Starting with this unit, my students will begin doing short daily grammar practice. The sentences are based on Romeo and Juliet, and they come from the Caught Ya series by Jane Bell Kiester.
Basically, I put a sentence with some mistakes in it on the SmartBoard, and the students use editing marks to correct it. Once a student thinks he has it, he raises his hand and waits to be called to mark it up. Sometimes, especially at the beginning, it takes several students (one at a time) to find the errors and make the appropriate corrections. It's a great way to reinforce simple punctuation, capitalization and usage rules.
Today was the first day, and we cycled through four students. They got very close, even correcting each other, but they still needed help with the comma. I was very surprised when a student raised her hand to say that you don't have to write out the number two in a sentence. That is something that I would have assumed that they already know. (That student was corrected by another student, which I appreciated.)
I have used this grammar practice off and on for years and the kids really like it.
After the grammar warm up, I distributed the books and showed the students how they are set up. For this play, we have copies of "Shakespeare Made Easy." This series provides Shakespeare's words on the left pages and a simplified, modernized translation on the right. I explained to the students that we will read the pages on the left aloud, but the pages on the right are their "training wheels." [The goal is for them use them if they need them, but they should try to ease into Shakespeare's language by following along as we read the pages on the left aloud.]
After we preview the book, we review the prologue, which the students did as a close reading last week. We go over any misconceptions and remind ourselves of the facts as presented by the chorus.
At that point, we are ready to assign parts. This takes a while, because there are a lot of people in the first scene. I like to assign some of the parts based on the personalities of my students, at least in the beginning. However, I have to work around the students whom I know hate to read aloud and the ones who would read all of the parts themselves and exclude everyone else. Since I have some very playful boys in each of my classes, I assign them the parts of Sampson, Gregory and Abraham. I encourage them to really pick a fight and try to get them to read the "Do you bite your thumb at me?" like DeNiro's "You talking to me?"
Before we start, I try to give everyone their "motivation," which is influenced by my own reading of the play. I also stop them occasionally if they are phoning it in, but there is a lot of ground to cover, so I try not to be too picky.
As the students read the play aloud, I circulate, coach and explain, as needed. This is a very demanding lesson to teach, because my enthusiasm sets the tone for them. If I don't put the energy in, the play becomes five LONG acts, and the students get put off.
This lesson went great, mostly because there is so much action and "trash talk" in this scene. Of course, my students are thirteen, so some of the dialogue induced some giggling. (More about that in my reflection.)