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Archive for the ‘Folger Education’ Category

By Folger Education

We had so much fun at last week’s 2015 Emily Jordan Folger Children’s Shakespeare Festival we wanted to share more images of the kids and the great day they had at the Folger.

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By Diana Darwin and Nancy Howard

 

Imagine children, not much taller than yardsticks, clearly and passionately performing lines from Romeo and Juliet. Simply dressed in blue T-shirts for the Montagues, red T-shirts for the Capulets, and yellow tees for the Prince and his family (a few wore mustaches and many carried swords), they projected proudly as they enacted an abbreviated version of this play.  They were energized—and energizing—nine-year-old children from a public charter school here in DC. At the end of the day, we asked their teacher how the students came to own the language. He replied, “Practice, lots of it.”

 

This is the kind of magic behind the Emily Jordan Folger Shakespeare Children’s Festival: elementary students speaking Shakespeare’s language as if it were written for them (and we believe it was!).

 

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Children understand and enjoy Shakespeare when given the chance to perform it! The comedic spirit of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was alive and well presented by a cast of students who were having so much fun the audience couldn’t resist. Young Pyramus understood the humor in taking such a long time to die…and the audience responded with happy laughter and applause. The community of learners in the Folger Theatre inspired and supported each other, demonstrating throughout the week the value of the arts and humanities.

 

It seems to me that perhaps the most important lessons learned from the arduous preparation made by all these students is their ability to do things they thought were hard. Their work learning lines and presenting characters demands that children stretch beyond the familiar and risk trying new things. We believe that the growth that we witness in these young people is only a glimpse of an unlimited future ahead.

 

Nancy Howard and Diana Darwin both taught Eighth Grade Language Arts and produced/directed theatrical productions at George Washington Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia.  After retiring in 2006, they  became docents at Folger Shakespeare Library.

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By Corinne Viglietta

Which poem is in your pocket ? (Source: F. Nivelon, The rudiments of genteel behavior, 1737. Folger Collection. )

Which poem is in your pocket ? (Source: F. Nivelon, The rudiments of genteel behavior, 1737. Folger Collection. )

Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day, everyone! We’re taking a little break from our Teaching Twelfth Night with Technology series to celebrate the power of verse with you.

If you’d like some ideas for engaging students and colleagues in this national poetry fest, or if your pocket is without a poem (gasp!), keep reading.

When I was teaching high school English, today was my favorite day of the year—and a big community day for our school. A few weeks before Poem in Your Pocket Day, the faculty and staff—STEM teachers, humanities teachers, support staff, administrators, librarians, you name it—would select which poem they’d be carrying on this day. (Awesome colleagues, right?)

Then, the English teachers would get together and use those poems to create school-wide Poem in Your Pocket scavenger hunts for all of our students. For instance, students might have to recite the first line of Ms. Jackson’s poem (“We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks) or reflect on the anaphora in Mr. Williams’ favorite poem (“If” by Rudyard Kipling).

Or they’d have to share their favorite words from one of the many wonderful Billy Collins picks among the adults.  And there were always two key rules for students: 1) you must ask the adult to read the poem out loud before you ask your scavenger hunt question, and 2) poetry should be buzzing in every corner of school during breaks, passing periods, and lunch—and even during class time, as long as your teacher allows!

By the end of Poem in Your Pocket Day, we grown-ups had gotten to read some of our favorite poems out loud, dozens of times. More importantly, though, students had gotten to hear their teachers and principals and coaches—most of whom were not English teachers—speak some verse and talk about what poetry means to them. I loved one 11th grader’s excuse for being woefully late to lunch: she was asking the Spanish teacher about the finer points of translating a Neruda sonnet.

Speaking of sonnets, you might think that they’re the only way to go if you want to carry Shakespeare in your pocket today. Not true. Shakespeare’s plays are full of poetry, and here are just two of the many examples. Feel free to carry one of these in your pocket today!

Poem #1:

From Romeo and Juliet, 1.5

 

ROMEO, [taking Juliet’s hand]
If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
JULIET
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.
ROMEO
Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
JULIET
Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
ROMEO
O then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do.
They pray: grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
JULIET
Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.
ROMEO
Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take.
[He kisses her.]

 

Poem #2:

From A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 5.1

ROBIN

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this and all is mended:
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearnèd luck
Now to ’scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long.
Else the Puck a liar call.
So good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
[He exits.]

 

Corinne Viglietta is Assistant Director of Education at the Folger. She has taught English in DC, Maryland, and France.

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By Gillian Drutchas

***We’re thrilled to bring you another series of teacher-created videos from the Teaching Shakespeare Institute 2014. Last month, teachers shared ideas for a Romeo and Juliet unit. This time around, we invite you to watch—and read—their strategies for teaching Twelfth Night with digital technology. Up first: Michigan teacher Gillian Drutchas…***

 

BEFORE YOU WATCH

For many of my students, beginning any new text is daunting, and Shakespeare’s works cause even more anxiety.  Not only is the language a challenge, but so are the names of many characters.  After all, how many Orsinos and Malvolios have you had in class?  This activity is designed to help students make sense of who the characters are and how they are related to one another.   Furthermore, not only does this activity help students delve into the play, but it also gives them a document that they can use as a reference as they continue their study of the play.

THE VIDEO

 

AFTER YOU WATCH

Although I haven’t had the opportunity to use this activity with Twelfth Night, my 9th graders made a similar infographic using the characters from Romeo and Juliet.  It not only helped them to sort the Montagues from the Capulets, but also made them think carefully about the position (both physically and metaphorically) of characters who did not easily fit into one family or another, such as Mercutio and Paris.

Because I am always a little leery of mandating students to use technology that can be time consuming and more trouble than it’s worth, I also gave them the option of creating their infographic on paper or using another digital program.  While some took me up on the offer, many chose to use easl.ly.

As I so often am, I was surprised by the insightful approaches many students brought to the assignment.  Here are a few:

  • Several students chose pictures of familiar celebrities and television characters whose personalities mimic traits of Shakespeare’s characters as their images. For example, Ryan Gosling was a popular choice for Romeo as my 15 year-old girls felt Gosling epitomized Romeo’s romantic, yet brooding nature.
  • Others created color coded boxes for each character, using various shades to depict how entrenched a particular character was with each family.  For example, while Benvolio may have been a bright red, someone like Mercutio may have been pink to show that although he hangs out with the Montagues, he’s not actually a Montague.
  • A few students chose to use another Web 2.0 tool, bubbl.us to create the text of their infographic. However, this tool did not allow them include pictures. So after organizing the characters on bubbl.us, the students printed their creation and added their own images.

A few of my AP English Language students did get to use this activity in a colleague’s Women in Literature course, and their feedback highlighted the importance of having students support their ideas with actual text from they play.  They found that identifying the key quotations to describe each character was particularly helpful.  One student reported that “although we read the play in class, finding the quotes made me look deeper into the characters and remember who was who.”

Feel free to send me any thoughts, suggestions or ideas you might have on Twitter (@missdrutchas).

 

Gillian Drutchas teaches English 9 and AP English at Marian High School, an all-girls, Catholic high school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  She received a B.A. in English and Psychology from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. in Educational Studies from the University of Michigan.  She is also a 2014 alumna of the Folger’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute.

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By Folger Education

 

Happy 451st, Will! Today is when people all over the world traditionally celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday, and we’re thrilled to bring you even more ideas for marking this occasion. Thanks to all the teachers, students, librarians, and theater practitioners who shared their fabulous birthday plans.

 

Here’s how the Folger celebrated on Sunday:

The Queen reads to children at Shakespeare's birthday. (Chester Simpson)

The Queen reads to children at Shakespeare’s birthday. (Chester Simpson)

–           DC Public Library debuted Uni, its first “pop-up reading room,” which brought dozens of volumes of Shakespeare and Shakespeareana to readers of all ages. Families, students, teachers, and other visitors to our open house gathered on quilts and benches in the Elizabethan Garden to read all kinds of stories, scenes, and poems. Queen Elizabeth I (or a rather convincing 21st-century doppelganger) even showed up to tell a tale!

–          “Spontaneous Shakespeare”—an open-mic event for anyone interested in speaking Shakespeare on the Folger stage—drew dozens of enthusiastic participants, who read sonnets and unforgettable lines from Titus Andronicus, The Tempest, and many more plays.

–          Local students recited their original, award-winning sonnets in Folger Theatre, and Folger Library’s High School Fellows 2014 celebrated a reunion—and then pitched in to help with the big day.

–          Experts gave talks on conservation, scholarship, rare books, and the current exhibition.

–          Swordfighting, book-making, quill-writing, scavenger hunting, music-playing, juggling, portrait-drawing, and cake-cutting were just a few more of the ways we celebrated with hundreds of Shakespeare’s closest friends. We hope you’ll join us in DC next year, especially if it will be your first time!

 

And here’s how some of you are celebrating today:

–          “At Trinity College, we are doing a rehearsed student reading of King John! We are not only celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday, but also the Watkinson Library’s acquisition if a Second Folio! (We chose King John because it is also the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta too)! Triple play!” – Christin, Connecticut

–          “For Shakespeare’s birthday, my ninth grade students will be writing their own poems using a line from Shakespeare.  The activity is called ‘The Jewel in the Crown’: the jewel is the line and they must put it in their poem, the crown.  I’ve done this activity with my students for years, but it does not always fall near his birthday. We’re finishing Romeo and Juliet projects this week, so it’s even more fitting this year. I give each student a jewel—both their line and an actual jewel image, then explain the assignment.  I then give each one a crown, usually donated by Burger King, and have them begin writing.  We’ll end with readings, mask-wearing and a few snacks to round it out.” – Jennifer, Ohio

 

Thanks again, colleagues. Let’s party!

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By Folger Education

Thanks to everyone who celebrated Shakespeare’s birthday with us on Sunday. Check back here on Thursday for a full report—and more birthday ideas from our teaching colleagues!

 

In the meantime, enjoy these photos from Sunday’s celebration.

 

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By Folger Education

 

What does sound editing software have to do with Shakespeare? Let’s find out in the third installment of our teacher-created videos on teaching Romeo and Juliet.


Teaching Shakespeare Institute 2014 alum Matt Seymour shares a creative, accessible, and engaging approach to teaching iambic pentameter. See how Matt gets his students tinkering with a technology called Audacity—and with a metrical pattern that’s close to our hearts!


Over to Matt: 

 

BEFORE YOU WATCH

Iambic pentameter never made sense to me in high school. I could tell you what it was, but I couldn’t recognize or hear it. This lesson is an effort to render the patterns of stress in speech visible, so students can make a connection to sound through sight.

 

AFTER YOU WATCH

This lesson was a good start for getting students to use an online audio program, and it helped communicate what can be a difficult concept for students to grasp. Students enjoyed this lesson because they got to play with a new program and they were able to hear themselves reading. This audio program can be great for teaching students to read more fluently and having them create podcasts. Students can also use this program for group projects where they add subtext and “act out” a scene with their voices and add sound effects.

Read Teaching Romeo and Juliet with Technology: Part Two

Matt Seymour teaches English composition and literature at Colorado Early Colleges Fort Collins. He holds a Bachelor’s in philosophy and a Master’s in English. He has been teaching for 8 years.

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