Monday, March 7, 2016

Writing Workshop Session 8 (Argument)

Looking for Themes in the Trouble of a Text

Connection: When Mrs. Everts was in high school she ran track & field.  She stated on junior varsity team-JV- then she moved onto the Varsity team.  The word varsity is just a shortening of the word university, and it means the main team, the one everyone is watching.
Mrs. Everts' Varsity Jacket

Starting today, we are heading into varsity-level essay writing. It would be great if you could all have letter jackets to wear from now on!!

Essayists can write essays on any element of a story (setting of a story, on the structure of a story etc.). The most common way to write a literary essay is to write on a story's theme, on life lessons, and that's what you will be doing over the next bend in this unit.  

You are still thinking about the story "YOU" selected and what is it teaching readers about life. Keep in mind all that you have already been thinking because the themes in a story relate very closely to traits and motivations of characters, and especially of the main character.  

Today I want to teach you that often the life lessons that a character learns are the life lessons that the author hopes that readers will learn.  To figure out what those life lessons might be, it helps to look more closely at the troubles a character faces, and how they get in the way of what a character wants, asking, 'What lessons does the character learn from all this?"

Teaching Going back to Mrs. Everts and Track & Field, for many many races (hurdles) she would get 3rd place, 3rd place, 3rd place.  Her father rarely came to her races.  So each night after the race she would come home and tell him all about it.  This one particular night she got real sad and frustrated about the 3rd place she had got...again.  She cried and cried to her dad.  Once she was calm he told her that even though he wished she could get 1st place all the time, most people have to face hard times--and that those hard times were usually when they learned the best lessons- lessons that help them become themselves.  'No pain, no gain,'

** There are universal motivations, troubles, and life lessons in stories.  

As we all learn from tough times in our lives, characters in stories learn the most through the problems they face.  But readers learn right along with the characters.  Readers also learn stuff that relates not just to the character's troubles but to troubles that readers have as well.  That is true because the problems that characters face in the stories have what people call universality

Remember that characters in stories have motivations that ALL human beings share.  
People want:

  • to feel valued
  • to be understood
  • to fit in
 Motivating Factors
Here is a list of all the factors that motivate human behavior. 
  • Relationships: family; friends; love; hate; betrayal
  • Fear: the unknown; the past repeating itself
  • Obligation: knowing you should do something whether you want to or not; fear of looking bad to others
  • Needs and wants: money; basic needs; greed; dreams
  • Cultural influences: society; expectations
  • Revenge: past wrongs; hurt; anger
  • Past experiences: childhood; frightening situations; defining moments
Taking a moment to think about all the things that make you want to do the things you do, or feel the way you feel, is the first step to defining your characters’ motivations.

People also have universal problems.
  • things get in the way of what they want
For example:

 The Beast in Beauty and the Beast: Depression

The Beast in Beauty and the Beast: Depression
The Beast, like many people, must change his cold hearted ways and break out of the prison he put himself in to find true love and happiness.  

Think of 'Raymond's Run,' and consider the main 

character's motivation and/or problems that get in 

the way of her getting what she wants.  BUT, this 

time, try to do this all in words that have 

universality.  Think about what Squeaky really 

 wants and about her problems.

It takes awhile to learn what she really wants (usually you know that at the start of a story), but by the end of the story, what do you think she really wants??  Tell someone your idea.

She wants to have a friend, to feel connected to people.  

Here is the question: Is that motivation worded in such a way that it applies to lots of people? Is it a universal motivation?

What are her problems?

Problem #1
Squeaky has to care for her brother who has special needs.  
BUT, we need to name her problem in a way that is not specific to this story, but that instead is a problem many people have. 

Squeaky, like lots of people in the world, has a job to do that makes her different from other kids.   

Problem #2

Many people have tempers like Squeaky that keep people away from them.  

Now we need to think of life lessons that characters can learn from their problems.

The Beast
life lessons from beauty and the beast - beauty comes from within
We learned this one along with Beast. True beauty comes from within; it’s about being kind to others and not only thinking about yourself. 

You could simply say 'Having a temper is bad.' but this is just not powerful enough after all the thinking work we have down about this story.

Talk with someone about what the lesson could be.
-about making friends 
-about her temper
-about protectiveness
***One way to do this is to focus on the end of the story and what has changed in Squeaky.

Make Chart: How to Write a Theme-Based Literary Essay from page 81

Active Engagement:
Try this out with the story you chose, think about the lessons the character learned by thinking about the motivations and the problems of the protagonist.

Get with same story partners.
TALK about your characters motivations and problems in universal terms.  Think bigger than just the particular scenario in your book.  Come up with a life lesson the character learns.

On the next clean page in your writers notebook draw a T chart: on left side list motivations/problems character has (Beast-wants to love someone/can't open up) (Squeaky-needs to take care a family member/has a temper).

**Remember to talk about it universally. 

After you have a list of motivations and problems the character has start a list of possible life lessons.

Finish your work by drafting a theme-based claim and begin to outline evidence to support your claim

No comments:

Post a Comment