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questions. As it turned out, Curley’s
wife from Of Mice and Men fell in love
with Benvolio from Romeo and Juliet,
and General Zaroff from “The Most
Dangerous Game” hatched evil plots
with Jack Merridew from Lord of the
Flies. Romeo and Juliet even tried to
adopt Lennie Small to protect him
from Merridew. In that scenario, the
students intertwined three storylines.
Poor Lennie, however, was per-
plexed by the Shakespearean language,
and he wrote, “I still ain’t understan-
din’ halfa what you said.” Tybalt cited
a website on Shakespearean insults
when he wrote to Mercutio, “The tart-
ness of thy face sours ripe grapes!
Oh, I scorn you, scurvy villain!”
Mercutio, using one of his famous
puns, wrote, “Zaroff, thou art nothing
but a petty baron whose life is as bar-
ren as a salted field.”
Lastly, Juliet mixed the culture
of 14th century Verona, Italy, with
our modern culture when writing,
“Whither is my Romeo? Doth he
not bid me good morrow? I pray
thee, Romeo, friend me!”
Presenting to the Class
On the last day of the project, each
student dressed up as her character,
stood in front of the class, and shared
a piece of writing from the project.
The girls and I were shocked when
tears unexpectedly ran down my
cheeks while Lennie Small from
Of Mice and Men lamented his fate
of always being picked on by others.
During the presentations, other
“characters” spontaneously responded
from their seats to the speakers’
words, and lively debates ensued.
Along with making connections
among various pieces of literature,
students also benefited from this proj-
ect in other ways. The girls said the
project was a fun and relaxing way
to review for the final exam. In addi-
tion, it provided an opportunity for
students to write creatively and with a
healthy dose of humor. Without being
asked, students honed skills naturally.
They cited their photographs, format-
ted dialogue correctly, searched and
cited websites, quoted from the texts,
and sharpened oral presentation skills.
Reluctant Students Shine
What surprised and delighted me
most was that some of my more reluctant readers and weaker students came
to life during this project because we
seemed to be speaking their language.
They may not have fully understood
how a gerund functions, but they sure
knew how to post on a social media
site! I was also surprised that some
of my quieter, more genteel students
wanted to take on the personas of the
roughest, most violent characters.
Conversely, some of my students with
thicker hides and stronger personalities wanted to be the weaker outcasts,
such as Lennie and Piggy.
While students worked on this
project, I heard only typing and occasional laughter (my favorite classroom sound) spreading throughout
the room as each girl read the funny
posts. Every student was fully engaged
at every moment. They even sometimes stayed in character outside of
class, and I could hear their cheerful
banter in the hallways all day long.
On the last day of the project, I
asked students for feedback, and their
only complaint was that we should
have done the project for a month instead of a week.
—Pamela Carver teaches English and chairs the
English department at the Harpeth Hall School
in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Currently in her
20th year of teaching, she is most passionate
about teaching and writing poetry and teaching
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