Under the enthusiastic guidance of Folger Master Teacher Michael Klein and in the dramatic ambiance of LeMoyne College's Performing Arts Center, twenty-seven high school English teachers became performers in the teaching of Shakespeare.
Oh, the fun! Initially, Mike, using passages from eight Shakespearean plays and from other literature as well, set the stage for each of ten strategies. Small groups of teachers would then develop a plan using that technique for a scene and then act out that plan, thereby creating a model that they could take to their classrooms.
Oh, the learning! Teachers gradually saw that "it all starts with language." Students need to confront the words "head on." They need to speak and move in order to figure out words and lines, then scenes and plays. The teachers discovered ways to "trick" students into learning and ways to involve the introvert. They realized that one does not have to read every word of a play, but that it is important that every student have access to the full text. And, as one teacher observed, all this learning took place through the very necessary collaboration of the workshop participants that worked because "Shakespeare can make strangers feel comfortable."
At the end of the day, the participants felt refreshed, inspired, and ready to use their newly acquired tools for teaching Shakespeare through performance. The Syracuse Branch hosts were grateful that their dream had become reality and that teachers from as many as thirteen Central New York schools could enjoy this experience.
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