Kids should think harder than teachers.
I don't recall who said it, but someone said that students are the ones who should go home exhausted at the end of the day.
All I can say is, "Yes, please!"
So I try to do that.
Mostly, I think I probably fail.
Every once in a while, though, it all comes together.
Shakespeare affords a lot of such opportunities.
One of our focuses with the play is figurative language.
This is logical, as the play is packed with non-literal statements.
My students have concluded the whole play is a giant hyperbole.
They aren't wrong.
But an overarching understanding isn't enough.
They need to dig in to the language, the specifics.
Originally, I had planned for them to find 8-10 examples of figurative language in the various scenes of Act 3.
But, then, time happened.
Time happened much more quickly than was convenient.
So, I needed to shorten the assignment.
I decided that groups could share the load.
They already sit in groups of four, so that part was easy.
We skipped scene 4 (it is only three pages long).
Then I made students determine who would focus on which of the remaining four scenes.
Each student was consequently only responsible for locating, identifying, and explaining two examples.
The part I added to make up for such a big reduction in task was collaborative.
Groups had to reach consensus on a single example and turn it into a poster for classroom display.
I won't say this was a stunning success with every group.
There were some groups who simply chose an example from the first person finished and had them start the poster.
And some groups let one person do all the poster work alone.
There was also magic.
One group in particular exemplified what I wish I knew how to make happen all the time.
This group worked together consistently.
They helped each other with their individual scenes.
Then they argued about what example to use.
One declared "We're not using mine. It's boring!"
While two others advocated for their own examples.
Finally, they chose the one they thought would be easier to illustrate.
Then they argued about how to symbolize their example.
This went on for several minutes before they called me over.
"Ms. Hirsch, what should we use a lily or a tulip?"
I asked one group member why he wanted to use a tulip.
He responded, "Because Juliet is so innocent and young, like she is more of a bud then a flower, like the shape of a tulip."
The whole group went "Ohhh, that's good!"
Then I asked the others why they wanted to use a lily.
One responded, "Well, lilies are a sweet flower and Juliet it sweet."
The whole group went "Ohhh, that makes sense!"
So I asked which symbol they preferred or though was stronger.
Immediately, the whole group said "Tulip!"
"Ok," I said and walked away.
As I moved on to another group, I heard "Hey, look, there's even a tulip on the cover of the book!"
I smiled at that.
It could have gone the other way: we noticed the tulip on the cover, let's use that.
At least one group really thought about their poster, their example.
How cool is that?
My goal is to figure out how to make everyone get to that point.
Until then, I will count this assignment as a success, a good thing...with room for improvement for next time.