Category Archives: Classic Literature

10min #PuppetShow of #Othello for #EnglishTeachers and #Renfaire fans

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As I’ve promised, this is the puppet show we made in my sophomore English classes during the 2015-1016 school year. You’re welcome to use this in your classroom, but please show your appreciation by sharing, liking, and/or pinning the video with a link back to this website. Thanks! (Those links, by the way, will take you to my various social media pages.) If you want the puppet patterns, they’re free to download on this website. Just click on “Shakespeare, William” in the list of Categories in the right-hand margin.

I’ve also created a number of sewing patterns for Barbie-sized dolls in a video production of Romeo and Juliet. If you’d like to see my free, printable sewing patterns for Renaissance costumes for dolls, please visit my most popular website, ChellyWood.com.

Also, if the school where you teach offers a Secret Santa program, you might want to check out my Secret Santa blog at that link. It offers free poems, craft patterns, and gift ideas for Secret Santas/Secret Pals.

FREE Printable #ShakespeareSunday Puppet Pattern for #EnglishTeachers and #Thesbians

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Image of two-dimensional paper puppet pattern pieces, including arms, legs, head, and clothing items. Overlay says, "English Emporium dot Word Press dot com."

Visit EnglishEmporium.WordPress.com for more free patterns and printables for English teachers.

Yes, here’s the female puppet pattern I created for my students to use in my sophomore English classes during the 2015-1016 school year. You’re welcome to download and/or print this for use in your own classroom, but please be so kind as to help promote this website by sharing, liking, and/or pinning the image. Thanks! (Those links, by the way, will take you to my various social media pages.)

Next month I’ll release the video showing how we used these puppets in a video production of Shakespeare’s Othello. However, this puppet will work for nearly any play with a medieval or Renaissance setting.

If you’ve just stumbled across this post, the easiest way to find more Shakespeare teacher tricks, tips, and tools is to click on “Shakespeare, William” in the side margin’s menu.

I’ve also created a number of sewing patterns for Barbie-sized dolls in a video production of Romeo and Juliet. If you’d like to see my free, printable sewing patterns for Renaissance costumes for dolls, please visit my most popular website, ChellyWood.com.

Free, printable male #Shakespeare Character Puppet for #English #Curriculum

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Image of puppet blackline master for use in the English classroom with Shakespearean plays like Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and other Renaissance or medieval settings. (Costume worn by puppet would suit a Renaissance or medieval setting.) Overlay says: "English Emporium dot Word Press dot com."

Please visit EnglishEmporium.WordPress.com to see lesson plans and sample videos showing how to use this puppet in the English classroom.

Yes, here’s the puppet pattern I created for my students to use in my sophomore English classes during the 2015-1016 school year. You’re welcome to download and/or print this for use in your own classroom, but please be so kind as to help promote this website by sharing, liking, and/or pinning the image. Thanks! (Those links, by the way, will take you to my various social media pages.)

Next month I’ll post the female puppet pattern, and in September, I’ll release the video showing how we used these puppets in a video production of Shakespeare’s Othello. However, this puppet will work for nearly any play with a medieval or Renaissance setting.

If you’ve just stumbled across this post, the easiest way to find more Shakespeare teacher tricks, tips, and tools is to click on “Shakespeare, William” in the side margin’s menu.

I’ve also created a number of sewing patterns for Barbie-sized dolls in a video production of Romeo and Juliet. If you’d like to see my free, printable sewing patterns for Renaissance costumes for dolls, please visit my most popular website, ChellyWood.com.

Use the #LibraryOfCongress to Help Inspire Your #CivilWar Journal #WritingPrompts (Links @ EnglishEmporium.WordPress.com)

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Image of Civil War soldier William H. Rockwell holding rifleThe Library of Congress has been quite a blessing to me, as my students have read Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage. Did you know the Library of Congress offers a plethora of photographs taken during the American Civil War? It’s an amazing collection!

 

The picture I’m showing here is one I used with some of my students’ daily journal-writing. Here are some of the prompts I’ve offered during one week in October, when we first started reading the classic novel:

Monday, Oct. 26:  Turn to the very first page of Chapter 1 in Stephen Crane’s novel, Red Badge of Courage.  Look at the bottom of the page. One of the last sentences is about a Negro teamster. This is the only black person mentioned in this entire Civil War novel. Copy those two, brief sentences from the book into your notes and write a sentence or two describing the irony of a Civil War novel that has so few African American characters in it. (Add this entry to your latest chapter notes.)

Tuesday, Oct. 27: Take a good look at the photograph of Private William H. Rockwell of North Carolina (right). Imagine how old he was when this photograph was taken. Write a paragraph describing him. Include a description of the family he left behind when he went to war, the education he received before he went to war, and the type of person he was. (Add this entry to your latest chapter notes.)

Wednesday, Oct. 28: Look back at Yesterday’s journal. How are Stephen Crane’s character of Henry Fleming and your description of Private William H. Rockwell alike? How are they different? (If you were absent Monday, just take a look at a classmate’s journal to do this.) Add this entry to your latest chapter notes.

Thursday, Oct. 29:  How would Red Badge of Courage be different if told from the point of view of an African American soldier in the Union Army? (Add this entry to your latest chapter notes.)

“Look Here!” Voice and Persona in #Poetry with Seattle #Poet Carolyne Wright at the #PNWA Summer Conference

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Image of Seattle Poet, Carolyne Wright reading a poem aloud beside a microphone

Image of Carolyne Wright at 2015 PNWA Summer Writers’ Conference

I’ve recently returned from the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association‘s summer writers’ conference 2015. This was the PNWA’s 60th anniversary, so they had quite a large turnout. As usual, the classes were taught by some phenomenal people. This class, “Look Here!” Voice and Persona in Poetry, taught by a resident poet of Seattle named Carolyne Wright, really dug at my soul as a writer and inspired me to delve into the souls of the characters I write about.

I’m sharing my class notes here, in the hope that I can pass that inspiration on to other writers who follow this blog:

In poetry we often think that the “speaker” of a poem is somehow greater than, less than, or equal to the poet. But Wright finds a poem can have a persona of its own.

In Greek, the “persona” referred to the mask worn by the actors in a theater production. The audience could identify the characters from mythology based on this mask and its features. Connect this image with the poem. Think of the poem as the mask. It hides the poet, showing us the face of someone else in all his or her emotional glory.

So when we read a poem, we need to remember that the voice in a poem isn’t always the voice of the poet.

Poems can do what plays do, without actually using dialogue. In poems we have what’s called dramatic monologues. It’s not the same thing as dialogue. Monologue is just one individual’s internal thoughts and ideas being expressed. Dialogue is between two individuals. But monologue helps us explore the inner life of a character.

We, as readers, want to understand, but often are baffled by, what makes other people tick. A writer has the gift to be able to do this exploring through the creation of a poem.

When you read a poem, ask yourself this: if you were reading that poem as part of a play, what would you infer about the character who is saying it?

Wright directed our class to read “Look Here” by Pamela Alexander, and afterwards, we discussed that poem:

In a poem, there are no stage directions, and often no specific information about the setting. But you can imagine these things.

After reading a poem like “Look Here,” we could, as an exercise, write a new poem in the voice of the “she-bear” or the POV of the male to whom the poem is directed.

In poetry, repetition is a strategy for building power in the “speaker” within the poem. Pamela Alexander uses repetition effectively this way.

Next, our class read “Monet Refuses the Operation” by Lisel Mueller.

Here’s a woman poet, writing in the voice of a French impressionist painter who had cataracts, and whose paintings reflect his fuzzy vision. Imagine this poem being written by a novelist who wants to “inhabit” the body of Claude Monet and offer up his reasoning for not having an operation to “correct” his vision.

In doing so, Mueller explores Claude Monet’s understanding of life and the value of life as a blind person.

Next our class read “Mary Poppins II: That’s Ms. Poppins to You” by Allison Joseph.

The voice of Ms. Poppins sounds African American, not British. It’s very obvious, that in the voice of this character, this woman is no Julie Andrews. This nanny points out class differences in this poem. She also demands respect that she’s not getting.

We can always write a reply to the poems or the stories we read. Pay attention to minor characters. What might they say in a poem?

 

As our class came to a close, we read poems that were replies to each other. They were:

In conclusion, our teacher, poet Carolyne Wright, offered suggestions to those of us in the audience who consider ourselves more story-writers than poets:

Poetry and prose really blend into one another. For a certain kind of emphasis, for a certain rhetorical effect, you can blend your poetry into the prose you write as a novelist.

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In retrospect, now that I’m home and thinking back on the class I took with Carolyne Wright, I realize that I’ve been using poetry to help me create my prose for some time now. In fact, some of the scenes for which I receive the most positive feedback from my beta readers, are those for which I have written poems to help me shape their descriptive elements.

At the end of class, I happily purchased Carolyne Wright‘s book of poems, Mania Klepto: The Book of Eulene. I think my students will enjoy reading these poems in the coming school year.

#Othello Paper Doll Project for #English #Teachers

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Image of two boys cutting out paper dolls

Image: iClipart

I’ve been doing a lot of blog posts for writers lately and neglecting my English teacher friends out there in Cyberspace. So today’s blog post is just a quick idea that I used, with great success, while teaching Shakespeare’s Othello.

First, I had students read aloud, taking parts in the play, in the traditional way. Then I offered an “intermission” game to keep students from getting bored. At the end of class, after the “intermission” was over, we went back to reading, if time allowed.

For our first intermission game, students had to design a stage on a piece of over-sized paper. Students drew and colored their stage, and they were allowed to have curtains and a few simple props like a table and chairs or archways in the background.

For the next day’s intermission, I had the students cut out paper dolls that were wearing Renaissance “underwear,” and they had to design, cut out, and glue costumes to fit these paper dolls. I had to give the kids construction paper for the costumes, and I provided everyone with scissors and glue.

The third day’s intermission was a chance for students to paste their paper dolls on the stage for specific scenes from Othello.

Now I teach sophomores, and at first, I worried the students would think this project was ridiculous and childlike. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was a lot of fun for them. In fact, one class didn’t get to finish their intermission project due to time constraints, and they were pretty upset about it!

So even if you teach high school students, it’s worth giving this activity a shot. If nothing else, the paper doll project will help them envision the stage as they read the play, and that’s a good thing.

To find some awesome renaissance paper dolls on the Internet, google an artist named Tom Tierney. He has paper dolls in Renaissance attire, pilgrim paper dolls, and ethnic paper dolls.

How to Teach Rhyming Poetry to Middle School Students (or Anyone Else, for That Matter)

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How to teach 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to write poetry that rhymes rhyming poemsNot everyone has the gift of poetic language, right? For those who find it easy, the poems just flow out of you like a river flows off a mountaintop!

For kids who are fairly new to the concept, they need a jumping-off point. It helps to have them hear poetry read aloud. It also helps to have them read a few poems of their own.

But how do you help them create poems that demonstrate rhyme? I recommend that you start with a rhyming web. You can see an illustration of one of these displayed on this page. Students who are writing a poem about baseball might start with the words ball or throw. They can then create a spider web of words that rhyme with ball or throw.

From there, you often have to help them remember that the rhyming words generally fall at the ends of lines. Otherwise, you’ll get poems that look like this:

throw the ball

to and fro

I’m a pro at baseball

 

To help kids understand the basics, I suggest you visit my page on poetry “rules,” as it offers three basic rules of traditional poetry. By teaching them these three basic rules, you’ll start getting poems that look more like this:

The ball is fun to throw

Back and forth, to and fro

It makes me feel like a real pro!