You Really Want to Hear About It...":
Catching on to Catcher in the Rye
Project URL: http://teachnet-lab.org/mbhs/scragg/catcher/opener.html
To truly make the novel The Catcher in the Rye by J.D.
Salinger come to life, students
look at it through a modern microscope: the Internet. This
program makes the main character, Holden Caulfield, relevant to
today's students, and the use of new media in the classroom helps
accomplish this. Students use online resources to analyze characters
(i.e., a site on gifted children to discuss Phoebe, or a site about
adolescent mental health when discussing Holden's problems). Students
write from cues taken directly from the novel (by actually writing a
composition only mentioned in the novel, and by writing a letter from one
character to another). They are able to read about the influence
of this classic novel in material available online (New York Times and Salon.com articles) that is modern-day literary criticism. This
program also contains drama activities, collaborative work, and a formal
essay in addition to the other writing assignments. Students are
exposed to a variety of different genres and are required to write in a variety of different
styles. As a
result, they are able to not only expand their writing, reading
comprehension, and technology skills, but to also deeply connect with
a classic work of literature.
Students read a novel of quality and complexity; read and
comprehend informational materials; produce a report of information, a
response to literature, a narrative account, a persuasive essay, and a
reflective essay; participate in group meetings; make informed judgments
about media; prepare and deliver a presentation; demonstrate an
understanding of the rules of the English language in written and oral
work; respond to fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama using
interpretive and critical processes; produce work in more than one
genre that follows the conventions of that genre; critique and produce
public documents and functional documents; utilize new media and
technology; and produce documents using new media and technology.
Access to a computer lab with Internet connections, and copies of The Catcher in the Rye are required.
The students involved were high-performing ESL students at Murry
Bergtraum High School. Students could read and write English, but with
some lingering difficulty with vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension.
They had a basic knowledge of computers and Internet surfing,
which was all that was required.
"If You Really Want To Hear It..." allows students to
connect the events and people in The Catcher in the Rye with the outside world
through the use of technology. Students are literally able to update these
characters by using information found online. Through technology and writing assignments,
students improve their comprehension of the novel, connect with it on
a deeper level, and improve their overall reading and writing skills.
This program attempts to make the reading of a classic literary work fun while challenging students at the same time.
Look at written assignments early to see if students understand the
novel--since the assignments are heavily based on events in the novel,
it's easy to spot a student who is having difficulty with
comprehension (or, alternately, who isn't reading the novel). The
assignments are based on the novel, but are personal at the same time,
so copying is also easily spotted. Students will have to work individually and think
critically in order to do well!