Dove Lesson Plans

This section includes summaries of the lessons featured in the video programs. The lessons explore the literature through a reader-response approach.

Lesson Plan 1: Reader Response: Keith Gilyard
Alfredo Lujan uses the reader-response approach to explore Keith Gilyard’s poetry. The students examine the meaning of the title Poemographies, work in small groups to discuss several of Gilyard’s poems, and create their own visual “poemographies” in response to Gilyard’s work. Gilyard meets with the students, reads from his collection, and leads them in a response-based writing activity.

Lesson Plan 2: Reader Response: Mourning Dove
Greg Hirst uses a reader-response approach to explore Mourning Dove’s Coyote Stories by immersing students in Native American storytelling traditions. Students respond to Mourning Dove’s work by creating and telling stories of their own. Hirst models the classroom on a traditional “lodge,” in which students become part of a clan and members of a tribe. In addition to creating and presenting their own stories, students listen to and critique the stories of others.

Lesson Plan 1

Author: Keith Gilyard
Title of work: Poemograhies

Overview
Alfredo Lujan uses the reader-response approach to explore Keith Gilyard’s poetry. The students examine the meaning of the title Poemographies, work in small groups to discuss several of Gilyard’s poems, and create their own visual “poemographies” in response to Gilyard’s work. Gilyard meets with the students, reads from his collection, and leads them in a response-based writing activity.

Preparation
To prepare for the lesson, view The Expanding Canon video program 2, Part I. Online, review the Session 2 theory overview, strategies, information about the authors and literature, resources, and the downloadable print guide. Also read Poemographies — selected poems available in the print guide.

Materials
Teachers will need the following supplies:

  • board and/or chart paper
  • a screen or monitor on which to show a clip featuring Keith Gilyard from the The Expanding Canon video program 2, Part I (optional)
  • copies of the selected poems from Keith Gilyard’s collection Poemographies

Standards
Standards for the English Language Arts

Summary

Day 1
1. The class discusses the meaning of the word “poemographies.”
They observe that the title could represent a combination of poetry and geography, poetry and photography, poetry and biography, or poetry and autobiography.

2. Students divide themselves into small groups, based on their interpretations of the word “poemographies.” Students interview others in their group about their interpretations of the poems.

3. Lujan then asks students to create visual interpretations of Gilyard’s poetry at home.

Day 2
1. Students present their visual “poemographies” to the class, explaining their individual creative choices.

2. The class walks to a plaza in downtown Santa Fe, where they meet with Keith Gilyard. Gilyard reads his poem “the hatmaker” to the class. (Teachers may want to show students a clip featuring Keith Gilyard from The Expanding Canon video program 2, Part I.)

3. Gilyard tells students how he likes to capture the sights and sounds of his environment in his poetry. He asks students to walk around the plaza to collect images and impressions to create their own poems.

4. The students share their poems with the whole group and then ask Gilyard questions about his life and his work.

Lesson Plan 2

Author: Mourning Dove
Title of work: Coyote Stories

Overview
Greg Hirst uses a reader-response approach to explore Mourning Dove’s Coyote Stories by immersing students in Native American storytelling traditions. Students respond to Mourning Dove’s work by creating and telling stories of their own. Hirst models the classroom on a traditional “lodge,” in which students become part of a clan and members of a tribe. In addition to creating and presenting their own stories, students listen to and critique the stories of others.

Preparation
To prepare for the lesson, view The Expanding Canon video program 2, Part II. Online, review the Session 2 theory overview, strategies, information about the authors and literature, resources, and the downloadable print guide. Read Mourning Dove’s Coyote Stories — selected stories available in the print guide.

Materials
Teachers will need the following supplies:

  • board and/or chart paper
  • a screen or monitor on which to show a clip from the video program 2, Part II
  • copies of Coyote Stories

Standards
Standards for the English Language Arts

Summary

Day 1
To provide students with a cultural context for the activity, teachers may consider screening video program 2, part II for them.

1. Greg Hirst begins by shaking hands with all of his students, inviting them into the lodge. He explains that by shaking hands, students allow him to be their teacher and he accepts them as his students. Hirst explains that in the lodge, they can feel at home with the storyteller and approach Mourning Dove’s literature as a member of the tribe.

2. Hirst then divides the class into small groups or “clans,” based on those featured in Mourning Dove’s Coyote Stories. He draws a circle on the board and shows the connections between three clans: Salmon, Grizzly Bear, and Eagle. He describes each clan’s qualities, and then allows students to choose and join a clan.

3. Hirst then asks the groups to choose a leader/chief, who will speak for them when they gather for tribal meetings.

4. Each student draws his or her face on a large piece of paper given to each clan. Hirst explains, “in tribal literature, oral or written, you absolutely have to know your face, to us, means identity; if you know your face, you know who you are. If you know who you are, you find your voice. Face and voice will bring the story out.”

5. Hirst introduces the trickster figure, Coyote. He explains that Mourning Dove’s Coyote is unique because it has two faces — Coyote and Fox. Mourning Dove wanted the listener to realize that Coyote is really divided; he has two personas.

6. Each clan develops a story idea about how their clan’s figure (Salmon, Eagle, Grizzly Bear) achieved its identity. A member of each clan writes the story title on the board. Hirst explains that all the stories will be developed, but he asks each student to vote for the story they think will be most appealing. The voting process mirrors the tribal political process, invites friendly competition, and represents the first stage in the process of strengthening the stories through feedback and response.

7. The voting activity is also designed to draw out the trickster — the Coyote. Following the vote, Hirst questions a student who did not choose the story title created by his own clan. He then invites the student to sit in another part of the room and asks if any other students want to join this new Coyote/Fox clan. He asks the students in the Coyote/Fox clan to write their own story.

8. Hirst asks each clan to outline their story. He reminds the students of Mourning Dove’s tales and the main tenets of storytelling: the “how” and the “why.” As they craft their outlines and stories, he asks students to consider:

  • How was the idea made? What are the main points of the story they will tell?
  • Why is it important for the rest of us to know?

Day 2
1. Hirst allows students to construct their own stories, but he travels from group to group providing support and asking questions. He urges them to “tell,” rather than “read” their stories, and he emphasizes that storytelling involves both speaking and listening. He then asks students to share their outlined stories so that the class can respond with constructive feedback. Hirst prepares his students to give constructive feedback by asking them to listen with two questions in mind:

  • Do you understand this story?
  • Is it important that you hear this story?

2. The students present their stories to the entire class several times, revising their work based on the feedback. The students will share their final drafts with the community.

Series Directory

The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature in High School

Credits

Produced by Thirteen/WNET. 2003.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-676-6