Saturday, May 8, 2010

TSS: Happy Mother's Day

It is actually Saturday morning as I write the Sunday Salon post because tomorrow I will be attempting to fix a Mexican dinner for a Mother's Day gathering.  My brother and his wife are visiting from out of town, and I think it will be easier and less stressful if we just plan to eat at home rather than brave the crowds at a restaurant.  My mom's favorite meal is cheese enchiladas, so we will be celebrating her special day as a Nueve de Mayo event this year.

I am hoping to go to the Nelson Atkins Museum with my brother and sister-in-law later today; he is the true artist in the family and both of them are quite knowledgeable about the subject.  I, on the other hand, know precious little except for the recent research into Impressionism, so I am hoping that this will be an educational as well enjoyable outing.

This week marked the last week of school, with next week culminating the academic year with final exams.  This was a very hectic and emotional week for me, hence the lack of posts on the blog.  For those who are are the two highlights of the week.

Each year I do a rather cheesy, but heartfelt presentation in my British Literature class.  Most of them are seniors and will be leaving the school for good, so I offer a "graduation" ceremony of sorts.  At the beginning of the year students in the class write a Knightly Tale to correspond with our reading of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  Students learn that there are 10 primary characteristics of a knight, and a true knight must possess 8 out of those 10 traits.  In the course of the assignments students learn that knights come in all shapes and sizes, and in reality, all of us have knightly potential within us.

The ceremony is structured around this lesson.  I create certificates that list the 8 traits --- one of which includes "a knight must have a peerless weapon" - and I give each student a metallic silver #2 pencil with the words "peerless weapon" imprinted on the side.  I tell them this is to help them achieve all future academic goals.  I think try to bestow one "admirable trait" for each student -- that is, one characteristic that I feel is unique to them and what makes them special.  In the background I have a variety of songs playing that incorporate the theme of "moving on" in life:
  • My Wish by Rascal Flatts
  • I Hope You Dance by LeeAnn Womack
  • Good Riddance by Green Day
  • Fix You by Coldplay (my all time favorite song)
  • 100 Years by Five for Fighting
  • Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel
  • Defying Gravity from the original cast of Wicked
  • Graduation Song by Vitamin C
At the end of the ceremony I read aloud Dr. Seuss's, Oh, The Places You'll Go, and then send them on their way.  I think it was a success this year.  I heard a student say to a friend that she could hardly wait to leave high school and up until this point she never gave it a second thought; but now, she is a little sad to say good-bye.  I do not mean to make the students sad, but I do want them to realize that they will be missed.

Puck and  Oberon
This ceremony took place on Wednesday afternoon, and if that wasn't enough of an emotional roller coaster for one week, my 8th grade class gave their final production of A Midsummer Night's Dream on Thursday night.  They have been working on this play the entire year and they did an absolutely AMAZING job!  From the vast amount of memorization, to the creative costumes, to the imaginative sets, and to the over-the-top acting the performance far exceeded my wildest expectations (and I am known as a teacher with high expectations).

Fairy and Titania
The parents seemed to enjoy the production, the principal had some very kind words to say, and I think this will be the start of an annual tradition.  In fact, I have already had a group of 7th grade students ask if they were going to have the opportunity to perform the play next year.  This was sweet music to an "old" English teacher's ears.

The truly wonderful benefit of the plan was not the lavish production, but the fact that these 8th grade students have NO FEAR of Shakespeare.  They LOVE the Bard.  Some even want to read more of his plays over the summer.  I have goosebumps just thinking about that possibility.  So for those of you who teach --- let me just say that the only way to teach Shakespeare is to require the students to get out of their seats, get outside of themselves, and to act it out.  What a marvelous opportunity!

Demetrius, Hermia, Lysander, and Helena
Well, I am sure that this is far more information than you cared to read about my past week.  But I felt that I needed to offer an excuse for my lack of posts.  Next week will require some grading, and then I will have 12 weeks off to devote to all things literary.

The Mechanicals:   Quince, Bottom and Flute
Happy Mother's Day!


  1. It's good to catch kids early before they learn to be afraid of Shakespeare, and I love your ceremony for the seniors! Sounds like they like it too...something about graduation time makes even the most jaded teens just a little sentimental, I think :-).

    Happy Mother's Day to you, Molly!

  2. Oh, I know how you feel! Our son will graduate from college this summer, and except for the end of tuition payments, I think we're all feeling rather bittersweet about it.

  3. Enjoy your mexican food tomorrow. My mom loves enchiladas too and we took her to her favorite Mexican restaurant today since tomorrow everything will be so crowded. It sounds like you had an incredible teaching week!

  4. Oh, I love good Mexican food! It's been awhile since I've enjoyed you've got me salivating

    Your ceremony sounds so wonderful and creative. I'll bet you are a very inspirational teacher.

    Have a great Mother's Day!

    Here's my salon:

  5. You've had a wonderful week! My mother loves Mexican food too so I cooked for her birthday last week.

    I love hearing about your classes! I'm so glad that your students aren't afraid to read Shakespeare.

    Have a great Mother's Day!

  6. Happy Mother's Day Molly. Enjoy the visit with your family.

  7. I love hearing about your ceremony ... and "The Places You'll Go" is perfection ... as is your playlist. (I'm a bit obsessed with "Defying Gravity" right now myself.)

  8. While reading about your ceremony, I thought I might cry. That is so touching! Praise the Lord that school is almost over, and face a summer of relaxation and reading!

  9. While reading about your ceremony, I thought I might cry. That is so touching! Praise the Lord that school is almost over, and face a summer of relaxation and reading!

  10. I love your old tradition and wish you luck with your new one (the play). Enjoy the summer.

  11. I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day! The ceremony sounds lovely!

    I had a great Shakespeare teacher in high school, and performed in A Midsummer's Night's dream, which was very fun!

  12. All I can say is that I wish you were my sons' teacher. You are definitely that teacher that a child remembers throughout their life!! I so agree with you about your method of teaching Shakespeare. When my friends and I home-schooled our older kids we did Shakespeare units by acting them out and they had a ball
    Have a great last week and hope your Mother's Day was special.


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