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A Look Through
My Ántonia's Eyes

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In 1883, the young Willa Cather was plucked from her comfortable home in Virginia and dropped into the prairies of Nebraska, an experience that terrified, but exhilarated her and became the force behind all of her great novels - O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark, My Ántonia, Death Comes for the Archbishop and the Pulitzer Prize winning One of Ours. She wrote about her experiences in Red Cloud, Nebraska and her work now serves as a way of understanding the history and the culture of pioneer life. In this unit, students will learn to read literature with an eye toward understanding history and then create their own historical fiction. Immigrant students can also use the opportunity to examine and write about their own pioneering ways as they learn about new customs in a completely foreign culture.

Grade Level:
High School - 9th through 12th grade

Time Allotment:
7 to 10 class periods (depending on the teacher's decision to show the 1995 film version of the book and on the number of in-class writing sessions)

Subject Matter:
English, American Literature, History, American Culture, Immigration, Religion, Pioneer Life, Gender Issues, Geography



Students will be able to:

  • Understand the social and cultural aspects of the frontier and pioneer life in the late 19th century
  • Use Internet sources and primary source material for research
  • Work together in small groups on editing and writing skills
  • Write an original short story of historical fiction based on their research

Standards:

MCREL LANGUAGE ARTS, Level 4, Standard 5
http://www.mcrel.org/compendium/Benchmark.asp?SubjectID=7&StandardID=5
Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process

MCREL THINKING AND REASONING, Level 4, Standard 2
http://www.mcrel.org/compendium/Benchmark.asp?SubjectID=21&StandardID=2
Understands and applies basic principles of logic and reasoning

MCREL LANGUAGE ARTS, Level 4, Standard 2
http://www.mcrel.org/compendium/Benchmark.asp?SubjectID=19&StandardID=2
Knows the characteristics and uses of computer software programs.

MCREL WORKING WITH OTHERS, Level 4, Standard 1
http://www.mcrel.org/compendium/Benchmark.asp?SubjectID=22&StandardID=1
Contributes to the overall effort of a group

MCREL LANGUAGE ARTS, Level 4, Standard 1, Benchmark 8
http://www.mcrel.org/compendium/reference.asp?
item=benchmark&BenchmarkID=1121&subjectID=7

Writes fictional, biographical, autobiographical, and observational narrative compositions

MCREL LANGUAGE ARTS, Level 4, Standard 4
http://www.mcrel.org/compendium/standardDetails.asp?subjectID=7&standardID=4
Gathers and uses information for research purposes

This lesson was prepared by: Anna Chan Rekate


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