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Everyone has heard of a "chick flick," and many male students believe that Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is the paperback version of such a "girlie" film.
My experiences teaching Pride and Prejudice have taught me that most teenage male students are going to hate the book, while most teenage girls are going to fall in love with the book.
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Getting Students Interested
When I assign the book, most male students roll their eyes. They know the plot, thanks to the movie. I guess most guys were dragged kicking and screaming to see it on one on those Friday night dates when all the high school students pack the movie theater.
To make reading Pride and Prejudice less painful, I have used a variety of instructional strategies over the years that seem to help ease the pain....for the males anyway.
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Use the audio book.
1. Find a really juicy part in the novel that is built around suspense. Play this portion of the novel and allow students to listen to the audio book.
2. Prior to the book on tape divulging the entire passage, stop the tape. Many students will pick up their copy of the novel and start reading. Some students will really get into the novel and continue reading it until they reach the last page.
Using this method really sparks the attention of some students, and it is about the only way you are going to gain the attention of some. Many students believe that reading is just too much work. If students have a hard time following the audio book, try a reading log with your students.
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Comparison and Contrast Essay
1. Another strategy is to watch the movie first.
2. Then, assign the students a comparison and contrast essay. This makes students read the book in order to incorporate the level of detail that they need to support their main points in the essays.
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Yet Another Bennet Daughter
Make students insert themselves into the novel. For example, I tell my students to pretend that the Bennets' have yet another daughter very close in age with Jane and Lizzy. My students must write of their experiences at Darcy's balls as well as their feelings about the action that occurs in the novel.
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Reporting from Netherfield
Assign students the task of becoming a journalist and have students report the events from Darcy's ball. Not only do students practice their writing skills, but they learn to communicate with the everyday public. In other words, students must write clearly and concisely while using appropriate vocabulary.