Classroom Strategies

When I taught “Cathedral,” I had my students free-write on their commute to school without using visual descriptions. I told them to close their eyes and imagine their commute to school–what sounds, smells, sensations, and textures they observed. After they wrote, I had them share with the class. The students found it helpful because it revealed how much we rely on the visual. Also, because many of them repeat the same commute everyday, they were able to remember details such as the shapes of different doorknobs, or the way the light and sound changes at an intersection. [K. Fowley,]

I had students get into pairs/groups of 3. One student closed his/her eyes while their partner directed them in drawing something unknown that I had written on the board (a house, an antelope); then they switched. A lighter, experiential way into the narrator’s journey, and a way to talk about blindness/senses and how we take them for granted, and how to understand space and movement without vision by trying to draw. It also was something of an icebreaker for the students, as this was the first few weeks of class. We all got a good laugh at seeing one another’s drawings on the document camera in the classroom. This story pairs nicely with “Elephant in the Village of the Blind” in the Norton Anthology (Shorter 10th). [M. Winslow,]