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Teaching Conundrum: Spicing up Puritan Literature

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This post was originally published on the HS Bits Blog, which was active from 2008-2013.

Is Puritan Literature putting you and your students to sleep? Do you loathe the beginning of the year because you know it entails trudging through the memoirs of our depressed ancestors? The downtrodden chronicles of the past need bore no more! Instead, have students put their own unique twist on the literature with an accumulative Puritan Presentation!

  1. Break students into four equal groups and provide them with presentation guidelines; see this Puritan Project. Since implementing this project, I’ve seen songs, puppet shows, acting, game shows, talk shows, and more, not to mention increased class participation. The presentations have really turned out terrific!
  2. Give students one to two class days to work on presentations; every student must have a role. Monitor progress and have students assess themselves on work days (they are very honest).
  3. During presentations, groups receive a grade from the teacher and an accumulative grade from peers based on a rubric.
  4. Compile a quiz encompassing all presentation highlights, which makes students accountable both for the material they present and for being attentive during peer presentations. For an example, see this Puritan Project Quiz.

By the time each group has presented, the entire class has a better understanding of their own excerpts and those of the three other groups. The lessons and history of the Puritans are relevant and memorable. Enough said!

Do you have a Teaching Conundrum? Send it to Ann at: