Jigsaw Shakespeare

 Before we were released for Spring Break, I felt it was important to check in with my students and our passage from Midsummer. Now, it is not in our curriculum, unit plans, and it is not necessarily linked to anything we have been working on. It is simply something I love that I am sharing with my students.

I spent some time writing out the lines of “I know a bank…” on colored strips of paper. I had them with me in class and a couple of my students were intrigued. I put all of the strips in front of this group of five students. I did not arrange the strips correctly but had them scattered, out of order. I gave them the challenge of putting it all together. I was immediately surprised and delighted by their fervor. They put together as much as possible and then questioned me, “we don’t know what comes next, we didn’t learn all of this.”

I had given them a couple of lines we hadn’t done yet. They were perplexed. I told them to figure it out. Look at what they were given and break down the ideas, the code. I told them to look for things they know. I was shocked that they started discussing meaning of words, rhyme scheme, and flow. It was incredible. They did it! They put it together without me ‘telling ‘ them. Then the most amazing thing happened, one of the students went to another group of four kids and challenged them to put it together. I was exhilarated and proud. They were not only engaged in shakespeare’s words, but they were utilizing higher order cognition and having fun. This five to ten minutes was some of the best educational experience they would get for the day. Thank you Shakespeare.

(If you haven’t followed previous entries, I am using Ken Ludwig’s “Teaching your Children Shakespeare” book in my practice at home and in the classroom.)

The haves and the have nots

I’m attempting to infuse “I know a bank” into my classroom lessons. It is difficult because currently we were required to do other things. I have been more diligent with weaving the Shakespearean lines into my second period class than my first. I didn’t think much of it. I’m realising that it has caused tension and slight disappointment. My students from the second period will request more shakespeare. Some of them met my daughter earlier in the week and referred to her as “the little girl that knows shakespeare”. They tried to chat and have a connection. While some of my students in my first period seem apprehensive about continuing because I have given more to my other stidents. I step back now and realise that this not only is what happens to young students and shakespeare but to young learners of anything.

If we disproportionately provide exposure to education, experience and passion for learning, we train one group to feel inadequate, indifferent or deficient.

(If you haven’t followed previous entries, I am using Ken Ludwig’s “Teaching your Children Shakespeare” book in my practice at home and in the classroom.)

Originally written 14 April – sorry late posting some entries.

And so it begins…

If you have read previous posts of mine, you know I am reading Ludwig’s book “how to teach your children shakespeare”. I am slowly working on midsummer with my four year old. It is so much fun. When we were in Home Depot on Saturday, we went into the garden center. Juliana wanted to find the flowers mentioned in the poetry that she knew. She asked what is ‘quite overcanopied’ thinking it was a plant. I told her it was like plants growing over your head like a tunnel or umbrella. She jumped in the trolley as we walked through aisle of fruit trees because they were ‘quite overcanopied’! It is incredible what we are doing. 

Last week, one of my colleagues was telling my class about the bunny banner my girl made. She told them that J named the bunnies after some of my students. I told them I read the roster and she picked random ones she remembered. The class wanted to see pictures. I showed them. Then I had a video of J reciting I know a bank. I showed them that and told them what it was. They were impressed and competitive. They decided that if she could do it- they could do it. I told them I haven’t finished the book. They don’t care. Right there. Right then. We scratched a portion of lesson and I know a bank where the wild thyme blows went up.

They are hooked. One line and it’s theirs. Someone makes sure it is written on the board everyday. Tomorrow I need to give them line 2. They are craving it. Somehow I have made reciting Shakespeare addictive. I’m the best drug dealer that school has!!!!

4 Lines!

Update on my journey teaching shakespeare to my kids. This is exciting. Truly exciting news in my little chaotic existence. As I stated I began reading Ken Ludwig’s book about teaching Shakespeare. Originally when purchased I was reading to teach my students. When I quickly assessed that he used it for his own kids, I thought, hey why not mine?

One day while I was a couple of chapters in, Juliana asked me what book I was reading. I showed it to her and explained what it was about. She was smiley and said, “I want to learn.” Now, I originally thought I would read the whole book first and then give it a go but abandoned that because she was willing, eager and in a good mood. For parents of toddlers – you know take those opportunities when they come! She is 4 years old and spunky as all hell.

I explained that she would repeat after me – she can’t really read yet so this is a bit of a challenge with the sentence strips. I pointed to the words as I said them so maybe we could get some sight recognition practice too.

We started with “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows.” We said it a few times with the book and then I put the book down. but she wanted more. We went back and gobbled up “Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows”. It became a cute little phrase we danced to, sang to, cooked to and cuddled to throughout the day. She thought it was fun.

Then life happens and things get in the way. Shakespeare took a back seat to doctor’s appointments, work, dinner, diapers, toys, little brothers and everything else. About a week later I was getting ready to text one of my dearest friends in this universe. I was missing her and just needed to say it. She lives in South Carolina and we are in New York. Sunny was getting ready to perform in a production of Midsummer. On a whim I looked up at my daughter and said “I know a bank.”

Can you believe my astonishment that my four year old looked at me and smiled without missing a beat and said with a bucket of pride and sass, “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows. Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows”. I almost cried with joy.

I quickly recorded it for Sunny and sent it to her. What a perfect way to say I love you and celebrate my daughter possibly embracing a shared love and passion of her mom and Auntie. It was magical. We played with the phrase and then left it alone. I was so excited that my daughter had two lines of Shakespeare tucked in her heart, maybe forever. She and I will be bound to Midsummer as long as we breathe. I was in an instant so grateful to Mr. Ludwig for reminding me that love and learning are seeds of happiness.

Thankfully, it doesn’t end there! A few nights ago, my husband and I were sitting on the sofa in the throng of bedtime prep for Juliana and her 1 year old brother, Colin. Their grandmother was on the computer having a quick video chat. Juliana came over to us and said, “Mommy, I want to learn more Shakespeare.”.

swoon.

My mother asked her what she meant. She retrieved Ludwig’s book and opened it. She pointed to what I thought a random phrase and started to recite I know a bank. When I looked down, she was pointing to the words I know a bank!!! WTF. We got off the computer and began “Quite over canopied.” We created some hand gestures and within 15 minutes we were four lines of Shakespeare stamped on hearts.

The following day my mother sent emails of pictures of woodbine, oxlips and the other flowers. Juliana decided we should plant them in our garden. I agreed.

We are now on our way to having our very own Shakespeare’s Garden. Love is growing.

 

 

Shakespeare and my kids 1

I have begun reading the first few chapters of “How to Teach your Children Shakespeare”. It’s easy to already see how to implement this into my life. I’m excited.

The other night, after I read the first two Chapters, I went into Juliana’s room to get ready for Bedtime. We cuddled, read stories and began to get drowsy.

She rolled over to look at me and said, “mummy what were you reading?”

“A book about one of my favorite writers and how I can help you to read and love his work. ”

“Who is it Mummy?”

“Shakespeare”

“Can we meet him? Go see him?”

“In a way, we can see his plays performed. Shakespeare is no longer alive. He died a long time ago. ”

“Mummy, is Shakespeare a dinosaur?”

I chuckled and hugged her. We are on our way because my daughter LOVES dinosaurs. “Yes in a way my dear he is. I love you. We will start reading his stuff together soon.”

This is going to be enlightening!

Two of my loves…

  I am combining two of the things I truly love in this world- my kids and Shakespeare. I picked up this book as part of my “teachers choice”. That’s the stipend we are given to buy supplies and such for our classrooms. Every year teachers every where spend thousands of dollars of their OWN money to provide their students with the resources they so desperately need. NYC tosses some coins into our paycheck for such a purpose. It is usually 40-120$. Honestly it’s a drop in the ocean of money spent by teachers but I’ll take those drops gladly. 

I am hoping to use this book to find new ways of infiltrating Shakespeare into my lesson plans. I usually teach at least one play per semester. I bought it hoping it would be more ways for me to build engaging lessons. I’m not going to lie- I teach great Shakespeare classes with my nyc high schoolers. 

However, as soon as I began this book, I became not just inspired but determined to use it with my own kids. Juliana is 4. Maybe that seems young but we will try. Her brother is 10months-  he will get it through our practice. I am so excited. I will post updates as to how it goes. Stay tuned!!!

Please feel free to comment or suggest.