How to Teach High School Literature (Prose and Drama)

Take the steps below to teach high school Literature more effectively.

  • Work on yourself first.
  • Give some background information about the text.
  • Help students enjoy reading the novel or play.
  • Encourage them to read other books.
  • Dramatize the story if time will allow it.
  • Assist students to identify key incidents.
  • Engage them in a lively discussion of the story or drama.
  • Give students notes.
  • Show them reliable online Literature study guides.
  • Test students about their knowledge of the important details.
  • Show them how to answer possible essay questions.
  • Let students practice writing Literature essays.
  • Organize a question and answer session.
  • Organize an essay writing and reading competition.
  • Give students the dos and don’ts in a Literature examination.
  • Motivate and inspire them when the exam is near.

Are you a high school Literature teacher looking for additional strategies for teaching high school Literature? I’m saying this because I know you might already have in your possession a certain officially recommended method for teaching Literature to senior high school students.

Possibly, you’ve just been assigned a Literature class for the first time in your life. Maybe it’s because you’ve just come out of school yourself. So being the serious teacher that you want to become, you’re looking for as much information as you can get about effective teaching of Literature. Whatever your situation may be, I’m here to offer a helping hand. This post is all about teaching prose and drama. You can find another article on this site about how to teach poetry

Creativity counts.

Please note that teaching generally is both an art and a science in itself. For that matter, while there are well-researched methodologies for teaching any subject, teachers still have to rely on their personal style and skills to make each lesson an enjoyable and productive one.

This is why I believe I alone cannot have all the answers about how to effectively teach high school Literature. However, I’m fully convinced that given my long experience in handling high school Literature students with a reasonable degree of success, I’m well-placed to show you a number of tips and tricks that could just enable you to become a more successful high school Literature teacher.

It is time for me to give you my tips on how to teach high school Literature.

Are you ready to learn more about how to effectively teach a Literature class? Then let’s get going.

One more thing. I have tried to arrange the Literature teaching tips in an order that any tutor can follow. All the same, there is nothing stopping you from changing the order in some instances. Remember you are the person on the spot. Therefore, the realities in your classroom should determine what you do first, second and so on.

1. Work on yourself first.

The truth is you can’t teach what you don’t know. So I strongly advise that you find time to prepare yourself adequately before you begin to teach prose or drama to your Literature class.

And never stop learning and researching further even while in the process of teaching a particular novel or play. Because teaching Literature in secondary school demands that the teacher knows what they are doing.

Here are some things you can do to arm yourself properly for your high school Literature lessons.

  • Finish reading thoroughly the Literature text in question.
  • Make sure you know the details pretty well. But you don’t need to know all before you begin to teach.
  • Promise yourself you are not going to make your Literature classroom a living hell for your students. Instead, you will make even the weakest learner leave each Literature class feeling satisfied.

Core Literature Books for SHS 2022-2025

Analysis of Raider of the Treasure Trove Poem

The Anvil and the Hammer Analysis

35 Narrative Techniques in Literature

400+ Likely WAEC Literature Questions

Chapter by Chapter Summaries of Second Class Citizen

2. Give some background information about the text.

It is helpful to let students know more about the author.

A brief biography of the novelist or playwright is enough. You should also tell them a bit about any circumstances surrounding the writing of the novel. Letting learners understand the historical or cultural context within which the action of the play happens is equally useful.

3. Help students enjoy reading the novel or play.

This means you, the teacher, must personally love to read the text. Your passion for the story will naturally infect your Literature class. Because, sometimes, passion is contagious.

  • Do not make reading the text feel like punishment or a heavy load.
  • Encourage them to read specific chapters or pages at home.
  • Avoid scolding students who lag behind. Instead, encourage them to go at their own pace.
  • Relate the story to real-life events.

And, please, insist on each student having a copy of the prescribed Literature textbook. Can you afford to donate copies of the Literature books to the whole class? Do it. And, trust me, your students will thank you for the kind gesture by showing greater interest in your Literature lessons.

4. Encourage them to read other books.

From personal experience, I’ve found that monotony and learning are not the best of friends. Variety helps many students to achieve more. So, in order to take the boredom out of their Literature studies, ask students to read other interesting stories or articles alongside their Literature textbooks.

They can even go online to download free or paid ebooks from online bookstores like Smashwords and Draft2Digital to read.

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5. Dramatize the story if time will allow it.

Staging a short play in the class is among the most effective activities for teaching Literature in secondary school.

For a good number of Literature students, all you need to do for them to enjoy learning Literature is to dramatize the story or play. Get those who love acting to form a drama club. Then assist them to dramatize either the whole story or parts of it you consider interesting and relevant.

6. Assist students to identify key incidents.

I will always insist that one of the easiest and most effective ways to teach high school Literature is to identify and study some key incidents very closely. The incidents that you let students focus on must have something to do with major characters, themes, setting and the plot.

7. Engage them in a lively discussion.

The more your students speak about the elements of the literary work they are analyzing, the better their understanding gets. And the higher their confidence level becomes.

Devote some of your lesson periods solely to class discussion. Motivate the students to speak freely about characters, themes and literary techniques in the novel or play. And, please, let the discussion take place in an encouraging atmosphere.

You cannot achieve your literary analysis teaching objectives when you keep dampening the spirit of some of your students. And remember, when it comes to learning abilities, we are all not born equal.

8. Give students helpful notes.

Enjoy giving your students notes. It is almost impossible to successfully teach literary analysis to high school students without giving them notes. Make sure the notes are not too long and too difficult to understand. The shorter your notes, the better. But at the same time, you cannot afford to sacrifice detailed illustrations for brevity.

9. Show them reliable online Literature study guides.

Today, there are large volumes of Literature study notes online. Here at Cegast Academy, you will find study guides on most General Arts subjects. And that includes senior high school Literature study guides on such books as Second Class Citizen, Harvest of Corruption, Native Son, Invisible Man, The Lion and the Jewel, Faceless and Fences.

But it is not Cegast Academy alone that publishes Literature study notes. There are other equally helpful websites doing the same thing. So go out there and look for as much information as you can and show your students the way to the best Literature learning resources online.

10. Test students on their knowledge of the important details.

Make it a point to test your students occasionally. These could be oral tests, fun quizzes, or standardised objective or essay tests. Testing helps you assess the effectiveness of your teaching methods and students’ progress.

11. Show them how to answer possible essay questions.

Always keep in mind that you are preparing your students for an examination. I’m looking at external examinations like the WAEC WASSCE, NECO SSCE, JAMB and the like.

One of the best gifts a Literature teacher can give their students, therefore, is a set of likely exam questions. But it is not enough to show students past Literature questions or probable ones for the next exam.

You need to go beyond that and train them on how to answer Literature questions. Make it compulsory for each and every student to submit Literature essay assignments as often as practicable.

How to Answer Literature Questions

40 Objective Test Questions on Second Class Citizen Chapter 3

The Lion and the Jewel Summary and Analysis

Summary of A Raisin in the Sun

12. Organize a question-and-answer session

In addition to the open class discussion, make some lesson periods a time for questions and answers. Make some of the lesson periods the time when students will just ask any kind of question they need answers to.

Allow relevant questions only.

Also, you need not try to answer all the questions personally. It is good to encourage members of the class to make their own contributions.

13. Stage an essay writing competition.

Competition has the potential to bring forth the best in students. I will encourage you to occasionally arrange your senior high school Literature class into groups. Let them engage in healthy debates about characters, themes and so on.

To creatively teach high school Literature, allow your students to write and compare their various essays.

14. Give students the dos and don’ts in a Literature examination.

Now as the examination draws nearer, there is very little left to be done. One of the few Literature teaching strategies left is to coach your students about the dos and don’ts of the examination.

Believe me, all your efforts in successfully teaching high school Literature will amount to nothing if your students end up violating all the rules guiding the examination.

15. Motivate and inspire them when the exam is near.

Finally, as the date for the Literature test draws closer, gather your students and give them some powerful motivational talk. I do this for my students every year. It helps a lot.

For one thing, motivational talk lifts up students’ spirits and raises their confidence levels. Secondly, we both know that self-confidence always makes the difference between high achievers and the rest of the crowd.

To Conclude

The truth is teaching Literature to a class of high school students can be fun. All it takes to effectively teach high school Literature is to make the Literature lessons enjoyable. Much as there may be other creative ways to teach Literature, I believe that the tips I have just shared with you will equally serve you well. So go ahead and implement those that you can.

Now if you’re a student who has to self-teach yourself Literature, I will urge you to incorporate these ideas into your private study plan.

Did you find this information helpful? Then share it on your favourite social media platform for the benefit of others you care about. Thank you!

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