Of Knights and Ladies

The motto of chivalry is also the motto of wisdom; to serve all, but love only one. –Honore de Balzac

 

 Once before, I transformed the high school park into a medieval fair where characters from English Literature were brought to life, an idea I have shared to Miss Joy, my colleague in teaching English in the 9th grade. However of course, we have so little time to hold a great event. But what I like about working with a hopeless romantic is getting to do the most creative juices there are in class. She had just the perfect idea to give medieval times a tribute: Chivalry Week.

Chivalry Week was the gateway to the Middle Ages when our 9th graders get to be knights and ladies with  chivalric code and rules of court to follow respectively. Each day, they get to do a challenge like Kindness Day and Ladies First Day. Boys also picked a lady to whom they were to be loyal to, in adherence to the concept of courtly love that a knight has to treat his lady as his priority and allows her to be in control, thus he does everything a lady tells him to do. Girls also were expected to be more refined in looks and ways, and to inspire their knight to do better. For the feels of Chivalry Week, they decorated their classroom doors with class symbols and codes. The knights also wrote love notes to their ladies and ladies made coat of arms for their knights. They exchanged gifts (this love notes came with flowers for the ladies) on Culminating Day when ribbons of honor were given out to outstanding knights and ladies. It was also fascinating to have seen some ladies who had exerted effort in wearing flowers, gloves and tiaras, and the knights, swords and armors.

The whole idea of Chivalry Week was just perfect for the lesson on the contributions of knights to medieval literature and the legends of King Arthur.

Here are my InstaMag mosaics of what had transpired the entire week:


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OPENING OF CHIVALRY WEEK

 

 

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KNIGHTS AND LADIES

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CULMINATING DAY

 

 

Did I enjoy myself? Well I am one lucky fairy queen who was instrumental into making this experience possible for young people of today. Credits too to Miss Joy for whipping up the outline of activities for Chivalry Week. It was a good shot at letting them understand that some great values like loyalty, honor, faith, honesty, modesty, bravery and courtesy just die hard. These values remain unchanged in these changing times.

Hail to Chivalry!

 

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“My Life in Three Sentences” ETC.

“Wake up! Can we talk it over a cup of coffee? Don’t just flow with life; make waves.”

I would have written these sentences in response to the 3-minute journal prompt I gave my students to wrap up the unit of study on The Complete Sentence, if the prompt were for me.

What defines a good sentence? What makes up a complete sentence?

At first I thought teaching sentences in 9th Grade is a waste of time and an insult to the English teachers who have taught 7th and 8th Grade and even the elementary teachers why this grammar lesson has to be given a limelight.

However, a great deal of time is truly needed to have a run down of the checklist of a good sentence. It is surprising to annoying that kids these days are not so fond of periods as end marks, but it is startling and elating how these youngsters can form beautiful complete sets of thoughts out of random sentence parts.

These were my realizations after the lesson on The Complete Sentence. With the use of strategies and tools like The Complete Sentence Checklist, editing of essays students themselves have written, conversation starters, three-minute journal entitled “My Life in Three Sentences” and my favorite, building sentences using random sentence parts on strips of paper, the lesson on The Complete Sentence filled me with interesting ideas from my students’ responses to the sentence completion quiz. I had to use different kinds of stamps to express how glad I am by the progress.

Here are some of the interesting sentences they have built out of random sentence parts I have given them:

Why do people fall in love/when I have all the time in the world/despite the chills of loneliness/?

I will explore/the wonders of/ideal weekend destination/!

I will not miss the chance/of spending winter there/to write a poem/.

How lovely are the sights/of a picture from a dream/revealing the magic of the outdoors/!

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Ballad of a Broken Heart

 

We had too much of Taylor Swift’s broken heart in English class just to fully embrace the elements that make a piece of writing a ballad. What is interesting to note is that ballads that are as old as time, tracing back to the Middle Ages, tell of the same heartaches commonly caused by unrequited love. Which I can’t help but wonder: How can somebody as pretty as Tay feel so unloved?

But that is not really the point here. The point is, the ballads in Taylor Swift’s songs are the same stories of tragedy out of love that is never meant to be, lines in question and answer format just to get a heartbreak across, loads of repetitions to stress pain, and a depth of emotions from conventional phrases-elements that make poems ballads.

Dissecting the traces of heartbreak began with a sing-along to the music of The Script, which my students made me appreciate more when they expressed that the title “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” is actually just a conventional phrase to mean not being able to move on. I used to think the song is about some lonesome traveler. This was followed by song interpretations of Taylor Swift’s songs, which was rather off key given the little time for them to prepare a story line for the supposed break up stories of Tay. Nevertheless, it led me to pause and think of my own Taylor Swift song. Segue from the classroom ideas talk, I found out that I have all the right in the world to own “Ours” as the Taylor Swift song of my love life and let the lyrics speak for itself:

Seems like there’s always someone who disapproves
They’ll judge it like they know about me and you
And the verdict comes from those with nothing else to do
The jury’s out, but my choice is you.

So don’t you worry your pretty little mind
People throw rocks at things that shine
And life makes love look hard
The stakes are high, the water’s rough, but this love is ours

 

At any rate, students might have had much of the elements of ballads until they were given the time to speak of their own heartbreaks by dropping an object to symbolize them and guided by a journal prompt entitled “My Life’s Greatest Heartbreak.” Responses were drawn from silly like a very low Geometry quiz to overwhelming like a picture of a coffin to stand for the death of one’s dear mother. In between, I was holding back my own tears as I saw how painful it would really be having hearts broken at such tender age.

I should have known to be prepared for the juvenile thoughts my students have about moving on and breaking apart. When they read about Lord Randal who is sick at heart and Bonny Barbara Allan suffering from the same unrequited love, it was amazing how they can give a part of their hearts through pieces of advice as to how Lord Randal and Bonny Barbara Allan move on after their hearts had been broken. All these thoughts I have discovered while reading through their responses to the quiz tailored as an advice column. While I am still checking most of the worksheets, this is so far my favorite:

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Ballads will always be ballads. It was a week of heartbreaks. Well, we all need to feel broken from time to time, so we understand how powerful love is to prompt us to gather the pieces of our broken heart which are the very things that actually make us feel whole again.

 

image from http://www.stylopics.com

Grammar Nazis

 

I have read an article online about people overly concerned about grammar, particularly of other people’s, and these grammar patriots are labeled as language bullies, pedants, grammar nerds—and I thought “name callings” are too heavy for someone like me and some people whom I share common interest in grammar checking the city. The scale is, if both of you (the grammar checker and the grammar criminal) can laugh through the blunder together, then it is not language bullying at all right? So I guess being a grammar Nazi is not that bad at all when done in moderation and with discretion. Allow me to quote from another online article entitled “Why I hate Grammar Nazis and Why I Am One” to substantiate how I feel about correcting grammar as a social cause: “I love my language. I love its precision. I love its rules. I’m also more than a little OCD, so, naturally, I want to fix everyone’s mistakes. But I don’t. Not always, at any rate. Because I believe there’s a time and a place to pick your battles.”

Just as there are rules for grammar, there are also rules in knowing when to correct the grammar of other people. I should not at all feel very confident, some typos or some careless slips just might turn the tables and then the joke is on me, who is so pertinent about the slightest misuse of the language.
But then again, some people just have to be very careful and feel the pulse of their confidence level when trying to believe they are saying the (grammatically) right thing especially publicly.

#justsaying

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Links: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/the_good_word/2013/09/language_bullies_pedants_and_grammar_nerds_who_correct_people_all_the_time.2.html

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2012/01/why-i-hate-grammar-nazis-and-why-i-am.html

Dauntless Week

There was no room for other factions in literature class this week. It was Dauntless exclusive.

What better way is there to flaunt the deeds of the legendary Beowulf than a Dauntless-themed lesson plan?

The roundabout activities towards the epic adventures of Beowulf were initiated through a Bluffing Game which consists of mix-in bluff and fact statements about Beowulf. This helped outlined the highlights of Beowulf’s adventures as well as background information about one of the oldest and best known epics of all time. I must say I had a great time punching rewards cards for well-phrased insights during the open book discussion then after.

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As for the ticket to leave, perspectives on what being brave means were stirred.il_570xN.369154829_p61f

 

Are you dauntless enough now?

The hunting begins.

What does it mean to be fearless? dauntless? brave?

The room was a mess during the Dauntless as Beowulf Hunt where students grouped themselves by completing the hunt card containing dauntless traits similar to the the outstanding characteristics of Beowulf as an epic hero. The hunt went on for the one who is not afraid of the dark, the biggest voice, the strongest arm and more. But it did not stop from there. Now that factions of equally dauntless students had been formed, it was a perfect moment to have a face off. Everyone with the biggest voice does a shout out, with the strongest arms an arm wrestle and with the ability to cross channels a challenge to pass through human barricades. There were laughter outburst and even funny injuries after a human barricade was twirled off from one’s seat by the person passing through, but despite the lovely chaos, in as much as I tried to contain it, I could not hide how much I enjoyed the face off.

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Flash report: Beowulf saves the day. As the reading text was adapted from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, the idea of broadcasting the deeds of Beowulf hit like black coffee on an empty mind canvas. Re-enactments and interviews from boring to brilliant gave life to the adventures of Beowulf.

To seal off the chapter…

Eyes were glued on the LED TV and I was amused by the epic faces as the students witness how Beowulf was portrayed in an animated film.

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Finally, the writing prompt for the 3-minute journal was: “Battling Monsters”. Students were made to express what or whom they consider as monsters in their life and how they will manage to conquer them as Beowulf did with his adversaries.

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Whew! An action-packed Dauntless Week.

Counting Stars in English Class

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I am giving my students a little punch to get them to work hard in my class. This is no punch that hurts but rather a punch that earns them reward points. With a handy dandy punch card and one-hole puncher, credits for a job-well done will truly pay off. By the end of the week, A+ passes can be won through a raffle draw. They can swap A+ homework, A+ activity and exam power A+ passes to get automatic A+ marks. How nice is that? While for some who are not budging for a punch, then they are up for special assignments like extended library hours and homework overload. Who wants to work harder the hard way anyway? Better count stars instead.

(Thank you pinterest for all these wonderful reward ideas)

Dare to Soar

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One of my biggest preparation of the year is capturing a moving theme for the annual Awards Day. After a couple of lattes and cold black coffee, I found my heart stopping at the concept of SOAR.

For this year’s Awards Day, deserving students will once again be donned with their medals and spark inspiration among their fellow students to be achievers, too.

Two years ago, the inspiration to take flight was sparked. Just last year, a matrix of success was woven. This year is the moment to soar through time.

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Preparing for Awards Day meant hours of “googling” for an inspirational piece for the verse choir presentation (not to mention days of shuffling playlists for songs that will give life to the theme). Thanks to google, I got a link to a poem published in allpoetry.com. This poem was written by hunkydory. For me, it is perfect for the theme. With a little help from the full teaching force of the high school department, I am high-spirited that the program will truly soar.

Let’s Soar High

Think beyond your thinking,

Go beyond The stars ,

 

Reach beyond your boundaries,
As sky is only our limit,

 

Lets,

 

Soar high,

 

Break through the bars,

 

Crack open the doors,

 

Pave our way to success;

 

Throughout we go tirelessly,

 

With no worries,

 

We shall reach our goal.

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Dare to soar, UNORians.

~Make waves~