Thursday, June 4, 2020

Hwaet!

Need  something a little different to add to your Beowulf unit?  Here is a video short (much like Pixar has before their movies) created by students at BYU that shows Grendel in a bit of a different light:



Grendel from BYU Animation on Vimeo.



For your own enjoyment, assuming you are a Tolkien nerd, J. R. R. Tolkien has a prose translation of the epic poem complete with his own fan fiction short story at the end ("Sellic Spell")! You can get your own copy here:
https://www.amazon.com/Beowulf-Translation-Commentary-J-R-R-Tolkien/dp/0544570308


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Macbeth Done Right

The following account is not mine.  I picked this up from Slow Robot.  Whoever this teacher is, he/she is most certainly daring and I would say - EXTREME.


Thursday, May 28, 2020

Paper Airplane Research Challenge

Students struggle in English for a variety of reasons.  One of those is learning styles.  Many student I have had are great learners when it comes to working with hands.  Put this kid in a carpentry, auto mechanics, or electrical trades class, and they are showing amazing learning.  Sit this kid in a desk and make him read, well, the learning declines.

Providing opportunities for kinetic learners to shine is not a new concept.  Science sees this in labs and math with manipulatives.  However, this is much more difficult in an English class.

The following activity is designed to help kinetic learners excel at researching by giving them something physical to do with the research.

Extreme English Teacher presents: The Paper Airplane Challenge!


Research methods are what they are.  You teach these methods with any subject.  The paper airplane challenge takes kids through five different research sites to find the best way to fold a paper airplane.  Students will search out and five five ways to fold using five different search methods, then pick one and put it to the test.  After taking kids out of the classroom to compete against each other to find the farthest flying plane, students can also compete for the best and oddest looking.



The lesson comes with directions on how to present the different search methods and a worksheet for students to fill out while searching.


If you like this one, you may also like:
The Movie Report: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/EET-The-Movie-Report-5452641Ben Franklin Quotes: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Extreme-English-Teacher-Ben-Franklin-Quotes-5279912

 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tech Tuesday - Timers

Another little classroom hack I've stumbled across recently:

Sometimes you just need a set amount of time for an activity.  Maybe you're practicing timed tests.  Maybe you need to make sure you get finished with your class discussion at a set moment to have time for something else.  You could just tell a student to keep an eye out on the clock for you (that usually works pretty well).  You could try and keep track yourself (but if you are like me, you often get sidetracked and forget the time).

Never fear, the Internet never lets us down.

An easy and fairly discrete one is on Google.  Just type in TIMER into the search bar to get an adjustable timer.  It has a rather annoying beep until you turn it off.  The pros - it's quick and not distracting.



You could also try these classroom timers: http://www.online-stopwatch.com/classroom-timers/  They are much more fun, but also distracting as all get out.  I imagine my eyes as a student would be constantly on them.  However, if you are doing a long group activity where students are being loud anyway, this might actually help keep them on track.  If nothing else, pick the snail race and let students bet grade points* on which snail wins.



If you have any good timers or time keeping system, don't be stingy!  Share in the comments.



*Facetious is the only word in the English language with all five vowels in alphabetical order.  Facetiously includes the sometimes y.  It is also what I am being when I say "bet grade points", no matter how much fun that would be.

'Nuff said.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Macbeth and Joker - Making Connections

So I watched Joker this weekend, finally, and my English teacher nerd brain immediately thought of Macbeth. 

****Spoiler Alert if you are planning on watching the Joker movie anytime soon***


Joker is an excellent movie to watch - once.  I can't say I would want to watch it again.  I'm sure you have heard that is addresses the issue of mental illness in a way not many movies can encapsulate.

That's an issue for another post (and probably a different blog).  I want to bring in comparisons to Macbeth.  Both are delusional - Joker seeing the woman next to him in his time of need, Macbeth seeing the dagger, the ghost of Banquo, and quite possibly the witches at the end (I always let me students argue if he really does see them in the big apparition scene especially since Lennox comes on stage right where they leave and states that he did not see them - my struggling readers get a kick out of figuring out what is real with Macbeth and not and love to float conspiracy theories).

We can also see how both characters are victims of their own making, even though there were outside forces at work.  Joker certainly has mental illness, a failing government health system, a history of being abused as a child, and just rotten people all around him to push him into action, but when it comes down to it, HE is the one who actually acts.  Same with Macbeth.  Certainly we can lay some blame at the feet of the witches, Lady Macbeth, and even some at Duncan for being such a poor judge of character, but in the end, it is MACBETH that chooses to kill.




But I think the biggest parallel is the type of people they both kill - and the order in which it is done.  let's look at Joker's murders compared to Macbeth's:

Joker:

  • The two guys on the train - self defense - perfectly justifiable
  • The third train guy who was trying to get away - a little less justifiable since the guy no longer posed a threat, but we can see and excuse Arthur (Joker) at this point.
  • His  mother - certainly past excusing, but we can see where he is a victim of his illness here.
  • Randall - now we see Joker going down a road toward senseless murder.  Randall did him wrong, but that seems to be an excuse to murder him at this point.  Arthur still has some sense of himself, though, when he lets Gary leave.
  • Maury - similar to above, but less so since the guy is now giving Joker a chance to succeed at being a comedian, Arthur's goal.  Unfortunately, from this point on, I think we can safely say that Arthur is no longer a character.  Only Joker.
  • The health care worker at the end - here there is no reason to kill her.  She is only trying to help and this murder is irredeemable.  
Macbeth:
  • Macdonwald - brutal killing, but an act done in war and in defense of his king and country.  Perfectly acceptable and even lauded as an act of a hero
  • Duncan - inexcusable, but there is a reason for this murder - Macbeth wants something  and this is the way to get it in his mind.
  • The Guards - logical under the circumstances.  If Macbeth is going to get away with his former act, this is what needs to be done to prevent them from telling others that Lady Macbeth was the one who got them drunk.
  • Banquo - Macbeth has a reason, but we are getting further away from it being a logical reason.  Here we see Macbeth is beginning to become obsessed with killing.
  • Lady Macduff and Little Boy Macduff - here Macbeth crosses the Rubicon.  Up to this point, he at least had a reason to kill, albeit often a flimsy one, but a reason nonetheless.  This killing, though, is not only useless, but only gives Macduff MORE reason to come after him.  
Both go through a progression where the murders get further and further away until we can no longer hope for the protagonist's redemption.  Both of these stories puts the audience in the camp of the villain.  We want to root for Arthur and Macbeth.  It's the nature of the protagonist to have the reader/viewer on his side.  But both stories takes us down a path with the lead character until we feel in a traitorous situation by no longer agreeing with his actions and wanting him stopped.



If you have any good book to pop culture pairings, list them in the comments.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Let Grammar Bytes Challenge Your Class All Year


Once a week for each week in 2020, Grammar Bytes is putting out a one question grammar quiz on their Twitter page.


Go to their page at: https://twitter.com/grammarbytes and you'll see questions like this posted each Wednesday:




Except, of course the answer isn't shown until your pick it, then it shows the breakdown of answers.  You'll want to keep this in mind if you are putting it up on a SmartBoard or projector, since once you answer, the results will be shown when you pull it up again for the next class, which may influence their choices.  This a quick way to get your students to try it out.  You can put the link on your page so that students can click it and have everyone try it out at the same time.  This could lead into discussion of why that comma is needed or why it isn't right to put 'of' in that sentence. You could also let them put their name down for choice 1, 2, 3, or 4 if you have some extra board space and allow people to have bragging rights if they are correct.

The following Wednesday a new question will appear along with an explanation for last week's question.


The nice thing is that sometimes the majority of people get the question wrong.  Why is that nice?  Your students who struggle with grammar will be relieved to know it is not just them.

2020 may have brought us everything from fires to pandemics to murder hornets, but it also brought us weekly grammar quizzes!  Things are looking up! 




Thursday, May 14, 2020

Bang!

I don't remember where I found this, but I was cleaning out my folders and ran across this image of gun shot onomatopoeias.  I imagine it might be a fun image to use in explaining the literary term 'onomatopoeia' or for a creative writing class.


Going to the tumblr site on the first panel shows this guy James Chapman has a couple of "in other languages" cartoons like this.  Check it out!

Also, while writing this post on an onomatopoeia, a memory of a video game commercial from the '90s resurfaced.  I think the message of the commercial is "Don't be an English nerd, play video games instead," but I might be wrong.  :)