Thursday, 26 January 2012

If Romeo & Juliet were on Facebook...

Today we completed Act 1 Scene 1 of Romeo & Juliet using the fabulous software Shakespeare In Bits (SIB). We have now role played the street brawl scene (using SIB audio to guide us), explored some of the characters' qualities (Tybalt is NOT someone you want to have angry at you), and have written/drawn a quick summary of the scene's key points.

I also had students brainstorm what Romeo would write on his Facebook page at the end of Act 1 Scene 1. At this point, Romeo is moping about, depressed because the girl he loves (or thinks he loves?) doesn't love him back. (This is Rosaline, not Juliet. He hasn't met Juliet yet.)

Here are some suggested Facebook postings for Romeo at this point in time:

Love sucks!
My life is over. I will never find another love.
Why doesn't she love me?
I'm in love. My love doesn't want anything to do with me. What do I do?
Nobody loves me!
I am very confused and heart broken.

Several students also suggested that Romeo would post some sad song lyrics... Hmmm, I wonder which lyrics? We'll have to find him a suitable song! (Here's my suggestion! Let's figure out some others next week.)

We will be doing this Facebook role play often through out the play as a way to connect with the characters on a personal level and to succinctly summarize their point of view.  I will be putting them all in our hallway so that at a glance, as you walk by, you will be able to see their 'posts'...

Van Gogh Interpretation: ART

In one of our ART tasks, we created our own versions of Van Gogh's famous STARRY NIGHT painting. Students were to keep the feel of the original, but add their own interpretations.
These look really fantastic and are showcased in our hallway. I wanted to share them here! Everyone's in presented here, either right here on the blog or in one of the two videos.

The videos were created in, where I have a free account to make 30 second videos. To fit them all into 30 secs, I created two different types of videos...which style do you like the best?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Romeo & Juliet Movies

Today a letter went home notifying parents and guardians of the movies we will be seeing. Please let me know if you did not receive this letter or if you have any questions.

The 3 movies we will be watching are:

Romeo + Juliet (1996) Rated PG-13
Gnomeo and Juliet (2011) Rated G
West Side Story (1961) Rated PG

These links go to the IMDB movie data base.

If there are any movies on this list that you do not want your child watching (such as Romeo + Juliet, which is rated PG 13) please let me know by MONDAY JANUARY 30 and I will make alternate arrangements. Also, if students find material in this particular movie uncomfortable (as it is rated PG-13 for "scenes of contemporary violence and some sensuality"),  I will have in place arrangements for them to leave and do a supervised activity elsewhere.

Students will be writing a movie review about one of these movies, comparing the movie to the original play as part of their review.

Please let me know if you have any questions,

Mrs. Johnson

Friday, 20 January 2012

Media Literacy: Game Design

Today we started our game design unit and I must thank  fellow educator Kevin Hodgson for his ideas and his suggestion of using This site is fantastic! Take a look at their intro video and I think you'll see why I like it so much!

I have created a page on this site that outlines in more detail the program and what we will be doing with it. (This page includes the full package handout, which in turn includes curriculum expectations and also my success criteria 'look fors', if you are intersted in seeing those.)

Today we started discussing the elements of game design, which include Space (the look of the game), Components (parts of the game, like enemies, avatars and blocks), Mechanics (actions, like jumping or collecting), Goals and Rules.
In addition to reviewing what makes a game good or bad (an idea we discussed already when we did game reviews), we took a preliminary look at some popular, classic arcade games (an idea I got from fellow teacher Kevin Hodgson!). We only had time today to for a quick look but in our next session,  students will be evaluating them (which ones are good or bad? why?) and also determining how the elements of game design are used in these games.

Then we will move into learning about gamestarmechanics and creating (and then evaluating) our own games.

This project involves both creative and instructional writing, and also advertising (persuasive writing) as students design their packaging and 'promote' their games (an idea for which I must thank fellow educator Jennifer Detrich, who is using gamestarmechanics in a social studies context).

Keep checking in as I will continue to document this process!

Also, if you are interested,  several educators (many from Ontario) have joined my gaming in ed wiki, where we are outlining many of these teaching ideas and applications. There are some very cool things happening in schools in terms of gaming! So please check it out!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Shakespeare Started!

Who is this fine fellow?!
Having finally gotten over a nasty virus, I am back in the classroom and we are now starting our Romeo & Juliet unit!

To start, we discovered a few things about the writer of R&J, William Shakespeare. As a class, we read the introductory paragraph on wikipedia on the Smartboard and as I read it, students practised taking jot notes (a very important skill!). Taking jot notes  means you have to focus in on the MOST IMPORTANT and relevant facts. You can't write down all the words I say/you read. You have to be selective and pick the ones that really matter.

Once they had collected some data, students had to choose their top 5.

I then condensed everyone's list into a main list. From that, students again narrowed it down to the top 5, top 3, and then the numero uno, number one main fact one should know about William Shakespeare.

For instance, if I had no idea who he was, what would you want to tell me? What is MOST IMPORTANT? What sums him up?

Most students were able to pull a main idea from all of the other data about who he married, how long he lived, where he lived, what plays he wrote, etc and selected this fact: that he is a POET AND PLAYWRIGHT. But only a few were able to select the even better option...which is that Shakespeare is considered ONE OF THE BEST PLAYWRIGHTS IN THE WORLD. He isn't just any ol' playwright, but one of THE BEST!  

As we read the play (we started the prologue today using Shakespeare in Bits on the smartboard) we will also be doing more research reading...that is, using our research skills, our ability to pull out main details, summarize key points, etc, by looking more closely at aspects of Shakespeares world...such as, The Globe Theater, Queen Elizabeth I, and the Elizabethan Age.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Welcome Back! Looking Forward...

Welcome back after the holidays everyone! I hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable 2 weeks. We now have snow! So I expect the trip to Snow Valley will proceed as planned on Tuesday!

I know everyone is probably still feeling in 'holiday mode' but I'm hoping we'll all get back in the game quickly! This is the middle portion of the year, and it's important not to lose your focus!

If this were a hockey game, it'd be second period...if this were a Star Wars film, it'd be The Empire Strikes Back...You've got to keep focused so the Dark Side of the Force doesn't score a goal on your net...ooops, I've mixed up my analogies! Well, you get the idea!

Here are some of the things to look forward to over the coming weeks/months!
  • reconnection and goal setting in the first week back
  • creating a video game (with marketing tie ins) STARTS FRI!
  • financial literacy (math-as-literacy project...real world money applications!)
  • Romeo & Juliet using Shakespeare in Bits, of which our primary goal will be to read through the play in its entirety and understand it! Then we will be comparing the play to several movie variations (this will be your predominate writing task to write a movie review & answer the question: which movie best represents the play?). We will also be doing a variety of drama/art interpretations (here's the chance for those shadow plays and flip books!)
  • more drama! more charades and tableaus and improv and the like...
  • health discussions (stress, healthy eating)
  • literacy centers and guided reading
  • independent novel study #2
  • Skeleton Creek read aloud (with discussion questions related to character, setting, plot (ie: predicting & foreshadowing))
  • a continued emphasis on main idea with supporting details, using poems/videos etc...
  • more discussion of careers, personal strengths, multiple intelligences, etc...
-and Other Stuff!

Looking forward to it and, as always, keep your eye on this blog to get the latest news!