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DECONSTRUCTION: “Bits, Pieces, Chunks, and Wholes – A Lesson in Semblance” Course Teachers: John Byrnes, Peter Ilten, Megan LaChapelle Enduring Understandings: 1) All texts can be broken into units of meaning. 2) Units of meaning that texts are broken into do not necessarily add up to a common meaning. Essential Questions: 1) Why would you use deconstruction while approaching a text? 2) Is the first meaning you find the most accurate? * * * LESSON PLAN OF THE DAY A) Objectives: 1) Comprehension (Grades 9-12): The student will understand the meaning of informational, expository or persuasive texts, using a variety of strategies and will demonstrate literal, interpretive, inferential and evaluative comprehension. 2) The student will be able to create a working definition of “deconstruction.” 3) Students will apply the working definition to deconstruction-appropriate texts. B) Materials: Recipe Cards w/ Ingredients Handout: “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” Handout: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” Overhead or projector (for use w/ laptop or transparency) Dry Erase Board or Chalk Board Paper & Pen/Pencil o Backup Materials for Differentiation: LEGOs™ or Magnetic Poetry™ C) Procedures 1) Introduction i. Introduction of Deconstruction as an idea 1. Write “Deconstruction” on the board, or a large poster board, and begin a running definition of the term throughout the lesson. Draw a line between De/construction if students have trouble coming up with any ideas for a definition. ii. “Recipe Cards” (10 minutes) 1. In this introduction, students will pair up and be handed one recipe card with a single ingredient on it. a. Ask the students to come up with two to three possible recipes, meals or dishes that someone could make with their given ingredient. b. Once they have had time to list some as a pair, ask one person from each pair to report their results to the class, write these on another part of the board. c. Show them the recipe that you took all of the ingredients from, red it out loud and reveal it is a recipe for cake. Point out that some students were able to identify a cake as a possible dish from the ingredient, but also note that there are other possibilities, as well. 2. After the activity is completed, we will come together as a class and write down what we collectively think “deconstruction” is based on our activity. Key questions to address in this part of the activity: What does deconstruction mean to us right now? How would you define it based on what we just learned with our recipe for cake? Just because eggs can be used in cake does not mean the eggs signify cake, but sometimes they do. 2) Activities i. “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” (15-20 minutes) 1. Handouts to the students – we will read this aloud as a group. 2. After reading, students should ask why they think we read this for a discussion of “deconstruction” – get responses from students on what they think this article is about 3. Reveal the true nature of the study (Nacirema = American) 4. Discussion of describing the exact same things using different words. Make the familiar unfamiliar. Even though these are things that we may do in this room, they do not appear in the manner we expect. Just as we might see an omelet in our eggs from the cake recipe, we have seen an unknown culture using our toothbrushes and visiting dentists. 5. As a class we will go back to our running definition of “deconstruction.” Important questions in working this definition: Why did we use this text to help us understand? What about the word “deconstruction” seems fitting for this activity? What does our definition look like NOW? ii. Brief discussion on using deconstruction in a poem (<5 minutes) 1. Revisit the working definition; by now there should be the idea of parts of a whole as parts of different wholes. Also there should be something about looking for unexpected meanings in familiar places and familiar meanings in new places. Talk about the pieces of the recipes as words, phrases or even whole paragraphs. iii. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (15-20 minutes) 1. Handouts to the students – have someone volunteer to read aloud 2. After reading, ask the students “What does this mean?” 3. After discussion of what they think the poem means, ask them why they think that – what words tell them that? Could these words actually mean something else? When we think we understand “what a text means” we come up with a unifying idea, or a “gestalt.” That meaning is not the only meaning of the poem. 4. Looking at individual lines, suggest places where they can begin the deconstruction. (Example: “Whose WOODS these are” – how do we know what the word “woods” is referring to? Couldn’t it just as easily be a set of golf clubs, or a family with the last name of Woods?) 5. Go through each stanza, have students find words that could mean something entirely different. 6. It will be important to stress that Frost himself thought this poem was overanalyzed and said it was simply about stopping with his horse. This needs to be juxtaposed against the belief that deconstruction shows what the author UNWITTINGLY meant. 3) Closure i. Final working definition of “deconstruction” (5 minutes) 1. After final activity with an actual text, and using the running definition that we have so far in class, work together as a class to get a working definition of “deconstruction” on the board. a. Record this definition and have the students record it in their notes as well ii. Explanation of homework assignment 1. (see below under “Evaluation Method”) D) Evaluation Method 1) Formative Assessment i. The class-long running definition and final agreed upon working definition of “deconstruction” will be what informs us as teachers if the students were able to grasp the concept of the critical theory. 2) Summative Assessment i. Homework assignment: 1. Students will get to choose one of three poems offered. a. “My Papa’s Waltz” b. “Ode to my Socks” c. “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” 2. The students will identify three (3) constructive sentences in the poem, and for each sentence they will list two (2) possible DIFFERENT meanings. E) Differentiation 1) For students that have trouble reading or constructing abstract thoughts, LEGOs and Magnetic Poetry can serve as a simpler explanation of deconstruction i. Learners with special needs will be given a LEGO structure to see how the pieces remain while the whole is taken apart. Also, students will be given the example of the poem above arranged in Magnetic Poetry in order to manipulate the words as individual units of meaning. ii. While this doesn’t fully show the root of deconstruction (that a word can actually have a number of meanings), it does provide the post-modern concept of breaking down the “text” and then reassembling it to mean something else. iii. We also would plan on reading the poem and the “Nacirema” text aloud. 2) For students with trouble writing, we would let them orally address the assessment instead of writing.
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