Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Learning Outcomes

1. Gain Shakespeare Literacy
"Demonstrate mastery over fundamental information about Shakespeare’s works, life, and legacy"
  • Breadth: I was looking back over our syllabus at all the plays we've read and I was surprised by how many there are, I had forgotten. I was nervous coming into this class because I'd read many Shakespeare plays and wasn't sure if this class would contribute more plays. I had already read Henry V, Hamlet, Merchant of Venice and many others when I came into the class. Reading The Tempest, Love's Labour's Lost, and Othello were all new. And I came to realize that even though I had read many of the plays before, revisiting them in different formats (audio, kindle, Globe Theater Production, BYU Production) broadened my knowledge even more. I didn't just learn more about the plays but ways to divulge in the plays that I hadn't used previously.
  • Depth: For my research I looked more closely at King Lear and Othello, I studied them with an Indian perspective because those are two of the plays that are commonly taught/performed in an Indian setting. Othello looked a lot like a Bollywood tragedy, particularly after watching "Omkara." It certainly gave me new perspective on the play. Additionally, I realized that looking at King Lear through a Pagan lens made it less of a tragedy. One of my professors explained that Indians are okay with tragedies because "they believe everybody is going to get reincarnated anyway." With a Pagan perspective the reconciliation of Lear and Cordelia is less important and the ending is more acceptable because everybody got what they deserved. I had read King Lear years before and revisiting it after watching "Omkara" completely changed my perspective of it, I read it like a Bollywood movie. So the ways that I studied in-depth weren't traditional but they were beneficial. 
  • Performance: For this learning outcome I attended BYU's Love's Labour's Lost production, their Merchant of Venice production, and I also watched parts of the Globe Theater's Love's Labour's Lost. I also watched "Omkara," an Indian adaptation of Othello, as I mentioned before. I most enjoyed the Globe's Love's Labour's Lost because it seemed like keeping it in the time frame it was written in helped eliminate adaptation issues ( I had a really hard time with "Moth" in BYU's production, though it was also very well done). I thought it was very interesting to watch experienced actors perform the play and their humor was contagious, I wanted to show the play to my whole family.
  • Legacy: When I read "Legacy" I thought "well shoot I didn't do anything for that one," then I saw that it said "scholarship, popular culture, history." I did look a lot into Shakespeare scholarship, particularly Shakespeare in Asia. I checked out books, read articles, and explored the internet. I got a bit consumed in seeing where I could find Shakespeare on the internet...Pinterest, Facebook, Etsy, Stumbleupon, Flickr, and Blogger were just a few of the places. The one thing I didn't look into much is Shakespeare's history, I mean, I know contexts behind the plays and I know a general history of Shakespeare but I don't know every detail of his life and his works. I feel like I learned a great deal about Shakespeare by learning about the authors and politics that surrounded him.
2. Analyze Shakespeare Critically
"Interpret Shakespeare’s works critically in their written form, in performance (stage or screen) and in digitally mediated transformations."
  • Textual Analysis: This was probably one of my weaker areas throughout the semester. I looked at passages from Othello, King Lear, Love's Labour's Lost and the Sonnets. Something that I found interesting is that Shakespeare has mastered the images of humanity and nature. Harold Bloom says "Shakespeare Invented the Human," essentially and a passage that I read from Dryden said the same thing. Everybody at Shakespeare's time called him the poet of nature and as I took this into account I realized that his texts are centered on universal aspects of human nature and that he often compares human events to nature. The themes he discusses and the language he uses all allude to some sort of natural happening, that was something I was continuously interested in over the semester. 
  • Contextual Analysis: Like I said in the "legacy" section, I studied this a lot more than I realized. I looked a lot at secondary scholarships and a bit at Shakespearean history. I was really interested in Shakespeare in the cultural aspect and how we study his works globally. It was fascinating to see that we aren't the only ones interested in Shakespeare's works and how they affect society and what they say about humanity. I was also really interested in the cultural aspect in seeing how we discuss Shakespeare in class and online and how his works just resonate with people.
  • Application of Literary Theories:  One of Gerald Graff's theories is that discussing literature is what makes reading literature worthwhile. I explored this idea in connection with Shakespeare and discovered that the capacity to discuss Shakespeare is what makes his works universal. Maybe everybody doesn't read them in the same way but everybody reads them and everybody discusses them, and that unites us.
  • Analysis of Digital Mediations: I focused a lot on adaptations and how particular adaptations reflect a culture's understanding of Shakespearean concepts. Omkara was probably the most interesting because it wasn't necessarily a strictly accurate adaptation but it did provide some interesting insight into Indian culture. As a group we focused on how digital mediations of Shakespeare's works can be brought into the classroom to enable easier teaching/learning.
3. Engage Shakespeare Creatively
  •  Performance: This isn't something I necessarily focused on a ton but I did go back to a few sonnets I had once known and re-memorized them, particularly sonnet 116 and sonnet 147. I also "performed" in my vlogs in which I discussed Shakespearean works and prepared trailer videos for our final work.
    Individual creative work (literary imitation, art, music)
    Collaborative creative project
  • Individual Creative Work: Well, I'm no artist but I had a good time creating "character cards" that helped me connect all of the characters in the plays. I did this for several of the plays but only posted examples for one (like I said, I'm no artist). Doing this really helped me as I approached the play because I already knew how the characters related to each other. I also made little posters to sort of advertise for our final project, they featured a classroom full of students focused on their laptops or playing games and the caption said "does your classroom look like this? we can help."
  • Collaborative Creative Project: For the past few weeks Tara, Alicia, and I have been working on a Prezi presentation about why digital media should be brought into the classroom in order to better help students understand Shakespeare. We've made several videos and tried to incorporate the work of other students in our class so we can demonstrate the successes our class has had with looking at Shakespeare in a non-traditional way. We've highlighted examples like social proof, how to incorporate technology and why it is important. Overall I think it has been a great learning experience for all of us.
4. Share Shakespeare Meaningfully
  • Formal Writing: The research paper that I worked on throughout the semester is probably the best example of Formal Writing that I did for this class. It was great to get real feedback on it. We put our ideas into circulation but linking our blogs to a google doc of the paper. I really appreciated the peer reviews we did because it made me feel like my paper mattered. 
  • Informal Writing: This concept was accomplished through lots of blogging and social media interactions. The tweethis statement was just one example of informal writing. While some of my blog posts were a bit more formal many of them spoke casually about Shakespeare in a tone that makes them more accessible and understandable. I'm sure there were a couple of posts that I missed but overall I tried my best to get in all the posts and to make meaningful comments on other people's posts. 
  • Connecting: I got in touch with people as far away as India and interacted with them about Shakespeare's works. This class helped me to open up to professors of other classes and discuss my ideas with them and get some validation from them. I also connected closely with Alicia and Tara as we met several times outside of class, g-chatted lots, and really discussed our project on a deep level. 
5. Gain Digital Literacy
"Students use their study of Shakespeare as a way of understanding and developing fluency in 21st century learning skills and computer-mediated modes of communication."
  • Consume: I felt like I did a pretty good job with the consumption thing. I felt like I took in so much information from so many different sources that it was difficult to decide on a research topic - everything was interesting. I looked at tons of different social media websites and also did a lot of scholarly research. I watched clips, adaptations, read articles, stalked professors, etc. It was also really helpful to connect via blogger with other students in the class.
  • Create: This class is probably the first that has stretched me to create something in conjunction with what I'm reading and studying (something that isn't a traditional paper). I feel like the biggest thing we "created" was our final project because it involves videos, links, references to students and professors and is pretty much a collaborative project of everything we've covered this semester.
  • Connect: This was the learning outcome that I thought was the most exciting/engaging. I loved participating with other professors from other schools because they treated me as equals in a lot of ways because they weren't entirely sure who they were interacting with. I really like connecting with others in our classroom, not just Alicia and Tara but those that I connected with via blogging or in class discussion, even when our projects didn't coincide. This is what made Shakespeare meaningful for me.

Friday, April 13, 2012

End of Semester Things

So far everything has been wrapping up nicely with this class. I was going over the syllabus to see how we've done with our learning outcomes and I forgot how many plays we've read over the semester, that was definitely fun to look back. Just some final thoughts to wrap up the semester....

Our "final trailer" ended up being an animated video about bringing technology into the classroom I thought it actually turned out pretty well and it is featured on the first shot of our Prezi. It was fun to film and I thought it worked out well to have a collaborative final trailer as it really captured what we were doing with our re-purposed content.

As I've been looking over the market study stuff I feel like the best measures of success are the videos and blogs I posted in our market study. Before I joined the class I was already a regular blogger and I'm always surprised to see just how much people interact with blogs and "follow" each other. The blogging community is huge. There's an interesting phenomenon, it is sort of like being a celebrity in sense, where once you build up following you somehow earn the right to say whatever you'd like about anything you'd like. Bloggers that build up an audience and then state their opinions about education, Shakespeare, teaching, etc. are more likely to be accepted because they already have that basic following. You could tell the videos were successful just based on the fact that they were part of a website that has hundreds of thousands of likes on Facebook and a website that can actually give the videos the views they're looking for. The makers of those videos are getting their ideas out in the world. That is what makes them successful.

Finally, as I've worked in this class I've come to a better definition of what I think a well-rounded education is. It's not just about choosing between digital media and the pages of a book, it's about finding the balance in education. It's about knowing when to use the internet and when to curl up with a book and be engulfed by every word. A well-rounded education means having the open-mind to learn about every type of teaching method and the discernment to know which is best for you personally. One of my professors was talking about how we can choose our own education and its true. We can tailor our schedules, our classes to our passions and strengths or potential strengths. Our education is in our hands and whether it is a professor pushing us or us pushing ourselves, we have the power to decide on making the most of our education. I think that, above anything else, is the most important thing I have learned in this class this semester.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Annotated Bibliography of Comparable Work

 1.E How "Discover the Expert in You"
This website is comprised of thousands of videos and articles meant to teach people how to do things they don't know how to do. On this site there are several videos that are comparable to the work we've done with titles like "How to Teach Shakespeare to College Students," "How to Teach Shakespeare to High School Students," "How to Organize your classroom," and more. This might be once place where we could submit our videos once they are re-purposed and polished. There already seems to be a good following on the site and what they are doing seems to be successful and viewed often. The videos also have transcriptions below them so you can follow along with ease.

2. E Notes "Study Smarter"

This website is similar to the E How website but is composed mostly of written material. One article in particular is a very simple 7-Step process for first time Shakespeare teachers. It encourages teachers to rent films, read modern translations, and more. It is similar to our work in that it focuses on different Shakespeare mediums and gives the suggestions as simply as possible.

3. A Teacher Writes "How to teach Shakespeare to high school students: A few basics from one who does it"

This site is a teacher's blog that gives 7 "Rules" for teaching Shakespeare. It is similar to what we want to do in giving the "why" and "how" of Shakespearean studies. The author encourages reading aloud, paraphrasing, being passionate, etc. 

more to come..

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Love's Labor's Lost Performance Analysis, Revisited

BYU's 1940's version of Shakespeare's Love's Labor's Lost was intriguing on many levels. The play pointed to the similar social ideals between the original setting of the play and the adapted setting of the play, mostly on the level of how relationships and wit function in both. By placing the production in a 1940's setting the director made the play more accessible to a modern audience. Although the 1940's isn't quite like our 2012 society, it is much easier to relate to than Shakespeare's 1500-1600 setting.

With the Shakespearean language still in tact, the characters changed accents, speech patterns, and upped the body language to help the audience get the gist of what was being said. Because the original language wasn't changed the wit translated across in a way that no translation could. The original script became even more understandable when spoken colloquially as the characters often did. The Shakespearean  wit also served as a commentary on relationships throughout the play and helped the audience to understand that the relationships weren't necessarily based on anything of great depth but on flirtatious exchanges. If I could use just one phrase to describe the characters in the play it would be "fools in love." Nothing gets too serious or heavy until the end. The supposedly deep love sonnets are written and expressed whimsically and the exchanges between the men and women consist only of good-hearted banter. When the play ends and the "lovers" depart, it isn't a tragedy because it is not a once in a life time kind of love....yet. If the men survive the year without their lovers it just may become that but who's really to say.

The staging of the play was simple but effective, portraying a WWII club/bar/radio show effectively and humorously. Chelsey Roberts did a fantastic job with the costumes and they truly captured the essence of the WWII era quite well.  The hair styles fit well with the costumes and both helped to get the audience into the right mindset (the suspension of disbelief mindset as Keats would say). They actors/actresses were well caste and each fit their part well. Rosaline was a particular favorite of mine. The minors characters of the play, while not given many speaking parts, were great performers and added greatly to the sort of party-like feel of the play.

While overall, the director did a great job of capturing the essence of the Shakespearean comedy, several of the smaller details were lacking. These details didn't take away from the overall quality of the show but were things that could be improved on for great audience enjoyment. I feel like they would have been helpful to anticipate before seeing the play.  First, the play went a little bit longer than many anticipated which wouldn't be a problem if the length was known ahead of time, but becomes a problem when audience members have different expectations. I felt that some of the banter could have been removed and some minor scenes were interesting but unnecessary. The program explained several concepts apparent in the play but I felt it should have discussed the decision to change Moth to a female character so that it was clearer in the play and so the audience didn't expect a romantic ending for her.  Many in the audience also seemed to be surprised by the abrupt ending and separation of others, which I felt they should have prepared us for.

While the play had some flaws, none of them were tragic and the play was generally well-received and enjoyed by audience members. The interactive nature of the play (talking to members of the audience, inviting audience members to come on stage during intermission, etc.) made it very unique and memorable. This play, like many of BYU's, certainly did not disappoint and is sure to leave adults, students, and children pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Market Study Continued

Alright so here is a list of several of the teacher's I've emailed to help us get a grasp on what problems we need to address. I decided that if I don't hear back from them I'm just going to go to their offices at Timpview and asking them.

1.  David Sutherland - Honors English
M.A. St. John’s College 2009       B.A. BYU-English Teaching 1993
18 years at Timpview
"Teaching keeps me reading and learning and that keeps me excited about teaching. My favorite and frequent experience as a teacher is engaging in student-centered, in-depth, focused, text-based discussions about meaningful ideas encountered in great literature. "

Mr. Sutherland is really into traditional teaching methods - as you can probably tell from his "About Me." I'm hoping that we can get his feedback on classroom problems and help to remedy those problems through less traditional methods.

2.  Jeana Rock - English, Media Literacy
B.A English M.A. Theatre and Media Arts
Spanish Fork High School 1993-95     Timpview 1995- present
 "I love to read, write, garden, knit, crochet and sew. I love teaching teenagers because they help me stay young and always learning"

Mrs. Rock is way into media and way into using it in the classroom but not all of her students were ready for it because her lack of introduction. We had to blog in her classroom and many students were uncomfortable with that but I think with some help she'd be able to better ease them into it. I'd like to interview her about her experiences with media and about any resistance she's encountered. She's said that she'd be willing to help us in our project.

3. Alison Van Orden - AP Language and Composition, Journalism
M.Ed University of Phoenix – Education Counseling      B.A.  Brigham Young University–English Teaching
16 Years at Timpview High School AP English Language Instructor Thunderbolt Advisor(Timpview’s student newspaper) English Department Chair Member of Timpview’s Community Council
"I Love My Students!"

I didn't have Mrs. Van Orden in high school but she's one of the most well-respected English teachers. Her husband teachers German at the school as well. We could even interview him and ask about his thoughts on what we're doing. Or interview them together.

As for where we're looking to channel our work...

Our main focus is on UCTE as of right now because we feel it could be a really positive outlet for our work and something really appropriate and do-able. We could very feasibly present our ideas.

I also really like the idea of Classroom 2.0 because it seems like something where we could just channel a written version of work without having to tailor it too specifically to one audience because it seems like what they're doing is pretty broad. Which is very appealing.

We could also present at the UEA conference (Utah Education Association) in October as they have workshops on teaching methods, etc. I feel like their information is a bit more ambiguous, however, so I feel more comfortable working with the UCTE idea perhaps in conjunction with Classroom 2.0

As far as the whole teaser, trailer, content thing goes I think our teaser will be our miniature videos we've recorded. Our trailer will be a more polished video concerning student's wants/ needs in a teacher and the content will be our actual written document. or maybe a more mixed media approach as Alicia discussed.

Also I thought maybe for our teaser content we could do something like this..(obviously super rough)...and direct them to our blogs/link or something

Love's Labor's Lost Performance Analysis

Alright here's what I thought about everything.

I really really really liked the staging of things. I liked how they made the characters part of the audience at times and the audience a part of the play (especially when they pulled the guy from the front row to take the character's pictures and during intermission when they invited the audience up on stage). I thought it functioned well to help the audience feel engaged in what was going on. I like how characters would speak in the direction of the audience when discussing their emotions. I liked how some of the men/women would flirt with audience members via winks, waves, etc. during the play. I also really liked how they had so many entrance and exit points it kept it interesting. Probably one of my favorite staging moments was when the men were overhearing each others love letters, that was pretty great, and Biron's face was priceless.

As far as setting goes, I was really into the WWII setting and I loved the props on the stage. I thought the very beginning was brilliant when we could catch a glimpse into the dance hall through the opening and closing doors at the AFO canteen. I thought the set up of the bar/club/radio station was very well done and I thought the dressing room scenes added a lot.

Costuming. I actually know the costume designer - Chelsey Roberts - and I thought she did an excellent job.  I wished the dresses and hair styles of Jacquenetta, the Princess, and Rosaline would help separate them from the other women. The men's uniforms were well done, and I like how Costard's set him apart from the other men.

I definitely agree with Alicia that one of my favorite parts was the live band, it wouldn't have been the same. I was super impressed with how the band would get quieter when the AFO screen would come down, knowing it wasn't the screen that was making them quieter.

Casting. Costard was one of my favorites but probably just because what he was saying was funny and how he said it was even better.  I had a love hate relationship with Biron because I liked him a lot in some scenes but not as much in others. I thought Rosaline did a great job as well.

Overall, I really enjoyed the play though it did get a bit long towards the end. I think perhaps just because I knew what was coming and wanted to get it over with (does any body really like the ending?) And I know Dr. B addressed this in class so I did take what he said into account but I feel like the ending was less of a party and more of a tragedy than I expected...we'll just say I wanted to cry (but I didn't).