With NEH support, faculty at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville led a professional development institute for K–12 educators that explored approaches to teaching adaptations—including film versions, graphic novels, and young adult fiction—of canonical texts. Using Frankenstein and Cinderella as exploration points, participants considered the significance of oral storytelling, fairy tales, and folklore traditions in the humanities and best practices for incorporating diverse storytelling forms in K–12 classrooms. Educators left the institute feeling inspired and empowered by the vast possibilities for student creativity and learning made possible by embracing literary adaptations. They also left equipped with new technologies and approaches to enhance their classrooms.
“Adaptations were often scoffed at...the whole ‘book is better’ argument. And what I realized, I mean REALLY realized, is that is so limiting. Adaptations have expanded the possibilities that I knew existed but didn't know how to use or how much to trust. [...] I am more open to the possibilities that exist and letting things evolve rather than remain stagnant.”
–2020 program antendee
Group discussions, plenary presentations, and guest lectures from visiting scholars in adaptation studies considered the benefits of K–12 educators using popular culture forms to teach canonical texts. Participants explored the evolution of Frankenstein and Cinderella as traditional texts, and through their adaptations in film, drama, young adult fiction, children’s picture books, and graphic novels. Then, participants practiced adapting these texts themselves, through the lens of issues and topics pertinent to their home communities.
Facts & Figures
of respondents agreed or strongly agreed they “will be able to use subject matter content [they] learned about in this program in [their] work”
Facts & Figures
of respondents agreed they were able to “develop new pedagogical methods.”
Educators also gained a wealth of resources to replicate what they learned for diverse learners. Hands-on technology workshops introduced tools to support student-produced literary adaptations, such as podcasts, radio theater, short films, comic books, and art. In a survey immediately following the institute, one respondent wrote: “I have so many things I want to incorporate! All of the digital platforms we used, I want to teach my kids and use with other teachers. I’m so inspired to start a podcast, and create mash-up fairytale videos with my kids, and have them write their own books and publish them online!”