RARA-AVIS: off topic/on teaching crime fiction in high school

From: Joy Matkowski ( jmatkowski1@comcast.net)
Date: 18 Feb 2004

My friend Ben noted on an editors' list that he had just joined DorothyL with respect to the following teaching unit. I suggested he'd get better information from this list. If you have suggestions, his email address is at the end. Joy

> I'm an English teacher in the midst of a course called Independent
> Reading. The students mostly get to choose their own books, with my
> approval (mostly for reading level). For one of the books, I've told
> the students that we are going to read a mystery novel. Each student
> (and the teacher) will choose a book (with the teacher's approval), and
> together we will explore what a mystery novel is and what the devices
> and traditions are, engage in critical thinking and test our powers of
> logic, deduction, and the narrative arts, and, I hope, simply enjoy
> some crackin' good yarns.
        The idea is that all the books we are reading
> have some similar elements, so that we can come together for periodic
> discussions. I'm not sure what form the assessment will take, but I'm
> more concerned about the start right now. With authors that could range
> from Poe and Wilkie Collins to Elmore Leonard and Janet Evanovich, how
> do I come up with an umbrella that helps us to make choices and to set
> parameters for our reading and discussion? Am I better off restricting
> the genre to, say, period pieces or modern nihilistic crime dramas?
> (I'd rather not; I think that the wider I make the field, the greater
> willing engagement I'll get.)
     I'd like to start the unit with a
> presentation/discussion to determine what a mystery novel is and what
> sorts of works we'll be choosing from. (One correspondent suggested
> that I have a discussion asking them what they think a mystery is.
> That's likely what I will do, or some variation on it, but I need to
> know the answers going in...) Of course, I'm down to the wire on
> this--I want to have this discussion/presentation Monday or Tuesday of
> next week. If anyone can help, please send suggestions or questions to
> Ben Boyington at secondsight@earthlink.net. All help is greatly
> appreciated!

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