- The students did well in putting a fair amount of effort and time writing their final exam.
- They were reminded that today was the deadline for their blogs to be marked and added to their class mark. If it was not completed by the end of the school day, they would still be required to complete it but would not receive marks for it. A handful of them stuck around after school to double check how to add the links or embed videos properly. All in all, I’m extremely pleased with the quality of work many have put into their blog project. I’m excited to see how they continue to develop it for their ELA 20 class next year!
- After discussing the overview of the plot for the play Macbeth, students watched a modern version of it and were asked to take notes. Each student was assigned to either the Prosecution side of the argument or the Defense side. They were given these roles in advance so they could anticipate their debate activity and look for evidence to help support their argument.
- Today, we listed all the deaths or illegal acts committed in the play: Duncan’s murder, framing the two illegal Serbian immigrants, arranging to have Billy (Banquo) and his son killed, conspiring to have Macduff’s family killed, the influences leading to Ella’s (Lady Macbeth’s) suicide, and the violent and deadly confrontation between Macduff and Macbeth at the end. We also considered how liable Macbeth should be for the murders as a result of the influence of the garbage men (witches) and any evil spiritual haunting.
- Each student was given three minutes to state their case and present evidence of the facts, starting with the prosecution. Then each was allowed one minute for rebuttal. I used a rubric in determining a mark based on their supporting information, the accuracy of that information, their ability to connect ideas, the clarity and delivery style of those ideas, and their effectiveness in challenging the opposite argument and ability to rebut any major points against them.
- Students were also given a reading package today that includes two short stories and some poems. These pieces of literature will be referenced on the exam. Instead of spending their exam time reading the stories, the students are asked to read them in advance and be prepared to answer questions on them.
- I also gave students a class review that lists the different skills or terms from our class that have been repeated through our discussions. Go through the review and ensure you understand what each of the points are to prepare yourself. The review includes elements from literature responses including short stories and essays, poetry responses and analysis, as well as essay and writing skills. Our exam will be Monday morning so we’ll see you bright and early!
- Also… and this is extremely important. The blog project is a required element of this course. You may pass the class, through the mark acquired by your assignments and exam, but you will not receive credit for it until the blog is complete. You have until Monday to complete it for marks. After that point, you still have to complete it but you will not receive more marks for any work done.
- Yesterday we discussed the basic plot summary of the play and the significance of external forces influencing or even intentionally manipulating Macbeth to act. He is guilty for the murder of several characters in the play, but to what degree is the question we are considering. After a certain point, when Macbeth has already made so many dire mistakes, it doesn’t even seem to matter when he just continues and digs himself deeper and deeper. We can imagine that’s how criminals feel at times – after a certain point when you have no hope anyway, what’s the point of caring about the consequences?
- Yesterday’s cartoon summary of the play helped lay the foundation for students so that when we discuss the characters and watch the modern version of the play they’ll have some prior knowledge to put things into context. The version of the play we are watching is a BBC creation titled Macbeth Retold. It is set in a restaurant in the city and the goal is not to gain the crown and become King of Scotland, but instead to gain control of the restaurant.
- Students were divided into two groups, those watching for evidence to prosecute Macbeth for the murders and those looking for evidence to defend him. We also discussed the difference between criteria that established first degree murder (premeditated and intentional), second degree (intentional but not planned in advance), and manslaughter (guilty of murder but with no intention). Students are asked to take notes as they watch to prepare for their upcoming debate.
- Before starting the movie, though, we watched the opening scene of a very popular and true version of the play, the Roman Polanski version from 1971. The scene contains the witches and starts things off with a very ominous tone. See what you think?
- Then we began watching the Macbeth Retold version staring James Macavoy. It makes things quite clear and carefully shows the scheming nature of Macbeth’s wife. Michael is so annoyed with her influence that he mentioned more than once he wanted to find her and “fix” her. lol
- In the final sub-unit in this Decisions unit, we consider the consequences of decisions made by characters in the Shakespeare play Macbeth. We read through a list of scenarios that all involved someone being killed, by accident or by someone’s purposeful action, and we discussed how evil each action would be on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the ultimate evil. The purpose of this was to realize that the same result (someone dead) can be accepted or condemned depending on what caused that event.
- We read through a summary of the play of Macbeth to get an idea of the general plot. We also watched an animated abridged version so students can get the grasp of causes involved in the play. A lot of things happen but what they will have to determine and analyze while watching the video is how responsible Macbeth is for each action – is he fully responsible or was he more of a pawn and influenced greatly by someone else so his responsibility is low?
- We will begin watching one of the three video versions of the play and students will have to watch and take notes in anticipation of the assignment. (If we run out of time for the assignment, too, what I can do is make it part of the final exam where they would demonstrate their skill in interpreting the cause of events.
- Note: I reminded students the blogs will be due for marking next Monday– a week from today. These are a requirement of the course so they are not optional. One person added two more posts to their blog this weekend, so there are still several who are behind. If there is no progress by Wednesday, I explained that I will start having students stay in to work on it at noon.Also, for those who are not finished the blog on Monday, the day they write their final, they will have to stay at school after writing their exam and finish the project before they are allowed to leave. Mr. Gasper approved this suggestion and will help enforce it on Monday. However, if you have already completed the project, then there are no worries and you will be free to leave after your exam!
Here are links to the three videos we watch that give a general overview of the play of Macbeth.
Here’s a Simpson’s version of the Macbeth plot. See if you can recognize the parts:
- Today is the last Friday of our class!! Our time is absolutely winding down, and quickly! We reviewed the Figurative Language test students wrote on Wednesday and got back yesterday. Then we talked about the value our society places on young people their age – what role do they play in general and what responsibilities are given to them? We read an essay together called “Where the Child is Father of the Man” which was a sort of personal essay where the author reflected on his observations of the very different type of upbringing people in Indonesia get. They have a much more “communal” type of upbringing, where children are raised and cared for by everyone, and not just the primary parents. The benefit of this, he believes, contributes to their generally happier nature – they live with less but appreciate a great deal more.
- Students then were placed in two work groups and asked to collaborate for responses to a question sheet. One person had to be chosen to be their group speaker, but they all had to write down their answers to the questions. Group work is something we’ll have to work to develop more next year!
- Then we talked about the results from the interviews students did in the last few days. Only three out of the ten weren’t finished the activity, which I thought was impressive. The majority seemed to have benefited from having been given the task of sitting down with someone they care about who maybe has some bit of wisdom to pass on. They each shared a thing or two that they learned from the lesson and we wrote them on the board. This is all rhetoric, for now, though; it’ll make sense one day when they’ve experienced a bit more of the “real world”, except if you listen to John Mayer, there is no real “real world”.
Listen to the lyrics of this song and see if you agree.
Here are the lyrics too – there is some real wisdom in what he writes about…
- I handed back several different activities, assignments, and yesterday’s figurative language test to students today. I was able to show them what their report card mark is right now, so hopefully they’ll be motivated to either maintain their efforts or kick it up a notch!
- After talking Wednesday with the kids, we agreed to skip reading one of the short stories in order to have another extra computer class to work on their blog assignments. We worked in the drafting lab today and they all were all asked to pick a computer that wasn’t near a friend likely to distract them. I was really pleased to see some just got right to their work and were efficient. I think others are more comfortable in their ‘stalling’ mode, but they’ve had opportunity.
- Tomorrow, students are supposed to come to class having completed three brief interviews. They were given two questions on Wednesday to use in getting advice from the people they choose. The goal is to learn a little vicariously through the experiences of older and wiser people to maybe guide these Gr 10s in their own decisions making – to maybe have a little more purpose.
- After many, many reminders that they would have to orally present their poetry to the class, and warnings that any no-shows would be given a zero if they chickened out, I was very happy to see that (nearly) everyone was there prepared to go with a little enthusiasm about it even. And since we were inspired to do poetry by the movie we watched, The Dead Poets Society, where their literature-loving teacher Mr. Keating after he put the boys through the exercise of standing up on his desk to see the world from a new perspective, what better location for these Kenaston students to present their own poetry than from atop my own teacher’s desk!! It was a little thrilling for some, it seemed, and less moving for others, but everyone put in a good effort so I have to say I was quite pleased with the class! (And, as a token for their hard work and (as of late) good attitudes, they got Timmies. lol)
- Once our presentations were over, students wrote a figurative language test. They were told last week we’d have this test, and I reminded them yesterday during our poetry class. It was also listed on that three-weeks-till-we’re-done chart they got … three weeks ago.
- Once they were all done that test, and just shortly before the bell went, they got their next assignment – an informal interview assignment. They have to talk to three people, a parent, a teacher they respect, and a role model, and ask them two questions that relate to the values that adult has learned since their youth. The kids have a handout they have to fill in after their talk with each person, they’ll have to synthesize and share with the class what ‘important life lessons’ they learned about and they’ll also have to create a blog entry about it. The idea here is to look to the people they trust in their day-to-day lives, instead of just reading literature, to get a similar message. This conversation sharing our results will happen on Friday. (It’s a little short notice, I’m sorry, but I was sick on Monday and didn’t make the sheet for you.)
Here’s a video made by the lead singer of The Tragically Hip, Gordon Downie, for the poem “Yellow Flowers” written by one of my favorite Canadian poets, Al Purdy. You’ll hear a man’s voice narrate the poem in the video – that’s actually Al from his recording of his poetry. I think Downie’s done a really wonderful job of, firstly, interpreting this poem but also of making poetry more accessible to young people who wouldn’t otherwise be so interested. Watch it and leave me a note about what you think of it!
- We read through several poems with a similar topic of “choices”. We followed the process of reading a new poem, paraphrased the stanzas together, considered the particulars of the author’s style in writing the poem, and answered all the questions together in class.
- Students were reminded their own poems are due to present tomorrow and there will be a figurative language test in the same period.
- I also removed a piece of literature from our reading list in order to give students one extra blog-writing day with computer access. I talked to the kids about their blogs – it dawned on me this morning that the blog project is a major required assignment for the course, so the idea of some students choosing not to complete it isn’t acceptable. In order to receive your credit for this course, even if you have passed the class, you have to finish your blog requirements. You’ll have to time Thursday to ask any questions if you need reminders.