Thursday, January 24, 2008

ugh...worst. blogger. ever.

Yes, it's been a month...Is it obvious that school is back in session?

I'm attempting to teach Julius Caesar right now, and with one class I feel like I'm asking them to rip their teeth out. They're hating every minute of it and are letting me know it.

The class isn't my best behaved class, and they aren't my most hard working class...and many of them had a teacher last year who gave them the "Americanized" Romeo and Juliet and told them that reading Shakespeare is "stupid"...which they've pointed out to me a couple of times. I would say that they've shut down on me, but I don't know that the ignition was ever on. (Like that analogy?) I'm really trying to be patient with them, but it's becoming difficult. We're in Act III, and they won't even attempt to read it. All I hear is, "I don't get it. This is stupid."

I sat down with the reading specialist after school today to brainstorm some strategies for opening up their minds (without giving them the American Shakey). It's funny how talking to someone else will help to create ideas. We started discussing what I wanted, and the ideas just kept flying out of my was great.

I don't know how much my kids will appreciate it, but I'm excited to try some new things tomorrow.


Dr. Bad Ass said...

Oh, lordy. Can I just say that I taught _Julius Caesar_ EVERY year of the 12 years I taught high school English. And every year I taught it, I taught it about 6 periods a day. So there are huge chunks of JC that I have memorized.

I hope you're going to blog about the strategies that you try out and how the students respond. I'd love to hear about it, and I'm sure others will too.

Ms. H said...

Having just taught Macbeth after being Shakespeare-free for two blessed years, I SO feel your pain!!! It sounds like you're on the right path -- keep us posted on how it goes, okay?

And if you need help "convincing" that other teacher to keep her mouth shut so she doesn't make your life harder -- you just let me know. I got people. *wink*

Good to have you back, AT! I've missed ya!

Susan said...

I love it that you worked with the Reading Specialist on this. I hope all goes well. In my Elementary World we worry about teaching Eric Carle well and I can't imagine the task of teaching Ceasar!

Good Luck!

hick town teacher said...

Do you have to teach Julius Caesar? I have one sophomore class, and the sophomore textbook has Julius Caesar in it, but I just can't get myself to teach it. If you have to teach Shakespeare, teach a play you love. If you love the play Julius Caesar, then I believe your class will learn to love it too.

I decided to drop kick the textbook and teach The Taming of the Shrew; that play has some great comical scenes. The kids have a lot of fun acting it out.

Sometimes, I think texbook publishers want students to hate the subjects we teach. And, personally, please don't take offense Dr. Bad Ass, I would die of boredom or completely lose it if I taught the same play for twelve years.

Teacher X Tells all said...

The Los Angeles Times had an article last Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday about prisoners performing Shakespeare. Maybe that will inspire your kids to embrace the original version.

I had good luck with one assignment: I printed out various monologues from Shakespeare and provided a one-sentence synopsis at the top. Then I put the students in groups of three and had them deduce exactly what the person was saying. Overall, they did pretty well, and it seemed to help their confidence with decoding Shakespeare.

This idea is less original: I showed clips from West Side Story and 10 Things I Hate About You before showing the originals from Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew. There's also a Moonlighting spoof of Taming that was moderately helpful.

The students also loved the Leonardo Di Caprio version of Romeo + Juliet and were able to comprehend that just fine. I showed it with the subtitles on.

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Arielle said...

I'd love to hear more about the strategies you came up with to teach this difficult text. JC was a tough one when I was in school, but the influence of that previous teacher is ridiculous!

jaxstar84 said...

oh man i feel your man with the kids not bothering to even try and coming out with "i dont get it. this is stupid". trying to teach some kids the periodic table in science is like pulling teeth! but were all getting there... good luck!!

what is this i don't even said...

That's tough. It's hard for a teacher to deal with behavioural problems when they just want to help students learn. Best of luck with future lessons.

Sofia Sunshine said...

D: I feel your pain