Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Richard III: Pure Cheese

March, 2009

"Imagine this, kids. A guy with a hunchback, like this. A gimpy hand, like this. And to top it off, a lame leg so he has to limp everywhere he goes, like this. What a wreck this guy is."

And now I get to do my cheesy I have an audience in my grip! I don't miss acting, no siree! Because: Look Ma...I'm actin' again...back on the boards in Room 39! thing.

"This fellow's name is Richard the Third and how much do you think he hated going to school? How much fun do you think the other kids made of poor, scraggly Richard? And what do you think he wanted more than anything?"

"He wanted to kill those kids!" shouts Calvin, a skinny third-grader.

"Well, maybe. Remember the themes of Shakespeare's plays? The three things his characters wanted were...what?"

"Love!" from Belinda.

"Revenge!" from Henry.

"Power!" from Geoffrey.

"Excellent, that's right. So, here's what happened to Richard the Third. He has an older brother Edward, the King of England. What do you think Richard wants?"

Hands fly up and bottoms bounce out of seats. I've inadvertently created a new game show.

"Yes, Beth?"

"King, king! He wants to be the king!"

"Right, so what's the theme of Richard the Third...what is it he wants?"

"Power!" and they scream the roof off of Room 39.

"At the start of the play, Richard limps alone on stage, dressed all in black with his terrible hand and this lump on his back and he's in a bad, bad mood:

"Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York;
And all the clouds that low'r'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

"And Richard starts killing people off so that he can become king."

"What happened? Did he make king?" Nathan wants to know.

"Oh yes, he made king all right, but it didn't last long because this play is a tragedy and what happens at the end of tragedies?"

"Dead! He's dead, right?" shouts Kate.

"As a doornail, you bet. Get your pencils ready we're going to scan the iambic verse."

I've taught them how to scan the verse. They all have a copy of the speech and each child, buried over a journal, marks the stresses and asks Rachel and me if they have it right.

"Now, I want each of you to write about when you wanted power in your life."

CHILDREN'S WRITES: Journal Entries
Dear Journal,

This is the worst day I wanted to have power. I wanted to have power to make my sisters clean my room and do my chores. But I couldn't. It started when my mom went to a long trip. She went for 3 hours. 1st she went to work for an hour then she want to the park for another hour, and that when I though about that I made them clean my room and other stuff while my Mom went to take care of my cousin for 30 min. even though they were the last min.s. But then I knew my mom was coming but I didn't care I had a bad feeling. So I told one of my sisters to cook me food the other to buy me chips and the last one to change the TV channel 4 me. But my plan got ruined NOOO! My Mom she got mad know my plan was ruined I cryed all day my screamed all day I learned to let my mom rule my sisters. The end.
—Susan, 5th grade

Dear Diary,

I wanted power over my teacher because she always used to boss me around and I didn't like it. I wanted to take her out of that school and have a better teacher. We all didn't like her and we wanted revenge. After that she had left from that school and we were happy & proud.

—Meara, 5th grade


  1. Polly and Ethan promised to teach me to scan next time I see them! Cool!

  2. And so, once more, the teacher is taught. Lucky you, lucky us.


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