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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?"
Me: "Right!"

"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!
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    I remember reading my first Shakespeare play in 9th grade--Romeo and Juliet. We had line problems. As we read, we'd write down each line we didn't understand and bring it to class. The teacher would explain and by the time we finished reading, we had very few line problems. Good luck!
    2718 days ago
    Kids do say the funniest things.
    2719 days ago
    This sounds like so much fun: your students are lucky to have you, that's for sure!!
    2719 days ago
    I agree! One of the best things about being a teacher is hearing what the kids say!
    2719 days ago
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