Teaching Narrative Structure with Kurt Vonnegut

man walking in countryside.jpg

The hero about to embark on his journey

Hello all! It has been a very long time since I’ve posted because I’ve been busy pursuing my B. Ed. and with some major life changes (I’m having a baby in April!). I’ve also been posting mostly about education on my professional blog Teaching and Learning with Ms. McClelland. I’m still reading voraciously, currently reading Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and after that will be embarking on volume 5 (The Captive and the Fugitive) of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. This post though combines both teaching and literature, so I thought I’d share it here 🙂

I watched a video recently (see below) of Vonnegut delivering a lecture on the shapes of stories. It is entertaining and insightful, as Vonnegut often is, which made me think that it would be a perfect “Minds On” or “Hook” (or start of the lesson in layperson’s terms) in a unit on Narrative. This video is so approachable, it could be used for grades as young as 4, to as high as 12. First 24 seconds of the video is voiceover, so just skip ahead to get to the good stuff!

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Avoiding Procrastination: Something that Works for Me


With students returning to school soon, I thought it would be appropriate to write a little something on procrastination. Staving off procrastination is something that you will face your entire life (unless you’re some sort of work-ethic god, in which case I am envious and I hate you). How many of you have fallen victim to trying to accomplish a task, let’s say writing a paper, and instead find yourself baking lemon tarts or browsing r/starcats? This infuriating circumstance can leave you feeling guilty at your lack of being able to take care of business and more importantly, it keeps you from getting stuff done! Procrastination is like Tolkein’s Mirkwood: wander into its depths and you will run into trouble (if only you found elves like actual Mirkwood!). Whenever I feel tempted to walk away from the task at hand, this is a tip I use to keep myself from meandering into the dark forest of procrastination. I think this tactic might work whether you are in school or not, but it is a method I picked up while working on my Masters, so I apply it specifically to an educational context. Continue reading