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9-12 > Literature
Grade level: 9-12 Subject: Literature Duration: One class periods
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Objectives | Materials | Procedures | Adaptations | Discussion Questions | Evaluation | Extensions | Suggested Readings | Links | Vocabulary | Academic Standards | Credit
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Objectives
 



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Students will understand the following:
1. Quixote’s misperceptions are understandable.
2. Writers often describe one object to sound as if it were something else.
3. Metaphors help us see with new eyes.
Materials

For this lesson, you will need:
Copies of poems listed below
Procedures

1. Ask students to defend Quixote’s perception that the windmills are an enemy force. That is, ask them to explain what in the appearance of the windmills and in Quixote’s self-image causes the error in perception. Explain that because of an illness Quixote’s imagination is distorted, but go on to suggest that sometimes even the sanest of people see an everyday object as something else entirely. Often, the people who perceive one object and describe it as something else are poets. In this activity, you will help students write quixotic, or imaginative, descriptions of ordinary objects. Other students will try to figure out what real-world object the writer had in mind.
2. Share with students a few examples of highly metaphoric poetry. Examples include
  • Emily Dickinson’s “I Like to See It Lap the Miles”—a train described as a horse
  • Robert Francis’s “The Base Stealer”—a baseball player described as a tightrope-walker among other things
  • Carl Sandburg’s “Fog”—fog described as a cat
  • May Swenson’s “Southbound on the Freeway”—automobiles described (by a tourist from Orbitville) as living objects
Read the poems listed or other poems without telling students the titles, and then lead a discussion of what the poet seems to be describing and what he or she really is describing. You might consider the question of why the poet took this indirect approach to description.
3. Ask students to think (to themselves) of objects that might be seen—especially, by someone (such as the tourist from Orbitville) who has never seen them before—as something else. Here are some suggestions to stimulate students’ thinking:
  • a movie projected on a free-standing screen thought to be ______________
  • a toaster without any bread in it thought to be ___________________
  • a lampshade thrown out with the trash thought to be ________________
  • a fire extinguisher thought to be _____________
4. With the prewriting notes that the students have prepared in the preceding step, they should now be ready to draft a metaphoric description of their objects in prose or poetry.
5. Give each student a chance to read his prose or poem to one or more other students in the class. Can the listeners figure out what the reader, below the surface of the prose or poem, is describing? Do the listeners find the description apt and entertaining or obvious and boring? Encourage classmates to give revising and editing advice to one another.
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Adaptations

You may want to have students generate short similes rather than extended metaphors, actually using the wordlikeorasand completing frame sentences such as the following:
  • The windmills look like __________________ because _____________
  • The lampshade tossed out with the trash looks like ____________ because ______________

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Discussion Questions

1. Discuss how Miguel de Cervantes’ life is mirrored in Don Quixote’s.
2. Explain how the eight people shown in the introduction refused to abandon their dreams despite popular sentiment that those dreams were unattainable. (Amelia Earhart, Nelson Mandela, women suffragettes, Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Theresa)
3. At the end of Cervantes’ sequel, the Knight of the White Moon, Sampson Curasco, forces Don Quixote to give up his fantasies “for his own good.” Discuss why people like Curasco feel the need to destroy the illusions and dreams of those who do not subscribe to a practical approach to life.
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Evaluation

After students have read their revised descriptions to the class, take a vote on which descriptions the students like best.
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Extensions

To Dream the Impossible Dream
Don Quixote might be seen as not simply crazy in his refusal to see things as they really are but more like a person who wants to accomplish a greater good and so refuses to compromise his ideals. Examples of such people include Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. Ask students to discuss (with examples and other evidence) whether or not they think Quixote deserves to be put in the company of real-world idealists or is merely delusional.

Tackling the Issues
Ask the class to discuss solutions to an issue that plagues contemporary society at large or just your community—for example, homelessness, violence, environmental degradation, hunger. Half the class should mention idealistic solutions to the chosen issue; the other half should mention only realistic approaches to solving the problem. See if, in listening to both sides, someone can come up with a proposal that is both realisticandunconventional—an idea that hasn’t been tried yet.

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Suggested Readings

Miguel de Cervantes
Jake Goldberg, New York, Chelsea House Publishers, 1993
Learn about the life and times of this 17th-century Spanish writer. Did you know that this writer was also a soldier, that he was in prison, and that he survived the plague?

Don Quixote, Part I
Miguel de Cervantes. Translated and adapted by Magda Bogin. Illustrated by Manuel Boix, New York, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1991
Meet Don Quixote, champion of causes and famous in legends and stories, in this beautifully illustrated edition. The illustrations in this classic will make you believe you are riding with this knight and his friend Sancho Panza through the Spanish countryside.

Cervantes the writer and the painter of Don Quijote / Helena Percas de Ponseti
Helena Percas de Ponseti, Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1988
Contains information on the life of Miguel de Cervantes.

The Sanctification of Don Quixote: From Hidalgo to Priest
Eric Jozef Ziolkowski, University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991
Explores issues of Christianity in Don Quixote.

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Links

The Don Quixote Exhibit
This site contains two tours through Don Quixote. Each of the 35 stations has text, images, and legends associated with the novel.

Cervantes 2001 Project
This site contains several electronic editions of Cervantes’s work. It also has a digital archive of photographic images on Cervantes’s times and works suitable for teaching and research purposes, plus a Spanish index.

Don Quijote de la Mancha
This is a fantastic site that presents the works of Cervantes in English and Spanish. The Webmaster has collected a few links on Cervantes and his novel. There are also links to Spanish theater and poetry.

Knighthood, Chivalry and Tournaments Resource Library
If your dream is to tilt with knights, this is an excellent resource site. You will find information on armor and arms.

Discover Spain with Spain Online
Discover La Mancha and tour the country as Don Quixote must have traveled it on his faithful steed, Rocinante.

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Vocabulary

Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    tilt
Definition:To engage in combat with lances; to joust.
Context:It is one of the most enduring, if ridiculous, images in all of literature—a madman tilting at windmills.

speaker    sally
Definition:A venture or excursion usually off the beaten path.
Context:On his sallies through the landscape of La Mancha, Don Quixote encounters hundreds of characters.

speaker    knight-errant
Definition:A knight traveling in search of adventures in which to exhibit military skill, prowess, and generosity.
Context:Alonso Quixano steps into his literary world and becomes a knight-errant, just like those in his books of chivalry.

speaker    quixotic
Definition:Foolishly impractical, especially in the pursuit of ideals.
Context:We have come to describe this type of vaulting ambition as quixotic—full of lofty, yet impractical ideals.

speaker    coping mechanism
Definition:A method by which an individual contends with difficulties and attempts to overcome them.
Context:Psychiatrists would call Don Quixote’s altering of reality his coping mechanism.

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Standards

This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
 
Grade level:9-12
Subject area:language arts
Standard:
Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of literary texts.
Benchmarks:
Knows the defining characteristics of a variety of literary forms and genres.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:language arts
Standard:
Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of literary texts.
Benchmarks:
Recognizes archetypes and symbols across literary texts.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:language arts
Standard:
Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of literary texts.
Benchmarks:
Understands the effects of complex literary devices and techniques on the overall quality of the work.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:language arts
Standard:
Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of literary texts.
Benchmarks:
Understands historical and cultural influences on literary works.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:language arts
Standard:
Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of literary texts.
Benchmarks:
Makes abstract connections between his or her own life and the characters, events, motives, and causes of conflict in texts.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:language arts
Standard:
Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of literary texts.
Benchmarks:
Relates personal response to the text with that seemingly intended by the author.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:foreign language
Standard:
Demonstrates knowledge and understanding of traditional ideas and perspectives, institutions, professions, literary and artistic expressions, and other components of target culture.
Benchmarks:
Understands age-appropriate expressive forms of the target culture (e.g., literature) and their significance in the wider community.

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Credit

Kristen Rooks, an earth and life science teacher at Ivey Leaf School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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