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Archive for the ‘Technology in the Classroom’ Category

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By Dana Huff

Act IV, Scene 1 of Macbeth is great fun: the three witches are brewing a “hell-broth” which they will use to conjure the apparitions that talk to Macbeth.

The scene contains some of the most memorable lines of the play and lends itself well to choral reading activities. When I teach this scene, my students create a radio play using podcasting software.

Shakespeare Set Free – Volume 1: Teaching A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth shares a fun lesson plan for teaching this scene, assigning speaking parts and sound effects to students. Podcasting software adds dimensions to this lesson that were not possible when Shakespeare Set Free was originally published.

Chris Shamburg presented a method for using podcasting software and Foley art to create sound effects as part of the Folger’s series of presentations at an NCTE conference in San Antonio in 2008.

Chris brought volunteers up to play the roles of readers and Foley artists. One volunteer broke potato chips in a bowl to mimic the sound of crunching leaves as the witches approached the cauldron, while another volunteer splashed water when the ingredients hit the cauldron.

Two popular options for recording podcasts are Audacity and GarageBand. With software such as Audacity, which is free and can be used on both Windows and Mac machines, students will first need to brainstorm ways to make sound effects. Some ideas include wind blowing, owls hooting, dogs barking, and liquid sloshing as the cauldron stirs.

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By Dana Huff

In order to help students develop close reading skills, we teach them how to annotate.

Annotation has traditionally been thought of as a pencil-and-paper activity, but e-readers, such as Kindle and iBooks, have great annotation tools. However, website annotation has been more of a challenge for students since browsers don’t typically include the same kinds of annotation tools as e-readers do.

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With all the technology tools out there, how can you sort out which ones are the most useful for your classroom?

Dana Huff, the Humanities/Technology specialist for the 2014 Teaching Shakespeare Institute at the Folger, recently offered a valuable breakdown of some of the more popular tools.

As she highlights, the first thing to understand when integrating technology into the classroom is that we don’t want to use technology for the sake of using technology.

Huff instead uses the SAMR model to categorize a variety of tools:

dana_huff_smar_model

What’s been your own experience integrating technology into your classroom? What’s worked and what hasn’t? Let us know in the comments.

Check out the full post on HuffEnglish.com to read more of Huff’s analysis of specific tools like Scrible, Google Drive, and Popcorn Maker.

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canada

In a recent post, I requested that schools, theaters, or anyone else should stage a flash mob for the “balcony scene” from Romeo and Juliet, with a script created using Folger Digital Texts. Well, the deadline has passed, and we’ve had 28 fabulous submissions. They come from Punahou School in Hawaii; from the University of Northern Iowa; from Ottawa, Canada; from George, Kansas; and from Brooklyn, NY, among others. (more…)

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Find this quote in context at folgerdigitaltexts.org

Guest post by Josh Cabat

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”

While the average ELA Chair or Director has little to fear in terms of civil unrest in the Northlands, we have all, as did Henry IV, struggled with internal resistance to change.

How often have you found a great idea at a conference or in a journal, and then presented it at a department meeting only to have it greeted with smiles and nods and subsequently ignored? Reflecting on and changing our own process is challenging enough; to get others to do so is often a steep mountain indeed.

This is even more true when it comes to Shakespeare. Resistance to new ideas in teaching Shakespeare usually comes in two flavors. One comes out as “You expect those students to do Shakespeare?” which usually signifies the teacher’s own insecurity with the material. The other is the complete opposite: “You’re telling me how to teach Shakespeare?” Take heart, though; there are many ways over, around, and through these walls. (more…)

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Flipped classrooms are getting a lot of buzz right now. Can the model be used to successfully teach Shakespeare?

In a flipped classroom, instruction is offered during homework time (often in the form of short videos online), and teachers focus more on implementation activities while students are in the classroom.

Advocates say that students engage more with the material, have more opportunities to ask their teachers questions, and take more ownership over their learning with this model. If a student doesn’t understand an instructional video the first time, he or she is able to watch it again. But some critics say that this model creates problems for students who don’t have access to technology outside of school.

The New York Times Opinionator blog recently looked at the effects of the flipped classroom on Clintondale High School near Detroit, the first American high school to do a complete flip.

And in a segment about flipped classrooms that aired last week, PBS NewsHour interviewed Justin Reich, an educational researcher at Harvard University.

“What is exciting to me about the flipped classroom is that it gets teachers asking two really important fundamental questions,” Reich said. “What are the best ways for me to use my time, especially the very precious time I have in classrooms with my students, and then, what are the kinds of direct instruction that I could provide that could be digitized so people could watch it again?”

So, how about teaching Shakespeare’s plays in a flipped classroom? High school teacher Greta Brasgalla shares her ideas and methods in this video from the Folger’s “Teacher to Teacher” series:

In what ways are you experimenting with “flipped classroom” techniques? Do you think it’s a positive trend? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments below.

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The amount of new technology springing up around us can be dizzying, especially when our students are picking it up so quickly. Much of their daily life is conducted online – so how can our classrooms extend into that area of their life?

Teacher to Teacher - Technology

In these Teacher to Teacher Videos, we’re highlighting some ways teachers are using technology and the internet to engage their students even more deeply in their Shakespeare studies:

Videos in class are tried-and-true, but sometimes might feel like a cop-out. In this video, Josh Cabat gives us several ways in which to use video effectively as a teaching tool with many active applications to try right away!

 

Why should you even consider using new technologies? “It’s collaborative, and it’s available 24 hours a day,” says teacher Robert Barker. Students can connect in their own time to their classwork and each other – strengthening their connection to the material.

 

Finally – you don’t even have to use the technology during class-time. Assigning online homework in a “flipped” classroom, according to Greta Brasgalla, gives you more time and more material to discuss in class.

You can hear more from Robert and Greta from their recorded “What’s Done is Done Online” webinar from last spring.

What technologies are you trying in your classroom? How are your students responding to it? Let us know in the comments!

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~by Christopher Shamburg, New Jersey City University

Shakespeare can be a powerful tool for the cognitive, emotional, social, and linguistic development of all kids.

I saw this phenomenon when working with the students of A. Harry Moore School in Jersey City, a comprehensive school for students ages 3-21 with severe medical, physical, and cognitive disabilities.   This year a group of 14 students did a variety of production-based activities with Shakespeare, culminating in a performance of The Winter’s Tale in June.

Students take a bow after performing The Winter's Tale.

Students take a bow after performing The Winter’s Tale.

A production-based approach is where kids come to understand Shakespeare through performance and technology—using Shakespeare’s Language.  It’s based in the Folger Teaching Method, and it’s great for all kids for several reasons.

1)      It is a deeply immersive experience.  In this case, students were dancing, sheering sheep, getting pursued by bears, consulting oracles, and coming tolife from marble statues.  They were engaged like they would be in a fun game or an exciting sport.

2)      These are fault tolerant activities.  You do not have to do it perfect or right to make it work well.

3)      There is a wide zone of engagement.  It’s been said that engagement occurs when there’s a balance between skills and challenge.  If a person is over-skilled, then boredom sets in.  If a person is over-challenged, then frustration sets in.  A teacher can easily balance skills and challenges with a production-based approach.

4)      It’s a great tool for building students’ executive function.  Executive function is a relatively new and helpful way of looking at brain activity.  It’s a combination of planning, working memory, multiple perspectives, and impulse control.  The methods of a production-based approach develop executive function.

Here are a few of the activities that worked for us.

Shadows

One of the activities we used was “Shadows,” a method for students to get familiar with the physical space of the theater, experiment with their range of motion, and understand the contrasting emotions of the main character of The Winter’s Tale, and the catalyst for the action of the play, Leontes.  In “Shadows,” one student acts as “Good” Leontes and another student follows as his “Shadow,” enacting contrasting lines from “Good” Leontes.  Leontes wore a white mask or hat, and Leontes’ shadow followed wearing a black mask or hat.

Leontes Leontes’ Shadow
Stay your thanks a whileWell said, Hermione Too hot, too hotI am angling now

(see full activity Shadows).

Seven-Minute Version

To better understand the plot and the language in the play, the students frequently performed “Winta: The Seven-Minute Winter’s Tale”.  Every student enacted at least one line as a teacher read the narration and cued the students.  The lines were designed for both readers and nonreaders, who would say their lines with a prompter.

e.g.

NARRATOR:  Leontes is sorry (12).  But it’s too late.  His wife is dead and his baby is gone.  Antigonus has taken Perdita to Bohemia and leaves her in an abandoned place (13).

Student lines:

12)  I have deserved all tongues to talk their bitterest.

13) There weep and leave it crying; and, for the babe is counted lost forever, Perdita.

(See full activity)

Emotion Chart

AHM Emotion Chart

Chart with different degrees of emotions

A frequent reference during many of these activities, rehearsals, and performance was the emotion chart.  It offered visual cues for nonreaders and some subtle emotional distinctions for the more dramatic players.  It was based on the work of Christine Porter in Mary Ellen Dakin’s Reading Shakespeare with Young Adults.

(See full Emotion Chart )

AHM Shakespeare 2013 -3

Three students smiling after performing The Winter’s Tale

Creating sound effects for the play–using voices, Foley techniques, and audio editing tools–was fun, engaged us in the text, and was a real crowd pleaser during our performance.  We used the Audacity audio editing program to create numerous sound effects (e.g. party, bear, sheep, crying baby, stone breaking apart).

Adaptive Use Musical Instruments

AHM Shakespeare 2013-4

Student using AUMI

One piece of software that was particularly useful was Adaptive Use Musical Instruments (AUMI).  It allowed students with limited mobility to create music for the show.  A user can create music or activated sounds with a variety of gross motor movements.

Embedded Word Files

To use the sound effects and music during the show we embedded they audio in a Word document.  These sounds added production value and also worked as a memory device for the actors.  Embedding mp3 files in a Word document is a standard, though underused, feature in Word that proved valuable during activities, rehearsals, and performance.  We opened the file with the script and played the sounds along with the production.

AHM Embedded Word File

A screenshot of a Word file with audio embedded

Good Script and Prompting

Our director Terry MacSweeney from Actor’s Shakespeare Company did an excellent job of abridging Shakespeare’s language to a 30-minute show.   He devised a system of cue cards, scripts and prompters that aided our actors just enough.

In Conclusion…

This was the Actor’s Shakespeare Company’s fifth production at A. Harry Moore.  This year the work was a part of the NJCU Educational Technology Department’s Partnership and Projects Program.

The production was organized by Marissa Aiello, a speech language pathologist at the school, with assistance by Matt Masiello, a speech language pathology intern.

Christopher Shamburg is a Professor of Educational Technology at New Jersey City University.  He is a workshop leader and consultant for the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Education Division.

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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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How do you connect Shakespeare with culture and history?

Those of us teaching Shakespeare to young people in the classroom are tasked with not only making learning interesting but also relevant. In observance of Black History Month, we want to pay tribute to the work of legendary jazz musician, Duke Ellington.

Ellington was a legendary musician whose career spanned fifty years. He composed many songs for the stage, screen and contemporary songbook. His is one of the most distinctive ensemble sounds in Western music He called his sound “American Music”.

Duke Ellington Such Sweet Thunder

In 1957, Ellington composed Such Sweet Thunder, a twelve part album that explores Shakespeare’s canon through jazz composition.

Try playing Such Sweet Thunder for your students: http://www.shakespeareinamericanlife.org/stage/music/thunder/dukeellington.cfm

What other tools can be used to engage students about Shakespeare?

Sheet music for Hamlet-Madness

Sheet music for Hamlet-Madness

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