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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.


 

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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