Erasure Lesson Plan

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 10.16.22 PM

 

I don’t know if I would be bold enough to teach Erasure to high school seniors, but if I were so bold I would probably use Alissa’s lesson plan.  I might use some of it next time I teach it.  The eraser assignment is brilliant!

 

Lesson Plan:

Erasure by Percival Everett

Alissa Katz

Senior Literature  (Monday- Friday 9:00am- 10:00 am)

Concept: Reengage the unengaged students in their senior year of high school through the morals embedded in “Erasure.” This is most successful through close reading of key excerpts and drawing parallels that connect the dots Everett’s novel works so hard to “erase”.   

My Responsibility:

Senior Literature is our last attempt to reach already departed high school seniors. Percival Everett’s “Erasure” is a heavy but satirical novel about the realm into which my students will be ascending come the following fall: the real world. I choose to end my semesters with Everett’s humorous approach to the gritty truths about the inevitable failures, successes, epiphanies, and disappointments of adulthood in an effort to both warn yet excite my students of life’s pretentious potential. Ultimately, we will analyze the concept of identity that both Everett’s character and my coming-of-age students struggle with. By story’s end, the question to be answered will be that concerning identity: Who is our narrator?

Tool: An eraser. We will explore the concept of “erasure” in the literal sense of erasing in a consistent daily warm-up exercise. I will use it to help students recognize the speaker’s fluid shift in identity that occurs over the course of the book’s chapters/section. We will recognize that a character may be reintroduced, but understand that the identity of that character has been completely erased and reconstructed more and more unfamiliar to us. The main character shift from each of our days (1-5) will be represented through a written review of the previous character and then a literal erasure of that character to make room for the next.

*Each student will be given a new rubber eraser on Day 1 of 5 of “Erasure”. It is crucial that this eraser be brought to class everyday for the week! 

Precursor to my Students: This novel is explicit reading in both concept and diction. Please be mature. 

 

Day 1 (Chapters 1-6)

Lesson Objectives:

  • Introduce the eraser and the concept of erasing
  • Brief on African American criticism, which is heavily embedded in African American history
  • Identify our main character/speaker for these chapters: Thelonious Ellison/Monk
  • Blank white copy paper, wooden pencils, rubber erasers (1x per student), computer/screen for class clip viewing

Teaching Procedures:

  • Lead in: Eraser exercise/distribution/discussion of concept “erasing”
  • Video clip
  • Depict our genre: Satire
  • Meet our characters and stereotypes
Timing Procedures Talking points, Questions, Notes
5 mins Eraser exercise explanation/distribution of erasers Explain the purpose of eraser exercise, distribute eraser per student.

Purpose of exercise seeks to help students partake in the process of erasure, which we will extend over the week of reading “Erasure.”

5 mins Eraser Day 1 written exercise Who is Thelonious Ellison aka Monk?

Students will write up brief character sketch of the section’s speaker. I will collect it and hold until Day 2.

5 mins Satire Movie Clip http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=89824T

His clip identifies a modern pop-cultural reference that a senior class should recognize: political humor. Most seniors are either a year away from the legal voting age or are preparing to participate in the next election, as they are already 18. It is a segway from a satire they are already familiar with into defining what makes it a satire

Look through character sketches from eraser exercise and mark participation while they watch clip. Look for parallels or confusion between who is Thelonious Ellison and who is Monk. Do students see them as the same person? Or are they different?

15 mins Satire lecture Define Percel Everett’s genre: satire. Relate clip by asking the basic question: Why was it so funny?

Shape direction of lecture based on student response and understanding. Drive them to hit on the point that it knocks on reality, progress towards its particular knock on what kind of reality (a person/identity).

 

25 mins Discuss the assigned reading (chapters 1-6) Identities (of characters individually), stereotypes (heavily embedded in chapter 3)/collective identities (of African American race as we take from Monk’s ironic make-up in the first chapter and Juanita Mae Jenkins “We’s Lives In Da Ghetto”)

Key characters: Thelonious Ellison/Monk, Lisa, Monk’s parents, important events i.e. Monk’s family, Barnes and Noble scene (identify as satirical revelation), Lisa’s death.

** Finish discussion with stereotype talk to segway into introducing “My Pafology” for homework

5 mins Closure/Homework

 

Warning label on of “My Pafology” explaining to expect explicit language/content

Use of the word “nigger”(which I will introduce as the “n” word) is repetitive, so when we address certain quotes directly from the text in class we will insert the word “beep” in place of it.

Homework: Read “My Pafology”

 

Day 2 (My Pafology)

Lesson Objectives:

  • Identity revisited (through Eraser exercise and character re-analysis)
  • Brief on African American criticism, which is heavily embedded in African American history
  • Stereotypes revisited (from text directly)
  • Eraser exercises from Day 1 computer/screen for class clip viewing

Teaching Procedures:

  • Lead in: Redistribute character sketch sheets from Eraser exercise Day 1, have students literally erase their description and write new one for Eraser exercise Day 2
  • Discuss our new main character/speaker’s identity: Van Go Jenkins
  • Brief African American criticism lecture
  • My Pafology reflection via group discussion/class discussion
Timing Procedures Talking points, Questions, Notes
5 mins Eraser Exercise Day 2 Students characterize Van Go Jenkins

I will collect and hold until Day 3.

10 mins Collective class discussion of exercise Class characterization of Van Go Jenkins

Look for students to draw parallels between the stereotypes we discussed on Day 1 with Juanita Mae Jenkins’s “We’s Lives in Da Ghetto”

15 mins African American Criticism Lecture Introduce the lens of African American criticism as useful in understanding why Everett is doing what he’s doing by writing “My Pafology”

Most important term: double-consciousness (tie to identity lecture from Day 1)

15mins Everett’s Double-consciousness Interrelate characters as a double-conscious single identity (Thelonious Ellison, Monk, Van Go Jenkins as an alter-ego homage to “his culture”) and meet Stagg R. Leigh)
5 mins Movie clip/Stereotype threat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=watjO62NrVg

Addresses threat as effecting a people as a whole i.e. a race, therefore individuals within

Use clip to introduce stereotype threat. This clip is satirical (running parallel with Everett’s genre) and engages the senior class because the students in the clip are almost the same age. Look through character sketches from eraser exercise and mark participation while they watch clip. 

5 mins Closure: “My Pafology” as a result of a stereotype threat/ Homework Homework: Read Chapters 7-11 

Day 3 (Chapters 7-11)

Lesson Objectives:

  • Identity revisited (through Eraser exercise and character re-analysis)
  • Identity shift
  • “My Pafology”: for Monk vs. for everyone else
  • Eraser exercises from Day 2 power point/screen projector/computer

Teaching Procedures:

  • Lead in: Redistribute character sketch sheets from Eraser exercise Day 2, have students literally erase their description and write new one for Eraser exercise Day 3
  • Discuss our new main character/speaker’s identity: Stagg R. Leigh
  • Analyze identity shift through power point lecture: from who to who
Timing Procedures Talking points, Questions, Notes
5 mins Eraser Day 3 written exercise Who is Stagg R. Leigh?

I will collect and hold until Day 4.

10 mins Collective class discussion of exercise Class characterization of Stagg. R Leigh

Look for students to make identifications in reference to comparisons/contrasts to Monk.

10 mins Identity shift power point Explain identity shift and how/why it happens

Provide a quick power point with points

10 mins Group breakout Divide into 5 groups to report important chapter summaries of events from the Day 2 homework reading (Chapters 7-11).

Key events that lend to our narrator’s ongoing-identity metamorphosis

Key events:

-Chapter 7:Random House for F U C K, Monk’s self-loathing begins, progression of Mother’s Alzheimer’s/possibility of moving her to home

-Chapter 8: Father’s affair (insight to if Father actually wanted papers burned and why Mother left them unburned for a reason)

-Chapter 9: Monk in character as Stagg, meet Marilyn Tilman

-Chapter 10:Appropos de bottes

-Chapter 11:Clevon, Marilyn reads Jenkins

 

20 mins Reporting out Groups share chapter summaries

If groups leave out any key events, share with class before moving on to next group

 5 mins Explain homework Homework: Stereotype Threat flow-chart, read chapters 12-13

Have students create a flow-chart to understand how stereotype threat works. Use the stereotype threat of African Americans present in “Erasure”

 

Day 4 (Chapters 12-13)

Lesson Objectives:

  • Identity revisited (through Eraser exercise and character re-analysis)
  • Epiphany
  • Eraser exercises from Day 3, power point/screen projector/computer

Teaching Procedures:

  • Collect homework
  • Lead in: Redistribute character sketch sheets from Eraser exercise Day 3, have students literally erase their description and write new one for Eraser exercise Day 4
  • Discuss ambiguity from Eraser exercise
  • Epiphany lecture via power point
  • Closure
  • Assessment—formative (throughout the lesson) and/or summative (at end of lesson)
  • Homework (to extend the lesson and/or anticipate the following lesson)
Timing Procedures Talking points, Questions, Notes
5 mins Collect homework/Eraser Day 4 written exercise Who is our narrator? Find one instance of Monk, one instance of Stagg

Collect Day 3 night’s homework

Quotes from the text supporting evidence that the narrator is dichotomous: both Monk and Stagg

I will collect and hold until Day 5.

10 mins Collective class discussion of exercise Students volunteer to take us to the text for their quotations in the voice of Monk and the voice of Stagg

Lead into ambiguity of self-identity and the losing/finding of oneself: epiphany

 

5 mins Epiphany Clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxoFi5Lie34

Pop-cultural epiphany clip: Sweeny Todd

Look through character sketches from eraser exercise and mark participation while they watch clip.

 

20 mins Epiphany lecture Brief power point on historical context of Joycean epiphany and draw parallels to Everett’s epiphanies

Go to text directly chapter, 12 pg. 195: “I saw myself …”

15 mins In class writing Students will have 15 minutes to respond to the following excerpt from the text:

The novel, so-called, was more a chair than a painting, my having designed it not as a work of art, but as a functional device, its appearance a thing to behold, but more a thing to mark, a warning perhaps, a gravestone certainly. It was by this reasoning that I was able to look at my face in the mirror and to accept the deal my agent presented to me on the phone that evening “(chapter 13, pg. 209)

Prompt will involve discussion of the character’s awareness of the preluding identity discussed in class. What complications come with the stratification of identity?

5 mins Closure: What did we learn today?

Homework: Find Erasure quotes

Homework: read F U C K, while reading F U C K mark quotes involving “erasure”

 

Day 5 (F U C K)

Lesson Objectives:

  • Identify our main character/speaker of “F U C K”
  • Argue for Stagg/Monk as voice in groups
  • Interrelate characters discussed from days 1-5 via class Venn Diagram
  • Closure on “Erasure”: the concept of erasing and the novel
  • Eraser exercises from Day 4 dry erase board for class Venn Diagram, take home essay handout printouts

Teaching Procedures:

  • Lead in: Redistribute character sketch sheets from Eraser exercise Day 4 and explain Day 5 erasing (final day of exercise)
  • Discussion of Identity resolved
  • Group division/discussion/presentation
  • Venn Diagram
  • Quotes
Timing Procedures Talking points, Questions, Notes
3 mins Eraser day 6 writing exercise Students individually identify main character/speaker Who is he: Thelonious, Monk or Stagg?

Unlike days 1-4, just ask that they write the name (no full-sketch/description necessary) **Anticipation of students with conflicting characters

10 mins Discuss Have students raise hands in vote of who they considered the main character/speaker: Monk or Stagg

Recognize the possibility for the ultimate shift in identity at the story’s end: has he truly changed and devolved into a created identity?

10 mins Group division Divide class into 5 groups: chapter 14, 15, 16, 17, 18.

Allow students to analyze who the speaker appears to be in their group’s assigned chapter. Require textual evidence (quotes) for their arguments.

15 mins Group presentation of argument Starting with the group for chapter 14, each group will have 3 minutes to state their case of who they think Everett has intended for us to perceive the main character/speaker as in their assigned chapter.

Have them present at least 1 passage directly from the text that drives their argument.

12 mins Class Vin Diagram As a class, create a Venn diagram interconnecting each character we have discussed as the shifted-narrator:

–       Thelonious Ellison/Monk interchangeably (chapters 1-6)

–       Van Go Jenkins (My Pafology)

–       Monk/Thelonious Ellison interchangeably (chapters 7-11)

–       Stagg R. Leigh /Thelonious Ellison/ Monk/ Van Go Jenkins (F.U.C.K)

The Venn diagram aims to show the crossover amongst these characters. While they are all different characters, ultimately they are a single stratification of Everett’s first intended narrator: Thelonious Ellison. (a 3-interlocking circle diagram)

10 mins Erasure: closing ideas on the connotation and share quotes from Thursday’s homework

 

Feedback on eraser daily exercise

 

Pass out take-home essay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Example:

“ … I could hear the edge on my voice and though I didn’t want it there, I knew that once detected, it could never be erased” (chapter 11, pg. 188)

Have volunteer students (or call on those that did not participate much in their group’s presentations) to share quotes taking us directly to the text (page numbers) to see how exactly Everett uses the term

 

Ask students what they understood the erasing exercise to mean? Feedback

 

Take home essay will provide me with a sense of the students’ understanding of identity and their ultimate conception of the book

 

 

 

Stagg R. Leigh vs. Thelonious Ellison: Venn Diagram

 

Assignment: Utilize the Venn diagram provided to compose a cross comparison of Everett’s Jekyll and Hyde: Stagg R. Leigh and Thelonious Ellison. “Erasure” is heavily burdened with the convolution of Everett’s narrator’s identity. Use this exercise to distinguish Everett’s stratified identities. Write a 250-word summary explaining the summation of your chart’s similarities/differences that answers our on-going question of identity: By novel’s end, ultimately who is Everett’s intended speaker?

Due Monday                                     

            

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 10.23.01 PM

Leave a Reply