2 Event Entry Ideas for British Literature

I have worked at both a private and charter school that set on the course of project based learning (which I wholly embrace).

A core concept of pbl is grabbing student interest by some sort of entry event that can range from a video to and actual event.

Most of my entry events were pre-COVID, so I'm offering two: one that is fun and fairly simple but without social distancing and another which is more complex but completely in seats.

The Events

  1. A mini-festival of the culture/time period

  2. Celtic leather working

The Mini-Festival

I did the mini-festival the first day of school for two years (but three times because of the semester schedule).

Each time I focused on the Anglo-Saxon Era and looked at the literature I'd be teaching and cultural components the students wouldn't know.

These included mead halls, clothing/jewelry, the scop, food, and Old English.

I set the classroom up in stations with activities and instructions and followed a simple timeline.

  1. Greeting and small "feast"

  2. Storytelling while eating

  3. Instructions

  4. Stations

  5. Regroup and discuss

For the feast I set the tables up in a long bench style and set out trenchers I purchased from Target with bread, cheese, and various meats.

I found a decent costume on Amazon, so I wore that and welcomed the students with a lyre and recitation of "Caedmon's Hymn" in Old English (it was a focus of a thesis in college, so it's stuck in my head!).

While they ate, our marketer (who is also an actor) presented a shortened version of Beowulf's fight with Grendel to intro the oral tradition.

Next, I gave instructions about how to approach the stations and dismissed the students to each.

I varied the stations each time, but here are several that were a hit:

  1. Design your own Celtic/Old Norse style tattoo

  2. Play Hnefatafl: an ancient game of chance

  3. Decode Old English

  4. Build a mead hall out of Legos (with a variety of pictures)

  5. Supervised intro to Viking/Anglo-Saxon short sword

  6. Supervised experimentation with a lyre, harp, and frame drum

With 10-15 minutes to spare, I brought the students back to the tables and discussed what they had seen, what they learned, and what they hoped to learn.

Celtic Leather Working

Warning: this project is potentially cost-prohibitive! I could only do it because we had half of the students each day, and I had the tools already because I teach leather working classes.

If leather isn't a possibility, doing this as an art project where you look at a variety of Celtic and Old Norse knots and use graph paper to create your own is also a great intro event and a good substitute for virtual students.

Our charter school started the 2020-21 school year hybrid with some virtual students. The first week of school was intentionally low-key and not content-focused. My classes were 8-12 students rather than in the 20s.

I used that time to introduce the seniors to leather working and Celtic designs via a sponsorship by Tandy Leather who provided me with enough 5-6 oz leather for all the seniors to use.

I cut out an archery armguard using a pattern from Tandy and punched holes ahead of time.

Students followed the basic leather tooling process:

  1. Case (wet) the leather

  2. Transfer a design to the leather using a stylus OR use stamps to create a design

  3. Tool the leather (if part of their design)

  4. Dye the leather

  5. Let it dry

One class had a Zoom guest from Tandy who taught the students how to tool as part of the sponsorship.

What have you done as an entry event? Let me know in the comments!