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Pre-Show Journaling Activity

Three women look to their left; their faces are pressed against one another in profile and the sky is a light brown/gray.
Genevieve VenJohnson, Elizabeth Laidlaw, and Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel by Joe Mazza.

Reflect on themes from Fen through journaling prompts—suited for classrooms and continuous learners alike!

Thematic Journaling Activity

  • Activity Preparation
    • Supplies
      • Paper and writing utensils
    • Set-Up
      • You may choose to engage students in one or more of the journal prompts listed. Consider allowing students to select a prompt to respond to, or incorporating some small group discussion following the writing prompt. Note that some of the prompts ask students to reflect in a very personal way; encourage but do not require students to share according to their comfort level. 
      • It is recommended that teachers not require students to share their writing for a grade; ideally this activity serves as a personal reflection. 
      • Please note: Fen includes themes of suicide, alcoholism, and racially and sexually offensive language. 

  • This activity will take approximately 25 – 35 minutes.

  • Learning Sequence
    1. Tell students that they will be engaging in a journaling activity around one or more prompts related to the themes and plot of Fen
      • As needed, review with students the parameters of a free write: students should write as much as they can in the allotted time, focusing on their ideas rather than their grammar and organization. Encourage students to let their thoughts flow freely and write for the entire time. Remind students that there are no right or wrong answers to these questions. (~3 minutes) 
    2. Display prompts listed below. Inform students of the amount of time they will have to write about the prompt(s). Then, release them to write. (~5 – 7 minutes per prompt)
      • One character, Val, wants her life to be different than it is. How do you want your life to be different—now, in 2 years, in 5 years, or in 10 years? 
      • Fen features ghosts from the past who interact with characters in the present. In what ways does the past visit the present?
      • The play ends with a violent act of release for one character that has a ripple effect on many of the other characters in the play. How can one person’s choices impact those around them? 
      • A central conflict in the play is the tension between obligation and desire. What is more important—happiness or duty? 
    3. Optionally, invite students to share a few of their ideas with the class or with a small group. 

  • This activity aligns with the following standards:
    • Illinois Arts Learning Standards 
      • Anchor Standard 8: Construct meaningful interpretations of artistic work.
      • Anchor Standard 10: Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.
    • Common Core State Standards 
      • CCSS.ELA.W10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Posted on January 25, 2023 in Learning Guides, Productions

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