Almost Twenty Questions About…

September is almost over. I feel a bit more comfortable in the classroom, but there are still a few nagging issues that derail me. Yesterday was a presentation day. I think that speaking is an important part of ELA and life. We will all have moments when we will need to say something in front of a crowd, so why not in my class too? However, the background chatter gets pushed up a notch when one of their peers presents. I’ve seen it happen time and time again, and every time I start with a new class, I somehow forget my previous experiences. I tend to think maybe this time will be different, won’t it? Unfortunately, I’ll have to kill a few more trees, and make sure I have presentation surveys ready for the observers next go around. Sometimes students don’t offer too much useful feedback on those surveys, but I think it is important for the speakers to feel like they are being listened to and respected.

Shakespeare. I enjoy reading Shakespeare and examining all the plot twists and builds. Every time I read one of his plays for class, I pick up some new detail in the text, but sometimes I ask myself, how do you get people of this day and age to jump in with both feet? I remember how lame and incomprehensible I thought it was in high school. The only thing that kept me interested was that the teacher played it from a record. That might work, but where do I find a turntable or the album? Mind you, I just liked hearing the scratchiness and occasional divots that would repeat. All that being said, I just have troubles scaling my talks back about a certain scene. I do my best not to give out lines or translate them for the students. We’ll break it down line by line, and I’ll questions about the language or the metaphor being used or some way to help them connect with the text. I’m willing to do this of course, but I’d also love for them to get to a point when they get invested with the text. Maybe they will want to translate a line for their peers. I do see a few sparks of that in class, but I also see a majority of students wonder why the characters aren’t speaking English?

I’ll need to spend some more time coming up with activities that allow for more language play. I might have to break out some of my old ESL lessons and apply them to Shakespeare. Hmmm, maybe that’s worth investigating just for the sake of seeing where it leads. In the end I need to remember to stick with it, and let my students feel uncomfortable with the text at times because I know learning is going to happen. Or, who knows? Maybe I’ll start looking on Kijiji for that turntable.


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