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Grade: Senior
Subject: Literature

#1736. Kate Chopin and Women Writers at the Turn of the Century

Literature, level: Senior
Posted Wed Apr 26 11:39:39 PDT 2000 by Kathryn A. Iaconetti (
Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Lynchburg, VA USA
Materials Required: two matrices- 1 on women writers at the turn of the century, the other on Kate Chopin
Activity Time: 48 minutes
Concepts Taught: The progressive movement of women writers at the turn of the century; higher level thinking skills

Purpose/ Goal Statement: The turn of the century was an important time in the development of literature. Themes and styles reflected numerous events taking place in the nation. It was a particularly progressive time for women writers who were expanding previously established ideals and expectations. It is important that students understand the changes taking place and that they recognize common themes of the time period.

Instructional Objectives: Presented with information in two matrices the students
1. describe, compare and search for patterns among the data
2. explain the similarities and differences among the data
3. hypothesize outcomes for different conditions, based on evidence from the data
4. generalize to form broad relationships and summarize content

Relationship of instructional objectives to purpose/goal: By working through an integrative model the student will be forced to compare and contrast information; the two matrices will introduce the students to women writers at the turn of the century and show how Kate Chopin embodies many of the literary changes taking place. The students will form generalizations about writing at the time and Chopins place in the development of American literature, accomplishing both goals and objectives for the lesson.

Concept Focus: The focus of this lesson is women writers at the turn of the century, particularly the progressive steps they were taking in favor of womens rights, and recognition of the taboo subjects about which these women were writing.

Alignment of instructional objectives to Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs): The instructional objectives will enable students to make connections between historical and social forces and their influence; and develop understanding of major themes in literature found at the turn of the century. Each of these aspects coincides with an element of SOL 11.3

Introduction: The teacher will check prior knowledge of the students by asking open-ended questions regarding the topic to be studied.
h What can you tell me about what was taking place in the nation at the turn of the century? Socially? Economically? Politically?
h What do you know about the role of women at the turn of the century?
h What do you know about Kate Chopin?
Possible answers include: Industrial revolution, Reconstruction, big business, changes in race relations
Responses will be written on a sheet of paper (the paper takes the place of limited blackboard space)

Phase I: Describe, Compare and Search for Patterns
The teacher will distribute the first matrix (Women Writers around the Turn of the Century).
The teacher will briefly explain the layout of the matrix, pointing out particular cells
The teacher will direct students, as a whole class, to look for similarities and differences between two cells V the beginning of the discussion will revolve around the biography cells and branch out from there
Questioning will proceed by examining the other cells of the matrix
Observations regarding the similarities and differences will be recorded on paper

Phase II: Explain Similarities and Differences
The students will be asked to explain why certain similarities exist V students must explain answers based on the information provided in the matrix
The students will be asked to explain why differences exist V again answers must be explained based on the information provided in the matrix
The students will hypothesize why certain patterns are observed
Responses will be written down

Phase III: Hypothesize Outcomes for Different Conditions
The teacher will present the second matrix (A Sample of Kate Chopins Life and Works)
The layout of the matrix will be explained
The biography of Kate Chopin will be discussed briefly by the teacher, emphasizing those personal factors that influenced her writing
The students will be divided into pairs to answer the following questions based on information contained in the two matrices:
h What similarities are there between Kate Chopins life and works and the other female writers we discussed earlier?
h What differences are there between Kate Chopins life and works and the other female writers we discussed earlier?
h Hypothesize reasons why these similarities and differences might have existed
Possible answers include: Chopin grew up and wrote about the South, specifically Louisians, while Freeman, Jewett and Gilman were all New Englanders, all of these female writers concerned themselves with female characters and the importance of women in society, Chopin came from a well to do family, while the other women were from more middle class homes

Within each pair there will be a recorder who will write down the pairs observations and hypotheses, and a reporter who will report back to the class at share time

Phase IV: Generalize to Form Broad Relationships
The teacher will ask students to suggest hypotheses formed during the pair work that accounts for patterns observed in the two matrices
The students must present data from the matrices to substantiate hypotheses
Student responses will be recorded on paper
As a whole class the students and teacher will discuss and evaluate the different hypotheses developed
For assessment the students will write a responsive essay regarding two of Kate Chopins short stories, At the Cadian Ball and The Storm