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By Folger Education

This post you’re about to read was viewed, shared, and liked more than almost any other on our blog last school year. Since its original publication, both Debbie Gascon, the high school teacher who wrote it, and Folger staff, have heard from teachers all over the country who loved—and tried out, to great results—Debbie’s ideas. If you’re looking for a way to make your classroom joyful, active, collaborative, and, yes, just the right kind of challenging—right from day 1—look no further. Try out a few of Debbie’s tested strategies for getting students on their feet and into complex texts in minutes. And let us know how it all goes: shoot Corinne Viglietta an email at cviglietta@folger.edu. Wishing you and your students a happy, productive return to school!


 

Eighteen years ago, days before my first year teaching began, my principal gave me the best advice I’ve ever heard about the first day of school. She simply said, “Make the students want to come back.” She told me to forget the syllabus and classroom procedures—the students won’t retain those rules and did I really want my first impression to be about how to ask for the bathroom pass?

As suggested, I followed through with my hopefully-memorable plans on that first day. When I ate dinner that night (in my pjs because I was so exhausted!) I had visions of my eighth graders at their dinner tables telling their families about their invigorating English class. I’m still not sure if that happened, but they all came back the next day with smiles on their faces and eager to learn. They were optimistic. And so was I.

With that advice in mind, on the first day of school for the past two years I’ve incorporated Folger performance methods in my lesson plans.  What a difference this has made. No longer were my sleepy seniors glaring at me (and the clock) and no longer were my freshmen struggling to sit still in a desk after a summer of hyperactivity.  Instead, students were on their feet, participating and laughing (and learning!).

Here are some quick methods to get the students up on their feet and loving the first day (and every day after!) in your classroom:

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By Folger Education

We know you’re gearing up for another school year, and we wanted to send some inspiration and enjoyment your way. Here are some lines about teaching and learning from Shakespeare, compiled by our very own Mike LoMonico.


 

Embed from Getty Images

Yes, it’s that time again for teachers all across the country. So here are some things Shakespeare says about school and learning and teachers.

 

Learning:
O Lord, I could have stay’d here all the night
To hear good counsel: O, what learning is! Romeo and Juliet: 3.3

O this learning, what a thing it is! The Taming of the Shrew: 1.2

Here let us breathe and haply institute
A course of learning and ingenious studies. The Taming of the Shrew: 1.1

 

Study:
Where did you study all this goodly speech? The Taming of the Shrew: 2.1

You could, for a need, study a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines, which
I would set down and insert in’t, could you not?  Hamlet: 2.2

Give it me, for I am slow of study. A Midsummer Night’s Dream: 1.2

Alas, I took great pains to study it, and ’tis poetical. Twelfth Night: 1.5

 

School:
Love goes toward love, as schoolboys from their books,
But love from love, toward school with heavy looks. Romeo and Juliet: 2.2

Thou camest on earth to make the earth my hell.
A grievous burthen was thy birth to me;
Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy;
Thy school-days frightful, desperate, wild, and furious. King Richard III: 4.4

He had rather see the swords, and hear a drum, than look upon his school-master. Coriolanus: 1.3

And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school.  As You Like It: 2.7

 

Teach:
To teach a teacher ill beseemeth me. Love’s Labour’s Lost: 2.1

Those that do teach young babes
Do it with gentle means and easy tasks. Othello: 4.2

O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! Romeo and Juliet: 1.5

O, let me teach you how to knit again Titus Andronicus: 5.3

I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. Merchant of Venice: 1.2

Do you have any others? If so, please post them in the comments section below.

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In this special series we’re calling “Inside the Classroom,” we’ll follow middle school teacher Gina Voskov and her students as they embark on a Twelfth Night unit. Today, it’s all about pre-reading—check back for notes from the group throughout the learning process.

By: Gina Voskov

Photo: Gina Voskov

Photo: Gina Voskov

I am so pleased to introduce Won Jae, Lois, and Alexandra, three of my 7th grade English students.

As you’ll see, these students have a wide range of experiences when it comes to engagement in English, comfort with public speaking/performance, familiarity with Shakespeare, and with the English language. My challenge is to make the story and language accessible (and hopefully enjoyable and meaningful) to everyone.

Shakespeare’s works were formally added to our 7th grade English curriculum three years ago and the Shakespeare unit has quickly become a favorite for both teachers and students because we use the Folger approach. In two weeks, we will begin our study of Twelfth Night, a play I really love but have never taught before. My colleague and I will be using the Shakespeare Set Free materials for the play as well as other performance techniques I learned at the 2012 Teaching Shakespeare Institute.

This first post is an introduction the students have written about themselves and a brief overview of their thoughts about learning Shakespeare and studying Twelfth Night. I suspect the concerns they share with you will mirror the concerns many of your students have about learning the language. A second post will follow, mid-unit, where the three will be able to share specific activities that challenged them the most to learn. The final post will be a reflective piece after their performance project has ended.

It is my hope that my students will be able to see growth in confidence, skills, and excitement as we use the Folger approach to studying this play. It is truly a joy to be able to share these students’ words with you, and I hope you’ll check back in on their journey through our unit.

 

Meet Won Jae: (more…)

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With 2013 behind us, we review some of our most popular posts from the year:

How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare

Author Ken Ludwig introduces his children to Shakespeare using particular passages, which he puts in context for them and then has them memorize. His new book shares these techniques and strategies with parents and educators.

Centos: Mix and match!

A “centos” is a poem that has been created using lines from the works of other writers and is a form that has been around for almost two thousand years. Using Shakespeare quotes in these poems can be a fun activity for students.

Plays of Preference

Why is it that Shakespeare’s messy, uncomfortable plays stick with us so?

Is Shakespeare Literature?

“The beauty of learning Shakespeare through performance is that it provides students a deeply rigorous interaction with a complex text at the same time that it stimulates their creativity and their ability to problem-solve collaboratively. Oh, and yes — it’s a ton of fun.”

 

We also revisit some popular posts that, though written prior to 2013, still got plenty of views this year:

 

What were some of your favorite Making A Scene blog posts from 2013? What blog topics should we explore in 2014?

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We’re turning back the clock a few years, to revisit a blog post from Christmas 2009, written by Mike LoMonico. ‘Tis the season to be jolly and maybe think about Shakespeare.  Here are a few tidbits for your holiday pleasure.

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Photo by Cathal McNaughton for Reuters

Photo by Cathal McNaughton for Reuters

The world welcomed the newest arrival to the British Royal Family yesterday, and now we know that Prince William and Duchess Catherine are taking their noble son home.

They haven’t announced the names of the baby, yet, so we’ll do some postulating from this side of the pond. After all, England is the land of Shakespeare, so we’ll look to our friend for some princely monikers:

(a modest selection from BabyCenter.com)

And from Will’s late play, Henry VIII (though this speech praises Elizabeth I, it is an appropriately hopeful speech for the young royal family):

Archbishop Cranmer

Let me speak, sir,
For heaven now bids me; and the words I utter
Let none think flattery, for they’ll find ’em truth.
This royal infant—heaven still move about her!—
Though in her cradle, yet now promises
Upon this land a thousand thousand blessings,
Which time shall bring to ripeness: she shall be—
But few now living can behold that goodness—
A pattern to all princes living with her,
And all that shall succeed: Saba was never
More covetous of wisdom and fair virtue
Than this pure soul shall be: all princely graces,
That mould up such a mighty piece as this is,
With all the virtues that attend the good,
Shall still be doubled on her: truth shall nurse her,
Holy and heavenly thoughts still counsel her:
She shall be loved and fear’d: her own shall bless her;
Her foes shake like a field of beaten corn,
And hang their heads with sorrow: good grows with her:
In her days every man shall eat in safety,
Under his own vine, what he plants; and sing
The merry songs of peace to all his neighbours:

Congratulations to William and Kate, and to the new baby prince – whom I, at least, will call Demetrius Jamy until I am told otherwise.

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ShakMag-logo-titl2

I was fortunate to be the co-founder and co-editor of Shakespeare Magazine, a publication of Georgetown University and Cambridge University Press. Together with my co-editor, Nancy Goodwin and later, Martha Harris, we were in existence from 1996 to 2003. Our audience was mainly teachers, but our reach extended to theater companies and the general public.

 Until recently, some of our archives lived on our Website, created and hosted by Amy Ulen. But alas, all things come to an end (or do they?) and the site was closed. But I managed to salvage the featured articles from the site, and I’ve posted some of my favorites below. I hope you enjoy them.

summer99

One of my favorite features of the magazine was the Broadsheet, located on the inside back cover. Simply stated, these were one-page, copy-ready handouts for teachers.  I’ve converted several of these to PDFs and posted them below. Check them out:

Exit lines
Irony
Early Modern Marriage
Aaron, the Moor
80 Odd Words
Throwing Lines
Othello Word Frequency
Rhyme

If any of you were subscribers, I’d love to hear from you, so do comment below.

winter97cover_ykld

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Shakespeare Uncovered

Image from PBS

Designer: Kevon Greene.

Image by Kevon Greene for PBS

By now, many of you readers have probably watched or recorded the first two episodes of Shakespeare Uncovered on PBS. As Caitlin Griffin wrote in her blog entry on January 17, the broadcast details are:

January 25th, 9-11pm EST: Macbeth with Ethan Hawke and The Comedies with Jolie Richardson.

February 1, 9-11pm EST: Richard II, with Derek Jacobi and Henry IV, and Henry V with Jeremy Irons.

February 8, 9-11pm EST: Hamlet with David Tennant and The Tempest hosted by Trevor Nunn.

Designer: Karen Brazell.

Image by Karen Brazell for PBS

But the good news is that each of the hour-long shows will be available for streaming at the Shakespeare Uncovered site after they are broadcast, so if you missed the Macbeth or Comedies episodes, stream away.

But what you probably don’t know is that several Folger Education folks served on WNET’s Education Advisory panel. I was lucky enough to be part of this panel along with Peggy O’Brien, Kevin Costa, Josh Cabat, and Sue Biondo-Hench. We were joined by Joan Langley from Oregon Shakespeare, Chris Anthony from LA Shakespeare Center, and Bill Heller from Teaching Matters.

In addition to previewing all six episodes and spending a day at WNET’s headquarters in NYC, several of our group created lesson plans for the PBS site. And Peggy O’Brien has written some fabulous Teacher Viewing Guides for all six episodes (as of now on the first two are available.)

The PBS site also has a two activities: “Which Shakespeare Character are You?” (Apparently, I am Rosalind?) and “Anatomy of a Scene.”

So now we’d like to hear from you. Tell us what you think of the shows, and more importantly, how you might use the videos and lesson plans with your students.

Image from PBS

Designer: Karen Brazell.

Image by Karen Brazell for PBS

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Isaac Taylor after Henry Howard. Timon of Athens. Act 4. Scene 1. Without the Walls of Athens – Timon. Engraving, 1803. Shelfmark PR2752 1807c C.4 V.7 Sh.Col.

Folger Education was part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s World Shakespeare Festival Conference last September, presenting a workshop, participating in a symposium on using technology in teaching Shakespeare, and represented on a panel discussing Shakespeare.  It was an energizing and inspiring conference.  While we were in London, my colleague and I had the opportunity to see Timon of Athens at the National Theatre.  The production was part of the World Shakespeare Festival, a celebration of William Shakespeare as the world’s playwright.  My reaction after seeing the performance was that it was too bad that more people wouldn’t get to see such an incredible production — and see Simon Russell Beale, who has been called the “greatest stage actor of his generation.”  So, imagine my joy when I discovered that the production will be available in selected theaters in the US on November 1st.  This is a production not to be missed.  The Guardian called the play, “A fable about the toxic nature of a ruthlessly commercialised world.”  The play is directed by Nicholas Hytner, and Time Out wrote that Hytner “… hurls Timon into the 21st century….”  This is a play not often staged, and one that will resonate with audiences in the States.  A list of broadcast locations is available. When you see it, or if you teach it now, it would be great to get your take on its relevance for students and/or to today’s audiences.

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Let’s take a break from our usual education-based Blog and pause for an adult beverage or two. After all, if you’ve been grading essays and teaching Shakespeare for a while, you may need a drink.

Image via Rogue Brewery

One of my favorite libations is Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout made in Newport, Oregon. The Rogue Brewery website describes this brew as “ebony in color with a rich creamy head, earthy flavor and a mellow, chocolate finish.” I’m not sure about that chocolate, but it does taste good. It’s available here in New York and probably everywhere else.

But if you’re ever in Oregon, be sure to stop in to one of the Rogue Brew Pubs. There are several of them and there’s even one in the Portland Airport.

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The actor, Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Sex and the City, and Desperate Housewives) has

Image from Dunham Cellars

partnered with Eric Dunham of Dunham Cellars to produce a pricey ($65 a bottle) Cabernet Sauvignon, which they say has a taste of allspice, clove, hints of anise and chocolate-covered cherries. But the Pursued by Bear website is brilliant as it zooms in on the Globe Theatre and shows us that famous bear from The Winter’s Tale, complete with roaring. It’s worth a visit.

They even have a Baby Bear Syrah which they say  has “debaucherously nuanced flavors” of “baking spices, cumin and a lavender nose.” At $65 a bottle, it still is out of my price range.

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Image from V’Guara

A few years ago, a former student of mine (now a teacher) came to a workshop I was giving and presented me with a bottle of Shakespeare Vodka by V’Guara. It’s been a while since I finished the bottle, so I can’t report on the quality; but the bottle is beautiful, and I keep refilling it with bottles of Absolut or Smirnof’f.

It’s a great conversation piece as it has a see-through label with an image of Shakespeare on the back.  If you’re ever in my neighborhood, stop in and I’ll pour you a drink.

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If you’d rather read what Shakespeare had to say about drinking, you should check out the The Boozy Bard, a book categorized by play which cites all the places where Shakespeare has written about drink, drinking, and drinkers.

Here are a few famous quotes:

“Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?” Twelfth Night 2.3

“Good wine is a good familiar creature, if it be well used.” Othello 2.3

“I would give all my fame for a pot of ale.” Henry V 1.3

“Drink sir, is a great provoker of three things . . . nose painting, sleep and urine.” Macbeth 2.3

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Image by David Kinner for The New American Shakespeare Tavern

And finally, if you’d like to enjoy an adult libation and see a fine Shakespeare play, head to Atlanta and stop in to the New American Shakespeare Tavern®.

Here’s how their website describes the experience:

The New American Shakespeare Tavern® is unlike other theaters. It is a place out of time; a place of live music, hand-crafted period costumes, outrageous sword fights with the entire experience centered on the passion and poetry of the spoken word. With an authentic British Pub Menu and a broad selection of Irish ales and premium brews, the Shakespeare Tavern® is a place to eat, drink, and nourish the soul.

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