April 27

ELA B30 Ap 27/17 Watching Hamlet – film/tv/live choices

We’re reading and performing the play Hamlet together as a class, and many of you are doing a wonderful job of injecting some personality and character into your performances of your roles, versus simply reading out lines. It’s important, too, to watch it performed by actors who have studied it and have their own interpretations of how the characters would behave.

Remember, Hamlet is meant to be viewed as a live performance.

There are several options below for watching a multimedia version of Hamlet. Things to consider in making your choice:

  1. They are of different lengths, so if you choose one that’s longer, you may be committing to finishing viewing it at home on your own personal time. It also might be that you would enjoy the longer one more, so it’s worth that extra commitment to you.
  2. The play was intended to be performed live. Watching the live performance may seem more authentic to how it would have been originally received in Shakespeare’s time. And Benedict Cumberbatch is a pretty animated looking Hamlet.
  3. You may prefer one actor over another. Kenneth Branagh and Mel Gibson are both well known for their portrayals of Hamlet, though one happens in a more recent modern setting and the other happens in a more medieval castle type setting. Lots will go into your choice.Image result for benedict cumberbatch hamlet

Enjoy, though! This should only reinforce what we’ve already been reading together of the play.

And note: I’m encouraging you to watch in your video choice only as far as we have currently read. If you watch beyond that, you’ll still follow along with us in our performance of the play in class.

Performed January 2017Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet, performed on stage in front of live audience but with moving cameras. This is a great production to watch, because you can hear the audience laugh during the comedy lines. It was recorded and broadcast to Movie Theaters across the UK.

April 25

ELA 9: Ap 25 Winding Down a Year of ELA 9

We’re about to finish our ELA 9 time and begin our focused time studying Social 9.

  1. To reflect on what you hoped for at the beginning of ELA this year, go back to your blog and find the Assess and Reflect Fotobabble (audio) recording you completed where you reviewed how you felt class was going a few weeks in and what goals you hoped to have met through the course.
  2. After listening to your Beginning-Of-The-Year reflection, record an End-Of-The-Year reflection and post it to your blog. This last reflection should include:
    1. What you hoped for from your beginning of year reflection recording.
    2. A review of that – were any of those goals met? did the class continue in a similar way as your first impression?
    3. Focus on some goal-setting forward for next year – what do you anticipate from next year’s Gr 10 class where timelines, completing projects, marks will count? what goals do you want to set to focus on next year? how do you anticipate the class will change?
    4. Consider as well whether you’re becoming more comfortable risking failing to test your skills. How might that continue next year when marks do count?

      Image result for looking back


April 24

ELA 9 Sample Paragraphs – Novel Analysis Essays

Here are some samples of how to develop the type of paragraph you’re about to write.


One of the first signs of maturity in this novel is when Mariam has to cook her first meal for her and Rasheed, all by herself. She is fifteen at the time, and has just moved away from her home where her mother has died, and has to cook and clean for her husband for the first time without any guidance. Mariam has never been in this situation where she has to cook for a man by herself, because her mother had always been there to help. Mariam tries something  challenging and “[makes] fresh dough, kneading it the way [her mother] had shown her”(65). Mariam is fifteen and already she is taking on a huge responsibility of taking care of not just any man, but her husband who she has just met. No fifteen year old girl should have to be thrown into a situation like this, but Mariam was, and she handled the situation very well, better than a normal girl her age would have. Mariam shows a lot of maturity as she grows throughout the novel but this is one of the earliest and most significant events.


In addition to Clay’s denial of the tapes, comes his dread of just wanting them to be over. Emotional stress starts to overcome Clay as he listens to these tapes, just waiting to hear the reason why he is involved. He sits with grief waiting for the current tape he is on to finish. Expressing his emotions, he moans “I’m ready to get this over with”(99). The actions of Clay shows that he does not want to take part in these tapes anymore. Comparing this example, Clay yet again is changing his attitude. Observing this, readers recognize the main character does not want to be in the position he is, but continues to change throughout the novel to change throughout the book.

The first example of how the main character changes throughout the book  is that Hannah Baker starts off as an innocent and carefree girl. She is young and new to town and wants nothing more than a fresh start. In the first summer there, she meets a boy who she starts to like and likes her back. Hannah “simply wanted a kiss and [she] wanted [her] first kiss to be… innocent”(23-25).  Rumors, however, spread like wild fire and soon Hannah’s reputation starts to change. She goes  from being known as the pure new girl to being known as a girl with a damaged reputation. This newly developed image of Hannah is based off of lies and it has a lasting effect on her.  Before this, she is not worried what others thought of her and, for the most part,  lived carefree. After this, though, she begins to second guess her actions and think about the long term results that could come from them.  Her innocence was taken away from her and this starts a chain reaction of changes in Hannah’s life .




April 13

ELA B30 Studying Hamlet – the most popular of Shakespeare’s plays

Studying any Shakespeare text is a challenging task. The texts were written 400 years ago in a different time, different culture, with different gender roles and a different context. For us, it isn’t that we try and are able to read the original or modern translation of the text on a first try; for us, it’s more important that we understand the storyline and the different connections we can make between the play and our own world and lives.

For that reason, you’re going to “get to know” Shakespeare and the play of Hamlet before we read it. Understanding the basics of plot and expectations of Shakespeare plays in advance will make reading through the play go much easier and our conversations can be of a deeper topic, like motivations of characters, development of conflicts, and more.


With a partner or on you own, do some online research and learn about each of the following elements of the writing/author listed below. You’re expected to write out by hand what information you find and collect from online, since handwriting leads to longer-lasting memories and understanding.

  1. Shakespeare:
    1. Why is he still so popular in modern times and today? How is he represented by our mass media?
    2. Why is he still taught in schools, when there are so many other great authors and texts that have been developed in the last 400 years?
    3. Are William’s stories original or copies of other people’s existing stories?
    4. Most significant/unique features of his writing?
    5. What is the format of a Shakespeare drama – a five act play?
    6. Was Shakespeare a single person? What evidence is there that he was multiple people?
    7. Even in the tragedy plays, like Hamlet, there is always a comedy element. What is the purpose for this?
    8. What was believed at the time, 400 years ago, of ghosts and their use in plays? What did they represent?
  2. The play Hamlet
    1. What interesting facts or trivia can you find of this play?
    2. What types of modern retellings of the play are there? For example, are there movies that are based on this plot/story but altered a bit? What are they? Ex: The Lion King
    3. This play is a classic Elizabethan Tragedy Play – what are the characteristics of this?
  3. Characters of the Play – (you can make a concept map or chart for these responses)
    1. What two family groups are there in the play?
    2. What characters are neutral – loyal to both sides of the family feud?
    3. Who are the main characters? Secondary characters?
    4. Are there any archetype or stock characters in this film? Identify a few.
    5. What makes a tragic hero?
    6. How are women typically represented in Shakespeare’s plays? How do they typically die and what does that say of how they were considered at the time?
    7. What was the purpose or role of “madness” used in Shakespeare’s plays?
  4. What themes exist in the play?
  5. What is the plot of the play? How do things develop, become more complicated, and then are resolved? (Note – you might decide to avoid learning the final outcome of the play, to naturally enjoy it as we read/perform it.)
  6. Develop five questions you are left with now that you hope to have answered by the time we’ve performed and read the play.
April 7

A3.1 Choosing a Poem for your Performance

Your next assignment in ELA B30 is to select a poem of appropriate difficulty level and at least 15 lines and to dramatically perform it for the class.

Ways of completing this assignment:

    1. If you’d like to book time to perform your poetry reading live in private, like during a lunch hour or before or after school, we could see if that’s possible.
    2. Another way of performing your poetry reading would be to record it. It would involve you memorizing your poem, practicing a dramatic reading of it, considering the appropriate use of body language gestures, eye contact to the camera, and possibly even background effects (setting, music, lighting) to enhance your presentation.
      With the recorded method, you have a lot more control over the elements and clarity of your assignment; if you make a mistake, you start over. That’s a pretty big benefit to this choice.
      If you did consider the recorded version, use an example like the video below (or others shared online) to help you picture what that could look like. You may have seen this video before, as I’ve used it as an example of dramatic poetry reading in other grades!

To help you get a sense of poems that would be suitable for this assignment, I’m going to give you a few links of ones that would work well for your choice.

You could also consider whether any poems shared in the Google Doc for your CC activity in Section A3 would be suitable and interesting to you. 


Megan Married Herself – woman decides to be her own partner in life and has a wedding

Death is Nothing at All – (dead) speaker claims death doesn’t change a relationship with a loved one who died 

After the Dinner Party – host of a party realizes her guests don’t recognize what is valuable to her

The Friend – the strange cycle of gaining and losing friendships

Sorcery – the dangers of attraction

Old Love – author recounts how a relative mourned their wife of many decades

The Wolves – family members watch someone ill and suffering as they dye slowly

Love, I’m Done With Yououch, a bitter breakup poem! 

I am Trying to Break Your Heart taxidermy comparison

To You Again – someone in a relationship feels unnoticed

Good Bones – a mother explains how she tries to filter the bad of the world from her kids (harsh tone)

Little Exercisea poem about wallowing in the negative 

Respirationfeeling uneasy in your skin, even to breathe 

Elegy for Mother, Still Living – man recounts the parent-child relationship when he was a boy compared to seeing her old now

Snow Fallinga man whose daughter has wanted to play outside with him but he couldn’t because he was ill

Bluebells – a woman holds her child in a flower field and expresses both tranquillity and tension

I Could Touch it a man’s wife is ill and he selfishly wants his adult son near for comfort

Poem Which Talks Back to Itself – poem speaks to parents of a boy who went missing/was murdered?

Tula [“Books are Door Shaped”] – a young girl longs to read books but is forbidden

An Irish Airman Foresees his Death – contemplates what good he is doing, if any, in the war

Blackberry Pickingmemories of collecting buckets of berries in the summer 

The One About the Robbers – author recollects a fond memory with her father

kitchenette building – the mundane business of a family

Ox Cart Manthe cycle of harvest and sale on the farm 

Those Winter Sundaysa writer looks back recognizing how much his father cared for him 

Playing Deadmemories of a game a father played with his kids

Poem for Harukoa poem of longing for a past relationship/feeling

I am Offering This Poem – author has little to share to show love

What I Never Told you of Marriagewoman recounts her doubt even before marrying her husband 

Dear Lifecomparing being in love to being a fish caught on a hook 

In Defense of a Long Engagement – contemplating on the promise of marriage as being most important

Sideman – comparisons of other famous pairs

The Song is You – narrated from the perspective of a musical instrument abandoned and missing the love of its artist







April 6

ELAB10 Pre-Reading Inquiry – The Dirty 30s

You’re about to read a novella (short novel) set in the Dirty 30s of America. To understand the relationships and context of the story’s plot, you’ll need to learn a bit about that era of history.

Do some online digging and find out a few things about each of the following:

  1. America in the Dirty 30s – The Great Depression
  2. The Dustbowl
  3. Migrant Workers
  4. Unemployment Rates
  5. Why Men Left their Families
  6. Riding the Rails (traveling by train)
  7. Role differences of men and women
  8. What happened to children during the Depression
  9. Look up Photography of The Dirty Thirties and skim through them

Once you’ve learned about these things, you’re ready to read the novel.

You can also read the summary of or watch at home the film Cinderella Man. It’s set in a similar time and includes many of these characteristics of the time.

April 5

ELA 9 Identity novel reading: LOTF or The Outsiders

This will be our last big project in ELA 9 this year. You have typically been free to select your own novel for independent reading, but this time you’ll select from one of two options:

  1. The Outsiders is a short novel based around two opposing groups of youth from a small community. It’s set in the 1960s and focuses on one young boy’s struggle to figure out who he is as he faces tough peer pressure.
  2. Lord of the Flies is also a short novel based on a group of boys whose plane is shot down during War. With no adults surviving and being stranded on an island in the Pacific, the boys have to establish some method of decision making. There are conflicts over what type of government style they want for their new, temporary society.

I only have a few paper copies of these books, so you may likely read them on your iPads. Here are digital copies of both books. Download them so they stay on your devices. You’ll also be highlighting parts as you read and you’ll need to refer back to those parts for an after-reading project.

The Outsiders online pdf copy

Lord of the Flies online pdf copy


While Reading: collect evidence (references and page numbers) of characters figuring out their sense of identity. It can include:

  • how they face difficult choices
  • the struggle between what they want and what they do instead
  • the pull of peer pressure influencing choices
  • the conflict with another character who is very opposite them in qualities (characters compared can help you understand both characters better than just one character on its own)
  • what types of fears they voice to themselves or others
  • how they treat their friends/those closest to them
  • other elements that you feel contributes to that character’s sense of Identity.

Be sure to collect and track these moments in the text As you’re Reading, because it’s much harder to find them after you’ve finished reading.