Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Days go like this

The days go like this: We start off with a lecture, sometimes by a resident academic, and sometimes by a visiting lecturer. The rest of the morning is generally part of the research component; we have all chosen topics related to the play, and have been scouring the shelves of this huge library as we research. I'm breaking for a moment now, my mind too full of early modern English to continue browsing for the moment, and will return shortly.

I'm researching Perceptions of Old Age during the time of Shakespeare, and it's been an interesting topic. I can't give it the sort of comprehensive study that I would have hoped if I had more time, but I think I'm going to be able to back up a thesis regarding how old age was not venerated during the time of Shakespeare, which at least is partially shown in two of the plays we have studied (Much Ado and Lear).

Our afternoons have been split by acting workshops and curriculum development. My group had a five-day session with Michael Tolaydo, whose name I recognized from the Shakespeare Set Free curriculum guides. There, we a bunch of great things; I'm most excited about incorporating something called a Dumb Show into my classroom. here, student must closely read a scene, then summarize it into a short narration, and then pantomime it while the narrator reads the actions. I like that it forces students to really engage in close reading (for the summarization activity), then makes them connect movement with meaning in the final performance. We also did something called a Box Set, which had us build a small set out of a shoebox, with every student in charge of a different element of putting on the scene (movements, music, lighting, costumes, etc). I've done similar things in my classroom, but it was good to see slightly different ways of doing it. One thing I have to get around, and just figure out in general - I really hate presentations, especially in classes of 35 or more. I just don't feel like it's useful enough for the rest of the students, despite what use the presenters are getting. We'll see.

The curriculum sessions always seem to run out of time too quickly, but so far the biggest revelation has been a website called Chinswing, which allows for oral conversations to occur online. We've done a couple already as a group ourselves, but I'm thinking ahead to the next step - is this something I can have students do? About half of my students are really technologically sound, but then I still have a number without computers. I don't know how to get around this. My classroom has a non-working computer of the school's and my own computer that I bought out of pocket, and the labs always seem to be in use from classes scheduled to be in there, or just not working very well or too small to accomodate. I sometimes wish that I worked in a school with a lot of great technology. As it is, it seems like technology would make my life more complicated.

Maybe this is the year I figure out how to write some grants for equipment in my classroom. Gosh, I'd love an LCD Projector. I even have a friend in the Social Studies wing who bought one for his classroom. Maybe I'll try to figure out the Donors Choose website.

Back to research...

No comments: