It’s a cultural reference. It relates to a sudden and unexpected change– something teenagers can usually relate to. It’s an odd and dystopic story. Any one of these things make “The Metamorphosis” a good choice. Even if the language is a bit dense and old-fashioned at times, it still holds up well as a teachable text.
Here are some ideas for teaching the story:
Reading questions and Graphic Organizers are a good way to push students into examining the text, helping them to practice reading for content and retention. It can also be a way to promote accountability– and proof of it– for actually reading the story. For dense or difficult texts, I like to spend time together in class reading, while students fill in their short answer questions (helping them have a reason to stay awake, too.) Graphic organizers can be used to reinforce concepts of the story or differentiate for students who prefer more visual formats.
Write Your Own Metamorphosis Story is a fun writing activity to tie into the story. I like to make students explore the literary devices and then match the original story in theme or main idea. They get a lot of flexibility, while still examining literary devices and the original text.
Personal Metamorphosis Writing is a great tie-in activity. Students in the middle and high school level have usually all gone through some event or situation that related to their own personal growth. This activity gives several options to reflect and write about those changes. Works nicely as an anticipatory activity.
Grete’s Transformation is another area to explore. While the story, in it’s painfully matter-of-fact manner, spends most of the time on Gregor’s metamorphosis, in the background, Grete is transforming into a young woman. Students can dig through the story for evidence to write an essay or story about how Grete is changing.
Clerk’s Report Activity is a fun short writing activity that is great for middle of the text. That poor clerk from Gregor’s employer has to go back to the boss with an absurd report. How does he even tell it? Students might practice dialogue writing, point of view writing, or even formal, objective writing. Not gonna lie, these are usually fun to read, too– bonus!
Because it’s an older text, it’s often helpful to spend some time studying the vocabulary. I like doing vocab first, so students have, essentially, a personal dictionary for that story– in order of the text– that they can use to look up words while reading. Sometimes, they actually do, so that’s nice.
Looking for other stories to pair with “The Metamorphosis”, consider “The Birthmark” (Nathanial Hawthorne) as it deals with changing a person, and “The story of an Hour” (Chopin) which, taking a different approach, is another character who is victim of their circumstance.
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