I love the curriculum sessions, where everything feels totally practical. I think it's telling that we always seem to run out of time during them, and that everyone wants to talk, because they're really good. The highlight of the afternoon for me - the highlight of many highlights - was meeting Joe Scotese, who runs the A Way To Teach website that I've used often, particularly for ideas for teaching Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, which has a dearth of teaching information on the web (everyone teaches The Bluest Eye or Beloved, but I definitely prefer SoS to them). Mr. Scotese is a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, so his talk seemed especially real for me, being a teacher in the Baltimore City Public Schools. And, wow, he was engaging and funny and information in his too-short session.
We also spent time today "cutting a scene," which was basically editing down a scene to its bare bones. Asking students to do that forces them to read closely and have real conversations about what is important and what is superfluous. I've never done that before - I simply don't do enough playing with the language of Shakespeare as I'm teaching it, only before (when we do cool things like clap out iambic pentameter and such), and, if the Teaching Folger Institute does one thing for me, it will be that - figuring out more and more things to do while I'm teaching a unit.
My group changed Acting Coaches today, and, wow, that was something else. Our instructor, Caleen Stinnette Jenkins, an award-winning playwright and professor at American University, started off by telling us that there is nothing that cannot be cured by Earth, Wind, and Fire, and we completed a 5-minute workout and warmup that got ready for the assortment of cool activities that followed. She really concentrates on connecting movement with meaning, and, although I felt a little silly at times, it sure was fun.
Stephen Dickey, professor at Berkeley, started with an engrossing lecture that led off with 15 minutes about why he dislikes Much Ado About Nothing, about why it's his least favorite Shakespeare play ever. He was convincing and made me think about the play in a new way, as had every other lecturer this week as well. He's the leader of our Seminar group as well, and we continued to break down the play and figure it out.
As it is, I'm ambivalent. I liked quite a bit of it, but the Dogberry scenes were terrible and it dragged in parts.
We watched a film version last night starring Sam Waterston as Benedict, from 1973. While most of my fellow participants hated it, I thought it made some really interesting decisions, especially making Don Pedro in love with Beatrice. Too bad the directors ruined the film overall with a plodding second half, a second half derailed in the movie by Dogberry much as the play is derailed.
Driving into DC for the movie night only saved about a half hour of time. Wednesdays are going to be late nights, nights that put me home a near-midnight and make Thursday seem long. Luckily we did some great things today.
2 years ago