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Archive for the ‘Tales from the Classroom’ Category

By Folger Education

 

Shakespeare’s birthday is around the corner (April 23rd), and we’ve been collecting your ideas for celebrating his 451st. To kick off this year’s festivities, we’re thrilled to share these 3 fabulous ideas from our teaching colleagues:

  1. Host a Shakespeare’s Birthday Read-a-Thon. Take a cue from Jim Cody at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey and invite your school community to participate in a public reading of Shakespeare. We wish we could join Jim and his colleagues for this year’s villain-themed event!
  2. Have an all-out birthday fair in your school library or media center. This idea comes from Janemarie Cloutier, a school librarian in Pennsylvania, who took some Folger ideas and really ran with them. Janemarie says she “had the privilege of attending a Folger workshop in Philadelphia and was inspired to organize a celebration last year… and now this year. Many of the activities at our birthday celebration were modeled on Folger lessons.” Janemarie has even added new activities this year. From collaborative sonneteering and portrait painting to Shakespearean selfies and an insult arena, this library’s birthday bash really has it all. Check out these images from last year’s celebration.
    Celebrating Shakespeare's Birthday (Janemarie Cloutier)

    Celebrating Shakespeare’s Birthday (Janemarie Cloutier)

     

  3. Play with costumes and performance. Melinda, who teaches in Colorado, sponsors a whimsical “Shakespeare Look Alike Contest” and enjoys seeing all those Elizabethan ruffs around school. We’ve also heard from teachers and students who dress as their favorite Shakespearean characters and even perform speeches by those characters throughout the day.
  4. BONUS: If you’re in DC this weekend, come to the Folger Shakespeare Library for our annual open house for Shakespeare’s birthday! Starting at noon on Sunday, April 19th, we’ll be pulling out all the stops and celebrating in a big way. Tour the Reading Rooms, see some swordfighting, perform some spontaneous Shakespeare, take a scavenger hunt, read stories with DC Public Library, and, of course, eat cake!

 

It’s not too late to share your birthday plans with us! Please send your ideas for celebrating Shakespeare’s big day—along with any images—to Corinne (cviglietta@folger.edu). We’ll be posting some more of these festive contributions next week. Thanks, and enjoy!

 

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

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By Kevin Costa

Illustration opposite Sonnet XII by Henry Ospovat. (Folger Shakespeare Library)

Illustration opposite Sonnet XII by Henry Ospovat. (Folger Shakespeare Library)

Shakespeare’s Sonnets are fantastic for so many reasons. Peter O’Toole, in an interview on NPR a few years ago, said, “They’re my life companion. They’re at the side of my bed. They travel with me. I pick them up, and I read them all the time. I find them endlessly informing, endlessly beautiful, endlessly – they say, they hit the spot so many times on so many things.”

He’s right. I find myself turning to the Sonnets in times when I’m looking for a companion who seems to understand me before I myself do — and, let’s be honest: isn’t that why we love literature in the first place?

When I with my students, I like to emphasize how “companionable,” to borrow a word from Yeats, poetry can be. The greatest lyric poetry feels like that friend you turn to who just “gets” you. There is no judgement but only unconditional love from a poem. I start there.

Years ago, I remember watching Trevor Nunn working with David Suchet on what would later become the series, Playing Shakespeare. Nunn asked Suchet to perform Sonnet 138 as if it were Suchet’s part of the dialogue in an imagined scenario. I was riveted. Understanding Shakespeare for the stage was the object there, but I have found this approach to be a superb way of achieving all the objectives of close reading in and English classroom. Laurence Perrine would approve!

With lyric poetry, we often feel that a person is right there speaking to us or, at least, to another person. A poem, in other words, gives us a character. And this is where you might begin, too. Let us look at Sonnet 18.

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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

 

Here’s another great teaching video on Act 1 of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, this time from Teaching Shakespeare Institute 2014 alum and English teacher Alli Gubanich.

 

Here’s Alli’s message for you as you watch her iMovie tutorial on using technology and movement to teach language and imagery:

 

BEFORE YOU WATCH

 

This video provides a brief overview of a favorite classroom activity (tableaux vivants) and a favorite classroom tool (iMovie).  I use iMovie in many lessons and find it intuitive and user friendly.  If your students don’t have access to Apple products, Microsoft video production software would work, as would YouTube’s own video maker.  Tableaux vivants compel students to think deeply about the essence of a text, look for powerful imagery, and create meaningful “pictures” to demonstrate their understanding and take-away.

 

THE VIDEO: Tableaux Vivants with iMovie

 

AFTER YOU WATCH

 

Students have a lot of fun with this activity.  Sometimes I’ve found it helpful to run two separate tableaux vivant activities: first students create plot-driven tableaux, then they create “deep text” or theme-driven tableaux.  Differentiating the two is important, as students will often fall back on the former, missing out on the higher level thinking required of the latter.  I always start with a word study of the term “tableaux vivants” and do some quick practice with simple sentences.  I’ve also assigned single frame artwork as an extension to this activity, which has worked nicely.  Debriefing in discussion and/or in writing also enriches the lesson.

Feel free to let me know how this activity goes for you! I’m on Twitter: @alligub.

Read Teaching Romeo and Juliet with Technology: Part One

Alli Gubanich is an upper school English teacher at AIM Academy, a research-to-practice lab school in Conshohocken, PA that serves students with learning differences.  Her professional interests include technology infusion in the classroom and differentiated learning in the 21st century classroom.  Additionally, Alli is an accredited teacher trainer in the Socratic Seminar instructional method.

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By Folger Education

In July 2014, 25 teachers from all over the country gathered at the Folger for an intensive month-long study of Shakespeare sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities: the Teaching Shakespeare Institute. Working through the lenses of scholarship, performance, and pedagogy, participants completed three major projects: 1) a research paper using items in the Folger collection, 2) a collaborative performance presentation, and 3) two short video tutorials on technology-rich strategies for teaching Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night. This last one is directed especially at you, our teaching colleagues.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing participants’ videos with you. These clips demonstrate how to use a particular tech tool to teach a specific literacy skill or aspect of a text. First up: Romeo and Juliet. (If you teach Twelfth Night, stay tuned—those videos will be next!)

Today we’re diving into Act 1 of Romeo and Juliet, and we’re lucky to have English teacher Stefanie Jochman as our guide. She’s going to walk you through what to watch for in her videos—and how she’s adapted the strategy this year in class.

BEFORE YOU WATCH

This video lesson explains how teachers can use Mozilla Popcorn Maker, a web-based video-editing program, to explore Act I, Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet, specifically the “Holy Palmer” sonnet. My Popcorn Maker video seeks to solve a problem teachers sometimes encounter when conducting multimedia studies: lag-time between loading video clips or showing images. Using Popcorn Maker, I knit film clips, ballet excerpts, and digital images from the Folger Library’s Luna database into one fluid video that also displays focus questions for each medium. Compilations like the one I create in this demonstration help students to analyze the representation of a key scene in a variety of artistic media (Common Core Reading Literature Standard 7) or analyze how artists like Sondheim or Zeffirelli draw on source material from Shakespeare (Common Core Reading Literature Standard 9).

THE VIDEO: Popcorn Maker Tutorial

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MqkIzLQ3Yg&feature=youtu.be

THE BONUS VIDEO: The Finished Product, a Popcorn Version of the “Holy Palmer” Sonnet

https://msjochman.makes.org/popcorn/261o

AFTER YOU WATCH

The Romeo and Juliet multimedia study remains one of my favorite lessons in my Romeo and Juliet unit because students’ responses to the discussion questions are so impressive. Some of my students have never watched ballet before this lesson, but their knowledge of Romeo and Juliet the play, one seemingly-difficult medium, helps them to make sense of another. During this lesson, students recognize and hone the analytical skills they already employ whenever they go to the movies, watch TV, or glance at a piece of art on the street, in their houses, or in a gallery. When asking freshmen to compare representations of Act 1, Scene 5, I try to focus on the scene’s essential elements: the language of the “Holy Palmer” sonnet, Romeo’s feeling of “love-at-first-sight,” Juliet’s youth, and the tension between the Montagues and Capulets (personified by Tybalt). I think students surprise themselves with how quickly they notice details in costuming and performance that communicate those elements.

My Romeo and Juliet multimedia study inspired a similar exploration with my IB junior class of Shylock’s “To bait fish withal” speech from The Merchant of Venice. I challenged those older, advanced students to determine the scene’s “essential elements,” and I let their observations (rather than my own pop-up questions) guide discussions of the clips. Actors’ interpretations of Shylock’s speech vary so wildly that the end result of our study was a greater appreciation for the nuance of Shakespeare’s language. I also shared Popcorn Maker and other video tools with some of my senior IB students, and they used the program to demonstrate how the Byronic hero survives in superhero movies.

In the future, I hope to develop a compilation and analysis assignment that requires students to independently assemble and analyze multiple representations of a scene, poem, chapter, or character.

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

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 Gina Voskov

Julia Marlowe playbill for Columbia Theatre, Brooklyn, March 27, 1893. (Folger Collection)

Julia Marlowe playbill for Columbia Theatre, Brooklyn, March 27, 1893. (Folger Collection)

 

NYC teacher and Folger National Teacher Corps member Gina Voskov is back with the third installment in her series “Inside the Classroom,” in which her students share their experiences with Shakespeare at different points throughout their Twelfth Night unit. You can read the first installment here.

 

We are about five classes into Twelfth Night, and, as promised, my three 7th graders, Won Jae, Lois, and Alexandra, are back with some reflections about the opening of the unit. Enjoy!


 

Won Jae: Now that I think of it, Shakespeare isn’t that bad. As I said before, Shakespeare always used to bore me, and I didn’t think very importantly of it. But the thing is, after I had a few lessons of Shakespeare, I didn’t think it was as bad as I thought it would be. One of my favorite things we did in the beginning of our unit was the first one, when we tried to say the word, “O” in many different tones. I was surprised to see how different it can sound when we try to say the word in a different tone! For example, when we tried to say the word in an excited way, the tone became very high-pitched, while when we tried to say “O” in a tired way, we dragged the word in a low pitched voice. I believe that this exercise was used to train our voices so when we read Shakespeare, we can use various tones.

However, my favorite activity was when we did this activity called, “Slugs versus Clods”. It was when our class broke into two groups, and we had a script to follow, and they were full of insults that were used during Shakespeare’s time. We were supposed to state the insults as one whole group, but tension built up and people started to raise their voices and stop following the script. The thing I’m really looking forward to is acting out the play, which will be the final for our Shakespeare unit. I hope that we do a lot of acting in the future while we continuously read and learn about Shakespeare.

 

 

Lois: Twelfth Night is the play being learned in class and my experience with it grows every time. In class, we’re learning about stressing words and the tone used when reading from Shakespeare’s play, as well as understanding its context, scene blocking and doing many other activities. The activity I liked and seemed easy was “If music be the food of love, play on!” This line comes from the character called Orsino, who believes that if music is feeding his love for Lady Olivia, then let the music keep playing. Our class had replaced the words “music” and “love” to our own words and what we think this blank would ‘feed’ what. (For example: “If Netflix be the food of relaxation, binge on!”)

I also liked the activity of journaling, answering two questions: The first question was “What does it mean to be lovesick?” and the second was “How do people act when they’re in love?” I liked this one because we got to answer in a way that makes us think about love and how people would think about it and their actions. Also, it made us think about how Orsino felt about Lady Olivia.

An activity I thought seemed difficult was the complements. It was difficult for me because the words written on the sheet were unknown to me and there was so many. Hence, it wasn’t easy to make sense of the words and form a correct sentence that could be understood. However, the work done helped me in ways to read and learn more on Twelfth Night by knowing that depending on tone and stress of words, it enables the audience to interpret many things. Further, learning chorally and individually helped me learn because thinking by ourselves makes us think deeper, and hearing other’s thoughts puts together a bigger picture for us.

 

 

 

Alexandra: Ms. Voskov introduced the unit by doing an activity to become familiar with the vowel ‘O’- an exclamation and way of conveying emotion that Shakespeare commonly uses. Having done a similar exercise before in my acting class, I was pretty curious to how the students in my class would respond. I definitely felt like there was a positive response when we went around the classroom reading a line from Shakespeare containing ‘O’. I was happy to see that most everyone really understood how Shakespeare had intended for the actor to read the line.  Another exercise that we have done so far, beginning the play Twelfth Night, is exploring the first line of Orsino’s soliloquy: “If music be the food of love, play on!” We then substituted ‘music’ for something else that we were passionate about and substituted ‘love’ for what our particular passion feeds. I really enjoyed this exercise. I had never done anything like it before, so it was really refreshing. Having seen this passage countless times before, I also definitely feel like I am now able to look at and understand it differently, already achieving a goal of mine when it comes to studying Shakespeare in class!

 

Gina Voskov is a 7th grade English teacher at the United Nations International School in New York City. She has taught English and Humanities for eleven years in public and private schools, in Connecticut, Brazil, and New York City. She is a Folger National Teacher Corps member and attended the Teaching Shakespeare Institute in 2012.

 

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By Gina Voskov

Act 1 from "Twelfth Night". (Photo: Folger Education)

Act 1 Scene 2 from “Twelfth Night”. (Photo: Folger Education)

NYC teacher and Folger National Teacher Corps member Gina Voskov is back with the second installment in her series “Inside the Classroom,” which takes us into her middle school classroom during a Shakespeare unit.

Today, we hear Gina’s perspective as teacher, and Thursday, we’ll hear from her students. You can read the first installment here.

 


 

So we’ve begun our unit on Twelfth Night, a play I love but haven’t taught before. My colleague and I are looking through the Shakespeare Set Free teacher book for ideas, but, like much of what guides what I do in the classroom—as I imagine it does for you, too—this most recent idea came from a student.

 

I asked everyone to buy copies of the Folger edition of the play. Our end goal is to perform a scene of students’ choosing, so I wanted them to own the book to write in. As we were looking over the opening lines, I noticed one boy slyly holding his copy up higher and more awkwardly than everyone else. Snaking my way behind him, I saw he had a brand new copy of the “No Fear Twelfth Night” hidden inside the Folger edition. When he saw I’d discovered his not-so-sneaky antics, I asked him if I could hold onto the book: there was some studying I needed to do.

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