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ELA Online: Digital Literacy Connections to English Language Arts

ELA Online: Digital Literacy Connections to English Language Arts Activity: Twilight Activity: The Cullen Cars

Instructions for Your Students

Whether or not you've read Stephenie Meyer's best-selling books, odds are you've definitely lined up for (or been dragged to) one or more of the movies. So what do you think—are you with Team Edward or Team Jacob? Don't answer that. (And stop groaning. Or swooning. Whichever one you're doing.) Instead, let's focus on the cars of Twilight

Meyer sure name-drops a lot of specific automobile makes and models, but why? Is there a reason for her vehicular obsession? What do the cars tell us about the characters that own them? Take a peek for yourself and think it out.

Step 1: First things first. Maybe you've read Twilight, and maybe you haven't. No matter. We're going to level the playing field before we get going. In class, do one of the following to make sure that everyone understands the basic plot elements of Twilight, the first book of the Twilight Saga:

  • check out Shmoop's Twilight plot summary on your own;
  • skim through the plot summary (or read it out loud) as a whole class; or
  • have someone familiar with the story offer a synopsis.

Your teacher will help you figure out which option will work best for the whole class. 

Step 2: Once everyone's up to date with the basic plot, we'll get started on today's project: learning about what the cars in Twilight can tell us about the characters.

For this next part, you can work in a small group, with a partner, or on your own—your call. Start by checking out "The Cullen Cars" page of Stephenie Meyer's website, and then look through the vehicles section of the Twilight Saga Wiki.

Step 3: Next, select one character to work with. Still working in your small group, with your partner, or on your own, take 10–15 minutes to conduct a bit of outside research on your character's car—and the character, if you don't know much about him or her. Shmoop is a good resource for this. Be sure to keep track of the websites you use for research, since you'll need to cite your sources. 

Step 4: Now use what you (and your group or partner, if you're working with others) have learned to compare and contrast the traits and features of your character with his or her vehicle. Do this by creating a Venn diagram

Create your diagram using MS Word, Pages, Google Drive or something similar so that you'll be able to share it electronically. (If your classroom tech makes this part difficult, you can always go old school: pen and paper.)

Step 5: When you finish your Venn diagram, write a brief summary explaining what the car reveals about the character who drives it and create a bibliography citing your sources. You can use a citation wizard (like EasyBib or Citation Machine) or your own knowledge of citation formatting for this part. 

Along with the bibliography, you'll also need to provide a brief explanation of how you know that the outside sources you used are credible ones.

Step 6: When everyone is done with their research, diagrams, summaries, and bibliographies, it'll be sharing time! You can discuss each character, one at a time in class. When your character is up, share your observations about your character and car and see what others came up with. 

As you discuss each character, be sure students to talk about how Meyer uses vehicles to develop her characters' traits. 

Step 7: After the discussion, go ahead and share your Venn diagram with your teacher and classmates, either via a social media site like Facebook or Tumblr (if your school allows them), a class blog, Google Drive, or email. 

Of course, if you went old school in Step 4 (the pen and paper Venn diagram), you and your classmates can post your diagrams around the room and then take a few minutes to browse, gallery style. 

Continuing on to the next activity? If you are, you'll need to bring a copy of the latest book or story you read in English class (or a book/story you recently read on your own) to the next class.