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Posts Tagged ‘TSI alum guest post’

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.

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By Greta Brasgalla 

 

This year, I became the English Instructional Coach at my school. My job includes creating and modeling lessons for a huge English department (we have over 3000 students in grades 10-12).

 

One of the best activities that I modeled was using the prompt book. Of all of the Folger activities, this is probably my favorite because it can be modified easily for any reading you do in the classroom.

 

More can be found here: Editing as Close-Reading: Cutting and Performing Complex Texts

 

For our Senior teachers, we used a version of the prompt book/tableaux for students to break down their reading of Paradise Lost. Each group was in charge of creating a tableau for the section of the poem. I  gave the teacher my special “prop box” filled with random wigs, costumes, and other props. Eventually, my prop box was passed throughout the English hallway as students did prompt books on Jane Eyre, King Lear, and Taming of the Shrew.

 

For one of our staff developments,  I  modified the prompt book for each grade level’s drama selection: Antigone, Streetcar Named Desire, and Macbeth/Hamlet. The teacher’s loved this activity because it was a new way to look at close reading. We are inundated with data that suggests close reading is the best activity for students, but many teachers have a hard time teaching this and keeping their students engaged. Prompt books not only teach the necessary skills for close reading (identifying key elements, tone, character) but they also keep the students engaged. My students have never had more fun than when they were performing their cut scenes, chapters, sections of a text.

Students close read The Masque of the Red Death (Image: Greta Brasgalla)

Students close read The Masque of the Red Death (Image: Greta Brasgalla)

Finally,  I  was also in charge of planning our Fall Intersession. This is a week long session to remediate students who have failed state assessments. These are our most at-risk students. They don’t want to be at school during vacation and they pose disciplinary challenges. Even though these students need the most engaging lessons, remediation most often entails lots of worksheets and boring seatwork.  I  resolved that we would change that this year. I  paired our English teachers with our Theater teacher and each level did a prompt book and performance of an Edgar Allan Poe story. We combined each short story with a poem as well. The kids had a great time and guess what? No discipline issues. We also got them to do a close reading of a very difficult piece of literature. Below is a picture of their performance of The Masque of the Red Death.

 

Next time you want students to tackle a scene (Shakespeare or otherwise), consider using a prompt book activity. Get out your own prop box and watch the magic happen!

 

Greta Brasgalla is an English Curriculum and Intervention Coach at El Dorado High School in El Paso, Texas.

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By: Stefanie Jochman

 

At the end of the year, no matter how I try to avoid it, I always end up feeling like that frazzled owl in the popular “Teacher at the end of the year” Facebook meme, but this time, I’m not going to worry so much about smoothing my feathers. One lesson I learned while teaching Shakespeare this year: vulnerability is valuable.

 

“Well, do not swear. Although I joy in thee, / I have no joy in this contract tonight” were the first two sentences of the ten-line monologue assigned to me at the 2014 Teaching Shakespeare Institute, and I can type them from memory now because my whole body knows those lines. At TSI, Caleen Jennings and Michael Tolaydo challenged our cohort to know Shakespeare not only as teachers but also as actors. Of TSI’s excellent tripartite program of scholarship, curriculum, and performance, performance sessions were where we (or at least I) felt most vulnerable. Sure, we were used to being our “teacher-selves” in front of large groups, but as teachers, we had to be the calm, collected adults in the room.

 

Students close read on their feet in Stefanie’s English class.  (Image: Stefanie Jochman)

Students close read on their feet in Stefanie’s English class. (Image: Stefanie Jochman)

In our performance workshops, we took new roles: wide-eyed teenage lovers, rowdy friends, fearsome fathers, nagging nurses. We couldn’t describe a character’s feelings the way we normally might when teaching a play; we had to act them—and know the lines by heart!

 

Anyone who walked into those first performance workshops could have recognized my discomfort and fear in the stiffness of my shoulders or the softness of my voice as my composed “teacher-self” fought against the wild sounds and fluid movements that a good acting warm-up requires. But with each workshop I grew louder and more fluid; I left a little more of “Ms. Jochman” behind and picked up another piece of “Juliet,” until, at last, performance day arrived. When a line was flubbed or a word forgotten, we buoyed each other. I felt vulnerable, but so did everyone else, and that shared vulnerability created a safe space to explore Shakespeare in heart and body.

 

I made a goal to create a similar atmosphere in my classroom this year. Rather than starting the year with the safe familiarity of syllabi review, I followed Deborah Gascon’s advice to play with Shakespeare on the first day of school. Students started with stiff shoulders and wary eyes, but by the end of that first hour together, we were all laughing.

 

Before I attended TSI, my students performed for assessment after finishing a play; this year, however, they performed to learn. Seniors performed variations of “Get thee to a nunnery” to understand its nuance; juniors used pantomime and tableaux to summarize early scene from The Merchant of Venice; freshmen reddened at the jokes in 1.1 of Romeo and Juliet while they put the scene on its feet. Each performance activity was an opportunity to tackle new words and embarrassing moments together, and as a result, our daily classroom performances built not only understanding of the text but also camaraderie.

 

Shakespeare is a name that makes a lot of students (and teachers!) feel vulnerable. His words might look jumbled to the eye or feel unfamiliar in our mouths, his plots and jokes make us blush, and his work is so esteemed we might not feel worthy of it, but those confusions, embarrassments, or inadequacies are the stuff of Shakespeare. What are soliloquies if not moments of vulnerability? Don’t we laugh most at the fools we see in ourselves? Being a teacher is a kind of performance, a role that can exhaust the player in its demands of invulnerability– round-the-clock professionalism (because you never know who is in the next aisle at the grocery store!) or a façade of constant accuracy. Our students can get lost in the roles they play, too; they wear their own masks to hide their fears. How freeing it is to put those roles aside in favor of Hamlet, Portia, Romeo, or Juliet.

 

One student’s reflections in anonymous end-of-the-year survey put it all in perspective:

“I really enjoyed when we did a play for The Merchant of Venice. That made me have some butterflies in my stomach, but it was so much fun!”

When I was a first-year teacher, I equated vulnerability with failure. I didn’t want my students to see when I had butterflies in my stomach, but my experiences with Shakespeare this year have taught me that vulnerability has value in the classroom. As I rehearsed my monologue last summer, I thought I was leaving “Ms. Jochman” behind on the Folger Theatre stage, but I was actually learning how to be a better teacher. When the expectation is to open ourselves to the challenge and make mistakes along the way rather than to simply get the answer right, there is so much more room for learning, for creativity, for camaraderie, for fun.

 

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 Alli Gubanich

 

BEFORE YOU WATCH

This video shows how to use QR codes to deepen student engagement with the words and ideas in Twelfth Night—and to teach essential literacy skills outlined in the Common Core. QR codes are a nice blend between the paper world and the digital world.  I was inspired to create this kind of communication by Tony Wagner’s book Creating Innovators, which is full of QR codes for the reader to scan.  In this video, I explain how to use QR codes to enhance a research paper with complementary multimedia.  The end result is a paper that certainly could be read on its own, but offers the reader additional material for visualizing the textual information.  QR readers can be downloaded to any smartphone or tablet for free.

 

THE VIDEO

 

AFTER YOU WATCH

Students usually love to curate interesting and relevant multimedia for their papers.  I have had students send me to watch cartoons and lectures, look at fine art and internet memes, listen to NPR and MTV.  I’m always intrigued by the connections my students choose to make.  Asking students to include multimedia requires them to analyze the topic in question in yet another light, and the process of choosing appropriate supplemental material requires higher level thinking skills.  Additionally, the “art of curating” really substantive or relevant material is a skill worth developing.  Including it on your rubric legitimizes the process and gives you another area in which to help your students grow.

Read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five of our Teaching Twelfth Night with Technology series.

 

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, she is an accredited teacher trainer in the Socratic Seminar instructional method.  Alli is 2014 TSI alumna.

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by Gene Campbell

 

Before You Watch

 

The idea behind this video is a simple one: get your students to immediately get the play on its feet. Here you’ll learn how to help your students take a scene from any of Shakespeare’s plays (though in this case it’s a portion of Act 5, Scene 1 from Twelfth Night) and turn it into a montage of one-second movies using iMovie. Through this process, students will be asked to break down the dramatic structure of the scene, to do a close reading of the scene, and then to distill that scene to its barest essence.

 

The Video

 

 

 

After You Watch

 

While I did not teach Twelfth Night this year, I used a simplified version of this lesson for our first day’s discussion of Henry IV, Part I. Due to a time crunch that I’m sure everyone reading this blog has felt at one point or another, I didn’t think that I could afford the extra day or two that filming and editing a one-second movie montage could have entailed, so I opted for tableaux vivants instead. The principle was the same — get the students to do a close reading of the text and then translate the poetry, rhetoric, and imagery into one representative moment — though the time required was reduced to a single day and the finished product was a still image rather than a very brief film clip. I split my students into two groups and asked them to come up with an image for each line of King Henry’s opening speech. One student read the part, the rest of the group acted, and I photographed each tableau and then projected the photos as the reading was repeated at the end of the class so that everyone could see the finished product. Henry’s manipulation of his audience came alive as an image of unity was followed by one of discord in a neatly repeating cycle that highlighted his political savvy and duplicitous message as well as set up the questions that I would be asking them to consider when Hal begins to behave in eerily similar ways later in the play.

 

There were audible gasps from the students when I projected their work for them at the end of the day, and that energy and engagement helped carry us through our discussions in the following weeks. There was something about seeing the imagery made concrete that connected with them and allowed them to understand that speech — one that I have taught to at least two sections every year for the past fifteen years — in a way that was never possible before. I believe both the tableaux vivants and the one-second movies provide access to this level of understanding while lessening the anxiety many of the students feel when I ask them to act out a scene in class, and this shared process of creating meaning is everything I want my classes to be.

 

If you have any questions or ideas about this lesson in either of its forms, please email me at gcampbell@stalbansschool.org or reach out on Twitter (@21stCenturyLit).

 

Reading Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four of our Teaching Twelfth Night with Technology series.

 

 

Gene Campbell is the Dean of Students and an English teacher in the Upper School of St. Albans School, an all-boys Episcopal school in Washington, DC. He received his BA in English from Georgetown University and his MA in English from The Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. He currently teaches British Literature to 10th graders as well as 11th and 12th grade electives ranging from Comparative Literature to 21st Century Literature to Narrative Film.

 

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By Jenna Gardner

 

BEFORE YOU WATCH

 

This is an activity I used with students at the beginning of Twelfth Night Act 2, scene 2 when Viola, disguised as Cesario, realizes that Olivia loves her because Olivia believes Viola to be “the man” she pretends to be.

 

The beauty of Shakespeare is in its performance, which allows students to hear and see his words and engage with all the possible meanings of a text. I wanted to help my students visualize Shakespeare’s language and to promote hypothesizing, discussion, debate, and critical reasoning regarding his implicit as well as explicit meanings in Twelfth Night. The online tool Voyant allows an entire text to be investigated by simply embedding a corpus copied and pasted from a website. Using Voyant and Folger Digital Texts, students can see the words of greatest frequency in a word cloud and perform keyword searches to see word frequency and area of occurrence in the text. Data in all the fields— word cloud, word trends, and keywords in context, etc.—can be exported and saved.

 

THE VIDEO

 

 

AFTER YOU WATCH

 

By using Voyant, my students engaged in a close reading of Viola’s soliloquy, “I left no ring with her…”, and through this tool my students began to see the role that disguise had already begun to play in Twelfth Night. Students had activating questions that they worked on in preparation for our in-class work and discussion. By manipulating and analyzing the text in Voyant, students tested questions, made observations, and drew conclusions about the force and impact of disguise in the rest of the play.

 

As a class we discussed Shakespeare’s use of disguise, and students began to generate other associated words—hide, deceive secret, deception, etc. Working in groups with laptops they tried out their brainstorming words and generated new terms they felt that were related to this idea of disguise. This could also be done with projecting the screen of one computer and having the class work collectively. Using Voyant’s tools to look at instances where these terms occurred in the play allowed them to see the rhythm of disguise within Shakespeare’s work and to be mindful of their occurrence when they emerged in later class readings. This activity works especially well when paired with student performance work. The whole idea of disguise really comes to life not just when students use Voyant to analyze it but when they speak and embody it.

 

This close reading focus on disguise also led to an in-depth discussion on the role of dramatic irony in comedy and why it is so essential. This was a text I taught at the beginning of the school year to develop my AP English Literature students’ close reading skills. All of their work led to writing an analytical essay on their close reading of this soliloquy.

 

Voyant can be used with any text that students find intimidating. It is a tool I used with our class study of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights in which we examined her use of hellish and heavenly terms—angel, devil, fiend—and their importance in conveying her thematic inversion of meaning.

 

Please feel free to send me your questions or ideas by contacting me on Twitter! (@JennaGLit)

 

Read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three of our Teaching Twelfth Night with Technology series.

 

Jenna Gardner is an AP English Literature, Junior Language Arts, and AP Art History teacher at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, Georgia. Currently her students are in the midst of their Shakespeare Madness debates, which are calling on them to use their close reading skills to argue for Shakespeare’s ‘best’ play.

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By Rachel Jean-Marie

 

BEFORE YOU WATCH

 

In this video, you will see a demonstration that provides ideas on how to engage students in a close reading of the text by exploring Shakespeare’s use of language in a specific scene in Twelfth Night using hypertext annotations.  Obviously, it’s good if students have had lessons/practice with figurative language (similes, metaphors, personification, puns, allusions, etc.)  After the video, feel free to check out ways to take this video to the next level by leading students through a process that encourages them to use a variety of tools to research the language, use hyperlinks, physicalize the text, and engage in a reflective debrief.

To take this lesson to the next level:

  1. Have students work together in small groups using a variety of resources to research the text as they read, annotate, and discuss the scene using useful tools such as dictionaries, their cell phones, the online lexicon, each other, and so on.
    (Tip: Keep the scene short by providing half a scene if necessary for longer scenes.)
  2.  Have students use the strategies shared in this video to “annotate” the text using hyperlinks, and provide students with some time to bring the scene alive through a physical interpretation of this scene.  By this point, the students should be pretty familiar with this scene.
  3. Finally, allow students to debrief the process.  After the video, check out some of my sample questions below.

 

THE VIDEO:

 

AFTER YOU WATCH

 

This video does not demonstrate how to actually use Tagxedo.  If you can’t figure it out yourself, it’s okay!  Just ask a colleague or engage one of your shy tech savvy students to “tutor” you on it.  Nevertheless, if you have each group add their words to the Tagxedo Creator, they could create a visual representation of the terms that they chose to focus on during their “research” of the text.  If printed out, this image could be used on screen or on an overhead projector as the introductory image to their scene.
Sample Debrief Questions:

  1. What is the difference between active and passive reading? Benefits?
  2. What are your thoughts about exploring the text together?
  3. What are you thoughts about using resources like cell phones, lexicons (book & online versions), dictionaries, and laptops to explore the text?
  4. How do all of this (annotating, working with others, using resources, physicalizing the text, etc.) help with comprehension?

 

  • The students came up with wonderful responses.  Here are some of their thoughts:
  • Working together enabled us to explore different interpretations.
  • We got a chance to develop different skills by collaborating at some points and working independently at other points.
  • Needed it to understand the words
  • Makes piece stronger
  • Can’t act something you don’t know
  • Helps with interpretation and comprehension
  • Shakespeare uses everyday language differently and we are always changing as well as our understanding of words
  • Understanding Shakespeare’s context/meaning and our own interpretation/meaning

 

Students had a lot of fun with this activity.

Read Part One and Part Two of our Teaching Twelfth Night with Technology series.

 

Rachel Jean-Marie has been working at Boston Day & Evening Academy for the past 11 years as a Humanities teacher. BDEA is a competency-based alternative high school in the Roxbury area of Boston, MA that serves 16 to 22 year olds who haven’t been successful in a traditional school setting and were at risk of dropping out.

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