Language Arts Challenge
(Talking about Literary Lenses)
Submission Due Date: March 26, 2021
Designed for Middle and High School Students
|Table of Contents
● The Challenge
● Assumptions and Logistics
● Meridian Support Resources
● Presentation of Learning
● Evaluation Rubric
● Essential Questions
● Student Proficiencies
● Curricular Correlations: Common Core (W1, W2, W3, W4, W5, W9, SL1, SL4, SL6, L1, L5, RL1, RL2, RL3)
|Range of Activities
● Literary Character Studies
● Literary Theme/Lens Analysis
● Podcast Creation and Dialogue/Script Writing
● Digital Literacy Skills – Audio Pre-production, Production and Post-Production
● 21st Century Skills – Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Presentational Skills
It’s time to create your own show about literature! A podcast show, that is. The podcast’s aim will be to observe a short story or novel through one of the following three critical literary lenses: the Marxist lens, Feminist lens, or the New Historicism/Biographical lens. Discuss a character or relationship in the story with contextual evidence and analyze it through your chosen lens.
The goal of your podcast is to expand listeners’ understanding of a story by sharing your analysis through one of the listed literary lenses. Podcasts are unique in their ability to be detailed and informative while inspiring the imagination of listeners. Utilize music and sound effects to strengthen your points and heighten the listening experience. Be sure to include at least two people speaking in the episode to add perspective.
Just like any other podcast, you must create cover art and a title for your show. You can use this as the visual while your audio plays. Don’t forget that podcasts – like good literature – are designed to both entertain and inform. So, do both! Puns, comedy, and creativity are all welcomed to entertain and appeal to listeners!
Three of the most common and insightful literary lenses are the Marxist lens, the Feminist lens, and the New Historicism/Biographical lens. When applied, they reveal fascinating new ideas and perspectives that can otherwise go unseen. The lenses are defined below:
- Marxist lens: The Marxist lens analyzes the social and economic standing of characters, and how that influences their desires and intentions throughout a work of literature.
- Feminist lens: The Feminist lens analyzes the implications of gender and sexuality throughout a work of literature, observing the ways characters challenge or enforce gender roles/stereotypes.
- New Historicism/Biographical lens: The New Historicism/Biographical lens observes an author’s personal life and era in which the literary work was written to draw conclusions about creative choices made and why it was written.
[This Meridian Stories Challenge was developed by Regan Duffy, a student at the University of Minnesota.]
- The Podcast (this is the only Meridian Stories deliverable)
- Outline of Key Discussion Points (at teacher’s discretion)
- First Draft Script (at teacher’s discretion)
Assumptions and Logistics
Time Frame – We recommend that this digital storytelling project takes place inside of a three to four-week time frame.
Length – All Meridian Stories submissions should be under 4 minutes in length, unless otherwise specified.
Slate – All digital storytelling projects must begin with a slate that provides:
- the title of the piece;
- the name of the school submitting;
- the wording ‘Permission Granted’ which gives Meridian Stories the right to a) publicly display the submission in question on, as linked from, related to or in support of Meridian Stories digital media; and b) use or reference it for educational purposes only in any and all media; and
- We strongly recommend that students do not put their last names on the piece either at the start or finish, during the credits.
Submissions – Keep in mind that each school can only submit three submissions per Competition (so while the entire class can participate in the Challenge, only three can be submitted to Meridian Stories for Mentor review and scoring).
Teacher Reviews – All reviews by the teacher are at the discretion of the teacher and all suggested paper deliverables are due only to the teacher. The only deliverable to Meridian Stories is the digital storytelling project.
Teacher’s Role and Technology Integrator – While it is helpful to have a Technology Integrator involved, they are not usually necessary: the students already know how to produce the digital storytelling project. And if they don’t, part of their challenge is to figure it out. They will! The teacher’s primary function in these Challenges is to guide the students as they engage with the content. You don’t need to know editing, sound design, shooting or storyboarding: you just need to know your content area, while assisting them with time management issues.
Digital Rules/Literacy – We strongly recommend that all students follow the rules of Digital Citizenry in their proper usage and/or citation of images, music and text taken from other sources. This recommendation includes producing a citations page at the end of your entry, if applicable. See the Digital Rules area in the Meridian Digital Storytelling Resources Center section of the site for guidance.
Location – Try not to shoot in a classroom at your school. The classroom, no matter how you dress it up, looks like a classroom and can negatively impact the digital story you are trying to tell.
Collaboration – We strongly recommend that students work in teams of 3-4: part of the educational value is around building collaborative skill sets. But students may work individually.
COVID-19 does not mean that students can’t collaborate. This unusual societal circumstance allows students to, paradoxically, focus on their collaborative skills even more through a clear delegation of responsibilities; and tight communication in order to insure that everyone is clear on the scripting and blocking of individual scenes that need to tell a cohesive story, even though the scenes may be shot in isolation. Digital storytelling projects in general move the essential communication about content and learning away from the educator and toward the students themselves. That is part of their educational strength. But in COVID-19, this quality is expanded. With the teacher more ‘unavailable’ than normal, the students must rely on their collaborative skills more than ever. It’s like playing a team sport with less input from the coach. They have to rise the occasion …and they will.
Below is a suggested breakdown for the students’ work.
During Phase I student teams will:
- Pick a novel or short story that you (and your team if working collaboratively) have read or which has been assigned by your teacher. Read through the three literary lenses and determine which one may bring new perspectives to the story for yourselves and listeners. If team members are not familiar or comfortable with applying literary lenses to text, be sure to do some research on your lens and/or literary lens use in general. This will improve your ability to find interesting angles on the character(s) through your lens. Also, the better you understand your lens, the easier it will be to communicate your analysis to listeners.
- Next, determine a main character or relationship that you’d like to observe through your chosen lens. We recommend choosing a character or relationship that genuinely interests the team; perhaps someone with whom you identify most closely or, conversely, understand the least. The final podcast will benefit from your honest investment in this process of discovery.
- Brainstorm 5 main points to consider discussing in the podcast. For example, through a Marxist lens, a character who is perceived as weak actually may hold significant power because of their money and social status. Once the group has gathered 5 main points, gather two to three pieces of evidence to prove each point. Rule out the weaker arguments and pick 2-3 finalized points to discuss in the podcast.
- Teacher’s Option: Outline of Key Discussion Points – The teacher may require teams to hand in a summary of the five main points along with supporting evidence.
- Keep in mind that this isn’t about discovering a ‘correct’ interpretation. This is about finding ways to open new pathways of understanding about a character and their decisions. And in that process, learn more about self and the world around you. Have fun. Don’t look for what’s right; instead, look for what excites and what may be possible…as supported by evidence.
During Phase II, student teams will:
- Pick who will be speaking in the podcast audio (remember there must be at least two voices) and begin to plan who will say what in reference to the podcast structure.
Suggested Podcast Structure
- First begin your podcast with an introduction for listeners (which should include what a lens is). Feel free to incorporate music and sound effects!
- Next, introduce the character(s) you’ll be discussing with a brief description of them, keeping in mind that some listeners will be familiar with the book/characters and others won’t.
- Then apply your chosen lens and discuss what is revealed about the character(s) using evidence from the text.
- Finally, conclude with how applying your chosen lens changes your perspective on the character(s) and therefore, humanity.
- And don’t forget to sign off!
- Consider how you can make the podcast and its structure enticing for listeners. How do you want to rope them in? What’s your hook? You can prompt listeners with rhetorical questions to think over during the podcast or tell them you’re about to reveal how the book sheds light on a specific pattern in human behavior.
- Listening to other podcasts of a similar nature can help you structure your story. Here’s one way to approach this: each team member a) listens to the first five minutes of three different podcasts of your choice; b) writes down two or three things that you like about the podcast structure or talking environment – about decisions those producers made to make their podcast appealing; and c) compares notes and decides which of those choices you want to incorporate into your podcast.
- Draft an outline of your podcast story.
- Dialogue for the podcast does not have to be scripted, but it should be well thought out and organized. You can stage it as a host interviewing a professional; radio personalities who love books and are just talking about their favorite character; or if the author is alive, see if you can bring her/him/they onto your ‘show’ and have them talk about the character.
- Sound Design – Begin to plan out what kind of sound effects you will use in your podcast and ask yourself how sound can help enhance your conversations. Does a theme song play at the beginning and end of the podcast? Do you play a short jingle or sound effect between segments? Will you use sound effects to assist your storytelling? For example, if you discuss a scene with cars, you may consider using the sound of a blinker, a car engine, or tires squealing. Utilize the unique qualities of audio to engage listeners and their imagination!
- Draft your Script.
- Teacher’s Option: First Draft Script – Teachers may require teams to hand in their first draft script for review and feedback.
- The next step is to pick a name for your podcast that the team finds relevant to the themes of the podcast. Remember that wit is always welcome.
- With the name of the podcast determined, design cover art for your podcast. The cover art’s only requirement is that it displays the name of the podcast.
During Phase III student teams will:
- Begin recording your podcast. Before you do all of that hard work though, there’s a couple things you should keep in mind:
- Find a quiet space to record your podcast. External noise can interfere with audio quality.
- With your chosen form of audio recording, test it first by recording people talking at the same level as planned for the podcast. Listen back and make sure there are no problems with sound quality before starting.
- Give yourself lots of time to record! Audio recording can take longer than you think. The podcast does not have to be recorded all in one take; you can split it up by sections, by who’s talking, etc. (It can all be pieced together in post-production.)
- Once you’re done recording, edit the audio as needed. Piece together the conversation and overlay music as well as sound effects. With sound effects at your disposal during post-production, take advantage of its ability to make your podcast more than a conversation; it can be a listening experience!
- Once the audio is complete, overlay it with your cover art in video format – the final deliverable is a YouTube URL – so viewers will be listening to the podcast while viewing your cover.
Meridian Support – The Digital Storytelling Resource Center
|Meridian Stories provides two forms of support for the student teams:
1. Meridian Innovators and Artists – This is a series of three to four minute-videos featuring artists and innovative professionals who offer important advice, specifically for Meridian Stories, in the areas of creativity and production.
2. Media Resource Collection – These are short documents that offer student teams key tips in the areas of creativity, production, game design and digital citizenry.
Recommended review, as a team, for this Competition include:
|Meridian Innovators and Artists||Media Resource Collection|
|Chris Watkinson on Sound Design
Margaret Heffernan on Radio Plays
|Sound Editing Basics
Digital Rules – The Starting Line
Guide to Royalty Free Music and Sound Effects
Presentation of Learning
Meridian Stories is a proud partner of the non-profit Share Your Learning, which is spearheading the movement of over five million students to publicly share their work as a meaningful part of their educational experience.
The workforce considers Presentational Skills to be a key asset and we encourage you to allow students to practice this skill set as often as possible. These digital storytelling projects provide a great opportunity for kids to practice their public presentational skills. This can be achieved in a remote learning environment by inviting parents to a Zoom/Google/Skype screening of the student’s digital stories.
According to Share Your Learning, Presentations of Learning (POL) promote…
- Student Ownership, Responsibility & Engagement. POLs can serve as a powerful rite of passage at the end of [a project]. By reflecting on their growth over time in relation to academic and character goals, grounded in evidence from their work, students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning. Just as an artist wants their portfolio to represent their best work, POLs encourage students to care deeply about the work they will share.
- Community Pride & Involvement. When peers, teachers and community members come together to engage with student work and provide authentic feedback, they become invested in students’ growth and serve as active contributors to the school community.
- Equity. POLs ensure that all students are seen and provide insight into what learning experiences students find most meaningful and relevant to their lives.
Meridian Stories’ own research indicates this to be a really useful exercise for one additional reason: Students actually learn from their peers’ presentations – it is useful to hear a perspective that is not just the teacher’s.
It is with this in mind that we you encourage you to plan an event – it could be just an end-of-the-week class or an event where parents, teachers and student peers are invited – to allow the students to showcase their Meridian Stories’ digital storytelling projects. For more free resources that will support this planning, visit Share Your Learning.
Evaluation Rubric – Paperback Podcast
|Points and Evidence||Points made by the podcast presenters are relevant, insightful, and well supported by evidence from the text|
|Use of Lens||Use of the lens provides unique insight into the story and challenges common perceptions of the text|
|Larger Themes||Observations of the character(s) made are drawn to human urges and social structures that aren’t commonly seen without the lens|
|Host Dialogue||The hosts have a thoughtful and comfortable dialogue that is engaging for the listener|
|Humor and Entertainment||Humor and wit is strategically used throughout the podcast to entertain and progress the conversation|
|Fluidity of Podcast||The podcast flows from beginning to end and maintains the same level of energy as well as excitement throughout the listening experience|
|Editing||The podcast is edited cleanly and effectively, resulting in an engaging listening experience|
|Sound Design||Sound effects and music are used to create an engaging listening experience and enhance the conversations between the speakers|
|Cover Art||The Cover Art is creative, appealing and a great visual reflection of the podcast|
21st CENTURY SKILLS COMMAND (teachers only)
|Collaborative Thinking||The group demonstrated flexibility in making compromises and valued the contributions of each group member.|
|Creativity and Innovation||The group brainstormed many inventive ideas and was able to evaluate, refine and implement them effectively.|
|Initiative and Self-Direction||The group set attainable goals, worked independently and managed their time effectively, demonstrating a disciplined commitment to the project.|
- How has observing the chosen literary work through a literary lens broadened the understanding of the text?
- How has observing a character and their actions through a literary lens revealed the motivation behind the character, and furthermore, humans?
- What are the unique qualities of the medium of audio that allow for effective and engaging communication?
- How can storytelling and dialogue be used to more deeply understand complex educational ideas?
- How has immersion in the creation of original content and the production of digital media – exercising one’s creativity, critical thinking and digital literacy skills – deepened the overall educational experience?
- How has working on a team – practicing one’s collaborative skills – changed the learning experience?
- The student’s understanding of the literary text’s content has broadened through the application of the literary lens and observation of themes pertaining to the lens.
- The student understands how to isolate a character and their behaviors to further analyze the human experience and what motivates them.
- The student will understand how words, sounds and music can be mixed to create an impactful and entertaining narrative.
- The student will learn to utilize storytelling to communicate complex educational ideas in an engaging and immersive way.
- The student will utilize key 21st century skills, with a focus on creativity, critical thinking and digital literacy, in their process of translating literary content into a new narrative format.
- The student will have an increased awareness of the challenges and rewards of team collaboration. Collaboration – the ability to work with others – is considered one of the most important 21st century skills to develop in students as they prepare for life after secondary school.
The Paperback Podcast Challenge addresses a range of curricular objectives that have been articulated by the Common Core Curricular Standards – English Language Arts. Below please find the standards that are addressed, either wholly or in part.
Common Core Curricular Standards – English Language Arts
|Standard||Grade 8||Grades 9-10||Grades 11-12|
Text Types and Purposes
|Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence||Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.||Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.|
Text Types and Purposes
|Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.||Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.||Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.|
Text Types and Purposes
|Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.||Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.||Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.|
Production and Distribution of Writing
|Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.||Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.||Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.|
Production and Distribution of Writing
|With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.||Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.||Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.|
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
|Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.||Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research||Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.|
|Speaking & Listening 1
Comprehension and Collaboration
|Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.||Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.||Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.|
|Speaking & Listening 4
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
|Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.||Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.||Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.|
|Speaking & Listening 6
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
|Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.||Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.||Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating a command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.|
Conventions of Standard English
|Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.||Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.||Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.|
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
|Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.||Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.||Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.|
|Reading: Literature 1
Key Ideas and Details
|Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.||Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.||Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.|
|Reading: Literature 2
Key Ideas and Details
|Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.||Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.||Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.|
|Reading: Literature 3
Key Ideas and Details
|Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.||Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.||Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).|