Archive for March, 2009

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

I’m the visible light from a flickering fire;
I’m the person you see with romantic desire;
When you log on the ‘Net to call someone a liar;
And a Calgary athlete who might face a Flyer.

Who am I?

UPDATE: Riddle solved by Ro. See comments for answer.

McKellen Lear on PBS TONIGHT

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, set your DVRs. Via the Shakespeare Geek, we learn that the Ian McKellen King Lear will be on PBS tonight. Check your local listings. Here in New York, it will be on Thirteen at 8pm.

I saw McKellen play King Lear live, and I can highly recommend this production.

Shakespeare Sunday

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

I’d like to start a new weekly feature where I discuss the teaching of Shakespeare. I know – that’s the last thing you’d expect from this blog – but let’s give it a try and see how it goes. Over the next few months, I’m planning to teach The Merchant of Venice, Othello, and Hamlet to different eighth-grade classes, plus I’ll be doing Macbeth and Shakespeare in general with my graduate students, so I should have a lot to share over the next few months.

This week, I began working with an eighth-grade class on The Merchant of Venice. These students will be creating a video (similar to the Cymbeline video the same teacher’s class created last year). I came in to give students an introduction to the play. I happen to be working with the same students in their Social Studies class on our Civil Rights unit, and I’m looking to make cross-curricular connections, so we began by looking at Shylock’s speech from Act I, Scene iii:

Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my moneys and my usances:
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.
You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spet upon my Jewish gaberdine,
And all for use of that which is mine own.
Well then, it now appears you need my help:
Go to then; you come to me, and you say,
‘Shylock, we would have moneys:’ you say so;
You, that did void your rheum upon my beard,
And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur
Over your threshold: moneys is your suit.
What should I say to you? Should I not say,
‘Hath a dog money? Is it possible
A cur can lend three thousand ducats?’ or
Shall I bend low, and in a bondman’s key,
With bated breath, and whispering humbleness,
Say this:—
‘Fair sir, you spet on me on Wednesday last;
You spurn’d me such a day; another time
You call’d me dog; and for these courtesies
I’ll lend you thus much moneys?’

I asked the students to interpret the speech, and they seemed to have no trouble at all understanding what Shylock was saying. We went through the rest of the scene and the students understood the deal being made and the motivations behind it on both sides. When we got to the last lines of the scene…

Come on: in this there can be no dismay;
My ships come home a month before the day.

…the students understood that Antonio’s ships would not be coming in. The teacher made a nice connection to the current financial crisis that caught everyone by surprise. We also covered Portia’s father’s challenge by reading Morocco’s examination of the three caskets in the next scene. Before we looked at Morocco’s choice, the students predicted that the lead casket was the correct one, because it’s always the most unlikely one. One student (who “hates Shakespeare”) explained that Portia’s father didn’t want someone for his daughter who was selfish or greedy. I’m really going to enjoy working with this class.

We showed them the Cymbeline video and invited them to start thinking about what they might want to do with The Merchant of Venice. And now that the students’ interest is piqued, the teacher is going to go back and cover the characters and themes before the students start reading the play.

More next week!

Shakespeare Anagram: Hamlet

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

From Hamlet:

The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

There is a dearth of depth to this hit online platform.

Do trendy photos without hugs please?

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

I’m to break from a prison, or otherwise flee;
To put real life on hold to be mentally free;
I’m the Piña Colada song; Ford’s SUV;
And to ask a computer to halt, I’m your key.

Who am I?

UPDATE: Riddle solved by Little Fish. See comments for answer.

Word of the Week: Community

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

The word of the week is community.

It’s a word I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, as I’ve been doing a lot of leaning on my own community over the past few weeks. I’ve also been thinking about how new technologies and changes in society affect our idea of community.

Today is Wednesday. Since last Wednesday, I…

  • attended a Bris for my cousin’s son.
  • ended my 30-day mourning period for my mother.
  • participated in a live reading of The Comedy of Errors with a group I found online.
  • reconnected via e-mail with a close childhood friend I lost touch with 15 years ago.
  • participated in a learning community seminar about 21rst century schools with my work colleagues.
  • was called for an aliyah at the Bar Mitzvah of another cousin’s son.
  • visited my sister in the hospital and held my 10-hour-old niece.
  • conducted a day-long data workshop that helped a school identify a pervasive student learning problem.
  • began teaching The Merchant of Venice to an 8th-grade class who will be creating a video project based on the play.
  • joined Facebook.
  • was invited to present at a conference at the Folger on teaching Shakespeare in the elementary school.
  • participated in a webinar, cosponsored by the Folger and PBS, that brought together 176 Shakespeare teachers from across the country.

Traditional community structures such as family, school, religion, and professional networks are supplemented and even augmented (though never replaced) by technology and an increased focus on interconnectivity and collaboration. What I learned this week, though, is that there’s no substitute for being there in person.

Welcome to the world, Elena. You have big shoes to fill.

Shakespeare Anagram: Measure for Measure

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

From Measure for Measure:

What sin you do to save a brother’s life,
Nature dispenses with the deed so far
That it becomes a virtue.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

Obama, with no hesitation, waives the defeated Bush’s evil order to stop test research in future days.

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

I am candy or soap; or a place to buy shots;
I’m an ingot of gold; I’m a symbol on slots;
I’m a type of a graph that has vertical plots;
And a legal exam that can tie you in knots.

Who am I?

UPDATE: Riddle solved by Little Fish. See comments for answer.


Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

The Shakespeare Teacher has returned. We now return you to the blog, already in progress.

Thanks to DeLisa, Annalisa, Claudia, Ro, and Kimi for helping keep the ball in the air while I was away. Contest results will be posted in a few days. But first, we have some business.

This blog just reached 30,000 hits, and that means that it’s time to break out the cake and SiteMeter counter.

For the record, I was the 30,000th hit. I checked the blog last night when I got home from work at 6:22pm. I was checking to see how close we were to 30,000.

At this point in time, the blog’s Technorati ranking is 228,034 with an authority of 26.

Once again, many thanks to all who have visited, and continue to visit.

Your Move: Googleplex

Friday, March 6th, 2009

The Shakespeare Teacher is out. It’s your move.

Today’s challenge is based on the Googleplex feature.  Normally, I provide search terms that lead to this site.  Now, you will.

The challenge is to find a search term that returns this site as the first hit on Google.

You may use quotations marks to narrow the search.  For example, “Thursday Morning Riddle” returns this site in the top two spots and most of what follows.  But in a search for Thursday Morning Riddle (without the quotes) this site doesn’t even make the top ten.

The results can be surprising.  This site is first in a quoteless search for Shakespeare Teacher.  And I’m not even in the top twenty for Shakespeare Anagram, quotes or no!

Entries are due by March 10.  I will return and choose the most creative or surprising entry.