Anchor Text: The novel/play/poem/nonfiction text that is the primary text that exemplifies a chosen theme. It is the text that is the source for all the supporting texts and lessons. The confusion is that this is the book that is taught. This is wrong. You do not teach To Kill a Mockingbird. You use To Kill a Mockingbird as an anchor text to explore the inherent nature of good and evil in people.
Now that my annual plans have been completed and I have attended all the necessary conferences for the summer, it’s time to buckle down and prepare for the fall. I’ve been sampling classic literature over the summer, which has never been my genre of choice but have been compelled to through my 100 Books challenge, and have finalized my anchor text selection:
- “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare (Both Standard and Honors)
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Both Standard and Honors)
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Honors)
- 1984 by George Orwell (Both Standard and Honors)
The theme for 2014-2015 is The Use and Abuse of Power. We will be exploring those in authority throughout the historical context of each text, how the characters and plot reflect those in authority and the social commentary made by the authors, who is in authority and why, what happens when power/authority is abused, social structures throughout history, and the role of the “average man.”
I’ve been working with my colleagues, who are new to the teaching profession, assisting them with their own curriculum, pacing guides, and text selection. The number one question that they’ve asked me is, “How do you choose WHAT to teach with SO many choices?!?” The truth is that there are several factors that must be taken into consideration.
1. Is this a text that I am going to be comfortable enough to teach?
2. Is this text appropriate for my students, both in text-complexity and content?
3. Is this text county/admin approved? How much will I have to fight if there is controversy around this text?
4. What am I hoping to teach my students by utilizing this specific text?
5. What supplemental texts (short stories, nonfiction, poetry, etc) can I use to support the theme/Big Picture of this unit?
6. Will my students be able to relate to this text? How will I make this relevant to them? The buy-in factor.
These are all questions that I ask myself as I make the decision of whether or not to include a text as an anchor text. Once I have identified these texts, which I promise you is probably the most difficult part of curriculum planning for me, I reread the text with the idea in mind of identifying:
- Elements of Characterization
- Examples of themes
- Significant quotes
I will also begin brainstorming project or essay ideas. I do not begin thinking about quizzes or tests until I’m much closer to actually teaching the unit.