Monday, June 14, 2010

Thematically Speaking

"All right, see these three words?"

On the board I've written: POWER. LOVE. REVENGE.

"These are the three main themes of William Shakespeare's plays. Remember last year when we did 'Twelfth Night'?"

Just mention that title and Henry springs to life.

"Good, good memories, Ms. Ryane. That was the best!"

The kid is never going to get over playing Malvolio, ever.

"Okay, so of these three words, what do you think the characters of 'Twelfth Night' wanted the most?"

"It was a comedy!" Henry puts forth.

"Right, it was a comedy. This could get a tad confusing for you guys. His plays were comedies, tragedies, histories and romances, but today we're talking about themes. What the characters want."

"What do you mean...that word...tad?" Garth asks.

It's so easy to slip off topic. We're about one second away from — oh boy, here it comes. "Yes, Mary?"

"When do we get snacks?"

"Snacks in a while and tad means a little. What did Viola, Orsino, Malvolio and Olivia want? What did all the characters in that play want most?'

"Love," whispers Celia.

"Bingo! They all wanted love. Look at the three words and tell me, what do the characters in 'Macbeth' want?"

"Are we going to play bingo?" Mark wants to know.

"What does Macbeth want?" I ignore that last comment.

"Power!" cries Oliver.

"Right, I think that's right."

"Not me!" Dominick answers. "I want revenge because Macbeth killed my whole family."

"That's true, Dominick. I think you do want revenge."

"Me too," adds Mark. "Macbeth killed Malcolm and Donalbain's dad!"

"Also true, but I think if we had to choose one overriding theme, it would be power. Remember I told you the story of 'Hamlet'? That would be an example of a play with a main theme of revenge."

I glance over at the bag of Little Cutie oranges and another with protein bars. It would be so easy to just feed them snacks and forget the themes. So, so easy and maybe I could work in a nap.

"What's the theme of 'Romeo and Juliet'?"


"Easy. Okay, open your journals and here's your theme for today: I want to see an essay of when you wanted power in your life. Go!"

And they open their journals. And they check out their pencils, and even though I've freshly sharpened each one, some need another sharpening because it's fun to stick a pencil in the whirring gadget. Others want an eraser even though not a word has been written. Everyone eyes the bags of food. And off we go writing and eating, scribbling and munching.

"Ms. Ryane, can I share?" Henry calls.

"Henry, you can share but you have to write first. You can't just make stuff up once you're up here. Write first."

Eat, write, share.

Power. Love. Revenge.

CHILDREN'S WRITES: Journal Entries
When I wanted power when I got punshed for something my sister did. I wish I could be a witch, so I could cast a spell on my sister so she would not lie. Eventually, I told my parents but, of course, they didn't beleive me. I would love to prove myself right anyday.
Darby, 5th grade

I wanted power when I went to camp. I wanted power at camp because it was boring. We only waked-up, ate, then started to pick up trash. But I have to admit that in the night it was kind of cool because we roasted marshmellows and saw bears.
—Bettina, 5th grade

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