Rome and Juliet on Broadway…Again!

The freshman English class has been writing plans for their own Broadway musicals mirroring the plot of Romeo and Juliet. Here are some of the highlights:

Bob: (singing)As a bird with a broken wing
like a sheep in a lion’s den
gonna fall, but you won’t know when…
-D.M.

Michael: (singing)”Come at me bro! Wanna donate some blood?/They call me Mr. Phlebotomist!”
-P.G.

Alice: (singing) I don’t know. I feel like someone else is out there. Someone I have never met before.
Gabriella: (singing) How do you know his is out there?/He could be a stalker?
-K.M.

Trump: I’m not saying they can’t come to America.
I’m not saying that at all.
All I want is to build a wall!
Trump & Americans: (singing) Trump’s wall! Trump’s wall!
We all love Trump’s wall!
Some say it’s bad.
Some say it’s expensive,
but we don’t care because it’s Trump’s Wall!
Trump: (singing) My wall is so big–but expensive–but who really cares? I’m a billionare!
-Z.L. & B.W.

Ryan: (singing) Do you belive in Miracles?
Because right now, I really do!
Fiona: (singing) This is truly mystical…
Ryan and Fionna: (singing)…finally meeting you!
-M.A. & C.R.

Mary: (singing) How could I be so dumb?
I don’t understand.
My whole life is almost done
and I’m still young!
-T.V. & J.V.

Shakespearean Sonnets

The freshmen are currently working on writing their own Shakespearean sonnets. Here’s a little bit about the form from the Academy of American Poetry:

From the Italian sonetto, which means “a little sound or song,” the sonnet is a popular classical form that has compelled poets for centuries. Traditionally, the sonnet is a fourteen-line poem written in iambic pentameter, which employ one of several rhyme schemes and adhere to a tightly structured thematic organization. Two sonnet forms provide the models from which all other sonnets are formed: the Petrarchan and the Shakespearean.

 *         *         *

The second major type of sonnet, the Shakespearean, or English sonnet, follows a different set of rules. Here, three quatrains and a couplet follow this rhyme scheme: abab, cdcd, efef, gg. The couplet plays a pivotal role, usually arriving in the form of a conclusion, amplification, or even refutation of the previous three stanzas, often creating an epiphanic quality to the end.

In Sonnet 130 of William Shakespeare’s epic sonnet cycle, the first twelve lines compare the speaker’s mistress unfavorably with nature’s beauties. But the concluding couplet swerves in a surprising direction:

     My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Punctuating Words as Words

We recently finished up some definition essays in my college level courses. A question that kept coming up was “How do I punctuate words that refer to themselves?”

Do I use quotation marks or italics? Which of the following is correct?

“Humblebrag” is now in the dictionary.

Humblebrag is now in the dictionary.

There’s some debate about which is best, but ultimately it comes down to which style manual you are following. Since we are using MLA style, we follow their rules and use italics.

The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue offered this summation:

Do not use quotation marks for words used as words themselves. In this case, you should use italics.

EX: The English word nuance comes from a Middle French word meaning “shades of color.”

Close Reading Strategy

If you are struggling with comprehension in general or just with a particular text, the following strategy could help. It’s designed to get readers to do on paper what many stronger readers do naturally in their head. That being said, even if you are a strong reader, these strategies could help you deal with complex texts.

1. Chunk the text. Divide the reading into smaller chunks. These chunks could be each stanza for a poem or every few paragraphs for prose. It’s better if this is not done randomly, but at divisions that sort of make sense.
2.  Underline and circle with a purpose. Underline main ideas and key phrases. Ciricle key words; strong verbs; repeated words or phrases; important names, places, and dates; etc.
3. Summarize each chunk. In ten words or less, summarize what’s happening in that section.​ It’s recommended to write this in the left margin. Also, draw a simple picture that illustrates the main idea.
4. For each chunk, write in one word what the author is doing. In other words, “informing,” “persuading,” “proving,” “describing,” “complaining,” “questioning,” “explaining,” etc.
5. Ask and answer the “5 Ws and How” (who, what, when, where, why and how) for each section. If you can’t answer them, re-read to get the answers.

Video Book Review [Bonus]

For this bonus assignment, students from English I, II, III, and High School Reading can create a video book review, which will be uploaded to Youtube to share with current and future students. The bonus is worth 10 points and is due the last day of the first quarter.

To receive full credit for the video book review,  you MUST:

  • Choose a book from the list that you read for the book journal
  • Prepare a video that is 3-5 minutes long
  • In the video, you should:
    • Tell the title, the author’s name, and the date of publication
    • Discuss the setting, characters, and basic premise of the book WITHOUT spoiling the ending or other major plot points.
    • Read a sample passage directly from the book
    • Feature an image or video of the book’s cover
    • Clearly explain why you would or would not recommend the book to your classmates
    • List publication information for the book and any other non-original work, such as music included in the video.
  • Bring the video on a flash drive or upload it online in a format that can be uploaded to my Youtube channel.

Note: The above example does a pretty good job, but doesn’t include the year of publication nor a sample passage from the book. It’s also a bit under the required three minutes, but including a short excerpt from the book should help you take up that extra time.

Bad Grammar Can Effect “Hoo” You Date

Comedian Aziz Anzari’s book “Modern Romance” is equal parts scientific research, anecdotal evidence, and stand up comedy. This book isn’t recommended for teens as it deals with mature themes and uses mature language. It reads like an R-rated Freakonomics all about dating in the modern age.

I found the book interesting because it dealt extensively with how people communicate effectively…and not-so-effectively in their romantic relationships. You might be surprised to learn that sloppy communication skills reflected poorly on potential suitors, and for many folks it was a deal breaker.  Anzari relates:

“In any interviews we did, whenever bad grammar or spelling popped up, it was an immediate and major turnoff. Women seemed to view it as a clear indicator that a dude was a bozo. Let’s say you are a handsome, charming stud who really made a great first impression. If your first text is ‘Hey we shud hang out sumtimez,’ you may just destroy any goodwill you have built up.

“On our subreddit we were told a story about a man who was dating a spectacular woman but eventually broke up with her. He said it went downhill once he texted her asking if she had heard about a party at a mutual friend’s house. Her response was ‘Hoo?’ Not ‘Who,’ but ‘Hoo.’ He kept trying to force the word ‘who’ into conversation to make sure this beautiful woman could spell a simple three-letter word. Every time, she spelled it ‘hoo.’ He said it ruined everything. (NOTE: We did confirm that this was a woman and not an owl.)”

Passive & Active Voice in The Office

In an episode of NBC’s hit show The Office, inept manager Michael Scott makes an important announcement to his staff:

Ladies and gentlemen, I have some bad news. Meredith was hit by a car. …It happened this morning in the parking lot. I took her to the hospital and the doctors tried to save her life. They did the best they could and she is going to be okay.”

His staff is upset with him for making it sound like Meredith had died, but he’s using passive voice to conceal the worse of it. Only after someone has the idea of going to the security tapes to identify the car, does he finally admit his role in the accident (using active voice):

“I ran down Meredith in my car.”

 

Compare the differences in these constructions:

PASSIVE (hides the actor)

“Meredith was hit by a car.” & “It happened this morning in the parking lot.”

ACTIVE (actor performs verb)

“I ran down Meredith in my car.”