My school has a unique tradition of spending the first two weeks after Christmas break in what’s known as Minimester. Instead of regular academic classes, teachers and a few parents offer other interesting classes, for example, Philosophy and the Twilight Zone and a class about fly fishing. There are some oddities to the Minimester experience, but now that I’ve seen it happen a couple times, I’m thrilled to be teaching two great classes.
The first is called Shakespeare in Performance. Unbeknownst to each other, an SLP and I both proposed classes on Shakespeare, so we decided to join forces and split the class’ focus. My contribution is that we’ll be reading Much Ado About Nothing (my favorite!) and watching clips from three different film versions to compare the performances and broaden students’ views about how Shakespeare can be performed. (When the seniors read Hamlet earlier this year, many of them decided that the 1996 film version was “right” and that other performances were not. I want to emphasize that Shakespeare’s plays are malleable, interpretable.) We’re going to read the modern parallel text in the No Fear Shakespeare edition, which I’m sure makes some people cringe, but it’s a good entry point for these students, especially considering that we’ll be steeping them in the Shakespearean text in other ways.
Speaking of which, my colleague’s contribution is that students will be memorizing and performing monologues (using Shakespeare’s text) from the same play we’re reading and watching. We’ve chosen a speech by Don John (the villain), and two by Benedick (one as a cynic and one as a smitten lover).
My second Minimester class is about creepy stories. Together we’ll read and watch different kinds of creepy stories, rank the creepiness, and identify elements that made it creepy. So the kids can also practice creating creepy stories, applying the creepy elements they’ve observed, they’ll be turning innocent children’s picture books into delightfully creepy stories.