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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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!



“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/!


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:


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