Posted by: jockmackenzie | April 19, 2010

Foreshadowing – Part 2

Only the Four Shadows Know


thanks to  palominas blogspot for the images

With students thinking about and actively involved with shadows, I turn my attention to the term “fore.” As the opening picture indicates, one could have every student turn to this section of a dictionary and search for various usages of this prefix. I prefer to mine their self knowledge first. By asking them to list as many words as possible that begin with fore, we can determine that “fore” has to do with “the front part, toward the beginning.” (I do like the dictionary idea because, even for me, it’s a reminder of other fore words.)

My next step is to put fore and shadow together in a scenario like this: Imagine someone has appeared at our classroom door. We can’t actually see who it is but we can see the person’s shadow. Whoever it is is standing just outside the door but isn’t coming in. The person seems to be listening to what is going on in the class. How can we guess who it is? Well, let’s look at the shadow. Will the height help us know if it’s an adult or a student? Will the shape hint about gender? Is the person thin or heavy set? Is he or she carry anything?

Clearly, the idea is to notice something is amiss. I encourage students to have inquiring minds, to wonder, to question, to pay attention as they read or view or listen. The next step is make an effort to determine what that “something” is.

My next step is to move quickly to as series of experiences that involve foreshadowing. Initially, I like to read several short short stories to the class. I ask them to interrupt (by putting a hand up) when they think foreshadowing is being employed. Several of my favorite short short stories are “Voodoo” and “The Weapon” by Fredric Brown, “Shago” by James Pooler, “Wine on the Desert” by Max Brand, “Gold-mounted Guns” by F.R. Buckley, and “The Open Window” by Saki (H.H. Munro).

The idea of reading a story to the class and challenging the entire group to watch and listen for clues as to what will happen at some later point seems to get the concept across to most. Following exercises involve the students in small groups or as individuals. Easiest (and I include myself in this category) is the idea of finishing the story and then backtracking to see which clues were missed along the way.

Discovering foreshadowing is a first step but writing that includes foreshadowing offers an even greater challenge. Do you have students capable of tackling such a task? What about fishing around with red herrings first?

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