Sunday, March 13, 2011

Entering Into The Things They Carried through Found Poems, Choral Reading & Reader's Theater

I. Found Poems

1. Create a found poem based on the pages you and your two partners have been assigned from Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. Record the poem on chart paper, then take a picture of your poem, and create an audio version of the poem using Evernote. Post image and audio recording to class ning or wiki.
pp. 1-3
pp. 4-6
pp. 7-9
pp. 10-12
pp. 13-15
pp. 16-17
pp. 19-20
pp. 22-23
1b. Post the poem in the hallway in the order it occurs in the first section.
1c. Entire class views the found poems (gallery walk).
1d. Discuss with small group what you anticipate The Things They Carried will be about, who the stories will be about, what tensions will exist in the work, and any other opinions you develop as a result of reading the found poems.
1e. With full class, teacher led activity: Engage students in plotting the work based on the information and impressions generated via the found poems. The teacher might elect to use a plot organizer, character analysis chart to help organize impressions.

Words/Phrases We generated based on Found Poems:

Lt. Jimmy Cross
Mitchell Sanders
Ted Lavender
Henry Dobbins
to hump
no strategy or mission
American war chest
Than Che
Burned and trashed village
Zapped while Zipping
Talked grunt lingo

Goal or Problem



Example of a found poem from pp. 1-2.

First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried
letters folded in plastic
at the bottom of his rucksack.
The letters weighed ten ounces.
They were signed "Love, Martha,".
Love was only a way of signing.

At full dark he would
watch the night and wonder.

The things they carried were largely determined by necessity.

To carry something was to "hump" it.
Lieutenant Jimmy Cross humped
his love for Martha
up the hills and through the swamps, carried two photographs.
A Kodachrome snapshot signed "Love,"
though he knew better.

An action shot-women's volleyball
and Martha was bent horizontal
to the floor, reaching.

A dark theater, he remembered,
and Martha wore a tweed skirt.
He touched her knee,
she looked at him in a sad, sober way.
What they carried was partly a function of rank, partly of field specialty.

II. Choral Reading

2a. Students should reread the section assigned and choose a section within those pages and create a choral reading.  Students should compose the choral reading by determine how each line will be read. Students should record their choral reading in Google docs so that everyone in the class has access to it.
2b. Student groups should partner and rehearse their choral poems. Each reader is assigned a # and reads the assigned line based on that number.
2c. Students should perform the poems as podcasts  (or for Mac users) and make them available to the class and community beyond the classroom via a hosting web site or  iTunes.

An example of a Choral  Reading for 8 Voices
First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross
carried letters from a girl named Martha,
a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey.
They were not love letters,
1, 2, 3
but Lieutenant Cross was hoping,
so he kept them folded
in plastic at the bottom of his rucksack.
In the late afternoon, after a day's march,
he would dig his foxhole,
wash his hands under a canteen,
1, 2,3,4
unwrap the letters,
hold them with the tips of his fingers,
and spend the last hour of light pretending.
He would imagine
romantic camping trips into the White Mountains in New Hampshire.
He would sometimes
taste the envelope flaps, knowing her tongue had been there.
4, 6-8
More than anything, he wanted Martha
to love him as he loved her,
but the letters were mostly
elusive on the matter of love.
She was a virgin, he was almost sure.
She was an English major at Mount Sebastian,
and she wrote beautifully
about her professors and roommates and midterm exams,
about her respect for Chaucer and her great affection for Virginia Woolf.
She often quoted lines of poetry;
she never mentioned the war,
except to say,
Female Solo 1
Jimmy, take care of yourself.
2, 3,5,6
The letters weighed ten ounces. They were signed
Female Solo 1
"Love, Martha,"
2, 3
but Lieutenant Cross understood
2, 3, 4,
that Love was only a way of signing
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8
and did not mean what he sometimes pretended it meant.
At dusk, he would carefully
return the letters to his rucksack.
Slowly, a bit distracted, he would get up
and move among his men,
checking the perimeter,
then at full dark
1,2, 3,4,5
he would return to his hole
and watch the night
and wonder if Martha was a virgin.
The things they carried
they carried
5, 6, 7, 8
were largely
7, 8
by necessity.

III. Reader's Theater

3a. Working alone or in partnership, students recast a section of the text for reader's theatre.
3b. Students solicit reader's for their performance.
3c. Students practice and record/perform reader's theater.

This is an example that Laura Inman (a former student) created. 
From: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

            In this scene, the Narrator is at Headquarters Company—S-4, which is a battalion supply station out of the unprotected boonies.  He has been transferred there after being wounded.  The soldiers from Alpha Company, the group with whom the Narrator has served in the field, arrive at the Headquarters for a “stand-down”.  The Narrator is glad to be reunited with his buddies; he misses the camaraderie that develops among soldiers in the field.  As they party late into the night, the soldiers tell the Narrator a story about Morty Phillips, one of the soldiers in the Company.  However, the Narrator is so consumed with anger at the young, inexperienced medic, Bobby Jorgenson, who failed to give him proper medical treatment in the field, that his interest in the story about Morty is secondary to his desire to know the whereabouts of Bobby Jorgenson.

Staging:  The characters are sitting in a circle.
Narrator     Norman Bowker     Azar     Dave Jensen     Henry Dobbins

Bowker            Morty Phillips used up his luck
Azar                 Go on.  Tell him everything.
Bowker            Well, that’s about it.  Poor Morty wasted his luck.  Pissed it away.
Azar                  On nothing.  The dummy pisses it away on nothing.
Bowker            It was out by My Khe.  One of those killer hot days, hot-hot, and we’re all                                      popping salt tabs just to stay conscious.  Can’t barely breathe.  Everybody’s lying                          around, just grooving it, and after a while somebody says, ‘Hey where’s Morty?’                           So the lieutenant does a head count, and guess what?  No Morty.
Azar                 Gone.  Poof.   No Morty.
Bowker            By then it’s almost dark.  Lieutenant Cross, he’s ready to have a fit—you know                                      how he gets, right?—and then guess what?  Take a guess.
Narrator          Morty shows.
Bowker            You got it, man.  Morty shows.  We almost chalk him up as MIA, and then bingo,                          he shows.
Azar                Soaking wet.
Bowker            Hey, listen—
Azar                 Okay, but tell it.
Bowker            Soaking wet.  Turns out the moron went for a swim. You believe that?  All alone,                          he just takes off, hikes a couple of klicks, finds himself a river and strips down                                     and hops in and starts doing the goddamn breast stroke or some such fine shit.  No                         security, no nothing.  I mean, the dude goes skinny dipping.
Azar                  A hot day.
Jensen               Not that hot.
Azar                  Hot, though.
Bowker            Get the picture?  This is My Khe we’re talking about, dinks everywhere, and the                          guy goes for a swim.
Narrator            Crazy.
                        (Narrator looks around, wondering if Morty is there.)
Bowker            That’s the kicker, man.  No more Morty.
Narrator           No?
Bowker            Morty’s luck gets used up.  A few days later, maybe a week, he feels real dizzy.                                      Pukes a lot, temperature zooms way up.  I mean, the guy’s sick.  Jorgenson says                                     he must’ve swallowed bad water on that swim.  Swallowed a VC virus or                                     something.
Narrator         Bobby Jorgenson.  Where is he?
Bowker            Be cool.
Narrator          Where’s my good buddy Bobby?
Bowker            You want to hear this? Yes or no?
Narrator           Sure I do.
Bowker            So listen up, then.  Morty gets sick.  Like you never seen nobody so bad off.  Like                         he’s paralyzed.  Polio maybe.
Dobbins            No way.  Not polio.
Bowker            Well, hey, I’m just saying what Jorgenson says.  Maybe polio.  Or that weird                                     elephant disease.  Elephantiasshole or whatever.
Dobbins           Yeah, but not polio.
Azar                 Either way, it goes to show you.  Don’t throw away luck on little stuff.  Save it                                     up.
Sanders            There it is.
Jensen              Morty was due.
Sanders            Overdue.
Bowker            You don’t mess around like that.  You don’t just fritter away all your luck.
Sanders            Amen
(Pause while all sit in silence contemplating Morty and all the ways to die)
Narrator            Where’s Jorgenson?

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