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Eudora Welty lesson plan

OVERVIEW

Eudora Welty is not only considered to be one of the best Mississippi writers, but she is also considered one of the best writers in America. What makes Welty’s work unique is her ability to capture the emotions and feelings experienced within human relationships. Her works show relationships within the family as well as the family’s relationship to the community throughout a variety of historical periods.

CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 4 and 6.

TEACHING LEVELS

Grades 7 through 12.

MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT

Mississippi History Now article, “Eudora Welty.”

Mississippi History/Studies textbooks

Various Web sites and internet access

Unlined paper

Construction paper

Chalk/chalkboard or blank transparencies/overhead projector

Colored pencils, markers, rulers, glue and scissors

OBJECTIVES

Students will:

Classify events from the life of Eudora Welty.

Illustrate events from the life of Eudora Welty.

Analyze the works of Eudora Welty.

OPENING THE LESSON

The teacher will ask students to consider how important their relationships with their family, friends, and neighbors are to their lives. Ask the students why these relationships are important to them. The teacher will tell the students that they will learn about a Pulitzer-Prize-winning author from Mississippi, Eudora Welty, who focused on human relationships in much of her work.

DEVELOPING THE LESSON

1.

Using the Mississippi History Now article, various texts and Web sites, students will construct a mind map that classifies the events of Eudora Welty’s life. The teacher can place the mind map format, which is listed below, on the chalkboard or on an overhead transparency. After doing so, instruct the students to copy the format of the mind map on to a sheet of unlined paper. They should list adjectives (specific amount determined by teacher) on the second line of the diagram. Underneath the adjectives, students should list events from Welty’s life that supports their description of the author. The students can work individually, with partners, or in small groups to complete this portion of the lesson plan.
chart for Eudora Welty lesson plan

2.

The teacher will solicit student volunteers to share their descriptions of Eudora Welty in a large group discussion. The teacher will lead students to describe the characteristics of Welty’s works, which commonly focused on the institution of family.

3.

Allow the students to read one of the following stories written by Eudora Welty (located in Mississippi Writers: An Anthology) or perhaps excerpts from Welty’s autobiography, One Writer’s Beginnings.

a.

“A Sweet Devouring”

b.

“The Little Store”

4.

After reading the story or excerpt in class, ask the students to consider the relationships between the characters in the story. Ask the students the following questions. The teacher can list student responses on the chalkboard or on an overhead transparency.

How are the relationships among the characters similar or different from relationships among family members, neighbors, and friends today?

How do your lives compare to those of the characters in the story?

5.

Based upon the information the students have complied, allow the students to develop a photo album of Eudora Welty’s life. This portion of the lesson illustrates her talent as a photographer. The students can illustrate six to eight snapshots that depict specific events in Welty’s life. Each snapshot should be accompanied by an informative caption. The students can cut out the snapshots and captions and glue them to a sheet of construction paper. The sheets of construction paper can be fastened together to give a more realistic appearance to the photo album. In order to create diversity, each group could be assigned a different decade in Welty’s life.

CLOSING THE LESSON

Have the students imagine that they are tour guides at the Eudora Welty House. Ask the students what stories they might tell to visitors at this literary museum.

ASSESSING STUDENT LEARNING

Class participation

Mind maps

Photo albums

EXTENDING THE LESSON

Welty and the Craft of Writing

A resource kit for secondary classrooms from the Welty Collection contains a DVD featuring rare films of Welty reading three of her most studied short stories—“A Worn Path,” “Petrified Man,” and “Why I Live at the P. O.” The films also contain short interviews with Welty about her work. Each story segment is between 26 and 29 minutes long. The kit also contains a companion interactive CD-ROM with manuscripts, correspondence, and photographs by Welty relating to each story. These materials, which are part of the Welty Collection at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, give valuable context and insight into the creation of these stories. A Guide for Teachers with suggested questions for students is included. You may order a Guide for Teachers online.

Allow students to read an excerpt from Richard Wright’s autobiography, Black Boy and then compare his childhood to that of Eudora Welty, after reading her autobiography, One Writer’s Beginning:

Allow students to create a resume for Eudora Welty

Allow student to create a cover and book jacket after reading works by the author

Allow students to create a commercial for one of Welty’s literary works

Allow the students to view photographs taken by Welty for the WPA and use one of the photographs as a writing prompt

Allow the students to view the video of Eudora Welty’s The Ponder Heart, available for purchase through PBS. The PBS web site also has excellent lesson plans for this video.

There are several videos on Eudora Welty available from Mississippi On Loan, a service offered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Museum Division. The videos are available free of charge to Mississippi public schools and to eligible private schools. Complete the required form (if you do not have one, call 601-961-4724 and ask the audiovisual coordinator to mail one to you). Mail the completed form to: Mississippi History On Loan, Manship House Museum, 420 East Fortification Street, Jackson, MS 39202 2340. Orders will be shipped and must be returned by first class U.S. Postal Service. Borrowers are responsible for return shipping costs. Contact: Mississippi History On Loan, State Historical Museum, P.O. Box 571, Jackson, MS 39205-0571. You can search the catalog online.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Excerpts of Eudora Welty’s works can be located in the following publications:

Mississippi Writers: An Anthology, edited by Dorothy Abbott, University Press of Mississippi, 1991.

Mississippi Writers/Reflections of Childhood and Youth, Vol. I: Fiction, edited by Dorothy Abbott, University Press of Mississippi, 1985.

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