How to Find a Theme
How to Find a Theme
Theme is the most important element in a work of literature because the theme is the literary work’s primary purpose. Topics in this video include what it is, how a subject differs from a theme, how theme is a model of the real world, and multiple ways to find a theme. Also discussed is why the ability to make abstract meaning from a model is one of the things that makes us human. Examples are used from The Lion King, Crime and Punishment, "If I Forget Thee, O Earth" by Arthur C. Clarke,…Read more »
Shakespeare and Eliz. Theater
Shakespeare and Eliz. Theater
Learn about theater during Shakespeare's time. Topics include why The Globe, his theater, was located in "the bad part of town" (Southwark), what the theater probably looked like, what sorts of special effects were used, and why it's unlikely Romeo kissed Juliet. Today, William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. Once beginning readers get used to the 400-year-old language, they often discover that his plays are a really very beautiful - but also exciting, funny, suspenseful, and overall, a lot of fun. Update: The London Bridge did…Read more »
Learning to Make Inferences
Learning to Make Inferences
Learn how to make inferences in literature, nonfiction and real life, and to support those inferences with strong, reliable evidence. An inference is just coming to a logical conclusion from whatever evidence you have. It’s one of the most valuable thinking skills you can learn. The ability to make inferences is one of the things that make a person what we call “smart.” And we say the person who can’t make inferences is “a little slow on the uptake” because other people figure out what’s going on more quickly than he or she…Read more »
Understanding Romeo and Juliet, part 1A
Understanding Romeo and Juliet, part 1A
Romeo and Juliet is a fun and popular play. It’s funny, has dirty jokes, swordfights, as well as amazingly beautiful language. It also deals with issues that young people can relate to, like love. And it makes people think about big questions like what is real love and what is counterfeit? What exactly is the difference between kids and adults? It even asks a more abstract question: Who or what is in control of what happens to me? Myself? Fate? This is the first in a 7-video series on Romeo and Juliet. These…Read more »
Understanding Romeo and Juliet, part 1B
Understanding Romeo and Juliet, part 1B
1B: This video is designed to help you get a handle on one of the big questions of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In Act I, most of the main characters reveal their perspectives on love, and no two characters have the same opinion. This video will focus on Benvolio, Lady Capulet, the Nurse, Romeo before meeting Juliet, Romeo after, Juliet before meeting Romeo, and after. In this video, we look closely at the scene where the star-crossed lovers first meet. Do any of these characters' views reflect what you think about "true" or…Read more »
Understanding Romeo and Juliet, part 1C
Understanding Romeo and Juliet, part 1C
1C: What is love, exactly? What is the real thing and what is illusion? This response journal question asks you to think about what the main characters from Act I believe about love. Very few questions are more relevant to the lives of young people who, naturally, are beginning to look around them and start figuring out what they want in a relationship with another person. Is it just sex? Is it popularity and social advancement? Are there a lot of different people you could love or is there really something we can…Read more »
Understanding Romeo and Juliet, part 2A
Understanding Romeo and Juliet, part 2A
In Acts II and III, Romeo and Juliet make some huge choices that--no matter how this play turns out--will alter their lives forever. They are not the same people they were when the play began. They get married in secret. Romeo kills a man. Juliet breaks from the Nurse and talks about killing herself. Were they too young to be making decisions of this kind? Should a responsible adult have intervened? Or were they ready to stand on their own two feet as adults with all the accompanying rights and responsibilities? Was Romeo…Read more »
Understanding Romeo and Juliet, part 2B
Understanding Romeo and Juliet, part 2B
2B: How do you know when you're an adult and no longer a child? What are the markers of adulthood? Has Juliet made that transition? She marries Romeo without her parents permission. She goes through a shifting palette of emotions upon hearing that Romeo has killed her cousin. And when she got married, does that fact alone mean she's an adult woman? Children can't marry, can they? She begins lying to her parents, too. In your opinion, does her behavior look like that of a grown-up or of a kid? This response journal…Read more »
Understanding Romeo and Juliet, part 3A
Understanding Romeo and Juliet, part 3A
Why did Romeo and Juliet have to die? Were Romeo and Juliet themselves to blame because of their impulsiveness? Or was the hate that surrounded them to blame? The feud, as well as the cowardice of the adults around the young lovers, played parts in their tragic deaths, didn't they? But Shakespeare's words suggest a third possibility that exists beyond the human realm. Maybe they died because it was their fate to do so. Maybe a Supreme Being took their lives in order to punish the two families and to finally end the…Read more »
Understanding Romeo and Juliet, part 3B
Understanding Romeo and Juliet, part 3B
Were Romeo and Juliet's deaths predestined? Or were they the result of the actions of Romeo, Juliet, and their feuding families? One of the most important questions posed by this play is whether what happens to us is the result of our own choices and random, mathematical chance, or whether a supernatural force, like God or Fate, has predetermined the course of our lives. Everyone has different beliefs, and there are no wrong answers to this question as long as they're on topic. This Response Journal question gives you the opportunity to show…Read more »
Figurative Language
Figurative Language
Learn about 8 kinds of figurative language: metaphor, simile, personification, hyperbole, understatement, idioms, analogy, and irony. They're figures of speech. You probably already use them all the time, but might not know the terminology. And learning to recognize it when you read helps you appreciate what's good about the writing. Figurative language adds subtle shades of meaning to your words and brings out your personality in your writing so you don't sound like a robot from an old movie. It brings your language to life. It jumps off the page, grabs your reader…Read more »
How Does Word Choice Affect Tone and Meaning?
How Does Word Choice Affect Tone and Meaning?
Learn the difference between denotation and connotation, why "affluent" feels different from "rich," how connotations create the author's tone, and how both create meaning. Closely study a poem by Ernest Hemingway, "All armies are the same..." Hemingway's poem, written about his experiences in World War I, remains a devastating statement about war seen from the soldier's perspective. This video addresses the Common Core standard, CCSS-ELA Literacy RL9-10.4:"Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices…Read more »
Symbolism
Symbolism
Learn what symbols are and how to find them in literature. This video includes a brief segment on symbols in To Kill a Mockingbird. Logos and emojis are symbols that represent or stand for something else, visual designs that represent something more abstract. Symbols can be written in words too. That’s a little more interesting because it isn’t always obvious. You have to figure out yourself what the symbol represents. Learn about symbolism in this 6-minute video. The value in learning about symbols is that it teaches you to see beyond the surface…Read more »
Comparing a Work of Literature With Its Source
Comparing a Work of Literature With Its Source
Learn how to compare a work of literature with its source, like comparing Rick Riordan'sThe Lightning Thief with the Greek myths on which he based the stories. This video will demonstrate this skill in action by showing a step-by-step analysis of the well-known baseball poem, "Casey at the Bat," by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, and a parody of it by Garrison Keillor, best known as the former host of A Prairie Home Companion, on NPR. This corresponds to the Common Core 9th grade ELA reading standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.9 Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: "Analyze how…Read more »
Reader Response Journal Rubric
Reader Response Journal Rubric
Learn how to show comprehension, reflection, and application in your Reader-Response journals. Reader-response is the idea that meaning occurs in the mind of the person experiencing the work of art, rather than being dictated by the author. What a work of art means to you is legitimate if it's supported by the text. The rubric is explained in detail using examples from Star Wars IV: A New Hope. Learning how to make meaning from what you read answers the questions, “what does this have to do with me?” and “When will I ever…Read more »
Winter’s Tale Part 1
Winter’s Tale Part 1
Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale is an under-appreciated play about jealousy and sexual obsession. King Leontes, for no apparent reason, becomes murderously jealous of his wife, Hermione, and best friend, Polixenes. It echoes Othello and King Lear in that we witness a man's descent into madness. Act I poses the question: why do people do seemingly irrational things? Vocabulary words from all 5 acts of the play still in use today are provided, as well as a response journal question and a rubric with which to score it. Pinched for time? These videos have…Read more »
Winter’s Tale Part 2
Winter’s Tale Part 2
Acts II and III of The Winter's Tale deal with four major characters choosing how to respond to the King's sudden descent into paranoia and despotism. How Hermione, Paulina, Camillo, and Antigonus each respond represents a different approach to a central question: what is the best way of dealing with injustice and tyranny? 10 vocabulary words still in use today from Acts II and III are provided, as well as a response journal question and a rubric with which to score them. Pinched for time? These videos have much of what a secondary…Read more »
Winter’s Tale Part 3
Winter’s Tale Part 3
Acts IV and V of The Winter's Tale are so different from the first three acts that they can seem to be from a different play. Shakespeare abruptly shifts from the tragic mode of the play's first half into a comic mode. It's the contrast between winter and spring. In these final two acts, we see differing dynamics between parents and children, but in each case, the children bring positive things to their parents. One central question of acts IV and V: why should parents be grateful to their children? The relationship between…Read more »