Taking on the task of teaching Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein isn’t for the faint of heart. However, with the right attitude and resources, it can be done! Now, I’m not saying it’s going to be easy… but it will certainly be worth it in the end! Your students will find that they have a much broader vocabulary, improved reading comprehension skills, and a new appreciation for the original horror story!
Before we even begin reading Frankenstein, I make sure to hype it up. I say the phrase “horror story” somewhere between a thousand and a million times. Teenagers love horror stories! If I have learned anything during my short time in the classroom it is this:
Students are excited to learn when their teacher is excited to teach them.
Is Frankenstein my favorite novel to teach?
Not a chance. Absolutely! (See there, fake it ’til you make it…) But, do I let the kids see that? No way! I let them think this is my absolute favorite novel and it scares the pee out of me every time I turn the page.
We begin the unit by learning about the Romantic Era, Prometheus and Mary Shelley. After a virtual walk through the Metropolitan Museum of Art to view art and a brief story about Prometheus, we dive into how these things connect to Mary Shelley.
Then, we dive into reading. As with most novels in my class, the students are given chapter reading guides, vocabulary lists and the occasional quiz to check for comprehension. With the novel being so tough and rich in language, we read a majority of it together in class so that students are sure to understand what they are reading.
After the entire book is read, the test is taken, and a sigh of relief can be heard from miles away… the students have the opportunity to create their own horror story. I have to say, this has quickly become my favorite writing assignment that the students complete for me! It allows students to let their creativity flow and discover a new side to their writing abilities. Afterwards, we share our stories around the “campfire” (read: a YouTube video of a crackling fire displayed on the Smart Board) and see who was able to create the most horrifying story. The students don’t even realize they are practicing their oral presentation and listening skills!
The good news for you? I’ve done all of the hard work for you! You can find all of my Frankenstein materials here!