First, though, we reviewed homework. They did a really decent job with the “Characters Attitudes Towards Love” handout. Looking at smaller chunks of the text (vs. the entire scene) is a lot easier to work with and a lot easier to go deeper with.
We half-acted 1.4, and half-worked our way through a graphic organizer that helped us dissect the Queen Mab speech a bit (Queen Mab — 1.4). (While reading we tackled #1 and #3.) I was worried that working slowly through the text wouldn’t grab their attention, but I was actually surprised by some. One of the girls in my last class, for example, squealed “Ohhh!! I get it!!!!” at one point. She then told me that she was waiting on walking to the bathroom, because she didn’t want to miss what we were doing.
One of my classes worked through Queen Mab a bit faster, and worked on creating a group poster where they drew Queen Mab and labeled the parts of their drawing with lines from the speech. (They’re finishing this at the beginning of class tomorrow.) My last class did not get quite so far, so we skipped that activity and worked a little longer on understanding the types of dreams that this fairy named Queen Mab brings to different types of people.
I know that the language is difficult for them, but I think it’s really good for them to work with the challenge. I think it’s much more satisfying for them to struggle with something and then get it. They look a lot more proud of themselves when they understand something, or after they volunteer an answer and I respond, “Oh, I love that!” or “What a great answer!” (I’ve also tried, as much as possible, to recognize the fact that it is hard. Today, I still didn’t understand part of the Queen Mab speech, and let them know and we worked on trying to dissect the translation together.) My goal is not that they understand every little line. I don’t think that’s realistic. Rather, I want them to have success tackling something difficult and walk away with knowing that they did understand quite a bit more of it than they thought they could.
What I’m finding is that kids who haven’t been engaged with other books are much more engaged with this one. Many students have higher quiz scores. Some students who typically don’t turn in homework have. I’m not saying that every kid in my class is suddenly Shakespeare’s biggest fan, but I do think that overall they are really enjoying the play.