More on teaching Shakespeare to 8th graders
Monday, January 10, 2011
My advanced art kids agreed they'll work on a performance for the local theatre's Shakespeare festival. So today, I gave a quick (one sentence) summary of 15 of Shakespeare's comedies, handed them out, and explained how to read the summary and make notes to further summarize - as in: "take a highlighter and mark the super-duper really important stuff, and later compile that into a one page summary."
"Ms. Schwartz, what does "toil" mean?"
Me: "It means to work really hard, especially physical labor. Aren't you glad to learn new vocabulary?"
"Yeah, I don't think I'll ever use that word again."
"Ms. Schwartz, I need help. I think someone is cheating on someone in this story, but I can't figure it out."
"Ms. Schwartz, what does "intimation" mean?"
Me: "Implication - someone is implying something. See here, the dad is saying that if one of Bianca's suitors - boyfriends - wants to marry her sister Katherine, the guy can have her."
"Oh, 'cause she's the shrew?"
"And what's this mean?"
Me: "That's a dowry. Women couldn't inherit family money or property, it went to men in the family - so when they got married, they received a chunk of money from the family."
"Well that's not fair!"
This project is going to crack me up! Mind you, these are summaries in regular English that we're reading - just wait until we vote on a play and then start reading that!