Monday, October 31, 2011

Teacher Reflections: Halloween reminds me of Romeo and Juliet

Ahh...'Tis the season to be scary.  I think it is fair to say that when most people think of Halloween, they think of costumes, candy, and scary things.  Me on the other hand... I think of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.  Not only do I think of Romeo and Juliet because they see each other for the first time at a costume party...very fitting for the season.  During my first year of teaching we received our curriculum and were horrified to find that Shakespeare was in the second unit which ended, conveniently, at the end of October.

As I've said previously, I became a teacher through the Teach for America program and I was placed in a school where most of the students were economically disadvantaged.  Most of my students were years behind in school.  I had one student reading on a second grade reading level.  I taught ninth grade.  I had a makeshift whiteboard that someone created by buying shower board (like the stuff you put in a bathroom) and gluing it to the blackboard.  My blackboard had to be covered because the number of curse words etched into the board made it impossible to use.  Things in my classroom were different than in many other classrooms.  So long story short, I didn't think my students would be ready for Shakespeare.  I thought it would be too difficult and I thought they wouldn't be able to connect  I put in some major time working on this unit with a fellow teacher (Ms. Storti).  We really worked hard to connect the play with our students' lives and the results were amazing.  If you really believe in students—all students—they will really surprise you.  By the end of the unit, students were using what we called "Shakespearean insults" and the unit sparked many lively discussions from my previously sullen, quiet, and easily bored students.  This was the best unit for my students by far.  It is this time of year, when I miss being in my classroom.

Somehow, I manage to think of books and literature in everything :)  Oh I'm nerdy and it is okay.  When people think of candy... I think of a lovely play by William Shakespeare.

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