28.11.09

Let's Go to the Museum: "Oedipus Wrecks" in the Ninth Grade English Classroom

In this post, I write about a recent Ninth Grade English lesson based on the New York Times Learning Center curriculum where we turned our classroom into a museum full of objects based on the Greek Tragedy Oedipus the King by Sophocles.

Museum Exhibition of Oedipus the King
In all periods of my Ninth Grade English class at De La Salle High School in New Orleans, we created a museum exhibition for Sophocles tragedy Oedipus Rex.
Students create a puzzle game based on
Oedipus the King in a Ninth Grade English class.

In every corner of the room galleries were set up to showcase different significant objects from the play: the noose, the brooch, the crown, the walking stick, the nail, the masks the actors wore, to demonstrate non-linguistically the themes of the Ancient Greek tragedy.

In quadrant one museum-goers played the memory game, trying to remember different objects from the play. Can anyone remember where the brooch went? If you look carefully you can see one museum-goer chose a noose to demonstrate the noose Jocasta chose to commit suicide; I thought they performed the act with appropriate cheer.

Ouch.

I am glad we didn't have demonstrations of the brooch.

One group of students brought Oedipus cupcakes.


One group had sword fights to act out the fatal battle between Oedipus and his father at the crossroads. Clever. But, I heard one girl say, "He wants to kill his father?"

I liked the Oedipus crossword puzzle the kids created on the smartboard. That was fun. I found "furnace" and "citadel".

But, I could not get the smartpen to work. Doi *me imitating Homer Simpson*. So we had to remember what words were previously discovered.

I noticed that the success rate for the project was high. I should try to implement more projects like this one in the classroom. What do you think? I think it is important to try to encourage students to express in a non-linguistic form the themes of a piece of literature. Students react to thematic significance when they see the potent art of the literary piece brought to life. Isn't this what the Greeks did? They did not sit around in a classroom and underline important passages. In a way, it is the artistic expression of the work. It is a way to bring the work back to life; to take it from the textbook and reify the dramatic action.

I got the idea for the project from a New York Times learning center lesson plan using the idea of Orhan Pamuk's new novel the Museum of Innocence. In his new novel, every chapter is devoted to an object the main character Kemal associates with his ex-lover. We read the article in class and discussed ways we could create our own museum of innocence for Oedipus Rex. Fun stuff.

Well, I am off to attend a birthday party for my cousin. He turned sixteen today. Ain't that sweet?

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