Shulevitz, Uri. How I Learned Annotated Bibliography

Excerpt from Annotated Bibliography :

The Miracle Worker. New York: Bantam, 1960.

ISBN: 0553247786 9780553247787, 122 pages, play. Appropriate for all audiences, intended primarily for adults but of interest to early adolescents and up. High critical appraise and winner of the Tony Award for Best Play in 1960, the year following the script's debut on Broadway.

This play is based on the autobiography of Helen Keller, focusing on the character of Helen's teacher Anne Sullivan and the struggle and ultimate triumph of this woman's struggle to teach Helen how to communicate and understand the world around her. Dramatic action must serve as a substitute for more direct textual exposition, making a reading of the play somewhat lackluster in comparison with viewing a full performance of the script. The characters are fully realized and highly compelling, however, and though the plot is generally well-known amongst most readers of a certain age level, the details and lifelike qualities of the story as told herein serve to freshen the tale and add new perspective to preconceived notions.

Analytical Comments

Comes off necessarily old-fashioned and somewhat forced to the modern reader, especially younger readers

Provides ample opportunity for the discussion of character in literature and story telling

Avenue for discussion of differences, capability levels, and unfair inferences that can be drawn regarding such issues

Clear characterization and story arc make for valuable discussion of literary construction on many levels

High emotional content and understanding demonstrated in the story/characters as well

Lesson Ideas

Act out a scene from the play, then switch roles

Discuss how the different perspectives change understanding

Design a set on which the play can take place, incorporating practical, aesthetic, and symbolic elements

Share one line of the play that you think completely demonstrates one of the characters, and explain why

Describe something to a partner without naming it, and
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with their eyes close, and see if they can guess what it is

Bruchac, Joseph. Pushing Up the Sky: Seven Native American Plays for Children. Teresa Flavin, ill. New York: Dial, 2000.

ISBN: 0803721684 9780803721685, 94 pages, illustrations with some color (ink, hand drawings) -- very detailed. Seven short plays aimed at young performers and audiences (primary school).

The illustrations in this book serve to greatly enhance the knowledge of Native culture that is presented in the text, if discussion and identification accompanies the reading. The text as presented herein is primarily meant to be performed, however, and it is highly suited to the group of performers singled out in the volume's title. The stories and characters are simple to understand and fun to act out for children and playful adults alike, and can easily be suited to groups of different sizes. The ease of telling these stories makes them valuable as one-time activities or as an ongoing project with a full performance as the final activity, and a range of different depths of use in between. The book provides real knowledge about Native culture, mythologies, and history in a method that is entertaining and fully engaging.

Analytical Comments

The tone of the stories is aimed at the younger students in primary schools, and would not be suitable even a few years older than this

Knowledge gained has the potential to be minimal without accompanying informed discussion

Different parts/levels of participation allow for full inclusion of different personalities/levels of understanding

Multiculturalism and different beliefs directly and explicitly addressed

Coupling with other explanation myths has the potential for excellent cultural comparison

Lesson Ideas

Write your own play/story about how a certain phenomenon in nature came into existence

Act out a scene from the play, taking turns being the different characters

Draw a picture of a tradition in your own family

Share different ways of doing things that your grandparents/relatives have shared with you

Dress up like a character…

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