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Teaching Guide

Teaching The Fellowship of the Ring

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In this guide you will find

  • an activity analyzing weakness and destruction when it comes to magical items and mythical heroes.
  • reading quizzes to be sure students can tell hobbits, elves, dwarves, and whatever-the-heck Sméagol is apart.
  • Orlando Bloom. Well, pop culture resources connecting the book to the movie.

And much more.

Students might want to disappear from discussion by slipping on the One Ring, but our teaching guide will help you inspire them.

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  • 13-18 Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text.
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Instructions for You

Objective: Students will read Tolkien's essay "On Fairy Stories" (or parts of it) and participate in a discussion of its most important elements. This reading and discussion can be a jumping off point for either a formal essay or a creative writing assignment. This exercise should take 1-2 class periods.

Materials Needed:

Step 1: Assign Tolkien's essay "On Fairy Stories" for homework. The essay runs about 23 pages, so you might want to excerpt it for your students. Use your judgment concerning your students' abilities and tolerance for this kind of "meta-writing." Ask students to mark up the text as they read: highlight important sections, make notes and ask questions in the margins, etc.

Step 2: Ask students to write three possible discussion questions (or three conversation starting comments) about the content of the article on an index card. Have them bring it to class and call on them to offer one of their questions or comments. Once the conversation gets going, students will have questions and comments that relate or overlap with one another, so the discussion should be self-sustaining.

Step 3: Choose a written assignment (creative or formal) for them – or perhaps give them both options and let them choose for themselves. Some possible topics:

  • What is a "eucatastrophe"? How does it change the way we see "fairy stories"?
  • Can you see Tolkien's elements of a fairy story in other narratives (movies, other books, popular stories)? How do Tolkien's ideas about the fairy story help us think about the stories that we already know?
  • Choose something from the article that seemed either very important to you or very difficult. Write a short explication of the passage and why it seemed significant to you.
  • Creative option: Write a short story, poem, or song that incorporates some of the elements of a fairy story, as defined by Tolkien in his essay.

Step 4: Give students the opportunity to workshop their essays/stories in a small group (2-3 students max). Make sure you provide an agenda for the workshop so that students can focus on a particular set of critical and writing skills. Once the workshop is over, allow students time to revise their written work before handing it in.

Instructions for Your Students

Read Tolkien's essay "On Fairy Stories" and participate in a discussion of its most important elements. This reading and discussion will be a jumping off point for either a formal essay or a creative writing assignment.

Step 1: Read Tolkien's essay "On Fairy Stories" for homework. Your teacher will give you a printed copy. The essay runs about 23 pages, so you will need to budget your time wisely. Make sure you mark up the text as you read: highlight important sections, make notes and ask questions in the margins, etc.

Step 2: Write three possible discussion questions (or three conversation-starting comments) about the content of the article on an index card. Bring the card to class and be prepared to offer one of your questions or comments during a class discussion.

Step 3: Write a short, formal essay or creative piece based on what you have learned from Tolkien's essay. Some possible topics:

  • What is a "eucatastrophe"? How does it change the way we see "fairy stories"?
  • Can you see Tolkien's elements of a fairy story in other narratives (movies, other books, popular stories)? How do Tolkien's ideas about the fairy story help us think about the stories that we already know?
  • Choose something from the article that seemed either very important to you or very difficult. Write a short explication of the passage and why it seemed significant to you.
  • Creative option: Write a short story, poem, or song that incorporates some of the elements of a fairy story, as defined by Tolkien in his essay.

Step 4: You will have the opportunity to workshop your essays/stories in a small group (2-3 students max). Your teacher will provide an agenda for the workshop so that you can focus your comments on a particular set of critical and writing skills. Once the workshop is over, revise your written work before handing it in.

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Common Core Standards  

The following standards are covered in this course:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.9
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.8
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.3

WANT MORE HELP TEACHING THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Check out all the different parts of our corresponding learning guide.

Intro    Summary    Themes    Quotes    Characters    Analysis    Questions    Quizzes    Flashcards    Movie    Best of the Web    Write Essay    
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