Archive for April, 2013

Today is William Shakespeare’s 449th Birthday. Though he’s not here to celebrate with us, we enjoy celebrating him! This afternoon we’re hosting our second Electronic Field Trip in which students explore Shakespeare’s language up on their feet!

Our good friend and contributor, Holly Rodgers, and her ESL/ELL class celebrated by writing sonnets inspired by their favorite season, and a few examples are included below. How are you celebrating?

Summer Sights
By Anh Tran

Summer is here, how lovely days play out
side in the hot day play ball at the beach.
Eat ice cream on a hot day, play and shout
all day. My favorite ice cream’s mango peach.

And apple picking will be fun for one.
The summer day, I got no rules to break
or follow, but with my family have fun.
Make a cake and make a milk shake, fun take!

A break from all that homework is so great.
Summer homework is just to have some fun.
To the pool, swim, eat pizza on my plate.
Look at the sky, the clouds I see, and sun.

Can name the different clouds up in the sky.
Still see them without looking with my eye.

Summer Friend
By Hannah Tijani

A summer day is great for outdoor play.
It’s fun to go play with a big, beach ball.
I hit with my hands then I like to lay
upon the sand, then I go to the mall.

I also like to play upon the swings.
Sometimes I pump and kick my legs so high.
Feel that I almost touch the cloudy rings
of wispy puffs of cotton in the sky.

I like to go swimming at my own pool.
Sometimes I see my friends who go there, too.
The water feels so good on my skin, cool
like ice that’s melting into liquid blue.

I wish that summer didn’t have to end.
My favorite season is my best friend.

Summer Stage
By Rosana Ayala

Hot days need ice cream to go play with friends.
We sing and dance and have a lot of fun.
Chocolate and strawberry love to blend
in my mouth as to my stomach they run.

I go to the beach on hot summer days.
I play soccer on summer days with friends.
I go to pools with my sis and do plays
for my family our acting up ascends.

I like to eat mangoes on summer days.
It’s fun to let the juice drip from my lips.
I like to entertain others amaze
them with my talents like shaking my hips.

Like those Hawaiian hula dancers do.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll go to the zoo.

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It’s a very busy week in Folger Education! We’re excited to have so much to offer for Shakespeare’s Birthday, this year, and are excited to be a part of PBS LearningMedia’s celebrations as well!

This month,PBS LearningMedia is celebrating “Much Ado About Shakespeare” with online events and resources for educators. Tonight (April 16) from 8-9pm EDT we’re joining forces for a Twitter Party discussing our favorite resources and tools for bringing Shakespeare to life in the classroom! Join us live and share your stories with us!

PBS LearningMedia is also re-releasing episodes and resources for Shakespeare Uncovered, and will be hosting a free webinar with the executive producers of the series on April 22 from 4-5pm EDT. They’ll review video from each episode and the educational resources created to accompany the series with Folger educators.

As you know, we’re coming up on our Electronic Field Trip next Tuesday and our local Shakespeare’s Birthday celebration at our historic building on Sunday. How will you celebrate?

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Image~by Emily DenBleyker

The Taming of the Shrew came first, when I was 7 or 8 – a community theatre production in their tiny theatre in the middle of a cornfield. Then, when I was 9 and bored with the 4th grade reading list, my teacher gave me special permission to read Romeo and Juliet for a book report. My mom and I read it together: first the story from Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare, then the actual play, side by side on the couch, trading roles, talking through each scene, playing with the language.

My mother started buying every Shakespeare DVD she could find – filmed theatre productions, movies, specials about Shakespeare – and we would watch them together on quiet nights. I would watch them by myself in my free time or while I was doing homework, internalizing Juliet’s “Wherefore art thou,” and Beatrice’s “What fire is in mine ears?”

I’ve spent this semester as an intern in the Education Division of the Folger, and I’m finding myself more in love with these words than ever before – both how and what they say. It would be cliché to extol the magnificence of Shakespeare’s metaphors and the intricacies of his characterizations, but what I’m marveling over are the lessons and truths he could convey.

At the Secondary School Festival, I saw students who had found the sweetness in the lines years before and I saw students discovering the language for the first time. No matter how new they were to this crazy world we call the theatre, they learned what it feels like to stand in front of a few hundred people and say centuries-old lines that still apply to today. The costumes and the details are a little different, but these stories are told everyday in real life: people lie, fall in love, pretend to be something they’re not.

The biggest thing I’ve learned these past few months is this: to be able to teach these lessons, we have to learn them ourselves. Not literally – I’m not advocating usurping your brother’s dukedom just so you can learn how it feels to be reunited.  In the broader sense, if you look for Shakespeare’s stories in everyday life, you will find them. The words will come alive on the page and your life will be that much more dramatic (in a good way).

Emily DenBleyker is a junior at Gordon College in Massachusetts. She is spending this semester in Washington DC with the American Studies Program and interning with the Education Division of the Folger Shakespeare Library. After graduating next May, Emily hopes to work in theatre education. Or literature. Or film criticism. Or marketing. 

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One of the strongest points we keep coming back to in Folger Education is encouraging teachers to use Shakespeare’s text with their students – no “translations.” The definitions these adapted texts can offer limits the possibilities of Shakespeare’s poetry, and stifles the creativity and energy students bring to learning new words and phrases.

Julia Perlowski led an excellent Webinar on this topic in March, “Shakespeare in Other Words,” in which she compared certain passages from Shakespeare to their updated counterparts to show just how much is lost in translation. She also made a great point that the Common Core Standards require students to study complex texts that challenge their minds. You can view a recording of this presentation HERE!

But how can we make connections between our students and Shakespeare? How can we encourage them to explore Shakespeare’s language with confidence and creativity? For one thing, getting them on their feet with the language discovering Action Clues and other in-text identifiers (which you can learn more about during our upcoming Electronic Field Trip!). For another, we’ll be exploring how two teachers are using Social Media to explore Shakespeare with their classes communicating cross-country with each other in our upcoming May 14th webinar: What’s Done is Done Online.

How are you connecting Shakespeare with your students this year?

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The Festivals we host at the Folger are my favorite experiences of the year. Students pour into the Folger Theatre with all the energy their young frames can contain and explode with life onstage with Shakespeare’s words.

Sure: not everything always goes as planned. Lines are dropped; nerves get the better of someone; a cast-mate misses a cue… but on those days we hope students take away the knowledge that they can try again tomorrow. The Festival is not the be-all and end-all, but appreciating the language and trying something new is something to hold on to.

Our Secondary Festival takes place over seven days, with 8 schools participating each day. Each group has 25 minutes to present their piece – whether it’s a selection of scenes, an edited full play, or a montage of scenes from many plays creating something new. Between performances, our Mistress of the Revels plays games in which students die the deaths of the tragedies, race to finish Hamlet in under 32 seconds, and compare the comedic tropes of the canon. There’s a break for lunch in the middle, and a break for entertainment (provided by us) in which our commentators discuss the performances of the day and decide whom to recognize for their efforts in acting or understanding of the language. There is no competition for these recognitions, only a celebration of their achievements.

The Children’s Festival later this spring will be five days long with 6 schools performing each day. They’ll be entertained by each other, by an entertainer, and by our Mistress; and they will not get recognitions. Instead, they’ll process through the Folger with homemade banners and our special guest Queen Elizabeth I.

Are there Shakespeare festivals in your area? Tell us about them! We love hearing about (and seeing) Shakespeare performed by students of all ages!

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