Today was the first day of my two and a half week November Unit on Romeo & Juliet. My students are studying a prose retelling of the play and will be working, within acting companies, toward performing one scene of their choice. Based on today’s journal responses about what they know about Shakespeare or Romeo and Juliet and whether or not they are looking forward to studying this unit, I think that it will work out all right.
I started today off with trying something called picture notes. This class is a group of struggling readers, so I wanted to introduce them to Shakespeare in a way that goes beyond words and employs pictures, gestures and other senses. I found the idea of using picture notes from Michelle Zoss’s article “Visual Strategies for Teaching Student’s Note-taking,” provided through TeachersBridge. For more on how to incorporate the arts into a language and literature curriculum, Zoss cites E.W. Eisner’s “The Misunderstood Role of the Arts in Human Development,” in The Kind of Schools We Need (1998) and E.W. Eisner’s The Arts and the Creation of Mind (2002) as great print resources to consult.
To start off today’s lesson, I drew a picture summary of the events of Romeo and Juliet to use as an example for them and modeled for them how to use picture notes with a brief PowerPoint that I did on Shakespeare’s contributions to language and The Globe Theater.
The class then broke off into groups to read about different aspects of Elizabethan culture and then moved into different groups to teach each other about the aspects of Elizabethan culture in which they had become “experts.” The jigsaw activity was fairly successful except for a goof that I made in terms of numbers. I never claimed to be good at math. The mess-up boggled my mind for longer than I feel comfortable admitting.
Next time I will limit my students to one or two text notes and two pictures, though. I still had some kids who tried to copy down everything that they read on their paper and in my PowerPoint.