Ideas for Teaching A Streetcar Named Desire

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by MizDubya, Oct 29, 2008.

  1. MizDubya

    MizDubya Rookie

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    Oct 29, 2008

    Greetings fellow English teachers,

    Do you have any suggestions for teaching A Streetcar Named Desire? We're starting the play in about a week, and I'm struggling to come up with a unit plan. This is my first year, so I haven't had to teach a play yet in class (we'll do 2 more before the year is up--Macbeth and Fences), and I'm not sure how to go about teaching the play, both in terms of how to conduct class (Do I have students read the play in class? If so, what kind of homework do I give them?) and what to focus on in the play itself (which I will be reading this week).

    Any suggestions, links, advice from on high most appreciated! :)
     
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Oct 29, 2008

    I have not been fortunate enough to teach this play but I remember my English class where I studied it. We read the play aloud with my teacher taking the part of Blanche because she enjoyed it so much. Our writing assignment, which I'm dying to use in my own classroom, was to create a "missing" scene with appropriate dialogue and mood to show that we fully understood the play. It's one of those assignments that turned me into a playwright in my spare time. Have fun!
     
  4. MizDubya

    MizDubya Rookie

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    Oct 29, 2008

    It sounds like you had a great teacher, and that sounds like a fabulous idea! I'm not sure that my department chair would go for such a project (we're very essay-focused at my school), but I'll see if I can sneak it in. Thanks for the idea!
     
  5. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Oct 29, 2008

    Offer this as an essay alternative (along with your usual fare) and explain it to your department chair as something for differentiated learning or something of the sort.

    Another idea that is like a VISUAL essay would be a "character mobile", where the students use wire hangers, yarn and other objects to portray aspects of a chosen character from the play. My mother used this with great success in her classes and her department chair would use Mom's highly decorated room as the setting for any meetings on alternative assessments.
     
  6. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Oct 29, 2008

    I show the movie and also the simpsons version of this play. I don't have the books though - we read Glass Menagerie and then watch Streetcar and do a little comparison, talk about William's style.

    I would definitely read it out loud though - plays are met to be read. And my kids LOVE the movie with Brando. I had kids doing Brando impressions - think "Stellll-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa" - all semester.
     
  7. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    Oct 30, 2008

    I am always about staging scenes, or having students rewrite scenes to perform (even changing setting/costumes if desires), forcing them to rephrase the playwright's text, thereby ensuring understanding. When we read R&J (see my post in the Anne Frank thread), we also watch both movie versions--Act I of Luhrmann's 1996 version before we read Act I, and Zeferreli's afterwards, and so on for the other Acts. This provides a visual and plot synopsis before we can better delve into the language and aspects of character and such.

    Plays are meant to be seen and heard, so class-based activities with it are, in my opinion, best. Homework may be to summarize, consider a character or the scene, focus on a literary/dramatic/theatrical element, or even illustrate a scene.
     

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