ELA

The Handmaid's Tale | The Great American Read

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Margaret Atwood explains the inspiration and motivation behind her book, The Handmaid's Tale. She reveals how everything in the book is based on something real that has happened in history. The book explores how societal evil can lead people to do unthinkable things.

1984 by George Orwell | The Great American Read

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George Orwell's dystopian novel, 1984, centers on a world of perpetual war and totalitarian rule, in which Winston Smith is a low-ranking government employee. Big Brother is always watching, and even thinking rebellious thoughts is a crime. Winston risks his life waging a battle for individual freedom and expression: a battle he cannot win.

Learning Objectives

Students will: 

  • Watch a video segment and answer contextual questions.
  • Build vocabulary, reading and listening comprehension skills

Acceptance and the Merchant of Venice | Shakespeare Uncovered

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At a time when nationalism and extremism are on the rise, questions about the importance of understanding and acceptance raised in the “Hath not a Jew eyes?” speech from The Merchant of Venice are particularly relevant. In these videos from Shakespeare Uncovered, explore what it means to be an outsider and the impact of persecution. Support materials engage students with contemporary connections through discussion questions and a handout analyzing Shylock’s speech. 

Shakespeare Uncovered combines history, biography, iconic performances, new analysis, and the personal passions of its celebrated hosts to tell the stories behind the stories of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. To learn more and view full episodes, visit the Shakespeare Uncovered website and collection page.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | The Great American Read

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Douglas Adams' 1979 novel, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is a comedic satire on society, bureaucracy, and closed-mindedness. Former NFL player Chris Kluwe shares his love of the novel, and suggests why it helped to popularize the phrase "Don't Panic," among other things. And expert Baratunde Thurston thinks of it as an absurdist, post modernist, non-linear way to create a story world.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Watch a video segment and answer contextual questions.
  • Build vocabulary, reading and listening comprehension skills

Pride and Prejudice | The Great American Read

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In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen wrote a strong female heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, who is more than a match for the rich and handsome Mr. Darcy, and who will not marry merely for money or position. Actress Lauren Graham is one of several book lovers who share their fondness for this novel that has become a template for many other books and movies. Literary experts also weigh in on why this novel has become an enduring classic.

Learning Objective

Students will:

  • Watch a video segment and answer contextual questions
  • Create character sketches of the two major characters of “Pride and Prejudice”
  • Build vocabulary, reading, listening and comprehension skills

 

MN Original | Nora McInerny: Writer

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Writer, founder of Still Kickin, and Terrible, Thanks for Asking podcast host Nora McInerny unabashedly addresses stories of pain with humor and heart. Nora has been sharing details of her life with readers and listeners since 2014, the year she says she “just kept getting kicked in the face.” That year Nora lost her husband and her father, and suffered a miscarriage — all in the span of a couple months. As she shares in the video above, Nora hopes her difficult stories help others know they’re not alone in their struggles.

Moby Dick | The Great American Read

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Experts discuss Herman Melville's love of the sea and how the obsessed Ahab is the anti-hero of the story. Professor Mary K. Bercaw Edwards brings her students onto a 19th century whaling ship to learn about the sea tale. Ahab teaches us how obsession can lead anyone down the wrong path.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Watch a video segment and answer contextual questions.
  • Explore the character of the villain in novels and the role they play to push the narrative forward
  • Build vocabulary, reading, and listening comprehension skills

Looking for Alaska | The Great American Read

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Looking for Alaska is a young adult novel about first love, unrequited love, tragedy, and the intense experiences during the teenage years. Author John Green speaks about his process in writing the novel, including the autobiographical elements.

Learning Objective

Students will:

  • Watch a video segment and answer contextual questions
  • Build vocabulary and reading comprehension skills with a list of words explored in the video

The Call of the Wild | The Great American Read

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Enduring love is the underlying theme of Jack London's story of a dog, Buck, who is kidnapped and forced to pull a sled in Alaska, and who is ultimately saved by the trapper John Thornton. Chelsea Clinton speaks of her fondness for the book, which she first read in junior high school; her perspective on the novel was different from the boys, who saw it as strictly an adventure tale.

Learning Objective

Students will:

  • Watch a video segment and answer contextual questions
  • Expand vocabulary and reading comprehension using a list of words introduced in the segment

 

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole | The Great American Read

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Ignatius J. Reilly is the unlikely, and unforgettable hero of the Pulitzer prize-winning A Confederacy of Dunces. Set in New Orleans, the novel follows Ignatius, an obese, thirty-year-old, unemployed scholar who lives with his mother. He launches a crusade against modernity—which he thinks is the downfall of humankind.

Learning Objectives

Student will:

  • Watch a video segment and answer contextual questions.
  • Build vocabulary, reading and listening comprehension skills.

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