Followup & Resources: Fences by August Wilson

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The following notes and resources are from a previously-held, exclusive Professional Learning Community session. All names and recordings have been removed for privacy reasons. To view the PLC's full length works guide, click here.

Thank you for attending last night's meeting! If you couldn't make it or would like to review the session, you can view the slide deck here.

Connections in Literature & Additional Resources
Building context
  • Language and slang changes over time
    • In Trifles, students were curious about the use of word "queer" and how the usage has changed over time. 
    • "Gay" in Gatsby
  • With important context, certain things are okay.
  • It can be insulting to "try to deodorize the language"
  • As far as Wilson's context, I think it's important to acknowledge that all of the characters in Fences are African American. In most of the other texts I teach that use the "n-word," it is a word used by a non-African-American character as a derogatory term. (Katie Martin)
  • Approach language as a skill--figurative and literal meanings of words
    • What's the word mean? Now? Then?
  • With "bad words," give students some forewarning on the fact that it's there and how it'll be discussed in class (will it be read individually? will it be read aloud with parts assigned to students?)
In relation to Passing...
  • I think Troy tries to pass as someone who is confident when inside he is really scared and broken... I think the way Troy tries to pass, Rose passes in the opposite way.
  • Rose is trying to pass as a satisfied wife.
Classroom activities:
  • Film vs. play version of Fences have different audience reactions--check them out with students!
  • Q3 practice using Lit&Comp 3e with stable prompt wording, which is a great segway into test prep.
PLC Close Reading Activity
  • Extended metaphor of baseball--his value system is just a game.
  • You battle at the plate in baseball, but you tend or nurture a garden. Warrior/Gardener.
  • Their respective roles are very traditional in terms of gender, and this is reflected in their diction and delivery. 
  • Curveballs and bunting: The bunting metaphor is a form of desperation, luck and sacrifice
    • If students can't relate to baseball, have them relate to love!
Comment from the meeting:
There's something about using baseball as a metaphor -- it's all about failure. The most amazing hitters in history failed 7 out of 10 times they came up to bat. EVERY baseball player is sort of tragic in that way.
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