My teaching of Richard III didn't feel as good as it did last year. I'm still trying to figure out why, but, for some reason, it just didn't feel like the kids "got it" like they did last year. I did the same kind of cool Folger activities -- film comparisons, performance, etc. -- that I did last year, but something was missing.
One issue that I have, and have had for a while, is figuring out the best way to "get through" the play, or, really, any work of literature. This is a pretty basic need to figure out in an English classroom, but I still play around with it. One option is to assign a text, provide some pre-reading activities to open up understanding, and then come back together at the end for activities that will deepen understanding. That's pretty much how you do it in college classes. The polar opposite is how I do the literature with the 9th graders - a lot of hand-holding as we go, and we go through the literature very slowly (sometimes too slowly) to make sure they "get it".
I feel like I went too slowly through Richard III, stopping every day for a cool activity, and then assigning some more, and then stopping again for an activity. I don't know why it felt so slow this time, but I'm taking the opposite approach with Much Ado About Nothing -- a break-neck pace, reading through an act a day in class until Thanksgiving. It's worked so far; we discuss it a little bit as we go, but mostly we're just up and acting it out. Literally, we finished Act I on Thursday and Act II on Friday. We'll be done by Thanksgiving, and then return to do some real work with the plot.
I'm loving it, and the "getting through" the book seems to be working. One kid told me yesterday that my class was the only reason he came to school, because he wanted to act so bad. And he's playing hapless Claudio, too. Another girl has taken to calling herself "Don Pedro" all day in all of her classes, since that's her role. I'm loving it.
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