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Archive for February, 2014

A simple question, but one that will help us know what kind of resources to share with you. Thanks for participating! (Note: You can check more than one box.)

Secondary School Shakespeare Festival 2013

Secondary School Shakespeare Festival 2013

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Last Thursday the Folger Education department took to Twitter for our second “office hours” session to talk with teachers about how they’re teaching Shakespeare.

We love having an informal time to interact with you, answer your questions, and find out what your students are working on.

Here’s a great question we received from James Evans:

The Winter’s Tale is a comedy with a happy ending, but there’s plenty of compelling drama along the way: murderous passions, man-eating bears, princes and princesses in disguise, and more.

Although this play may not be taught as frequently as Romeo and Juliet or A Midsummer Night’s Dream, don’t let that discourage you from taking it on. The Folger has a curriculum guide put together by experts who believe, as the Folger does, that the best way to engage students in Shakespeare is to get them speaking the words and working with the language.

You can find more classroom ideas on the Folger website, where we have an entire page dedicated to The Winter’s Tale. Take a listen to our Insider’s Guide for the play, or explore a lesson plan that asks students to examine possible causes for Leontes’s jealousy by interpreting language and acting out scenes between characters.

Or have your students watch a behind-the-scenes interview with these two actors from the Folger Theatre’s 2009 production, as they discuss the play’s themes of love, forgiveness, and second chances:

Do you have more ideas for effective classroom activities related to The Winter’s Tale? Share them in the comments below.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for information on the next #FolgerOfficeHours.

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Teaching Shakespeare Institute

What alumni are saying about Teaching Shakespeare Institute

We could tell you all about the Folger’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute–the intensity and rigor of our classes, the practical techniques that go on to prove their worth in the classroom over and over, the fun times and good memories with other like-minded teachers who becoming lifelong friends.

But we’ll let some of our alumni tell you about their experience in their own words:

“Transformative. Empowering. Delightful. Beguiling. The essence of what teaching and learning should be. Gets to the heart of why most of us got in this business in the first place. A necessity in these test-centric days.”

“Teaching Shakespeare Institute is intellectually stimulating, mind blowing, pedagogical food for the soul. The most intense, educational, informative and useful professional development I have ever had the good fortune to experience. The knowledge and resources I gleaned in one month surpassed my two years of education in graduate school for teaching!”

“Every lesson that I teach – every discussion, handout, idea, unit and poetic gesture that is found in my classroom – can be traced to the incredible summer that I spent at The Folger Summer Institute: It is all about the text.”

What are you waiting for? Submit your application by March 4.

And if you’re a TSI alum, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Give a shout-out in the comments and be sure to share this blog post with your teacher friends!

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Earlier this week, we invited you to share our sonnet-writing contest with your students. And we hope you do!

Shakespeare's Sonnets

William Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Illuminated by Ross Turner, 1901. Folger Shakespeare Library.

Why teach Shakespeare’s sonnets?

  • Exploring Shakespeare’s sonnets can be a good way to introduce students to his language.
  • Many ideas and themes in the sonnets also appear in Shakespeare’s plays and can be useful lead-ins. For instance, looking at individual sonnets in Romeo and Juliet can be a door into the play.
  • The strictures of the sonnet form can inspire creativity in students.

You can find a unit plan for sonnets on our website that includes these lessons:

  • Easing into Shakespeare with a modern sonnet
  • Petrarch: Father of the sonnet
  • Juliet vs. Laura
  • Close reading
  • Writing a group sonnet
  • Sonnet performance festival
  • And more…

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Winners and runners-up from the 2013 Shakespeare's Birthday Sonnet Contest

Winners and runners-up from the 2013 Shakespeare’s Birthday Sonnet Contest, with poetry coordinator Teri Cross Davis (center), at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Each year, Folger Shakespeare Library invites students in grades 3 through 12 in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia to submit original sonnets for the annual Shakespeare’s Birthday Sonnet Contest.

We are now taking submissions for this year’s contest, marking Shakespeare’s 450th birthday!

All entries must follow Shakespearean sonnet form:

  • 14 lines of iambic pentameter
  • an ABAB-CDCD-EFEF-GG rhyme scheme

A judge will select the top sonnet in three categories: grades 3-6, grades 7-9, and grades 10-12.

Winners in each category receive a full set Shakespeare’s plays, and runners-up receive a copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Winners and runners-up are also invited to read their entries at Shakespeare’s Birthday Open House at the Folger Shakespeare Library on April 6.

Be sure to have your students send in their submissions by Friday, March 21. Please email submissions to Teri Cross Davis, at tdavis@folger.edu, or mail them to the address below.

Attn: Sonnet Contest/Poetry Coordinator
Folger Shakespeare Library 
201 East Capitol Street, SE,
Washington DC 20003.

Here’s an example of a winning entry from the grades 7-9 category, by Jennifer Owens, National Cathedral School:

A lonely figure stands beside the docks,
Not noticing the spray against her feet.
Her focus is on capturing the rocks
Where surf and salt and spray and stone all meet.

Her skillful brushstrokes toss and hurl the waves
Against the jagged outline of the sky.
Each speck of foam and breath of air she saves
No detail undetected by her eye.

The hours pass, she doesn’t seem to care,
Content to stand and paint beside the sea.
She brushes back a strand of fiery hair
That like the ocean tumbles loose and free.

And when at last the artist’s work is done,
Her two great loves have been turned into one.

Encourage your students to write sonnets of their own. We can’t wait to see what they come up with!

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Until earlier this fall, I was clearly the one in love with words, literature, classrooms, teachers’ lounges, theatre.  Math and science not so much.  OK, so my grade in Biology as a college freshman was D.  Not so interested in photosynthesis. Still not the least bit interested in photosynthesis, but now I am crazily interested in archaeology and genetics.  I still am in love with words, literature, theatre, and classrooms.

But my world has gotten a lot wider and more wonderful.  And I have been brought to this place by the divinely cramped up and misshapen corpse of that devilish king, Richard III.

In August 2012, the University of Leicester (in central England) began one of the most ambitious archaeological projects ever attempted:  a search for the lost grave of Richard III, the last English king to die in battle.

Image Credit: University of Leicester

Image Credit: University of Leicester

Here at the Folger, we have just had the great honor and huge pleasure of hosting Dr. Turi King and Dr. Mathew Morris, the geneticist and archaeologist who respectively made the DNA match and led the dig.

Their story is thrilling—intense, historical, modern, gut hunches, scientific data. It’s also a story about smart people doing smart, smart work against the odds. Turi says that at the beginning, it was a little like a missing person’s story: King Richard is missing and we’re putting together all that is known now, so we can go off to find him. She also says that, at the outset, they felt their chances of finding him were past slim. (more…)

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