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Reading a screenplay, such as Raisin in the Sun, with upper grade students

Raisin in the Sun, screenplay by Lorraine Hansberry
Raisin in the Sun, screenplay by Lorraine Hansberry
a scene from the play

"Through Hansberry's careful craftsmanship, the universal themes of the importance of dreams and the frustration of dreams deferred, the strength of family, the importance of not selling out, the problems of conflicting expectations, the belief that love and trust will win over deceit and selfishness, and the dangers of prejudice and stereotyping are as powerful today as they were nearly four decades ago when she wrote the play." 

Sound good? For more of that ilk, go to Teacher Vision and read or print (think of the trees, though) the 5-page long discussion of Lorraine Hansberry's novel, A Raisin in the Sun. (While you're there, don't miss the tiny blue left sidebar links to more!)

Before reading a screenplay, discuss with your child

  1. Historical context of events
  2. examples of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution from familiar movies
  3. discuss the "voice" of the camera in screenplay
  4. stereotypes and prejudices
  5. use of slang to set time and character

In a homeschool setting it can be helpful to join a co-op for the upper-level classes such as literature, when group discussion can be so helpful. Look into a co-op in your area that is setting up classes for this fall.

When you have completed your study of the screenplay in hand, go to the City Theatre Company and see it in person. It runs through March 21st. Students are $12. Click here for times and details. Haven't started to read it yet? Then see the production first! Or, just rent the movie! Nothing is holding you back. 

The value of a play like this in the upper grades is the opportunity it presents to discuss race, equality, presumptions, stereotypes, and behaviors. Students this age can really begin to enunciate how they feel about inequality and are at an age where they can do something about it.  They are old enough to see the effect history has on the present.

By the way, if you don't already have student IDs for your kids, you can create a homeschool ID quickly by printing some basic info off your computer- make sure it's about half the size of a credit card. Next, cut a 1-inch by 1-inch photo of your student. Be sure to let your student "autograph" it. Layer them appropriately inside a luggage tag and slide it through the laminator machine at your local Fed-Ex Office (previously Kinko's).


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