Thursday, 28 January 2016

Thinking Deeply About (And Along With) Hamlet

The combined ENG4U/ENG4UO course in
our flex classroom..takes advantage of flexible
groups and space.
It’s post-Winter Break for students in Grade 12 English, and that means it’s time to talk about Hamlet.  In both the university preparation (4U) and Advanced Placement (AP) streams, students are examining the language of Shakespeare’s most popular play. The focus of this unit is to think about the play’s big questions--who can we trust, what is justice, are we defined by our actions or by our intentions--while also working on close reading skills to more fully appreciate the intricacy of the language.

The combined ENG4U/ENG4UO course in our flex classroom, room 207, takes advantage of flexible groups and space with class discussions that allow for a range of opinions matching the number of students in the room. When examining questions of morality or conscience, like whether or not Claudius is a good king (not person), diversity of thought allows students to be challenged and confronted by other points of view. Recapping an act of the play via Twitter summary also sparks an unspoken creativity contest to see who is most masterful in their use of hashtags.

The flexible space also allows for differentiation in terms of level of challenge when performing a close text analysis on passages of the play. After a common review of literary devices and lesson on how to notice aspects of language in a text, the class splits into groups to learn how to effectively communicate about the passage. The AP students (as well as any students who opt in from the 4U class) examine a more intricate way to organize an essay, while the rest of the class gets to work applying a more traditional method to the complex ideas and language in front of them. In either option, the depth of thought expectation is the same, so all students must strive for the complexity and insight befitting Shakespeare’s most notorious thinker.

Caley Blyth
English Subject Team Leader

Stephanie Martino
English Teacher

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