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Archive for the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Category

By Folger Education

 

We’re lucky to have four fabulous summer interns with us at Folger Education—not just because they’re working hard to support our gazillion projects, but because they’re making sharp observations about their time here and the future of teaching and learning. We thought you should hear what they have to say, so we asked them some big questions and are sharing their responses.

Folger Education Interns: Jareema Hylton, Henry Newton, Jack Ludwig and Emma Remsberg. (Image: Folger Library)

Folger Education Interns: Jareema Hylton, Henry Newton, Jack Ludwig and Emma Remsberg. (Image: Folger Library)

 

Q.     When did the Shakespeare bug bite you?

Jareema:      “My love of Shakespeare started in my freshman year of high school. I was required to read Julius Caesar, and I was fully prepared to shrug off the great Shakespeare. But the language, the characters, and the rich history were more than formidable opponents for my cynicism. I fell in love, consumed by reciting soliloquies on the bus, in my house, and inevitably in the classroom. When I read The Taming of the Shrew that same year, I was absolutely smitten. And, on those terms, I learned a thing or two about love. Following a study of Shakespeare’s poetry, Bro. Martin, my then English teacher, slapped the table and uttered in his signature deadpan, “Ladies, don’t ever be with a man unless he can write you a sonnet.” Extreme…maybe. Still, it was that kind of passion that made me especially fond of the comedy and the tragedy this playwright is capable of cultivating, inside and outside of his pages.”

Henry:      “The Shakespeare bug bit me in about eighth grade when I had my first real Shakespeare experience with the text. Before that, I’d read some Shakespeare and been taught it in English class, but the experience of focusing on nothing but Shakespeare for a month was truly enlightening. I had the chance to learn from an exceptional teacher in Mr. Craig MacDougall who really brought Romeo and Juliet to life in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. Through impromptu performances (which I, admittedly, was hesitant to participate in at first) and creative activities that exposed to me the beauty of Shakespeare’s language, I was hooked.”

 

Q.     What is the coolest thing you’ve seen or done so far at the Folger? 

Jack:      “Sifting through the Folger Editions of Shakespeare’s plays searching for scenes for teacher workshops. I know it doesn’t sound very exciting, but is there anything better than reading Shakespeare all day?”

Emma:      “Interning at the Folger means that I get to combine my interest in museums and education with my love of Shakespeare. Since I started last week, I’ve geeked out nearly every day: when I saw a First Folio, when I glimpsed a preview of next year’s exhibits (they’re super exciting), etc, etc. Even when I’m just at my desk, the work is fun – I had a great time yesterday hunting down quotes.”

Henry:      “The coolest thing that I’ve done at the Folger during my internship here has been my work on the Teaching Modules available for teachers to use in their classrooms. This was most interesting thing that I’ve done here because it provided a tangible link to the educational experience of so many students that could find the same passion and form the same connections that I did, for through similar materials, I myself found my Shakespearean passion.”

 

Q.     What’s one thing you want your peers to know about the Folger?

Emma:      “One thing that I think is important with regards to my generation is to not let Shakespeare be written off as old, dull, and dusty (as I have seen several of my peers do) – I think that everyone has a capacity for appreciating Shakespeare.”

Jareema:      “While this may sound silly, I want my peers (and everyone) to know that the Folger is free! It is such an amazing institution comprised of many parts (museum, reading room, theatre, etc.), which happens to be conveniently located in our nation’s capital. So many other major cities are home to wonderful museums and observatories that charge hefty entrance fees. But here, Shakespeare is available to the public at no cost. There is no reason not to visit and share in this wonderful experience!”

Henry:      “The one thing that I would like my peers to know about the Folger is that it’s not just that place that you stopped by on your eight-grade trip to Washington D.C. It’s a diverse and fascinating collection of important Shakespearean materials that is truly important, even today. “

 

Q.     What’s one big way you expect your generation to contribute to the teaching and learning of Shakespeare?

Jareema:      “I expect my generation to contribute a more culturally and socially diverse way of teaching and learning Shakespeare. As public opinion and society changes on various issues of equality and personal freedom, literary interpretations can only grow in parallel richness.”

Jack:      “I am determined to be a member of my generation who will completely revolutionize the ways future generations will learn about Shakespeare.”
Check back later for more insights from these engaged young people!

 

Jareema Hylton serves as the Teaching Shakespeare Intern. Currently, she assists in organizing the Summer Academy 2015, gathering school data, and conducting research in the Folger’s digital archives. She is a senior honors English major at Swarthmore College.

Henry Newton is a Folger Education Intern who is a junior at the Hotchkiss School. Henry has been reading Shakespeare since sixth grade and is a talented athlete.

Jack Ludwig is a rising freshman at Haverford College. Jack currently lives in Washington, DC, and has three pets: a bird, dog, and a cat. Jack also is a Helen Hayes Award nominee for Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol, a children’s adaptation of the Dickens classic, which he co-authored with his father, Ken Ludwig. 

Emma Remsberg is the Museum Programs Intern at the Folger Shakespeare Library. She studies Greek, Latin, and Medieval Studies at Swarthmore College. She just started dabbling in paleography.

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By: Stefanie Jochman

 

At the end of the year, no matter how I try to avoid it, I always end up feeling like that frazzled owl in the popular “Teacher at the end of the year” Facebook meme, but this time, I’m not going to worry so much about smoothing my feathers. One lesson I learned while teaching Shakespeare this year: vulnerability is valuable.

 

“Well, do not swear. Although I joy in thee, / I have no joy in this contract tonight” were the first two sentences of the ten-line monologue assigned to me at the 2014 Teaching Shakespeare Institute, and I can type them from memory now because my whole body knows those lines. At TSI, Caleen Jennings and Michael Tolaydo challenged our cohort to know Shakespeare not only as teachers but also as actors. Of TSI’s excellent tripartite program of scholarship, curriculum, and performance, performance sessions were where we (or at least I) felt most vulnerable. Sure, we were used to being our “teacher-selves” in front of large groups, but as teachers, we had to be the calm, collected adults in the room.

 

Students close read on their feet in Stefanie’s English class.  (Image: Stefanie Jochman)

Students close read on their feet in Stefanie’s English class. (Image: Stefanie Jochman)

In our performance workshops, we took new roles: wide-eyed teenage lovers, rowdy friends, fearsome fathers, nagging nurses. We couldn’t describe a character’s feelings the way we normally might when teaching a play; we had to act them—and know the lines by heart!

 

Anyone who walked into those first performance workshops could have recognized my discomfort and fear in the stiffness of my shoulders or the softness of my voice as my composed “teacher-self” fought against the wild sounds and fluid movements that a good acting warm-up requires. But with each workshop I grew louder and more fluid; I left a little more of “Ms. Jochman” behind and picked up another piece of “Juliet,” until, at last, performance day arrived. When a line was flubbed or a word forgotten, we buoyed each other. I felt vulnerable, but so did everyone else, and that shared vulnerability created a safe space to explore Shakespeare in heart and body.

 

I made a goal to create a similar atmosphere in my classroom this year. Rather than starting the year with the safe familiarity of syllabi review, I followed Deborah Gascon’s advice to play with Shakespeare on the first day of school. Students started with stiff shoulders and wary eyes, but by the end of that first hour together, we were all laughing.

 

Before I attended TSI, my students performed for assessment after finishing a play; this year, however, they performed to learn. Seniors performed variations of “Get thee to a nunnery” to understand its nuance; juniors used pantomime and tableaux to summarize early scene from The Merchant of Venice; freshmen reddened at the jokes in 1.1 of Romeo and Juliet while they put the scene on its feet. Each performance activity was an opportunity to tackle new words and embarrassing moments together, and as a result, our daily classroom performances built not only understanding of the text but also camaraderie.

 

Shakespeare is a name that makes a lot of students (and teachers!) feel vulnerable. His words might look jumbled to the eye or feel unfamiliar in our mouths, his plots and jokes make us blush, and his work is so esteemed we might not feel worthy of it, but those confusions, embarrassments, or inadequacies are the stuff of Shakespeare. What are soliloquies if not moments of vulnerability? Don’t we laugh most at the fools we see in ourselves? Being a teacher is a kind of performance, a role that can exhaust the player in its demands of invulnerability– round-the-clock professionalism (because you never know who is in the next aisle at the grocery store!) or a façade of constant accuracy. Our students can get lost in the roles they play, too; they wear their own masks to hide their fears. How freeing it is to put those roles aside in favor of Hamlet, Portia, Romeo, or Juliet.

 

One student’s reflections in anonymous end-of-the-year survey put it all in perspective:

“I really enjoyed when we did a play for The Merchant of Venice. That made me have some butterflies in my stomach, but it was so much fun!”

When I was a first-year teacher, I equated vulnerability with failure. I didn’t want my students to see when I had butterflies in my stomach, but my experiences with Shakespeare this year have taught me that vulnerability has value in the classroom. As I rehearsed my monologue last summer, I thought I was leaving “Ms. Jochman” behind on the Folger Theatre stage, but I was actually learning how to be a better teacher. When the expectation is to open ourselves to the challenge and make mistakes along the way rather than to simply get the answer right, there is so much more room for learning, for creativity, for camaraderie, for fun.

 

Stefanie Jochman teaches 9th grade and International Baccalaureate English classes at Notre Dame de la Baie Academy in Green Bay, WI. She received her BA in English and Secondary Education from St. Norbert College and her MA in English from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Stefanie is a proud alumna of the 2014 Teaching Shakespeare Institute.

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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

Today we bring you an idea for a final project in a Romeo and Juliet unit. Watch how Teaching Shakespeare Institute 2014 alum and English teacher David Fulco blends performance, language study, and digital research in this student-centered assignment. We love how he uses web tools to promote exploratory, independent learning in his middle school classroom! 

Here’s David:

 

BEFORE YOU WATCH

I am constantly trying to find ways to talk less in class and to have students do more. Ultimately, this should lead to more student independence and free up time for me to focus in small groups and in one-on-one conferencing. A webquest is the perfect tool to encourage this type of independence. Students are able to move at their own pace and have an answer to the inevitable question, “What do I do next?” (hint: continue to explore!). But webquests are also fun and provide a way for students to engage in the text in an interactive, exploratory fashion.

 

THE VIDEO

A Webquest as a Culminating Assignment:

 

 

AFTER YOU WATCH

While I did not teach Romeo and Juliet this year, I did use a Webquest to build content knowledge before teaching The Odyssey. My students have a basic idea of Greek Mythology, but I wanted to deliver content on the Iliad that didn’t require me to drone on and on in the front of the classroom. I built the Webquest and filled it with pictures, links and Easter Eggs (secret hidden links that the students could click on for extra information). We also asked the students to create their own “slides” to include in the Webquest based on items that I had not already included. Many focused on current events or current discoveries tied to Homer’s time allowing the work to continue to feel relevant.

While students were engaged in exploring and creating, my co-teacher and I were able to meet individually and in small groups with many of our students who needed extra help. I realized that some of the links that I chose were dense, so it was important that I had this time to work one-on-one with students who needed it. This is important to keep in mind. The links that are included need to be challenging for the highest student, but still accessible to every student in the class. Keeping ALL of your students in mind when creating a Webquest (or multiple Webquests for differentiation) is an important step to ensure that you will have success.

Feel free to send me your questions or ideas on Twitter (@FulcoTeaches).

 

Read Teaching Romeo and Juliet with Technology: Part Three

 

David Fulco is a 10th grade English teacher at The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology (MS/HS223) in the South Bronx. He also runs an after school Shakespeare club for seventh grade students who will be putting on A Midsummer Night’s Dream later this spring. 

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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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