Great World Texts in Wisconsin
Great World Texts in Wisconsin connects scholars at UW-Madison with high school teachers and students across the state through the shared project of reading and discussing a classic piece of literature.
Now entering its fifteenth year, Great World Texts has reached thousands of students and teachers in dozens of school districts throughout the state of Wisconsin. Drawing from world literature throughout the ages, the program’s selection of texts reflects a capacious understanding of the idea of the “literary classic.” In previous years, faculty, teachers and students have collaborated on texts associated with 16th century China, ancient Greece, and contemporary India. The program includes fall and spring colloquia where participating teachers work with UW faculty members on interpreting and understanding each text, extensive supporting curriculum materials, and an Annual Student Conference in which students from all participating schools come together to share their interpretations of the text and hear from distinguished speakers.
2018-2019: Applications are now closed for Jamaica Kincaid's A Small Place. We will make the teaching guide available on the web site in August/September for all those who would still like to teach this text during the year.
The materials provided by the Center for the Humanities are specifically designed to allow flexibility in designing and individualizing course, lesson and unit plans that align with Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Disciplinary Literacy, the standards adopted by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
The Great World Texts model is an illustrative example of how educators can cultivate creative and critical thinking with their students within the richness of the humanities while meeting the letter and spirit of Common Core State Standards.
In the summer of 2013, Great World Texts program staff teamed up with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to invite an excellent team of veteran Great World Texts educators to Madison for a two-day workgroup to help prepare exemplar Unit and Lesson Plan modules using Great World Texts materials. The ***drafts*** of these exemplar models are available upon request:
- Great World Texts Unit Plan by Erika May, Southern Door High School
- Great World Texts Lesson Plan by Denise Beasley, Osseo-Fairchild High School and Alex Branderhorst, Washington High School (Milwaukee)
The modules demonstrate the flexibility of the Great World Texts curriculum in allowing teachers to design and personalize their teaching to bring world literature alive in the classroom while meeting the goals of Common Core State Standards. Using our Guide for Educators and the supplementary materials provided through the Great World Texts program as a starting point, teachers in any discipline can adapt course, unit, and lesson plans that meet CCSS demands while giving them the freedom to individualize instruction to meet their own pedagogical aims. This flexibility allows teachers to introduce world literature to their courses, whether they have a week or a year to devote to the text.
In other words, participation in Great World Texts "lets teachers teach" world literature while meeting the rigorous demands of Common Core State Standards and ensuring student success on CCSS assessments.
Teachers and administrators should also know that one of the Center's guiding criteria in selecting Great World Texts titles is through a process of identifying texts which are not commonly taught, but appear frequently on Advanced Placement exams. Every effort is made to ensure that the texts we select provide an ideal framework for close reading, interdisciplinary pedagogy, and rigorous discussion and analysis.
Students participating in Great World Texts can also earn credit toward the Wisconsin Global Education Achievement Certificate.
Great World Texts in Wisconsin is made possible by grants from the A.W. Mellon Foundation, the Anonymous Fund, the Evjue Foundation, the Wisconsin Humanities Council, the UW-Madison College of Letters & Science and the Promega Corporation. In addition, the UW-Madison Library supports the purchase of hundreds of copies of each text for use in classrooms, and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction lends valuable expertise to the organization of each year’s program.