|Grade span:||9 to 12|
|Duration:||four to five 30-minute sessions|
Description:Considered one of the best American short stories, Irwin Shaw's The Eighty Yard Run provides an account of a young football hero's finest moment from the perspective of the player fifteen years later. This dynamic tale provides excellent material for an adolescent read aloud, addressing key components of high school culture - football and first love. The story also provides an historic picture of Depression era events, life in New York City, and a compelling portrait of a marriage over time. For adolescents, read aloud sessions will have greater impact if they participate with their own voices. For students of different cultural backgrounds, frame questions that allow for cultural comparisons (i.e. different sports, courting, and marriage customs and different historical backgrounds). This activity requires a series for four to five thirty to forty minute sessions.
- Practice expressive reading of descriptive passages and dialogue to develop fluency
- Make connections between students' lives and events of past generations
- Identify similarities and differences in American culture and other cultures, past and present
- Comprehend and interpret the effect of events and choices on a marriage
- Use spoken and written language to communicate about great literature
- History articles/books about the depression loaded with pictures www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/
- Brief accounts of Irwin Shaw's life, available in books and online http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irwin_Shaw
- Copies of The Eighty Yard Run from Irwin Shaw's Short Stories: Five Decades (2000: University of Chicago; ISBN: 0226751287)
- List of discussion questions for the story
- Working in small groups, ask each to review a different historical picture book about the depression and list their key observations on a flip chart
- Ask each group to review a different short biography of Irwin Shaw and list key events on a flip chart
- Post biography lists on one side of the room and Depression observations on the other to fuel a whole group discussion about the writer's life and times
- Identify teams of readers among staff and students who are committed to prepare and read specific sections of the story with expression (three voices: narration and husband/wife dialogues)
What to Do:
- Over four sessions, read the The Eighty Yard Run aloud.
- At the end of each section, ask students to share observations about "that was then/this is now" and predict what might happen next in the story
- At the end of the reading, work with the whole group to generate ideas for a contemporary story following a similar plot line: fifteen years after great success as a youth, a person revisits the scene of that success and reflects on ways later events have challenged his or her career and relationships.
- Allow small groups or individuals to create their own stories if interest is high
- Compare contemporary student versions of these plots with The Eighty Yard Run.
Evaluate (Outcomes to look for):
A follow-up survey/reflection sheet can ask questions that will determine --
- Student engagement in the story, as both listeners and readers
- Ability to make connections between student lives and culture with a story from a different generation, and perhaps different cultures
- Increased student interest in, and knowledge of American history during the Depression
- Insight into the impacts of economic pressures and work choices on marriage over time