Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Learning”

Oh, for a muse of fire

As a senior English teacher I have the distinction of being the last of a long acquaintance with school literature for my students. Many, if not most students, come in with a surly attitude about English. My goal is to get that frown turned upside down. While I don’t resort to extremes, I have been known for some surprising antics to liven up class. I inject movie clips, silly voices, and theatre activities into the lesson plan.

I enjoy teaching English because I’m actually a librarian at heart (budget cuts). To infuse the love of books is a mission, not a vocation.

At the end of the month my students will have studied a handful of sonnets, examined three Shakespeare plays, watched one live performance of Hamlet, analyzed two of the Bard’s speeches, and have performed one of the speeches from a play. They will be so full of Shakespeare at the end of this unit they will leak iambic pentameter onto their desks. This might cause consternation with the custodians, yet it is all part of my mission to turn these Bardihators into Bardinators. I would be Bardilating even if it wasn’t Shakesyear.

My extra effort Barding might be paying off; I think I might be making headway. We began with Taming of the Shrew, a farce that they could relate to because of Ten Things I Hate About You, and then we went onto a tragedy. I surprised them with Othello, a complicated study of villains and heroes and racial issues that resonates with my students even after 400 years it was first performed.

We moved onto my personal favorite: Hamlet. We explored the first eleven lines together and they realized Shakespeare’s language does not present the barrier they thought they would encounter. We prepared for the climatic duel of act five by going outside and learning  stagecraft fighting with duct-taped yardsticks.

I teach the same lesson six times, slightly modified, due to being the only senior English teacher this year, so my Shakespearience becomes even more enriched over the years because the math computes to a lot of repetition of knowledge. I’ve always said the best education I’ve received is from teaching.

As for students and their absorption of English? I wonder how much impact I will have. Will students fondly or disdainfully remember my efforts to interject the muse of Shakespeare’s fire into their lives? Will there be Renaissance Man moment, when they will recite a few lines or carry the meaning of a studied play with them into their future life? I hope so.

For now, my librarian-teacher  heart will continue to thrill when students make comments like: “I really like this. I really like digging into this Shakespeare stuff.”

My fire is amused.

image: pintrest

Back-to-School Reads for All Ages

I have been going back to school for longer than I care to admit.  First it was as student (that’s 18 years), then more as a student (add on 6+ years), and then as I raised a family I watched them go back to school (another 18+ years), and here I am back at school, except I am on the other side of the desk (add on 12+ years).

Going back to school creates mixed feelings, doesn’t it?  It signifies the end of summer, yet it’s a new year. It’s finding old friends and making new ones. It’s reviewing old concepts while compiling new knowledge. It’s mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar.  It’s a good thing authors know all about these feelings and have provided books to help anyone through the September Struggles.

Here is a list of suggested reads from as a means of coping with all those changes, expectations, and palpitations as we all head back to school.  Even if you don’t have a child in school, school will always be a part of who we are as a culture and as a society.  Learning doesn’t stop once you get that diploma in your hand!

Going to School (Usborne First Experiences)This Is the Way We Go to School: A Book About Children Around the WorldPirates Go to SchoolEmily's First 100 Days of School

Amelia Bedelia's First Day of SchoolMiddle School, The Worst Years of My Life

Little Critter: First Day of SchoolA Smart Girl's Guide to Starting Middle School (American Girl) (American Girl Library)The Night Before Kindergarten

So Happy Back to School.  And if you are shining up that apple for the teacher I suggest saving it for your lunch and go for the Starbucks gift certificate.  Better yet, Dove dark chocolate.

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