Category Archives: Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

Domain 4 of the Danielson Framework for Teaching: Professional Responsibilities

English 9 Enriched: 2013 Short Story Anthology

        My Enriched students just published their short story anthology, Under the Same Skies under the collective name of Sentries of the Past.
        Sentries of the Past is a group of 9th grade students at Webster Schroeder High School who spent six months researching the Hero’s Journey pattern as outlined by mythologist Joseph Campbell. From there, the students explored how the pattern is part of the human condition and how it can be used as a tool to examine their own livUnder the Same Skies Coveres.
        For 60 days, my 9th graders reflected and shared insights as they explored the archetypal hero within. After completing The Sixty Day Sojourn and after reading a book of forensic anthropology, Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates by Jill Rubalcaba and Peter Robertshaw, each student selected one of the four hominids studied in the work and “put flesh on the bones,” so to speak.
        In order to incorporate the research component of the CCSS, they researched the regions where the bones were found, as well as the cultures of the people who have lived in that area.  From there, they were able to create hypotheses regarding the lives of their chosen hominid.  While the stories are still a work of fiction, they have been based on historical and cultural facts.  They also still incorporate Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey pattern.
You may click on the picture to link to the publication page.
Here are the students and their story titles (in no particular order):
Katie Ramsey:  “The Lion Heart”
Abigail Rettew:  “Sacrifice”
Myuri Arujunan:  “The Road to Destiny”
Alexis Duggan:  “Wayfaring Towards Danger”
Haley Guidice:  “Marco’s Tools”
Karina Rzepa: “Shadows of the Night”
Julia Deacon:  “Veritas Vos Liberabit”
Xilin Zhou:  “Fallen”
Elizabeth Geiser:  “Simi’s Mountain”
Phoebe Huang:  “Flight”
Thomas Ambalavanar:  “Vladavina od Vatra”
Ben VanderStouw:  “The Bones of Alsem”
Matina Chanthavongsay:  “Let Them Live”
Christina Ambalavanar:  “The Silent Warrior”
Ishitri Bandyopadhyay:  “Hunted By Amber Eyes”
Jamie Lai:  “Godling”
Student books


Filed under Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 3: Instruction, Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities, English 9 Enriched

Reflections on Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

4a.  Reflecting on Teaching

As I look back on this 2012-2013 school year, I can see some things that really worked for me and for my students, and I will not be changing those.  For example:

~ Working in cooperative groups for various units.   This tends to work better at the enriched level as opposed to the regents because the enriched kids tend to be more focused and not quite as chatty about things non-related to the task at hand.   As we did close reading of materials, I found that some weaker students benefited from having a strong reader in the group to kind of lead them along.   Quite often I heard phrases like, “How’d you come up with that?” and “Show me where you got that cuz I ain’t seein’ it.”  

~ Using Visible Thinking Exercises.  This technique has been the single greatest tool I have gotten in the past several years through Professional Development.  I wish I had been introduced to it much earlier!   Using these exercises helps to focus writing, especially the See/Think/Wonder exercise for coming up with Concrete Details (CDs) and Commentary (CMs) for writing.  Students become more observant while examining paintings/photographs/music videos/film clips, and they begin to look for less obvious details as the year progresses.  This skill is transferred to close reading as we examine specific passages from text.   The regents students did it with articles about migrant farm workers, as well as articles relating to Roosevelt’s New Deal in the first quarter when we read Of Mice and Men.  During that time, the enriched students were working with Every Bone Tells a Story, and each group did close readings relating to a particular hominid.  When all classes were working with The Odyssey in some form in the second quarter, students examined passages of the poetry, or analyzed Homeric similes.   Both levels were also given speeches from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to analyze closely, and the enriched kids had to analyze and memorize a 20 line piece from one of Shakespeare’s other plays.  And we use the Visible Thinking technique with Frankenstein (9E) and Plato’s “Apology” (9R) in the fourth quarter.

~ Every Bone Tells a Story as a non-fiction work for English 9 Enriched.    I love how the book was divided into the four hominins, and then each section was divided into: Discoveries (Expository Writing), Deductions (Research), and Debates (Persuasive Writing).  Each group worked with each of the three types of writing as it pertained to their assigned hominid.   This worked very, very well at the beginning of the year as I was introducing the different types of writing that we would be doing during the rest of the year.   Since I plan to keep using this book, I hope that the district can find the funds to purchase copies for the students instead of me having to ask them to buy the books themselves.

~ Plato’s “Apology” and Evidence-Based Claims.  Ok, I have to admit that I dragged my heels on this one, but only by trying it out would I really have the right to complain (hence, following the PARCC framework for the first quarter?).  I was actually surprised at how much the worksheets reflected work that I was already doing with my students.  The Forming Evidence Based Claims worksheet is actually a version of See/Think/Wonder, while the Organizing Evidence Based Claims worksheet asks kids to create a thesis statement with two signposts (something I’d already taught them earlier in the year).   While I would not change teaching it, I WILL do this in the beginning of the year with students and use the worksheets consistently (I found they work well for literature as well because I used them with Frankenstein in the enriched classes).

Things that I will change:

~ no PARCC framework next year.  It’s too much work for a single teacher to keep up with. 

~ “Apology” will be moved to the beginning of the year, followed by short stories.  I began the year with Of Mice and Men, and I really didn’t like the flow.  However, I had been following the PARCC, so I jumped right into a full-length text.  It would have been a better transition to do the Evidence-Based Claims with Plato first, and then transfer that skill to a full-length research project instead of the other way around; however, in my defense, the Plato unit wasn’t available in September.


4b.  Maintaining accurate records

One tool that helps with maintaining accurate records of dates and times of when work was turned in is the online website that I have for each classroom.  From my own funds, I purchased five networking classroom websites from  Each class is held privately, meaning that no one may join in or visit the website unless he/she is a member approved by me.  I maintain the highest privacy allowances on the site in an attempt to insure student internet safety, and no one may join the site using a made-up screen name.  This is so that I know exactly who is responsible for posting anything on the site.  When an assignment is completed online, it is dated and time-stamped, so I know exactly when it was done.  There is no argument about late assignments with this tool. 

I also make use of the Infinite Campus grade book online.  Parents may see grades on the portal and keep track of their child’s progress.  I have both positive and negative reactions to this.  On the positive side, parents can see what a child is missing and encourage him/her to turn the work in, or if the child does poorly on a quiz, the parent can intervene with the child.  On the flip side, some parents check the portal constantly and question grading practices for every little point in an attempt to raise their child’s grades. 


4c.  Communicating with families

All information about the course is sent to the parents over the summer so that they are informed about what their child can expect.  I send expectations, supplies lists, and a list of reading materials for the upcoming school year.

Most frequently, I communicate with families via email.  This gives me an electronic record of the communication, and I always include Mr. McBride (as English Department Supervisor) and the student’s house office administrator in the conversation.   I send emails for significantly late work, failing averages at the halfway point in a quarter, or missing work, and I make suggestions for how a student may improve his/her grade.  I also send emails when a struggling student has improved as a motivation for continued improvement.  If a parent does not respond to my email I follow with a phone call and log the call on Infinite Campus. 


4d.  Participating in a professional community

I serve as a member of the Webster School District Policy Board where we work to design and bring about meaningful professional development opportunities for our teachers.  Our biggest push this year has been for putting together Creative Collaborations where teachers can work together on a common goal.

I participate in a PLC with another 9th grade English teacher, but I also discuss curriculum and other school business with other teachers as well.

For the past three years, I have served the school as the head yearbook advisor, maintaining accurate financial records and helping students and my co-advisor create a quality product.  I have also served as a ski club chaperone for the past eight years, and I was a class advisor for three years from 2007-2010.   Our committee planned the 2008 Junior Prom and the 2009 Senior Ball.

This will be the fifth year that my students will have published an anthology of short stories that follow the Hero’s Journey pattern outlined by mythologist Joseph Campbell.  Each year, the short story project dovetails one of the units that we have worked with.  In the 2008-2009 school year, we read real-life stories of heroes.  Because of the popularity of the television show Heroes at the time, we patterned our story after the television show by giving ordinary people super-powers and creating our own superhero tales in In The Footsteps…  In 2009-2010, we read Douglas Adams’ The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul in which humans created immortal characters/gods in their cultures and then later forgot about them.  Because the characters were immortal and could not die, they became the forgotten and lonely street-people.  Our task was to “rescue” an immortal by taking the time to learn and tell the story of a student-created immortal who was on the brink of being forgotten forever in We Remember…  During the 2010-2011 school year, we read The Hobbit, and so students created quest tales that included a long journey.  The culmination of that project was Forged Through Trials.  Last year’s project was also inspired by a television series and went with our Cultural Mythology unit.  In the spirit of Once Upon a Time, students selected a myth or fairy tale and modernized it.  The end result was Altered Reflections.  Each book was published online and is currently available worldwide.  This was the project followed by the Joseph Campbell Foundation that led to my participation in the international Symposium on Mythology.  This year’s project surrounds a non-fiction work, Every Bone Tells a Story.    Students selected one of the four anthropological discoveries from the text, and they researched the region/culture in which the person may have lived.  From there, they are putting flesh on the bones and creating stories for the hominins.  Lapedo Child and Turkana Boy might have rite of passage tales or a coming of age story.  Kennewick Man might have a long-journey story, while Ice Man just might be a murder mystery.  All might include Land of the Dead tales.  The possibilities are many, so students have the opportunity to be creative all the while honing their research skills as the settings must reflect the region and ancient culture.   The students then vote on the top stories to be included in the anthology.   At the end of the project, I present the students’ published work at the 9th grade awards ceremony, and we have a book signing celebration in the school library, complete with a cake bearing the book’s cover.


4e.  Growing and developing professionally

I am a member of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, which correlates with my work in teaching cultural mythology and The Hero’s Journey to my students.  In 2012, I was selected to present at an international Symposium on Mythology in Santa Barbara, California about the work I have done with my enriched students over the years, particularly the long-term short story project that we do annually, which culminates in the publication of an anthology.  As a result of my presentation, the Joseph Campbell Foundation has asked me to serve as one of the lead teachers on a committee that will create an international curriculum on mythology to be funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

I have taken advantage of the Webster Central School District’s professional development offering on Visible Thinking activities in the classroom.  This practice has really added depth to my classroom discussions and to student sharing/writing.  There are examples of Visible Thinking exercises posted for your perusal. 


4f.  Demonstrating professionalism

I work hard to maintain my integrity in my chosen profession.  I take my charge to educate students very seriously, and I am consistent in my dealings with students.  While I may be strict, I believe that I am extremely fair and that I do whatever is necessary to see students succeed. 

I offer credit recovery options for students who are missing work.  Because I believe that all assignments are important and should be completed, I have given students “incomplete” grades on report cards until all work has been done. 

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Filed under Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities, Reflections on the Danielson Framework

English 9 Regents: Power in a Blank Sheet of Paper– An Anti-Bullying Exercise

First of all, I want to admit that I got the idea for this exercise from a teacher on FaceBook.  Secondly, I want to say that this was probably the most powerful lesson in Symbolism that I have ever given in my 15 years of teaching, and I intend to use this from now on to introduce the concept.

I teach 9th grade English, and I’ve been working using Visible Thinking tactics to better reach my students.  As a lead in to the short story “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst, I wanted to find an exercise that would teach students about the power of symbolism in literature.   Who says that FaceBook has no value other than social networking?

I had students take out their writing journals and a clean sheet of paper.  In the journals, they had to put the heading “Symbolism” at the top.  They were then instructed to look closely at the clean sheet of paper sitting on their desks and to write (in the journals) anything that they saw about the paper.  They had to preface the notes with “I see…”.  I then asked them to preface a few sentences with “I think…” as they continued to look at the blank sheet of paper.  The kids looked at me like I was nuts, but they wrote in their journals anyway.

As soon as they finished writing, I told them to take the sheet of paper and crumple it up.  They could stomp on it, they could pound it, they could bite it… but they just could not tear it in any way.  That they got into.  Kids were balling up the sheets, throwing them on the floor and jumping on them.  One put the wad of paper into his mouth and chewed on it (I had to tell him to be careful about ripping it).  Then I had them put the wadded paper on the desk in front of them and repeat the writing exercise.  They had to preface each section with “I see…” and “I think…”.  They seemed to have more to say this time because it took them a bit longer to do the writing piece.

Once they finished that, I asked them to very, very carefully (so as not to rip it) unfold the crumpled ball and flatten it out as best they could.  While they were doing that, I instructed them to say, “I’m sorry” to the piece of wadded up paper.  Ok, so some kids got silly with it and started kissing the paper while apologizing, but they managed to get them opened up without tears.  Some were trying to use the edge of their desks to run the paper along it to try to flatten it.  Once they were ready, I had them repeat the writing exercise, prefacing with “I see…” and “I think…”, but this time I added the extra component of “I wonder…”.

After they finished that portion of the exercise, they then had to write their own definition of Symbolism… whatever they thought that Symbolism meant.   As a sign that they were completely done writing, I told them to hold their symbols high in the air (the pieces of paper).   When all students had the papers over their heads, I told them to now hold the paper right in front of their face and look at it while I talked.

As they looked at their papers filled with creases and footprints and, in some cases, saliva, I told them that they were looking at a symbol of a bullied person.    The creases in the paper symbolized the effects of bullying, and even though the paper was still whole and as completely usable as its unmarred counterparts still in the notebook, it will never be exactly as it was before it was crumpled.   I told them to remember that even though they said, “I’m sorry” to the paper as they were unfolding it, no amount of apologies could take away the scars left behind.  The creases may lesson over time, but they will never fully go away… much like the hateful behavior left behind by bullies.  Unkind words and brutal actions leave their mark, even if the one who did it says, “I’m sorry”, or “I was just kidding…”.   Kids sometimes just do not realize the power of words, especially negative ones.

I then asked them to write on the crumpled sheets of paper about the exercise.  I wanted them to write once more, “I see…”, “I think…”, and “I wonder…” after they were told about the meaning of the symbols.  I also asked them to not only explain how the exercise was carried out, but to write about the effectiveness of symbolism based on this exercise.

As I explained this, some kids laughed.  Some kids got very quiet and then hurriedly picked up their pens and started writing when prompted.  Some put their crumpled papers down and just looked lost in thought for a bit.

One in particular hung his head down, staring at the blank paper.  It was a boy who had been bullied by many of those same kids sitting in that room at the moment, and I’d had all four administrators come to the room to address the issue.  Of course, I’d made sure that the young man was not in the room at the time they came in.    I knew going into the exercise that this was going to impact him, but I felt it was an important lesson, especially the part about still being whole in spite of the creases.   I also asked the students to carefully fold up the pieces of paper and put them in their pockets to take with them and to look at from time to time throughout the day.  That one boy was very meticulous about folding his paper and putting it in the pocket of his binder.  I also asked that they share the exercise with their parents and ask them to sign the paper so that they could be returned to me the next day.

Bullying 1Bullying 2

I have been holding onto these signed pieces of paper for five months.  Many may have forgotten about the exercise, so I will remind them when I return the pages to them before Spring Break.

All in all, I felt that it was a very powerful exercise.  Sometimes people don’t realize just how much power their unkind words can carry… and now I hope that some will make that connection and stop the crumpling.  Even if only a couple of kids got the message, that’s a couple fewer potential bullies for the time being.

I hope and I pray, though, that there will be a whole lot fewer for life.

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Filed under Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 2: Classroom Environment, Domain 3: Instruction, Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities, English 9 Regents, Visible Thinking

2012 International Symposium on Mythology

We’re All In Myth Together

Symposium for the Study of Mythology, August 2012

Pacifica Graduate Institute

Santa Barbara, California

Susan R. Woodward


“Throughout the inhabited world, in all times and under every circumstance, the myths of man have flourished; and they have been the living inspiration of whatever else may have appeared out of the activities of the human body and mind.  It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.”

–          Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces


In August 2012, I had the privilege of presenting at the International Symposium on Mythology in Santa Barbara, California.  For four days, teachers, authors, story-tellers, and mythologists from more than half a dozen countries shared their experience, knowledge, and talents within the realm of myth.  I was fortunate enough to be selected, along with co-presenter Michael Lambert from Long Island, New York, to share our experiences with students in the classroom.  We worked as “bookend” teachers, me with freshmen and Michael with seniors.  We had them coming and going within the realm of high school.


The following outlines the topics I addressed in my part of the presentation as how I incorporate mythology into my curriculum:



When we read Great Expectations or The Hunger Games, we examine the individuation process of Pip and Katniss Everdeen.   As these characters grow and change, we also follow the growth of Theseus, Cuchulainn, Seigfried, David and Joan of Arc.


While tracking the trials along the journeys of Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days, Odysseus in The Odyssey, and The Hobbit’s Bilbo Baggins, we also examine the character traits exhibited by Hercules, Kutoyis, Gilgamesh, Quetzalcoatl and Faust as they go through their own trials.  How these characters overcome their obstacles speaks of the values of the culture embodied by these heroes.


When Odysseus descends into the Land of the Dead, we also examine the descent of Innana, Wanjiru, KuanYin, Hermodor & Balder, and Izanagi & Izanami.   Students look for common motifs in the tales that demonstrate how the various cultures honor the dead through the performance of certain rites.

In each case with these stories, students create posters to share their findings.


The connection of these motifs in literature to the world of myth allows students to compare and contrast the heroes of old to their more modern counterparts.  We also break down each story into the culture’s values and beliefs that shine through, and students realize that these core beliefs actually permeate their own experience.  Values like courage, honesty, cleverness, honoring the dead, and overcoming obstacles speaks as much to their own lives as it does to both mythic and modern literary characters.


The Sixty Day Sojourn:

From November 1 through December 31, students participate in the online Sixty Day Sojourn that I created for them.  During The 60 Day Sojourn, we work through each of the steps of the Hero’s Journey a few days at a time.  In 9th grade, I provide a step-by-step approach as an introduction into the work of Joseph Campbell in the hope that they will continue on their own in the future.  My website, Sharing in the Journey of the Hero, can be found at

In class, students build a bulletin board that remains up for the remainder of the year as a point of reference.

The first day a step is discussed, I share examples from movies, television, mythology, poetry, novels, etc. These are listed in the Forum where students join in the discussion and respond with examples of their own. The idea is to create a vast pool of examples to draw from when we move on to the next phase.

The second day offers a quotation from Joseph Campbell and a guided visualization that is intended to lead students to discover specific examples from their own lives.  This is also in the Forum where they are able to share their experiences with the guided imagery. The Forum discussions are meant to be a sharing of examples that came to mind while reading or listening.


The third day is for the blogs. I ask introspective questions so that students can examine where they are on their own journey and share their insights with the community. As we are all the heroes of our own life stories, these stories deserve to be heard. The more we share, the more we will see how much we all have in common.


The 60 Day Sojourn is an effort to draw people of various nations, cultures, ages, and genders together to examine the things that make us similar. So much effort is spent on diversity (which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong) that we are more conscious of how we are different from one another than of how we are alike.


The New York Odyssey:

Students mirror the journey of Odysseus in a modernized version of a haphazard voyage from Troy, New York to Ithaca, New York while making various misadventured pitstops to five New York towns.  Students must use maps and must research the various towns in order to add local color to their writing as they re-work the tales of five of the places that Odysseus visited on his long journey home.  Students work in cooperative groups to create a compiled travel journal.  Each team must begin with a logical reason for why the group is in Troy, New York and why they must return to Ithaca.  Each member writes one leg of the journey, modernizing Homer’s original, and all the tales must work together to create a cohesive whole.  Students must work together to map out the entire journey and make logical transitions from one adventure to the next.   At the end of the project, each group must submit a travel journal that includes each student’s submission, as well as pictures and maps that outline the journey.  Then, in the spirit of Homer’s oral tradition, the groups tell their tales.


The Creative Writing Project:

Students write their own myths that utilize the Hero’s Journey pattern.  Each year, I choose a piece of literature that we have read in class and then create the prompt that will inspire their stories.  All students work through the writing process online and receive feedback from other students.  At the end of the project, the students vote on the top stories and those are published in a short story anthology.

inthefootstepscoverWhen, in 2009, we read a series stories of true life heroes, we were inspired by the then-popular television show Heroes.  Students selected one of the real life heroes, and then created a modern superhero character complete with superpowers.  Those stories became the anthology, In the Footsteps…



weremembercoverThe following year, we read Douglas Adams’ The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul in which humans created immortal characters through their stories, but once the humans started to forget about the immortals they created, the immortals (who could not die) were forced into an invisible existence such as the homeless on the streets.  Their task was to create a near-forgotten immortal character and then tell his/her story so as to give him/her a purpose to exist.  The tales of these immortals can be found in We Remember…

Altered Reflections cover RESIZED

AForgedThroughTrialsCoverfter reading The Hobbit in 2011, students created their own stories of journeys and trials in Forged Through Trials.  And in the current spirit of modernizing myths, legends, and fairy tales, this year’s project was to modernize a fairy tale or myth.  We read The Hunger Games and compared certain aspects of the plot to the trials of Theseus, as well as analyzing the film Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief alongside the tales of Perseus.  The result was Altered Reflections.


This year, with the introduction of informational texts mandated by the Common Core State Standards, we read Every Bone Tells a Story.  Students have selected one of the hominin discoveries and have been researching the cultures that once lived in the areas where each was found.  Using their research findings, students will attempt to put flesh on the ancient bones and tell a story about their selected hominin.  Two of the finds, Turkana Boy and Lapedo Child, are of young boys, so some students have elected to write tales that include rites of passage and individuation.   Kennewick Man has inspired tales of the long journey.  As for The Ice Man, the world’s earliest known murder mystery, a couple of students are creating tales of the Land of the Dead.   Although the project is still considered creative writing, it is steeped in research and so meets the standards of the Common Core.

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Filed under Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities, English 9 Enriched

A Plug for my Friend, Charlie Bethel and his Version of The Odyssey

My students were already introduced to the work of Charlie Bethel when we were preparing to read The Odyssey.  A performer of epic tales, Charlie tours the country giving presentations of such classics as Beowulf and Gilgamesh, but he can now add Homer to his repertoire.


When we were beginning The Odyssey, Charlie graciously accepted an impromptu telephone call from me in class.  He spent nearly 30 minutes listening to my students give feedback on a Visible Thinking exercise involving a portion of his performance of Gilgamesh, and he patiently answered all their questions.  We had to do this on my speakerphone, which has a limited volume, and the room was as silent as a tomb as they strained to hear Charlie’s replies…I hadn’t seen them that quiet prior to the call nor have I since!  He had them captivated!

I hope that Webster Schroeder will consider bringing Charlie Bethel to our stage in the future so that he can share his latest production of Homer’s epic poem!

Congrats, Charlie!

Charlie Bethel The Odyssey

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Filed under Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities, English 9 Enriched

English 9: English Speaking Union Shakespeare Competition

English Speaking Union competition

Each year, regional branches of the English Speaking Union holds local contests in preparation for the National Shakespeare Competition held in Washington, DC.

This year, I held a Shakespeare contest at Webster Schroeder, and students had to memorize and perform a 20 line monologue or soliloquy from one of the Bard’s plays, as well as one of his sonnets.  Sadly, because we found out about the local contest late and had to rush to hold a school contest, our competition was not as successful as I had hoped (attendance-wise).  However, we did have a winner, Stephanie Bertman go on to represent Webster Schroeder at the regional competition held in Rochester.

While Stephanie did not win the regional contest, she did gain some wonderful experience in both public speaking and familiarity with the language of the Bard.  She did credit to Ophelia’s mad scene in Hamlet, Act IV, scene v, and she worked very hard on Sonnet #71.  I am hoping that she will continue to work on her familiarity with Shakespeare and try out again next year!

The contest was covered by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and their article specifically mentions Stephanie’s performance (click on our picture below for the link)!  Way to represent Schroeder, Stephanie!

Stephanie is one of my English 9 Regents students!

Stephanie Bertman and Me

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Filed under Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities, English 9 Regents

Visible Thinking: The Epic- A Live Performance

CharlieToday I had my students watch a clip from a live performance of Gilgamesh by my friend, Charlie Bethel.  Since we are beginning The Odyssey, we have been discussing what a live performance by Homer might have been like.  Like Homer, Charlie performs as a one-man show without costumes, sets, or props– he relies on his voice, facial expressions, and gesticulations.   As we watched, I asked students to write down ten things they noticed about his performance.  After the clip, students then shared their observations and went on to write three things they thought and three things they wondered about the actor’s performance.

While they were writing their thinks and wonders, I called Charlie and then put him on speaker-phone so that he could hear their responses and answer their questions (wonders).   First, they applauded him enthusiastically.  When he began to speak, it was amazing how quiet the room became as students leaned in to hear what he had to say (the speaker on my phone was not very loud).  They took turns sharing first what they saw, then what they thought, and finally what they wondered as they came up to place their Post-It Notes on the front board.  They took care to come to the phone to speak into it as they were sharing their notes, and  Charlie was gracious enough to answer all of their questions about his preparations for such a performance.


All of this is leading up to their own performances of the New York Odyssey that they will be creating.  Students then wrote paragraphs describing what they saw in Gilgamesh and how they could take the advice of the actor to aid in their own renditions of The Odyssey.

I think this was a great interaction between the actor and the students, and their enthusiasm for the upcoming assignment was evident.  I look forward to seeing what they will come up with!

Thank you, Charlie Bethel!

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Filed under Domain 3: Instruction, Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities, Visible Thinking