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By Jill Burdick-Zupancic

 

Ophelia

Ophelia. (Image: Folger Library)

As summer (too quickly) comes to a close, I’m filled with a mix of excitement and anxiety. What will my students be like? Will what worked last year work again this year? What can I do to make this year a successful and engaging one? Big questions. No easy answers. But, here are some basics I’ll when starting a new school year with the Bard.

 

    • Start Early – I’ve started each of the past three school years with “2-line scenes.” It’s an easy activity to create: find some of those famous zingers – insults or notable lines – from any of Shakespeare’s works, give one line to each student (preferably from different works), have the kids get in pairs, and ask them to create a scene! This does a number of fantastic things early in the year. First, it gets the kids out of their seats during a monotonous week of syllabi review. Second, it gets them building the classroom community by learning the norms of performance (however they choose to set those). Third, it forces them to think creatively to create a new context using Shakespeare’s words. I’ll use this on day one, but I think any time the first week works well. You’ll have exposed your students to Shakespeare early, and chances are they’ll come across some of those lines again as you approach longer texts throughout the year.

 

    • Variety – Most of us spend a great deal of our year studying literature, and we love it! But, I find my students’ attention waning when we’re studying a longer text. Consider your objectivesand try to insert small pieces of Shakespeare throughout the year. Want the students to explore tone? Check out Claudius’ speech from Act I, Scene 2 of Hamlet. Analyzing imagery? Also from Hamlet is Gertrude’s retelling of Ophelia’s death – a great choice! Teaching the kids about persuasion? How about that powerful interaction between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth at the end of Act I? Whatever you choose to use, just because you’re not sitting down to tackle an entire play doesn’t mean you can’t spice up some Chaucer, Twain, Hurston, or Hemingway with a little Shakespeare!

 

    • Confidence – Yes, be confident in yourself, but also be confident that your kids will get Shakespeare, they will connect to Shakespeare, and they will like Shakespeare. He’s still around in our classrooms and throughout the world outside our classrooms because he’s relevant, and kids will understand that with you as their guide.

Cheers to the start of another exciting school year!

 

Jill Burdick-Zupancic is beginning her eighth year as an educator and currently teaches Honors English and AP Art History at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, VA. She is a Member of the Folger National Teaching Corps and a Teaching Shakespeare Institute (TSI) alumna from 2012. Jill can be reached at jeburdickzup@fcps.edu.

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.

By Shauna Rynn Waters

 

I came back from the Folger Summer Academy full of fire and ideas.  It was like a tent revival for English teachers, I guess, or an encounter with what Prometheus stole from the Olympian hearth. I felt real enthusiasm for getting back in the classroom and for trying some new approaches to teaching works I’ve loved for a long time.

 

Then the first day of PD hit me.

 

It wasn’t bad, I suppose. In fact, we had a really good keynote speaker this year, someone who was sensible, moving, and meaningful. He was genuinely inspirational. It also seemed like everyone from the mayor on down the line was trying very hard to keep the meeting stripped down to those essential bits we simply must have every year. As I looked at checklists, additional duties, new policies, and detailed descriptions I have to pay attention to this year, though, I felt a definite snag in the flight of my joy for the new year.

 

BUT . . . when I got home, finally got settled in my comfortable chair, took in an episode of the Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice mini-series on Amazon Prime streaming, and my sweet cat Dillon was curled around my neck on the back of my chair, my thoughts cleared and I developed a new resolution. This year IS going to be a good one. All the little bits of busywork that surround education in the modern age aren’t going to destroy the desire I replenished this summer to help my students dive into literature and writing–and discover.

 

I keep thinking about what Dr. Sandy Mack said about the humanities during our session with him at the Folger: “Science teaches us how the world works; the humanities teach us how to be human.” That task, that effort, is too important to let these little speed bumps discourage me from its pursuit.  Thursday, the students are going to arrive, and all the things I’m so excited about sharing with them are going to be in my hands like so many jewels. I’m not going to let the transactional stuff keep me from being happy about sharing those riches and watching the students learn just how beautiful they really are. I love my profession; I love the place in which I practice it; I love the students who go on these annual journeys with me. Everything else is unimportant.

* A longer version of this article was first published on Tales from the Ivory Tower on August 3, 2015.

 

Shauna Rynn Waters teaches high school English at Meridian High School in Meridian, MS and is a recent graduate of Folger’s Summer Academy 2015. You can read more about her life as a teacher at Tales from the Ivory Tower.

By Mari O’Meara

 

Like most teachers, when a Shakespearean unit is announced, I am greeted by many loud groans and a few students voicing the usual (whiny) complaints- “It’s so boring!” “I don’t understand it”; “Do we have to?”  Tuning out students’ complaints is a well-developed skill of all teachers.  The one complaint I always find satisfaction in responding to is “Do we have to?”

 

To my students’ surprise and premature glee, I tell my students, “no, you don’t have to study Shakespeare”; however, like all curriculum, the reasons to NOT study Shakespeare in an English curriculum must be carefully researched, supported, and presented.  Thus, I challenge my students to take on the task of proving me (and the school board) why we shouldn’t study Shakespeare in a secondary English classroom.

 

Thinking they are getting out of learning, the students embrace the challenge, and thus, immerse themselves in formal and intense Shakespearean scholarship. Before they begin, I make it clear the only argument that garners no merit is to argue that Shakespeare is boring. Students offer subjects ranging from racism, sexual content, misogyny, religious issues, plagiarism, to the difficulty of Shakespearean language, the importance of a global curriculum, and even the authorship debate as reasons to not study Shakespeare—all topics that pique their interests and motivate them to want to learn more.

 

I have yet to find students come to the conclusion they shouldn’t study Shakespeare.  In fact, their overwhelming response is that studying Shakespeare is a valuable and necessary experience. Even though they eventually embrace the study of Shakespeare, they are students, and they will continue to complain; it’s just that their complaining shifts to “why can’t we study more Shakespeare?”

 

Mari O’Meara is a member of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s National Teacher Corps.  She teaches 12th grade English and Film Studies at Eden Prairie High School in Eden Prairie, MN (a suburb of Minneapolis).  She can be contacted at mmomeara@msn.com.

By Folger Education

We’re back with the second half of your summer reading recommendations. Be sure to read till the end for a bonus list!

 

Book Title Author
Portrait of a Lady Henry James
Rehearsal from Shakespeare to Sheridan Tiffany Stern
Romeo is Bleeding (Movie) Peter Medak
Room Emma Donoghue
Ruby Cynthia Bond
Savage Inequalities Jonathan Kozol
Secrets of Acting Shakespeare: The Original Approach Patrick Tucker
Shakespeare in Kabul Stephen Landrigan and Qais Akbar Omar
Shotgun Lovesongs Nickolas Butler
Siddhartha Herman Hesse
Slaughterhouse V Kurt Vonnegut
So We Read On Maureen Corrigan
Sons and Other Flammable Objects Porchista Khakpour
Speaker for the Dead Orson Scott Card
Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
Teach as if Your Hair is on Fire Raif Esquith
Teach Like a Pirate Dave Burgess
The Alchemist Paulo Coelho
The Art of Racing in the Rain Garth Stein
The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Junot Diaz
The Cuckoo’s Calling Robert Galbraith
The Dinner Herman Koch
The Garden of Evening Mists Tan Twan Eng
The Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins
The Giving Tree Shel Silverstein
The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy
The Golden Bowl Henry James
The Golem and the Jinni Helene Wecker
The Grand Design Stephen Hawking
The Harry Potter series J.K. Rowling
The Hidden Girls of Kabul Jenny Nodberg
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot
The Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
The Kingdom of Ordinary Time Marie Howe
The Last Illusion Porchista Khakpour
The MaddAddam trilogy Margaret Atwood
The Mathematician’s Shiva Stuart Rojstaczer
The Mockingbird Next Door Marja Mills
The Neapolitan Novels Elena Ferrante
The Palace Walk Naguib Mahfouz
The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver
The Rocks Peter Nichols
The Secret Life of William Shakespeare Jude Morgan
The Show Child Eowyn Ivey
The Six Wives of Henry VIII Alison Weir
The Smartest Kids in the World, and How They Got That Way Amanda Ripley
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle David Wroblewski
The Thirteenth Tale Diane Setterfield
The Universe in a Nutshell Stephen Hawking
The Weight of Blood Laura McHugh
The Woods Harlan Coben
Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s most Faithful  Servant Tracy Borman
Time and Again Jack Finney
Ulysses James Joyce
Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand
War and Peace Leonid Tolstoy
What it is Lynda Barry
What She Left Behind Ellen Wiseman
White Oleander Janet Fitch
White Teeth Zadie Smith
Wings of the Dove Henry James
Year of Wonders Geraldine Brooks

 

Continue Reading »

By Peggy O’Brien

 

In our June issue of BardNotes, I posed four questions to y’all.  Three of them were requesting your advice about our blog and some new directions it might take.  I snuck in the fourth question, purely for my own selfish purpose.  I asked you what I should read this summer.

Summer Reading. (Image: James Brantley)

Summer Reading. (Image: James Brantley)

 

Thanks to the many, many of you who sent responses to some or all of the questions.  They were wildly helpful.  We’ll be back in a bit about the blog, but for now . . . the books you recommended!   A completely fabulous list.  And since many of you said, “Send us the list!”  we’re doing just that.  In all, 126 recommendations.  Data point that is amazing to me:  only two titles were recommended by more than one of you.  You are a fascinating and eclectic group of readers!  Two or three of you recommended All The Light We Cannot See and Americanah.

 

In this blog post, you’ll find the first half of the list.  In our next post, the rest of the list plus a bonus.  We got so excited about your recommendations that we decided to ask our squad of summer interns–two undergrads, a recent high school grad starting college next month, and a rising high school junior–for their reading recs too.

 

We’re having kind of a wild summer here.  Hope yours is restorative and big fun. Continue Reading »

By Deborah Gascon

When I introduced myself as one of the master teachers (the other was the fabulous Michael LoMonico) to the 29 teachers participating in the Folger’s first Summer Academy, I told them the Folger was a magical place.  I thought about the unicorn painted on a screen on the ceiling of the Folger theater and the quote around it from As You Like It:  “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.”  A magical and mysterious image surrounded by magical, mysterious words.

 

This indescribable magic was a feeling I felt during my first experience at the Folger in 2012 that I just couldn’t express or convey through words (mine or Shakespeare’s) during the academy introductions.  But a week later, after five very long and very full 12-hour days, every participant came to understand that magic and mystery that my words couldn’t describe, and I was privileged, once again, to see how Folger Education can transform a teacher’s life, his/her students’ lives and classroom practice.

 

I knew that to help everyone understand that magic and the mystery in our short week of the Summer Academy, some work would be involved.  And boy, did we work.

Hamlet's speech from Quarto One. (Image: Deborah Gascon)

Hamlet’s speech from Quarto One. (Image: Deborah Gascon)

 

We read.  We read Hamlet (using the 3-D Shakespeare strategy described here). Then we read Hamlet again and compared the Quarto One “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy which doesn’t include “that is the question” but rather “I there’s the point.”  Yep.  It was changed!  Then we read the 1604 version of Hamlet.  Then we read the 1623 First Folio version of Hamlet.  I think you get the point about how much we read.  But with every reading came deeper understanding and a closer connection with Shakespeare’s words.

Continue Reading »

Summer Academy participant Jennie Brown shares her experience at the mid-way point of Summer Academy 2015 which took place from July 5-10, 2015. 

By Jennie Brown

Jennie Brown arrives at Summer Academy 2015 (Image: Jennie Brown)

Jennie Brown arriving at Summer Academy 2015 (Image: Jennie Brown)

Where do I even begin to describe my experience so far (only on day 3!) of the Teaching Shakespeare Institute’s Summer Academy 2015 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in DC?!  Mind-blowing, awesome, humbling, exciting, the list goes on and on.

From workshops with theater professionals and esteemed educators to sword-fighting (yes, I said sword-fighting) on the lawn, to classes with Folger scholars and master teachers to interacting with the Folger collection of rare books, this is one week that will never be forgotten. Below, I’ve put together some of the highlights of this journey so far. [If you know me, you know you’ll find pictures below as well!]

  1. Amazing Teachers: There are 28 amazing, like-minded, Shakespeare-crazed teachers here with me at the Folger Library, and every single one has a passion for bringing the best of Shakespeare–his words–and ways to teach his language back to the classroom.
  2. Hands-on Teaching Workshops: Where do I even start with this? Mike LoMonico opened the week discussing Shakespeare’s language; he had us on our feet addressing one another in Shakespearean terms of endearment (even though some sounded more like insults). We worked with him and with his fellow Folger master teacher Debbie Gascon (who is amazing!) on close-reading strategies that can be applied not only to Shakespeare’s works, but all other units of
    Jennie Brown on the Folger stage. (Image: James Brantley)

    Jennie Brown on the Folger stage. (Image: James Brantley)

    study.

    Both LoMo’s and Debbie’s work and the plethora of strategies and teaching material they gave us will be used in my classroom, and in all of our classrooms throughout the country. Without doubt!

  3. Amazing Lectures from Scholars: The director of the Folger Library, Dr. Michael Witmore, spoke with us after “homeroom” on day two about thedigital direction in which the Folger is moving, and showed us new digital tools that give us a whole new way to look at the plays.Professor Sandy Mack had me questioning everything I thought I knew about Hamlet, and his old world vs. new world discussion — mind-blowing!  I could hear that man lecture every day!
  4. Folger Education Faculty and Staff. Honestly, I was nervous and intimidated when we first arrived at dinner on Sunday night. But after the first thirty minutes, Peggy O’Brien and Corinne Viglietta had welcomed all of us into the Folger family with open arms, immediately putting me (and many others) at ease.
  5. Acting Workshops. I haven’t been on the stage in years, and the workshops with Michael Tolaydo and Caleen Jennings made me see just how much Shakespeare’s words come to life when spoken on the stage. This will happen in all of our classrooms!

    Jennie Brown in the New Reading Room. (Image: James Brantley)

    Jennie Brown in the New Reading Room. (Image: James Brantley)

  6. Rare Materials. TOUCHED. A. FIRST. FOLIO. Do I really need to say anything more?

 

So, basically EVERY SINGLE THING we’ve done so far has made the list of highlights. This is truly an experience I will NEVER forget, and thanks to everyone at the Folger for this opportunity! From the faculty and staff, to the librarians, guest speakers, and security guards! You have ALL made this such an enjoyable experience for me.

AND DID I MENTION, WE ARE ONLY JUST STARTING DAY 4?!

I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us!

Jennie Brown teaches 9th grade English at Annville-Cleona Secondary School, Annville, PA. She can be found at @jenniekaywrites on Twitter.

By Folger Education

Over the course of 2016 we are bringing the First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare to all 50 states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico. In less than six months this nationwide tour kicks off at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, the Sam Noble Museum in Oklahoma, and the University of Oregon. There will be workshops and events for teachers and students in all 52 locations, so check out the list below to find out where and when a First Folio is coming to you.

Wonder of Will First Folio Tour

Host Sites
by state

AK Juneau Alaska State Libraries, Archives, and Museums Jul 26-Aug 24
AL Montgomery Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Oct 1-30
AR Conway University of Central Arkansas with the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre Jun 7–Jul 12
AZ Tucson University of Arizona Feb 15-Mar 15
CA San Diego San Diego Public Library with The Old Globe Jun 4-Jul 7
CO Boulder University of Colorado Boulder Aug 8-31
CT Storrs University of Connecticut Sept 2-25
DC Washington Gallaudet University Oct 7-31
DE Newark University of Delaware Aug 30-Sept 25
FL Miami The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museumat Florida International University Feb 1-28
GA Atlanta Emory University Nov 7-Dec 7
HI Honolulu Kapiolani Community College Apr 25-May 25
IA Iowa City The University of Iowa Libraries Aug 29-Sept 25
ID Boise Boise State University Aug 20-Sept 21
IL Wauconda Lake County Discovery Museum Feb 3-28
IN Notre Dame University of Notre Dame Jan 4-29
KS Manhattan Kansas State University Feb 1–28
KY Louisville Frazier History Museum, University of Louisville, and Louisville Free Public Library Nov 10-Dec 10
LA New Orleans Tulane University May 9-31
MA Amherst Amherst College May 9-31
MD Annapolis St. John’s College Nov 1-Dec 4
ME Portland Portland Public Library Mar 4-Apr 3
MI Detroit Wayne State University Mar 7-Apr 3
MN Duluth University of Minnesota Duluth Oct 3-26
MO Kansas City Kansas City Public Library Jun 6-28
MS Oxford University of Mississippi Apr 11-May 1
MT Missoula University of Montana May 9-31
NC Raleigh North Carolina Museum of History May 7-30
ND Bismark State Historical Society of North Dakota Jul 5-31
NE Omaha The Durham Museum Apr 9-May 1
NH Manchester Currier Museum of Art Apr 9-May 1
NJ Madison Drew University & theShakespeare Theatre of New Jersey Oct 3-31
NM Santa Fe New Mexico Museum of Art Feb 5-28
NV Reno Nevada Museum of Art Sept 1-29
NY New York New-York Historical Society Jun 7-Jul 17
OH Cleveland Cleveland Public Library Jun 20-Jul 30
OK Norman The Sam Noble Museum Jan 4-31
OR Eugene University of Oregon Jan 5-Feb 7
PA Elizabethtown Elizabethtown College Nov 8-Dec 5
PR Turabo Museo y Centro de Estudios Humanísticos Mar 7-Apr 3
RI Providence Brown University Apr 11-May 1
SC Columbia University of South Carolina Libraries Apr 11-May 1
SD Vermillion University of South Dakota and theNational Music Museum Mar 7-Apr 3
TN Nashville The Parthenon Nov 10-Jan 2
TX College Station Texas A&M University Mar 7-Apr 3
UT Salt Lake City Salt Lake City Public Library Oct 8-31
VA Charlottesville University of Virginia Oct 1-26
VT Middlebury Middlebury College Feb 1-28
WA Seattle The Seattle Public Library Mar 21-Apr 17
WI Madison University of Wisconsin – Madison Nov 3-Dec 11
WV Wheeling Museums of Oglebay Institute May 9-Jun 12
WY Cheyenne Wyoming State Museum Sept 7-30

The First Folio! tour is part of a greater celebration in 2016 of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. At the Folger we are calling this celebration the Wonder of Will, and we hope you will join us for the festivities.

By Folger Education

Last week 29 teachers joined for a week-long Summer Academy on Hamlet. Check out how much fun we had.

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