Archive | November 2013

More Bridging Ideas for, “All My Sons”, “The Miracle Worker” and “Twelve Angry Men”

Richard Curwin, the director of the graduate program in behavior disorders at David Yellin College in Jerusalem and the author of Discipline with Dignity, recently wrote an article for the Jerusalem Post (November 17, 2013) in which he recommends suggestions for teachers to follow in making homework assignments more useful and consistent:

1) Homework should always include choices.

2) Homework should always be interesting.

3) Homework should be reasonable, in that teachers don’t overload the students with too much.

4) If a parent tells you that her child is getting too much work, listen to her.

This list struck me as something that is essential to keep in mind when we are working on the new literature module and teaching English as a foreign language. The questions, especially the Higher Order Thinking (HOT) questions lend themselves to choices. The teachers can allow the students to choose which questions to answer, since the program provides for teaching at least six higher order thinking skills, and there are many questions from which to chose. Teachers could take from a bank of questions in the books or from the Teaching through Literature and Culture  site and give the students the options of which ones they will answer.

When we are asking our students to think,  it is always interesting, for them and for us.  It is also essential that we do not overload our students with too much work. To ask a student to answer a few questions or to write one bridging exercise for homework will enable them to focus on a small but thought-provoking task.

The following ideas are for you to use as bridging text and context questions for your 5 point students for three full- length pieces of literature.

All My Sons

By: Arthur Miller  (Taken from-

National Endowment for the Humanities      Rachel Galvin

1)“For nearly six decades, Miller has been creating characters that wrestle with power conflicts, personal and social responsibility, the repercussions of past actions and the twin poles of guilt and hope.”

How does this quotation connect to the play, All My Sons?

2)“I think the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing, his sense of personal dignity.”  Arthur Miller

How does this quotation connect to the play, All My Sons?

3) “Throughout his life and work, Miller has remained socially engaged and has written with conscience, clarity and compassion. His work is infused with his sense of responsibility to humanity.”

How does this quotation connect to the play, All My Sons?

Twelve Angry Men

By: Reginald Rose

1) In selecting a jury in the United States both the Defense and the Prosecution are allowed to interview those people called to serve on the jury. In the 1950’s (when this play was written) women and minorities could not serve on many juries in the U.S. It was only in 1975 that the United States Supreme Court ruled that women could not be excluded from jury duty and in 1979 they ruled that minorities could not be excluded from jury duty.

How does this information about jury selection connect to the play Twelve Angry Men?

2) The play, Twelve Angry Men, is considered a naturalistic play which means it takes place over one continuous span of time and in one place. Furthermore, it uses language that is natural; the people speak like regular people. The goal of naturalistic plays is not just to show how people are but also why they are the way that they are. In other words, what causes them to be the way they are.

How does this information about jury selection connect to the play Twelve Angry Men?

The following are quotations by Helen Keller which could be used as bridging exercises for play,  The Miracle Worker  By: William Gibson

1) We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.

How does this quotation connect to the play, The Miracle Worker?

2)Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.

How does this quotation connect to the play, The Miracle Worker?

3)Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

How does this quotation connect to the play, The Miracle Worker?

4)When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.

How does this quotation connect to the play, The Miracle Worker?

Enjoy these bridging exercises with your students. By creating engaging and stimulating questions and assignments, your students will produce interesting and often creative responses!

More Bridging Activities for, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and Jesse Stuart’s “The Split Cherry Tree”.

The Jerusalem Post had a wonderful article in the October 13, 2013 edition called, “Crooning in a Foreign Language”. According to researchers at the University of South Carolina, singing can help people learn a foreign language. Many EFL teachers suspected that singing in a foreign language could help a person learn to speak the language; however, this was the first experiment that confirmed that belief. The researchers randomly assigned 60 adults to one of three groups- speaking, rhythmic speaking and singing. Each group was given 20 short phrases to listen to and to repeat in Hungarian (chosen because it is not a familiar language to most).  The findings showed that the group, who learned the phrases through singing, significantly outperformed the other groups and was twice as successful as the speaking group. This demonstrates that there is a strong link between music, memory and language learning.

In planning creative lessons we should try to keep in mind the connection between language acquisition and ideas from other domains of knowledge. The bridging activities that we do with our students allow them to make important connections between information outside of the text with the literary piece itself.  These links, or connections, enable our students to have a deeper understanding of the literary piece and to integrate the message and ideas that the author tries to impart to them, the reader.

The following Bridging activities are ideas that will help your students join together the information, meaning and language of literature to new knowledge that you provide for them in the Bridging text and context part of the literature program.

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Bridging 1-

At almost 40 years old Robert Frost had not published a single book of poems. He was very discouraged by this. In 1911 he received ownership of a family farm and he and his wife made a momentous decision; to sell this farm and start a new life in London where Frost hoped to be able to publish more of his poetry. He later became the most widely admired and highly honored American poet of the 20th century.

How does this information connect to the poem?

Bridging 2-

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words” Robert Frost

How does this information connect to the poem?

Bridging 3-

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” Robert Frost

How does this information connect to the poem?

The Split Cherry Tree by Jesse Stuart

Bridging 1-

“If we only had in America today more teachers who could teach beyond- and still include- the required subject matter, teachers who could inject beauty into their teaching, we could change the face of America. Inspirational teachers can have a profound influence upon the youth who will later occupy state and national positions and influence a nation.” (Pg. 177 in To Teach To Love by Jesse Stuart)

How does this information connect to the short story?

Bridging 2-

I’d rather have a C student with an A character than an A student with a C character. Jesse Stuart

How does this information connect to the short story?

Remember, it is sometimes a more difficult challenge for our students to connect a quotation to the literary piece, rather than a short written passage. This is because a quotation is often more abstract than information written in straightforward language. You be the judge as to whether or not your students are able to understand and explain what the quotation means. You may decide to re-write some of the information in simpler language or work with your students on how to decipher the meaning of a quotation. To find meaningful quotations by the authors of each piece, Google the author’s name and you will see several sites which have “quotable” quotations by the author. Many of them could be used to create Bridging questions.



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Bridging Activities for “A Summer’s Reading” by Bernard Malamud- Let’s Get Creative with Bridging the Texts with Context!

These three Bridging Text and Context ideas for “ A Summer’s Reading”  may  be used either for your logs/portfolios or tests.  The first two are suitable for four and five point students and the third for strong five point students. The article before this, contains two bridging exercises for, The Wave, by Todd Strasser. The bridging ideas on this site are not found in the books we use in our classes.  I plan to post bridging activities for many literary pieces which we teach. If you have a bridging idea, please send it and I will add it to the ETC. site for all to see and share.

Remember, there are five steps you should teach your students to enable them to write a good Bridging paragraph. They are:

  1. Pre- writing– Read the quotation/information and make sure that you understand what it means.
  2. In the first sentence of your answer write what the quotation/information says.
  3. In the second sentence (could be second to fourth depending upon if it is written by four or five point students) write how this quotation/information connects to the literary piece that we read.
  4. The next two to four sentences should give at least one example to support what you wrote for answer three. These examples must come from the literary piece.
  5. The last sentence is a concluding sentence. It completes your paragraph and may refer back to the quotation/information.  For example: In conclusion, we can see from these examples that the author wanted to show this idea (state the idea from the quotation/information) when writing the poem/short story/novel.


Bridging Ideas for: “A Summer’s Reading”

By: Bernard Malamud

  1. “There comes a time in a man’s life when to get where he has to go- if there are no doors or windows he walks through a wall.”  Bernard Malamud   Explain how this quotation connects to the story, “A Summer’s Reading”.

  1. “We have two lives, the one we learn with and the life we live after that.” Bernard Malamud   Explain how this quotation connects to the story, “A Summer’s Reading”.

  1. Most of Bernard Malamud’s stories depict the search for hope and meaning within the bleak enclosures of poor urban settings.  Writing in the second half of the twentieth century, Malamud was well aware of the social problems of his day, but he often depicted love as redemptive and sacrifice as uplifting. Explain how this information connects to the story, “A Summer’s Reading”.

The Wave…. Bridging Ideas for Logs or Tests

The Wave –  by Todd Strasser (pen name Morton Rhue)

 As teachers of Literature and higher order thinking, we are always looking for ideas for bridging text and context activities to help our students connect to information outside of the text. This new information should enhance their understanding of the literary piece that they read. Here are two “bridging” ideas that you might find useful when teaching your students The Wave. Remember, Bridging exercises are your opportunity to be creative! You can find a plethora of information and quotations on any subject or person on the Internet. The new information can be an opportunity for a lively class discussion as well as a chance to encourage your students to think about the connection between the world outside of the literary text and the piece itself.


1)      Bridging Text and Context (The Wave) (Wikipedia article

The White Rose was a non-violent, intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany, consisting of students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor. The group became known for an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign, lasting from June 1942 until February 1943 that called for active opposition to Dictator Adolf Hitler’s regime. Below is a copy of the second leaflet that they spread out all over German cities, in telephone books in public phone booths, mailed to professors and students and taken to universities. They believed that they could convince people to fight against the Nazis.

Since the conquest of Poland, 300,000 Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way… The German people slumber on in dull, stupid sleep and encourage the fascist criminals. Each wants to be exonerated of guilt, each one continues on his way with the most placid, calm conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!

—2nd leaflet of the White Rose.

How does the above information connect to the novel, The Wave, by Todd Strasser?


2)      Bridging Text and Context (Interview with Todd Strasser

Todd Strasser ( Morton Rhue) believes that most kids today want books with characters they can identify with. “Young people face the same predicaments in every generation. Even if the music changes or what they wear changes, dealing with being popular or questions of morality and decency…..those things don’t really change”.

How does the above information connect to the novel The Wave, By Todd Strasser?