Yes. We started our minimalist production of Julius Caesar. This morning my homeroom created an amphitheater. When my first history class came in, I explained that anything in italics should not be read. Those are stage directions, I said. While watching, I resisted my urge to tell them to cheat out. At one point Cassius and Casca were looking at opposite walls while supposedly plotting an assassination. They were so subtle you would have never known that they were having a conversation.
On the whole, I was impressed. They always understand far more than I give them credit for. The title of this post comes from Caesar’s remark to Mark Antony regarding Cassius’ lean and hungry look. After the initial laughs (this is 6th grade, folks) they did some pretty sophisticated analysis.
Another bonus of today: I got to see another side of my students. I was a little nervous about a few of my Julius Caesars (I teach four blocks of history/day), but they rose to the occasion. Some of the quieter students were surprisingly apt at reading their parts with expression. And some students that struggle to read aloud did wonderfully.
Another wonderful thing about 6th grade: they are proud of the fact that they’re reading Shakespeare (albeit abridged), but they’re not intimidated. One of the most frustrating things about teaching Shakespeare to high schoolers was the way they would shut down when reading a play. They had decided that Hamlet would be impossible to understand before “Who’s there?”
I realize that I write about school pretty frequently. I do other things. But life outside of school life pales in comparison to discussing Lord of the Rings with 6th grade boys. I am so excited for them (five of my homeroom kids are reading The Fellowship for the first time) to finish and move on to The Two Towers. They were devastated that Gandalf had fallen in the Mines of Moria. I’m half joking. Family life has been more challenging (in many good ways) than before, but it’s not stuff I feel I can share. I did, however, plan several stunning outfits for my littlest sister while I was home for Thanksgiving. If she wasn’t a poo, I’d post pictures. Of course, then this would be a fashion blog.