Saturday, September 24, 2011

Introducing: The Sonnets

Wordle for Sonnet 20 by the group "The A-Team"
So, this week my Shakespeare students had a close encounter with Shakespeare's Sonnets in three meetings.

As you can see from the Wordle on the left, my students quickly discovered that the sonnets were more than just about eternal love (*ahem*).

Here is a brief description of each meeting, plus my goals and Bloom's from RadioJames Objectives Builder:

  1. A lecture on the sonnet tradition, the story of Shakespeare's sonnets, and a model analysis of Sonnet 73 ("That time of year thou mayst in me behold") that made them recall previous information as well as acquire new information. (Knowledge Level).
  2. For homework, students selected one sonnet and wrote a reader-response where they gave the sonnet a title, connected it to an image, explained what appealed to them about the sonnet, and speculated on whom they would send it to. (Evaluation/Creation Level). Networks Connection: these responses will be evaluated by Dr. Pacht's ENG 102 class, and one will be voted "Best Entry" based on whether it is complete, clear, easy to read, creative, and engaging. 
  3. Small group work, where, for a total of seven sonnets (20, 29, 91, 116, 129, 144, 147), students formally analyzed as well as interpreted one sonnet and posted their groups' conclusions on the Ning for others to see. (Comprehension, Application, Analysis Levels).
  4. Individual, small group, and large group work that distilled what students had learned, as they a) used their analysis and conclusions to build a mini-lesson they would deliver to four different classmates in two minutes (like the "speed dating" we did during our second face-to-face meeting), b) they left feedback on the two-minute lessons on the Ning,  c) constructed a Wordle to express the key ideas of the group's sonnet, and d) connected the ideas in a new  sonnet, 130, to the Elizabethan sonnet tradition. (Synthesis, Evaluation/Creation Level).
How Did It Go?
    The photo one member of the group "Hight Yare Let" took to
    demonstrate the group's work on structure
    The hands-on activities created a positive, energetic buzz around the analytical and evaluative work. The groups collaborated intensely both days, and I was pleased to see the groups work sans technology the first time around, so that, at least initially, their analysis was not tainted by interpretations floating on the web.

    While students were anxious about the "speed dating" activity (one even scoffed at the idea), the anxiety turned into eagerness to appear knowledgeable about a sonnet. By the end of the first round, everyone was having a blast sharing her/his understanding-- except for two students that had missed the previous classes and had to "eavesdrop" on other people's exchanges, as they both decided they did not know enough about the sonnets to be "2-minute experts." Between one thing and the next (read: the Wordles), we ran out of time for students to give me feedback about the sonnets lessons, so they will turn their reflection in next week  (I gave them the option of making the reflection anonymous) or via Ning.

    The image that the group "Shocskpear"
    used to explain the theme of Sonnet 29
    I still have to see what my students say about the lessons, but from my own observation, I would definitely do the following again: the reader-response, the group analysis, and the "speed dating." Maybe the Wordle should be part of homework so that it does not take up class time (though it was interesting listening to the group members arguing as to what words should be included). If I could get away without doing the introductory lecture, I would,  but I read somewhere that the only worse thing than a face-to-face lecture is an average online lecture. Anyone remembers where this notion is from?

    1 comment:

    1. Interaction and images...what could be better? And the wordle your students made - LOL love it!