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Archive for the ‘Folger Education’ Category

By Casey Christenson

 

“Yeaahhhhhh, a close reading.  So, liiiikkkkkeeeee, what do you mean?”

 

Inevitably and understandably this is a strategy I must visit and revisit with my students each year. This time it’s while I’m handing out photocopies of Barbara Ascher’s “On Compassion,” and it has only been about twenty-four hours since the last time I was asked to explain my expectation.  “It will probably look different for each of you.  It’s evidence of your engagement with the text.  It’s kind of like having a conversation with a piece of writing.” I’m always okay with the uncomfortable looks on my kids’ faces.  What does a close read look like, and more importantly FEEL like, for a seventeen-year-old anyway?

 

When I consider how intimidating it must be for a young reader to personally engage with a piece of writing, I remember what it felt like to stand on the Folger stage for the first time.  Sure, I’d probably read Hamlet’s lines at least two dozen times on my own and with my students, but standing on the stage where actual performers became Hamlet was incredibly overwhelming.  How was I, in all my non-actor ways, going to BE Hamlet and deliver my lines to the beautiful Ophelia?  Enter prompt book assignment stage left.

Paul Robeson's Othello prompt book.

Paul Robeson’s prompt book for Othello. (Image: Folger Shakespeare Library)

 

As my partner Chasidy and I read through our assigned script together, our observations and questions came naturally: How would Hamlet say this?  What would he be doing? What would Ophelia’s body language say?  The experience was about nothing more than piecing together what we knew to be true about our beloved characters and bringing them to life as we came to know them.  Our own past encounters played a role, but our prompt books were the evidence of OUR conversation with Hamlet.

 

My week at the Folger reminded me of how vulnerable we can be with a text if we so choose.  Our experience with a piece of literature is so incredibly personal.  I’m grateful I got to be a student again and was reminded of the process that opens us up to the worlds our favorite writers create for us.

 

Do my students fully understand this amazing process? Not so much, but if they realize it’s less about the grade, and more about implementing a strategy that will enable them to having a potentially meaningful conversation with the works created by some of the greatest writers ever to put pen to paper, I’ll take a smudged, over-highlighted, but closely read, photocopy of “On Compassion” any day.

 

 

Casey Christenson teaches AP Literature and American Literature at Northview High School in Johns Creek, GA.  She was a participant in Folger’s Summer Academy 2015 during which time she felt a lot of feels.  Casey is human to two dogs, two cats, and two frogs, likes the color blue, and thoroughly enjoys writing ridiculous biographies about herself.

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By Folger Education

We’re back with the second half of your summer reading recommendations. Be sure to read till the end for a bonus list!

 

Book Title Author
Portrait of a Lady Henry James
Rehearsal from Shakespeare to Sheridan Tiffany Stern
Romeo is Bleeding (Movie) Peter Medak
Room Emma Donoghue
Ruby Cynthia Bond
Savage Inequalities Jonathan Kozol
Secrets of Acting Shakespeare: The Original Approach Patrick Tucker
Shakespeare in Kabul Stephen Landrigan and Qais Akbar Omar
Shotgun Lovesongs Nickolas Butler
Siddhartha Herman Hesse
Slaughterhouse V Kurt Vonnegut
So We Read On Maureen Corrigan
Sons and Other Flammable Objects Porchista Khakpour
Speaker for the Dead Orson Scott Card
Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
Teach as if Your Hair is on Fire Raif Esquith
Teach Like a Pirate Dave Burgess
The Alchemist Paulo Coelho
The Art of Racing in the Rain Garth Stein
The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Junot Diaz
The Cuckoo’s Calling Robert Galbraith
The Dinner Herman Koch
The Garden of Evening Mists Tan Twan Eng
The Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins
The Giving Tree Shel Silverstein
The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy
The Golden Bowl Henry James
The Golem and the Jinni Helene Wecker
The Grand Design Stephen Hawking
The Harry Potter series J.K. Rowling
The Hidden Girls of Kabul Jenny Nodberg
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot
The Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
The Kingdom of Ordinary Time Marie Howe
The Last Illusion Porchista Khakpour
The MaddAddam trilogy Margaret Atwood
The Mathematician’s Shiva Stuart Rojstaczer
The Mockingbird Next Door Marja Mills
The Neapolitan Novels Elena Ferrante
The Palace Walk Naguib Mahfouz
The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver
The Rocks Peter Nichols
The Secret Life of William Shakespeare Jude Morgan
The Show Child Eowyn Ivey
The Six Wives of Henry VIII Alison Weir
The Smartest Kids in the World, and How They Got That Way Amanda Ripley
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle David Wroblewski
The Thirteenth Tale Diane Setterfield
The Universe in a Nutshell Stephen Hawking
The Weight of Blood Laura McHugh
The Woods Harlan Coben
Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s most Faithful  Servant Tracy Borman
Time and Again Jack Finney
Ulysses James Joyce
Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand
War and Peace Leonid Tolstoy
What it is Lynda Barry
What She Left Behind Ellen Wiseman
White Oleander Janet Fitch
White Teeth Zadie Smith
Wings of the Dove Henry James
Year of Wonders Geraldine Brooks

 

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By Peggy O’Brien

 

In our June issue of BardNotes, I posed four questions to y’all.  Three of them were requesting your advice about our blog and some new directions it might take.  I snuck in the fourth question, purely for my own selfish purpose.  I asked you what I should read this summer.

Summer Reading. (Image: James Brantley)

Summer Reading. (Image: James Brantley)

 

Thanks to the many, many of you who sent responses to some or all of the questions.  They were wildly helpful.  We’ll be back in a bit about the blog, but for now . . . the books you recommended!   A completely fabulous list.  And since many of you said, “Send us the list!”  we’re doing just that.  In all, 126 recommendations.  Data point that is amazing to me:  only two titles were recommended by more than one of you.  You are a fascinating and eclectic group of readers!  Two or three of you recommended All The Light We Cannot See and Americanah.

 

In this blog post, you’ll find the first half of the list.  In our next post, the rest of the list plus a bonus.  We got so excited about your recommendations that we decided to ask our squad of summer interns–two undergrads, a recent high school grad starting college next month, and a rising high school junior–for their reading recs too.

 

We’re having kind of a wild summer here.  Hope yours is restorative and big fun. (more…)

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By Deborah Gascon

When I introduced myself as one of the master teachers (the other was the fabulous Michael LoMonico) to the 29 teachers participating in the Folger’s first Summer Academy, I told them the Folger was a magical place.  I thought about the unicorn painted on a screen on the ceiling of the Folger theater and the quote around it from As You Like It:  “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.”  A magical and mysterious image surrounded by magical, mysterious words.

 

This indescribable magic was a feeling I felt during my first experience at the Folger in 2012 that I just couldn’t express or convey through words (mine or Shakespeare’s) during the academy introductions.  But a week later, after five very long and very full 12-hour days, every participant came to understand that magic and mystery that my words couldn’t describe, and I was privileged, once again, to see how Folger Education can transform a teacher’s life, his/her students’ lives and classroom practice.

 

I knew that to help everyone understand that magic and the mystery in our short week of the Summer Academy, some work would be involved.  And boy, did we work.

Hamlet's speech from Quarto One. (Image: Deborah Gascon)

Hamlet’s speech from Quarto One. (Image: Deborah Gascon)

 

We read.  We read Hamlet (using the 3-D Shakespeare strategy described here). Then we read Hamlet again and compared the Quarto One “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy which doesn’t include “that is the question” but rather “I there’s the point.”  Yep.  It was changed!  Then we read the 1604 version of Hamlet.  Then we read the 1623 First Folio version of Hamlet.  I think you get the point about how much we read.  But with every reading came deeper understanding and a closer connection with Shakespeare’s words.

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Summer Academy participant Jennie Brown shares her experience at the mid-way point of Summer Academy 2015 which took place from July 5-10, 2015. 

By Jennie Brown

Jennie Brown arrives at Summer Academy 2015 (Image: Jennie Brown)

Jennie Brown arriving at Summer Academy 2015 (Image: Jennie Brown)

Where do I even begin to describe my experience so far (only on day 3!) of the Teaching Shakespeare Institute’s Summer Academy 2015 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in DC?!  Mind-blowing, awesome, humbling, exciting, the list goes on and on.

From workshops with theater professionals and esteemed educators to sword-fighting (yes, I said sword-fighting) on the lawn, to classes with Folger scholars and master teachers to interacting with the Folger collection of rare books, this is one week that will never be forgotten. Below, I’ve put together some of the highlights of this journey so far. [If you know me, you know you’ll find pictures below as well!]

  1. Amazing Teachers: There are 28 amazing, like-minded, Shakespeare-crazed teachers here with me at the Folger Library, and every single one has a passion for bringing the best of Shakespeare–his words–and ways to teach his language back to the classroom.
  2. Hands-on Teaching Workshops: Where do I even start with this? Mike LoMonico opened the week discussing Shakespeare’s language; he had us on our feet addressing one another in Shakespearean terms of endearment (even though some sounded more like insults). We worked with him and with his fellow Folger master teacher Debbie Gascon (who is amazing!) on close-reading strategies that can be applied not only to Shakespeare’s works, but all other units of
    Jennie Brown on the Folger stage. (Image: James Brantley)

    Jennie Brown on the Folger stage. (Image: James Brantley)

    study.

    Both LoMo’s and Debbie’s work and the plethora of strategies and teaching material they gave us will be used in my classroom, and in all of our classrooms throughout the country. Without doubt!

  3. Amazing Lectures from Scholars: The director of the Folger Library, Dr. Michael Witmore, spoke with us after “homeroom” on day two about thedigital direction in which the Folger is moving, and showed us new digital tools that give us a whole new way to look at the plays.Professor Sandy Mack had me questioning everything I thought I knew about Hamlet, and his old world vs. new world discussion — mind-blowing!  I could hear that man lecture every day!
  4. Folger Education Faculty and Staff. Honestly, I was nervous and intimidated when we first arrived at dinner on Sunday night. But after the first thirty minutes, Peggy O’Brien and Corinne Viglietta had welcomed all of us into the Folger family with open arms, immediately putting me (and many others) at ease.
  5. Acting Workshops. I haven’t been on the stage in years, and the workshops with Michael Tolaydo and Caleen Jennings made me see just how much Shakespeare’s words come to life when spoken on the stage. This will happen in all of our classrooms!

    Jennie Brown in the New Reading Room. (Image: James Brantley)

    Jennie Brown in the New Reading Room. (Image: James Brantley)

  6. Rare Materials. TOUCHED. A. FIRST. FOLIO. Do I really need to say anything more?

 

So, basically EVERY SINGLE THING we’ve done so far has made the list of highlights. This is truly an experience I will NEVER forget, and thanks to everyone at the Folger for this opportunity! From the faculty and staff, to the librarians, guest speakers, and security guards! You have ALL made this such an enjoyable experience for me.

AND DID I MENTION, WE ARE ONLY JUST STARTING DAY 4?!

I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us!

Jennie Brown teaches 9th grade English at Annville-Cleona Secondary School, Annville, PA. She can be found at @jenniekaywrites on Twitter.

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By Folger Education

Last week 29 teachers joined for a week-long Summer Academy on Hamlet. Check out how much fun we had.

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By Folger Education

 

We’re in the middle of our first-ever Summer Academy: a jam-packed week of learning with 29 passionate teachers from all kinds of schools all over the country. You’ll be hearing from them in the coming months as they reflect on their time at the Folger and take this week’s big ideas and strategies right into their classrooms. In the meantime, check out these tweets and images—they’re a pretty great slice of this invigorating Summer Academy life!

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