Category Archives: teaching

And so it begins…

Sorry for the lack of posts. Been fairly busy. Teaching the students how to write expository paragraphs. When not being simply wiped by the end of the day, from all the moving around class troubleshooting and helping revise sentences, I’m usually now grading papers. And then there’s the lesson planning…

But there’s the rub…

It’s finally the week that we dive into Shakespeare and Julius Caesar with the sophomores (the permanent teacher does Romeo and Juliet with the freshman in the spring…sigh…you all know that’s one of my faves). Today, a physicalization of iambic pentameter, and showing how it can reveal both the important words to note as well as characterization. Tomorrow, a little Roman history, and we dive in.

I’ve got two exercises planned for the coming weeks, neither of which I’ve ever done in the classroom. One is a physicalization of Casca’s freak-out in Act One, Scene Three:

Are not you moved, when all the sway of earth
Shakes like a thing unfirm? O Cicero,
I have seen tempests when the scolding winds
Have rived the knotty oaks, and I have seen
Th’ ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam
To be exalted with the threat’ning clouds;
But never till tonight, never till now,
Did I go through a tempest dropping fire.
Either there is a civil strife in heaven,
Or else the world, too saucy with the gods,
Incenses them to send destruction.

A common slave (you know him well by sight)
Held up his left hand, which did flame and burn
Like twenty torches joined; and yet his hand,
Not sensible of fire, remained unscorched.
Besides (I ha’ not since put up my sword),
Against the Capitol I met a lion,
Who glazed upon me and went surly by
Without annoying me. And there were drawn
Upon a heap a hundred ghastly women,
Transformèd with their fear, who swore they saw
Men all in fire walk up and down the streets.
And yesterday the bird of night did sit
Even at noonday upon the marketplace,
Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies
Do so conjointly meet, let not men say
“These are their reasons, they are natural,”
For I believe they are portentous things
Unto the climate that they point upon.
  • I.iii.3-13, 15-32

Each student gets a single line (noted by its position in the speech, as well as color-coded for chunks of meaning); for my smaller class, some lines are omitted, for my larger, some are duplicated. Each student (or group, in cases of duplications) works out a physicalization for the important words and ideas in her line. We go around in a big circle and go through the speech. Then they get into their groups (broken down by sentences or major clauses in the speech); they teacher their moves to their group-mates. Then we get back into our circle and our groups perform the multi-line physicalizations they’ve learned. This will help cement the meaning of the speech, which in turn will help them understand why the same Casca–so urbane just a scene earlier–is freaking out.

Later, I’ve got another exercise in store for a section of Antony’s funeral oration…but more on that later.

Right now, I’ve got to get some sleep…