I am so pleased to present my dear friend and teacher, Sparrow Alden, for this Teacher With Magic segment! She teaches Writing at a Community College and precepts various writing and literature courses at Signum University. I can personally vouch for her excellent teaching style as I’ve been a student in her classes! Thank you, Sparrow, for participating in my survey!
Name: Sparrow Alden
Subject/Age Range: Community College
Which Fantasy texts do you like to use in your classroom? Why did you use these particular texts?
American Lit: Charlotte’s Web: Simply the finest piece of American Literature in the 20th century. For the final exam, I move back and forth between Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur” and “Black Panther”.
In Children’s Lit: Elatsoe by Darcie LittleBadger because the parents are amazingly accepting and supportive of their kid, and Hershal P. Culpepper by my dad because it’s by my dad. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle because it’s probably the very close second-best piece of American literature of the 20th century.
How do you use these Fantasy texts in your classroom?
As specific contexts for discussing (in the former case) the themes of American identity and (in the latter case) child development and literary analysis.
What were some of the results? What worked, and what didn’t work?
What worked really well was discussing why LittleBadger’s work was so hard to find — less publishing acceptance for an author from a traditionally marginalized community. Speculative fiction brings in some students who, like me, never connected with ‘the classics’ or other nonsense they were supposed to read in high school.
How did using these texts help student engagement? Did you find that your students made stronger connections with the subject material through your chosen fantasy texts?
Some did, and some didn’t. A broad survey course (like American Lit or Children’s Lit) must present a variety of types of literature to our students so everyone’s got at least 1/3 of the material to connect with and must slog through at most 2/3 of it. A 100% slog would be awful.