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Posts Tagged ‘Folger Education’

In case you’ve forgotten: Tomorrow is Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday.

In my recent post I wrote about the Romeo and Juliet Balcony Scene-Flash Mob event that the Folger is hosting on YouTube. We’ve gotten lots of questions and comments about this activity, and we’re hoping that you take the time to get your students to create this scene.

However, Rachel Eugster from Ottawa’s Company of Fools, noticed that there was an error on the script in the original post . In the editing process, the line, “I have no joy of this contract tonight” was attributed to Romeo instead of Juliet.  We’re so sorry that this happened, and we hope you haven’t made too many copies yet.

So here is the CORRECTED BALCONY SCENE SCRIPT.

If you’ve already used the original one and recorded the video, don’t fret. You can still submit the video even though that one line doesn’t quite make sense.

And remember, there is still time to submit your YouTube videos. In case you forgot, here are the guidelines:

Here are the rules:

  • You need to use the CORRECTED BALCONY SCENE SCRIPT.  It takes about 3 1/2 minutes to perform.
  • The scene needs to be performed chorally–all the Romeos must speak together and all the Juliets must reply together.
  • Have the Juliets elevated somewhere and the Romeos standing below them.
  • Record the scene on video and upload it to YouTube.
  • Send the YouTube link by April 30 to EducationGroup@folger.edu.

Once again, any questions can be sent to me at Mlomonico@Folger.edu.

 

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As you probably know, April 23 is Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, and the Folger Education staff wants to get everyone involved in the celebration. So we are hosting a Balcony Scene Flash Mob Festival. It’s simple. It’s fun.  And it will get a lot of people speaking Shakespeare.

UNCWe hope to get groups from all across the country to take part.

So please join us!

All you have to do is use this CORRECTED BALCONY SCENE SCRIPT., divide your group into Romeos and Juliets, and read the scene chorally.  As shown in the photo to the right (performed at the University of Northern Colorado in February), the definition of a balcony is very loose. It can be a stage in the school auditorium, the top row of the bleachers, the roof of a building, chairs in the cafeteria, or what you will. The photo below was taken at the Folger Library’s Flash Mob during the April 6 birthday bash and open house.

Folger flash

We will be posting all the submitted videos on our own YouTube page. While this is not strictly a competition, we will acknowledge and award entries in a variety of categories such as most creative or unusual setting, best costumes, most passionate or whatever else we think of at the time.

Just be creative and have fun!

Here are the rules:

  • You need to use the Official Edited Script of the CORRECTED BALCONY SCENE SCRIPT that we’ve posted here. It takes about 3 1/2 minutes to perform.
  • The scene needs to be performed chorally–all the Romeos must speak together and all the Juliets must reply together.
  • Have the Juliets elevated somewhere and the Romeos standing below them.
  • Record the scene on video and upload it to YouTube.
  • Send the YouTube link by April 30 to EducationGroup@folger.edu.
A scene from Romeo and Juliet. By John Massey Wright. Folger Shakespeare Library.

A scene from Romeo and Juliet. By John Massey Wright. Folger Shakespeare Library.

In an earlier post we wrote about the Balcony Scene Flash Mob in Boston that broke the record previously held by the University of Northern Colorado.

We’re hoping some group will break the record of 160 “actors” this month, so consider this a challenge.

But even if your “mob” consists of 20 fifth-grade students or a group of senior citizens at the local assisted living center or a class of theater kids at the local mall, we want to see it. And if you can get any local media to cover your mob event, let us know that too.

Any questions? If so, contact me at Mlomonico@Folger.edu

And be sure to check out our Romeo and Juliet board on Pinterest for a collection of beautiful images and famous quotations from the play.

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A while back I wrote Shakespeare in Other Words citing the reasons teachers should avoid using “No Fear” or “Made Easy” or any other parallel text edition in their classroom. Needless to say, it generated over 40 comments, including some from an author of “The Shakespeare Novels.”

But now I realize that simply dismissing those books wasn’t enough. What should teachers do, who not only find it difficult to teach the real stuff, but who may struggle with the language themselves? So here are a few suggestions:

  1. Since students can access the No Fear versions online for free, why not suggest or even encourage them to read them at home. And then read and teach the real text in class.
  2. Start with “baby steps.”
  3. Begin with a 15 Minute Play. There are eight of them on the Folger site.
  4. Pull out 30 juicy lines from the play you’ll be studying, put each line on a 3×5 note card, and give one to each student. Then they find a partner, come up with a scene using only the words on the cards, and perform the scene for the class.
  5. Instead of Made Easy texts, create a Made Shorter text. Using the Folger Digital Texts, copy a scene, paste it into a Word file, and edit it to a version that your students can handle.
  6. If you want to teach Iambic Pentameter, watch the video called Living Iambic Pentameter, but DO NOT SHOW IT TO YOUR CLASS. Instead, do your own version in class. No kid wants to watch other kids having fun.

Those are just a few ways to get past the fear and teach Shakespeare for Real. Post your comments below with other suggestions.

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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.

Their sense that Richard was buried in Leicester’s Grey Friars Friary was strong, even though the story for centuries in Leicester was that, after his death in Bosworth Field, his body was thrown into the River Soar. So they figured if they found the Friary and located some of its different parts, they would have done well.

Incredibly, Mathew’s excavation uncovered Grey Friars and a battle-scarred skeleton with a pronounced spinal curvature.  Turi took over the long-odds job of working out the DNA possibilities. She worked with genealogists to find possible living matches;  they located two descendants of Richard’s sister, Anne of York. She compared mitochondrial DNA extracted from the skeleton with theirs . . . and she was able to prove that the skeleton was indeed that of Richard III.

Image Credit: University of Leicester

Image Credit: University of Leicester

Learn more about all of this amazing stuff at https://www.le.ac.uk/richardiii/. And share it with your history-teaching and science-teaching colleagues.

1485 meets CSI! Hard science meets the clearly hasty—“minimally reverent” as Mathew says—burial of an unpopular king.  Shakespeare meets history.  Popular colloquial history meets scientific fact.

Science class meets history class meets English class! Now we’re talkin’!

Peggy O’Brien is the Director of Education at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Follow her on Twitter at @obrienfolger or send her an email at pobrien@folger.edu.

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On Thursday, we hosted our first Folger “office hours” – a digital opportunity for you to bring your questions about teaching Shakespeare. And we got some good ones! The theme was Romeo and Juliet, but we also had some lively discussion going about more general topics, like iambic pentameter.

If you’re interested in seeing all the tweets from “office hours,” just search for #folgerofficehours on Twitter.

We tried to give what answers we could (in the moment and with the restriction of 140 characters), but we’d like to expand on some those answers here.

“Abridge” can mean changing Shakespeare’s words, or cutting the lines.  If you mean changing the language—using modern language instead of Shakespeare’s text–take a deep breath and don’t change the language.  Lots of material in Shakespeare Set Free gives you and your students the path to and through Shakespeare’s language.  And then your students won’t be deprived of  the opportunity–and the thrill–of experiencing and conquering Shakespeare’s language.

However, if you mean cutting lines to make a speech or a scene shorter–this is something that has been done since the very beginning with his plays, and is done all the time now by directors and actors.  We know, for example, that certain lines from Richard II offended Queen Elizabeth I and were outlawed during her lifetime.  And we know that Hamlet performed uncut would keep you in the theatre for four hours or more.  So judiciously cutting the plays is a part of almost every Shakespeare experience.  You do it too.

Knowing and understanding these plays is not just about reading every single line.  Students who experience the language in meaningful ways are likely to have a better experience and gain greater understanding than students who are made to slog through every line.

Here’s our cheat sheet. It helps if you say what’s quoted and bold out loud. Put the stress on the words in all caps.

a beat = a syllable = “da” in “da DUM” (just like your heartbeat)

foot/feet = the combination of two beats, one strong stress and the other weak = “DA dum” or “da DUM”

iamb = a foot that has an unaccented syllable followed by a accented syllable = da DUM”

pentameter = five iambic feet = “da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM”

————————————————————————————————————

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Keep an eye out for our next Folger Office Hours.

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Lots of buzz around the Folger these days because Janet Griffin, Artistic Producer of the Folger Theatre, and Robert Richmond, director of our upcoming production of Richard III, are taking a walk on the wild side.

You know about the theatre here, right?  Background in case you don’t:  Folks here sometimes call the Folger Theatre “an evocation of an Elizabethan theatre”… not a model of any one in particular but with features like galleries and an inner above that make you think of the Globe.

It’s a sweet little 250-seat theatre tucked right inside the Library building.  Janet and her team produce three or four award-winning plays a year, and if you haven’t seen a play here, put us on your New Year’s resolution list right this minute.

So how do we get from an Elizabethan theatre to the wild side?

Even though the set can look different depending on the play, the Folger Theatre has always, always looked like this:

FSL Interior: Folger Theatre View C

EXCEPT when Richard III opens next week, the theatre will look like this:

Folger-Theatre

We’ve taken out all of the orchestra seats, built a platform stage in that newly available space, and put new seats on what has been the stage since it was built in 1932.

Wild side: for the first time ever, theatre in the round at the Folger.  (Below the platform stage, there are multiple traps and a trolley… a lot of bodies falling and ultimately rising in this play.)

The whole theatre in the round idea is anything but new… but it’s new here.  And I am fairly crazed about it because it’s that fabulous kind of change that forces us to abandon all of our assumptions and to begin to perceive differently.

Actors, audience, director, tech crews all have had to, or will have to, jettison all their previous ideas about that space and start anew.  Audience members will be much closer to the actors, and the actors must work in a 360-degree universe.

And that’s just for starters. To me—a future audience member—it feels risky and exciting, intimate and all about discovery.

So what does this have to do with teachers?  A few key things:

  • We’re eager to see how our actors do here, but really . . . teachers are always working in the round.  This close, intense kind of work where real learning happens. . . you do it all day every day.  You are working in the round always, and without a net.  Impressive.
  • Changing up the physical set-up in your classroom can be just as exciting as what’s happening at the Folger Theatre.  Encouraging new perspectives, and burying worn out assumptions.  (It’s worth thinking about, even though you might have to treat the teacher who shares your classroom to a dinner out.) Check out teacher Jennie Magiera’s perspective in Ed Week’s Teaching Ahead blog.
  • Overall, it reminds us about the huge importance of risk.  OK, so as teachers, we are all challenged with required tasks that threaten to sap our energy and innovation chops.  But if we stop taking risks, we open the door to losing our edge.  And that’s unthinkable.  For you or your students.

I’ll keep you posted on how the Folger Theatre’s big risk turns out.  Or better yet, come and see for yourself.  Click here to see a time-lapsed video of the Theatre’s transformation.

Most important: in the comment box, share a one-sentence description of the last risk that you took in your classroom. We can inspire one another this way, and none of us are ever beyond the need for inspiration.

Peggy O’Brien is the Director of Education at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Follow her on Twitter at @obrienfolger or send her an email at pobrien@folger.edu.

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Folger Education office hours

What our office might look like if you came in for Folger office hours. Notice the bookcase!

After our master class in December on teaching Romeo and Juliet, we got so many great questions on the play and on how to make Shakespeare a success in the classroom.

We wanted the conversation to continue, and so we thought to ourselves, why not create a dedicated time each month for teachers to share their questions on a particular topic related to teaching Shakespeare?

One of the teachers we surveyed after the master class suggested an “office hours” of sorts.

And thus, we present Folger Office Hours. This Thursday (tomorrow!) we invite you to join us on Twitter for an informal Q&A from 2-3pm EST.

Here’s how it works:

1. You tweet your questions on the Folger Office Hours theme, which for this inaugural session is Romeo and Juliet.

2. We here at Folger Education (@FolgerED) will tweet back, answering questions as best we can in the moment. (Other teachers, feel free to chime in with your own thoughts and ideas!)

3. If any questions require more reflection or an extended response, we’ll save the answers for a blog post that we’ll publish the following Tuesday, right here on Making A Scene.

One last thing:

Be sure to use #folgerofficehours in your tweets to keep the conversation together.

We’re looking forward to chatting with you on Twitter tomorrow!

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Folger Master Class Teaching Romeo and JulietLast month, Folger Education streamed a live master class on Teaching Romeo and Juliet.

Hundreds of teachers participated, and afterward we asked for your feedback. The response was so positive!

Many of the teachers surveyed said they appreciated the well-rounded approach embodied by our three video segments on scholarship, performance, and the classroom.

Here’s a sampling of what we heard back:

“I had no clue what to expect, but by ten minutes in I was wishing that the class was more than an hour. There were so many things packed into the time that I could not wait to start studying with my students.”

“Yes – the interviews, clips, and examples of actual classroom work gave a direct, personal-involvement feel. I felt more engaged than I have had with some live professional development! ( not the Folger’s, of course!)”

“I think it was very helpful to learn directly from the experts who are closely tied to the content that we ourselves only re-visit one month out of the year. Even though I’ve taught R+J to at least 14 different classes, I enjoyed the detailed glance into several different perspectives of the play.”

Also, here’s what we’re hearing from you about what you’d like to see in future master classes:

  • more examples of in-classroom techniques and activities
  • more lesson planning ideas, both things that worked and things that did not
  • teaching strategies that could be used across multiple Shakespeare plays

It’s great to get this kind of feedback from you. Teachers are the rockstars in our book, and our job is to help you do what you do best. We’re on it!

And if you didn’t get a chance to participate in the master class live, you can watch a recorded version online. Happy teaching!

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The Folger Shakespeare Library is a hotbed of education staff, scholars, actors, directors, curators, librarians, docents, and digital geeks in Washington, DC, teamed up with teachers all over the country – in an endless collaboration focused on your teaching and your students’ learning.

What do we believe about teaching and learning? Read on:

1. We believe that teachers are the most important and the most powerful people on earth. Period.

2. All students should have access to Shakespeare’s rigorous texts and compelling ideas. Students at all levels of proficiency can and should engage deeply with these plays.

3. You and all of your students can dive into, engage with, and make sense of these complex texts with great success. This work will enhance your students’ close reading and analytical skills. Yours, too. And all of you will have an enormous amount of fun in the process!

4. It’s all about the language. Approach, connect with, and befriend Shakespeare’s language head on. Your students’ direct connection with his language is the key to unlocking the plays – and everything in them. We don’t mean you, as teacher, translating for them. And we don’t mean using those “made easy” books. We mean THEM speaking and moving and figuring out HIM… words, lines, scenes, plays. His language in the mouths of your students is splendid and exciting all on its own. And it is the essential step that results in sending his ideas into their brains.

5. So… if you are teaching Shakespeare the way you were taught, you might need to give that up. If you are teaching Shakespeare from those dumbed-down versions of the plays created by publishers who believe that both you and your students are not smart enough to understand the real thing, throw them out. Right now.

6. The Folger continues to produce – with and for teachers – ever-evolving sets of language tools, active close reading strategies, performance techniques, and pathways through the plays that are energizing and fun, and that relentlessly focus on text. In DC and all over the place, we teach teachers how to do this work. A poorly kept secret: teachers use these tools and strategies to teach all kinds of literature, and subjects way beyond English.

7. Using these tools and strategies, you and your students work in the plays rigorously and vigorously in the way that scholars and actors do. Your students make their way actively – reading closely, thinking deeply, and citing textual evidence all over the place. They build their skills and their knowledge. And you do too. Research has shown us that learning this way dramatically increases students’ confidence – in their ability to tackle something hard, to figure it out, to “own” this playwright and his plays – and boosts their enthusiasm for learning the next hard thing: August Wilson, reconstruction, Lear, calculus, Arabic.

8. Any teacher can teach this way. You don’t have to know anything about acting or directing or any of that stuff. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. He knew how to write. You know how to teach. And if you’re worried about this last part, we can help you with that.

Peggy O’Brien is the Director of Education at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Follow her on Twitter at @obrienfolger or send her an email at pobrien@folger.edu.

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In the rush of the holiday season, our director of education, Peggy O’Brien, pauses to offer these reflections, looking back at NCTE 2013 and ahead to a bright future!

On the Folger’s presence at NCTE…

  • What a thrill to be in the midst of so many English teachers!  What possibly could be better? It’s so good to be home.
  • We always want what we bring to NCTE—our sessions, offerings at the booth, materials—to be as useful to teachers as they can possibly be. People packed the sessions, many have followed up on email for more info… yes!
  • Next year, NCTE is in DC! Or, more accurately, just outside of DC. We’ll present at the conference, but we also want LOADS of teachers to come to the Folger… see a play, hang out with some rare books and manuscripts, participate in hands-on, active workshops in the Folger Theatre, and more.
  • Lots of folks interested in the Folger appsOthello, Romeo, and Macbeth.  The techie way to plunge students (and teachers) right into the play. Hamlet and the Dream out before the end of 2013. Add these to the formats the Folger already offers: wonderfully edited plays available in paperback books (as they have been for ages) and free online versions in the Folger Digital Texts (www.folgerdigitaltexts.org). Love it!
  • So happy to be distributing our new Folger Philosophy of Teaching and Learning. The philosophy’s not new, but the articulation is. It’s good to have our foundation in print.

On next week’s master class…

  • Gearing up for our Master Class on Dec. 11: Our “teacher on the street” videography team—Lauren Chavey and Beth O’Brien—asking teachers at NCTE about their greatest successes and challenges teaching R+J. Got such compelling, splendid answers.  Teaser:  With a particularly tough ninth grade class, using Marvin Gaye to get everybody into the play. Big success story!

On great teachers and educators…

  • Such a treat and a relief to be among folks who are talking passionately about good teaching, rather than the politics of the Common Core. Obviously, policy is important, but… great teaching is what really makes it all happen.
  • Met Jim Burke, whom I have described many times as in “the Mount Rushmore of English teachers.” He’s great and so are his new books on the Common Core—they are just based on solid, excellent teaching.  Perfect.
  • Big shout out to Eileen Landay and the Arts Literacy Project that she founded at Brown University… and her mention of the evidence provided by neuroscience that points to the difference between reading vs. reading and doing.

On the Folger’s Romeo and Juliet flash mob…

  • THE FOLGER FLASH MOBFABULOUS!  150+ people in the cold, in the dark, in the plaza next to the Convention Center—Boston at 6pm on a Saturday night—all having the time of their lives doing the balcony scene. Now for our big question: What collaborative, public Shakespeare do we do at NCTE next year?

Peggy O’Brien is the Director of Education at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Follow her on Twitter at @obrienfolger or send her an email at pobrien@folger.edu.

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