Sunday, March 25, 2018

Reading Shakespeare by Brandi

Reading Shakespeare

For the second marking period, in Mrs.Loredo’s period 8/9, 8th grade ELA class, my peers and I spent a marking period reading and learning from Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We spent the marking period reading the play, thinking about the important themes, writing essays, performing in acting companies, and engaging in Socratic. Overall, the marking period was a great introduction to Shakespeare and his work to eighth graders.

William Shakespeare’s work is read around the world by all different types of people. By young and by old; students, teachers, and beyond. Shakespeare’s work was popular back when it was written - in the 16th and 17th century and continues to be popular to this day. Some consider Shakespeare to be the best writer of all time and some don’t even believe Shakespeare to really have penned his own work. Despite all this, Shakespeare's work has the influence it does, because of the amazing themes it touches on, the challenge of reading it, the insight it provides, and most of all the beauty of the writing.

Shakespeare’s comedic play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream features idiotic tradesmen putting on a play, four lovers who run away into a forest, and magical fairies who love to cause mischief. Forbidden love, rebellion, controlling parents, magic love potions, and fairy rulers conflicts are all parts that make the play a true page turner.

Overall, I thought the play was an excellent one to be the first one students are exposed to. It is light-hearted, funny, and still gives an excellent understanding of what Shakespeare's plays are so famous for. This play is excellent for eighth graders to read and study, because it shows us the beauty of Shakespeare's work, lets us learn how to work through the sometimes hard-to-understand text of Shakespeare's writing, and allows us to begin studying the themes Shakespeare puts into his plays.

After reading my first Shakespearean play, I can say I definitely do see the value in reading Shakespeare and studying his work. I am looking forward to seeing which of Shakespeare's plays I will be able to read and study in high school.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Jazz Band by Natalie B

Hi guys! Our school’s Jazz Band, also known as The Byram Blues Jazz band, has started again with new members from 6th, 7th and 8th grade. We had about a week or two to practice and prepare for tryouts. I had about 3 to 4 days to practice since I agreed to tryout much later.

We sat in the music room and improvised a solo, played some scales, and in the end, we all made it! After tryouts, we were given songs to practice and play. We have rehearsals afterschool on Mondays ,and before school on Fridays. Plus, we are able to have some practice time during school. We have worked very hard to play as a band. We currently know "Five Spot after Dark", "Listen Here" and 2 other songs.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Political Cartoons by Brandi

Political Cartoons

Political cartoons - You can find them in newspapers and online. They aren’t like regular cartoons, because they aren’t simply meant to entertain. They are created by artists who want to convey a political point. Sometimes they poke fun, sometime they are a source of inspiration, and sometimes they simply depict what is going on in the world today.

Political cartoons are an important part of political expression in the now. The artist is trying to show how they feel about a current event through art and humor. However, not all political cartoons are happy. Some have a somber feel. Take a look at the feeling conveyed in one after the September 11th attack.

Political cartoons can convey important political messages or mark history. In fact, some very famous political cartoons are still looked at today in classroom’s to explain history and how people felt about important events that we now call ‘history’. The image below is an example.

This political cartoon is hard to analyze, but it is actually about the Embargo Act of 1807. During Jefferson’s presidency he banned all trading on foreign ports, because of conflict with Great Britain. This caused an uproar for people, because it significantly hurt jobs and the American economy. This political cartoon showed how people felt about the Embargo Act. Ograbme is actually Embargo spelled backwards. The man who wants to trade goods is struggling, because the turtle, Ograbme, is holding him back. The other man is swearing and saying how this nicks the man.

This cartoon is actually something my peers and I analyzed in Mrs.Ward’s 8th Grade American History class, when learning about the Embargo Act during our study of Jefferson’s presidency. After our analysis, we begin working on a project learning about current day political cartoons and making our own political cartoon. The project is supposed to convey a political viewpoint. We hand drew our cartoons and then wrote a few paragraphs explaining what techniques we used in our cartoon. We also wrote about our viewpoints and what different parts of our cartoon symbolize.

I found this project to be really interesting, because of how it related to something going on in the real world. So maybe next time you see a political cartoon, in the newspaper, or even online you will think about what political message the author is trying to convey.

Interested in more? Here is the link to a political cartoonist website that 8th graders looked at in Mrs.Ward’s 8th grade class:

Spotlight on Socratic Seminar II by Brandi

Spotlight on Socratic Seminar II

Back in November, as the first marking period of the 2017-18 year closed out, I wrote about my experience doing my first Socratic Seminar. The seminar was on important global issues about refugees related to our class book, Inside Out and Back Again, from Mrs.Loredo’s 8th Grade period 8/9 ELA class. I found the first Socratic to be a very insightful and a meaningful learning experience. I have included the link to my experience doing my first Socratic, which includes an explanation of how a Socratic Seminar works.

This marking period Socratic was much different, because instead of debating about one question regarding global issues, we tackled discussing a Shakespearean play. The marking period was spent reading and analyzing Shakespeare’s comedic play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The story features comedic tradesmen putting on a play, four lovers who run away into a forest, and magical fairies who love to cause mischief. Despite the light-hearted comedic feel of the play, it tackles many intense themes such as love, magic, and control. The recent Socratic I was part of dealt with all these issues and more.

In preparing for the Socratic, we were given five questions that students would get called into the inner circle to discuss. Even though I was only going to be called into the inner circle for one of these questions, I had to be properly prepared to all of them, because I didn’t know which one I would be randomly assigned. During my preparation, the question I enjoyed preparing and contemplating the most is: “Do the characters emerge as one or are they are indistinguishable between each other? If you think they are not individuals, explain why you think Shakespeare did this?” I found I agreed that they are not individual characters, but rather used as props in Shakespeare’s expression of the themes of young love and control. This question was thought-provoking, because it dove deep into the author’s (Shakespeare’s) reasoning when creating the characters.

I ended up being pulled in on the theme of control questions. “The main theme of the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream is control. What motivates people to try to control each other's actions? How do people try to control each other's actions? What happens when people try to control each other's actions? In what ways have the characters’ attempted to control one another in the play and were their attempts successful?” This question was actually the prompt for our end of unit assessment and was great to discuss.

I argued that people control because they feel a lack of control, want to obtain ends, or to feel security in power. I explained how the character Oberon tries to control his wife, Titania, because he feels out of control in their relationship. I also touched on how characters want to obtain ends and they control to receive these ends. In my Socratic, I also tied my book club book, Animal Farm, and explained how the characters in that book (which are representative of people in the political Russian Revolution of 1917) control for the sake of power. I shared my thoughts on how characters and people either control psychologically or physically. Finally, I explained how not all attempts to control another person’s actions are successful, but some do work. Overall, I found the theme of control really interesting to discuss, based on the thoughts Shakespeare was trying to show through his play.

One of the best parts of Socratic is being able to observe your peers discussing. The question I found most interesting to observe discussion on was the one that dealt with the theme of love. “Of all the happy couples at the end of the play, Demetrius and Helena stand apart because Demetrius alone is still under the spell of the love potion. In your opinion, does this render their love false, or is it just as valid as the love between the other couples? In forming your opinion, consider what the play has to say on the whole about love.” Some of the conclusions my peers formed when discussing the theme of love is how foolish and blind love can be. I found this to be interesting to observe, because I didn't even think about how Shakespeare was trying to show that theme through his play. I felt being able to observe this question gave me a deeper understanding of what Shakespeare was trying to express in the play.

Overall, I believe this Socratic helped me to understand on a deeper level the meaning behind Socratic Seminars. I received a deep understanding of the value of the three main parts of a Socratic: Prepare, Discuss, Observe. Preparing helps to really use critical thinking, research, and analytical skills. Discussing allows speaking and listening skills to grow, allowing us to work on expressing academic ideas with our peers. Observing shows us different points of view and expands our perspective. The Socratic Seminars allow for a variety of skills and perspectives to be expanded, which is really beneficial, particularly when talking about Shakespearean literature or global issues. My first Socratic Seminar really showed me how insightful Socratic can be, and this one exposed me to why it is so insightful through the different parts of the seminar. I can't wait to see what I discover in my third Socratic!

The link to my first Spotlight on Socratic Article: