Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Tempest

The kids performed William Shakespeare's The Tempest three times, twice on the 11th and once more on the afternoon of the 12th.

The Tempest is an unusual show for Shakespeare in a number of senses. It was his final play and as such has a sweet poignancy, even melancholy. It is the only one of his plays to take place in real time. It is hard to classify: normally, it is lumped in with the comedies, but it has decided elements of history, tragedy (although no one dies), and the fantastical. It coincided with European settlement of the New World, a globally significant that is thought to have influenced Shakespeare’s portrait of a new, miniature society created in Europe’s image in a wild place. The 7-8 class also created a Storm Project presentation on Google Slides (click on the link, then 'Present' in the upper right, then 'Exit' after the 23 slides are done). It was projected on the wall downstairs at our staircase entrance.

There is charming air of transitions in The Tempest: Prospero to his former, beloved life; Miranda to adulthood, Ferdinand too; Alonso to absolution; Ariel to freedom. That being the case, I have to say that I wish every eighth grade class would learn and perform The Tempest. Their upcoming transition is a big one.

Here are a few of Mary Swain's photos of our own wild place, set in our 7-8 classroom and lit by a dozen floor lamps, switched on and off and on and off during the storm; left on for the duration of the play; and turned off one by one by Prospero at the end, as he gave his and Shakespeare's valedictory.

The Boatswain (Evan Rago) rages against the storm.

Prospero (Matthew Osterholzer) schools his daughter Miranda (Lindsay Barolo).

Prospero gives orders to his spirit-servant Ariel (Margaret Keillor).

Caliban (Kaeli Sikkenga) in a rage.

Ferdinand (Gabe Resnicow) is placed under Miranda's spell by Ariel.

Antonio (Marcellin Barbeau) and Sebastian (Karenna Collins-Thompson) hatch a dastardly and diabolical plot.

Friday, March 4, 2016

March First XI

Top Ten lists are an old saw in American culture, thanks to David Letterman and our love of round numbers. I prefer the soccer tradition of a First XI. (In the sport, it refers to the starting eleven players who take the field for a match.)

Here is a First XI for the busy March that awaits the 7-8s. 

The kids are also reading books, including selected stories from Kurt Vonnegut's 'Welcome to the Monkey House', and writing on them as well as participating in the University of Michigan's Place Out of Time historical simulation--check it out at http://poot.icsmich.org/.
  1. March 4: the Music and Art CafĂ© at 6:30 pm.
  2. March 8: Polis Project I due (group portraits of city-states from classical Greece).
  3. March 10: Civic Projects assigned (explaining various city systems in Ann Arbor, such as power, transportation and justice).
  4. March 10. Storm Project due (a look at storms from several disciplinary angles).
  5. March 11 & 12. The Tempest. 1:00 and 7:00 on Friday; 7:00 on Saturday.
  6. March 17. Summers-Knoll Science Fair at 7:00 pm.
  7. March 18. Middle School Game Night at 6:00 pm.
  8. March 22. Polis Project II due (group portraits of fictional city-states).
  9. March 23. Diplomacy Day (on which the Polis II city-states interact).
  10. March 25. Student-led family conferences should be completed by this date.
  11. March 28-31. Happy Happy Fun Time Lone Star Spirit Happiness Week (comprising Character Day, Pajama Day, Culture Day and a Fun Run).