Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Julius Caesar

So we've started Julius Caesar which is my LEAST favorite of the four Shakespearean tragedies students typically study at OLHS. Frickin' Folger has a fantastic 'Living Shakespeare' series. I had the old version for Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Macbeth, and then when we went to the GCTE conference back in February, I got an updated copy of the same book. I think they've also got one for Hamlet and Othello. Yesterday at our department meeting, my mentor teacher was all excited about using the Folger unit to teach Macbeth.

This is me, POUTING.

However, in fairness, I am looking forward to teaching it, because the ideas it touches on are particularly compelling. I just don't find it at all interesting as far as story. I came up with a unit plan pretty much on my own, just from looking at the standards and thinking about the themes woven throughout the story and the character development.

Unit plan for Julius Caesar

Essential Questions

1) What makes a performance interesting?
2) What would make a production of Julius Caesar exciting?
3) How can we make our writing more effective?
4) How does cause and effect link the events in Julius Caesar?
5) Why do characters choose to act as they do in Julius Caesar?
6) How are the characters in Julius Caesar similar to and/or different from tyrants and revolutionaries in the real world?


1) Quiz/Test (not sure) covering characters, events, & dramatic techniques.
2) Persuasive essay linked to a theme from the play (patriotism, sacrifice, ambition, vanity, revenge)
3) Presentation about a tyrant or revolutionary

Learning Plan

1) Read and understand the play – use modern version at home, then watch a movie using the original language in class. They will have a separate study guide for the modern and original versions (but the questions won’t overlap, so they won’t be “re-doing” the work)
2) Write – I will assign the essay as a freewrite on 10/14 and we will practice revising it looking for specific examples, logical order, strong sentence structure, etc. We will look at newspaper editorials for examples of persuasive essays. We will also continue to do a sentence analysis several days a week for the starter.
3) Research – They will choose their own tyrants or revolutionaries by 10/16; I will provide a list of questions for them to use in research. They will be able to sign up for library and/or computer time.
4) Performance – Projection: We will go outside to the parking lot. Students, in pairs, will start perhaps 50 yards apart. One student will begin walking toward the other. The second student should call the first one’s name. When the first student hears the second, he/she should stop walking. We will practice this twice: once with the students facing each other, then with the first student facing away.
5) Performance – Acting: Later, the students will go to the auditorium and “scatter” through the seats, with pencil and paper. They will be called up one by one and will choose an index card from a box. The index card will have a “dramatic line” with some direction. Each student will perform the line chosen. While not performing, the students will write down the lines as they hear them.

It still looks vague and general to me, but I'm kind of feeling things out as I go. One concern I have is that it seems (to me) to cover darn near all of the Georgia Performance Standards, so I need to figure out which ones I'm going to focus on and which I'll just mention in passing as we review. I've gone ahead and given it a page on the ubdeducators pbwiki, too. Take a look at the standards and let me know what you think.

Helpful feedback is welcome! Thoughts? suggestions?


Lightly Seasoned said...

I LOVE teaching Julius Caesar during an election year. We just did the rhetorical appeals, applied them to the debates and compared it to the "debate" in the funeral oratories.

I always read the first three acts in class. The Folger's web site has an interesting lesson for the "Pardon me o bleeding piece of earth" speech, too. I particularly enjoy choosing the most obnoxious student in class to be murdered and bleeding Caesar -- I choreograph the scene with the kids so everybody gets to stab him (gently, children!).

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