Answer: Begin with an open-ended question about the classic that relates to the student. In the case of The Scarlet Letter, the “essential” question was, “What is worth risking everything for?”
Comment: While that might not be the question I would choose for this particular work of fiction, it is a relevant question from the point of view of the students. It invites the students into Hawthorne’s romance with a question that applies both to the work of fiction and to the students. An idea worth thinking about. RayS.
Title: “Making the Classics Matter to Students Through Digital Literacies and Essential Questions.” J Ostenson and E Gleason-Sutton. English Journal (November 2011), 37-45.
Note: Taking a week or so off. Will rejoin you on Monday, January 2, 2012, to bring you reviews of what I consider significant ideas in the teaching of English. RayS.