Merchant of Venice #3

For our final Merchant of Venice, I asked the students to rewrite the play in a different time frame or reality. We divided our group of 12 into two groups of 6. That gave them enough "players" to put on their presentation for us.

The two groups came up with polar opposite ideas. I gave them a story map from this page to write down their ideas for characters, plot etc. You might be able to find a free one online.

The first group used a barnyard theme with Sheeplock etc.. It was very inventive and had lots of humour.

The second group presented from the point of view of intellectual writers in the 50's-60's era. They had more of a narrative presentation.

What I love about group work is you never know where it will end up. Two groups of students, doing the same assignment and coming up with two totally different ideas to present the plot and characters of Merchant of Venice. Giving students the freedom to create is a wonderful way of exploring what they know. They knew Merchant of Venice very well!

After they presented for us they did a dress rehearsal and our final performance of The Merchant of Venice!

I love these Three Session Literature Learning Camps - it is just enough time to know the literature well, analyze it, do critical thinking exercises and put on the play!  I don't think our students will ever forget Fiddler on the Roof, Pride and Prejudice, Midsummer Night's Dream, Tom Sawyer and many others we have done over the years ;)


Merchant of Venice Literature Learning Camp #2

We started with Shakespeare Poetry - Rhyme Scheme of a sonnet is ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG 
Using this outline for the sonnets, they created a sonnet in groups of 3 or 4. 

I had divided this Shakespeare magnetic poetry kit into 4 groups using baking sheets for the students to build their sonnets on. Some used many of the words others only used some, but all did a great job! Here is the list of words that the students had to choose from.

It was challenging doing a complete poem but some teams managed it. Others did just one quatrain. 

We reviewed the types of characters - I used this list and I used the character list from this unit study and had the students mark the characters with one or more of the traits.

I was hoping that the students would get to this Character Analysis but there just wasn’t time. If your student is interested in doing it here is the link

I had the students pick an index card for their group on the cards I reversed the religion of each of the main characters and then the groups were to discuss how would the plot be different if the religion of your character was different? For example… How would the plot have been different if Shylock had been a Christian or if Antonio had been a Jew etc? These were great discussion starters with the students. 

The students then did another run through of the play getting prepared for next week's dress rehearsal and performance.

Merchant of Venice Literature Learning Camp #1

Many of our students had seen this version of the Merchant of Venice from the Globe Theatre in London. Our local theatre streamed it and so it was great to be able to see it direct from the Globe.

Large Group - Opening exercise - what do you know about Shakespeare? I had the students tell me anything they could about Shakespeare. I had read some interesting facts ahead of time and tried to inspire them with some ideas. 

Large Group -  Agree or disagree using this provided form. I had the students go through these questions and decide for themselves what their opinions were. We then discussed each of the points. This idea came from this document

In Pairs or threes at most - word connections - using the provided form. I gave an example using Pride and Prejudice so that the students would know what I was after. This was also from this guide

In groups of 4-5 max. - 20 minutes (15 mins plus 5 mins for recap) - Anti Semitism - from ADL Statistics: What are the key factors in the world today? How about in Shakespeare’s time? I provided the students with the statistics of a country and of Canada and asked them to make connections based on their country. Here are the questions.

In groups of 4-5 max - 20 minutes
Usury and The Merchant of Venice: I used this information and questions to address this theme and basis in the plot of Merchant of Venice. Most of the students hadn’t heard of Usury before so it was challenging for them to understand this. 

The students did a read through of the play and learned about their characters and the plot.

Sweatshop Labour and Ethical Fashion Show Co-op

Our last Co-op was an awesome exploration the Asian Floor Wage, Ethical Fashion and Sweatshop Labour.

First I had the students watch this video and we talked about the floor wage and how that would affect each country depending on costs of living.  

We then as a large group compared statistics of the Asia Floor Wage and what a Living Wage is in a variety of countries and discussed the poorest paid countries. I used these statistics.

Together we looked at this political cartoon and discussed the implications of totally boycotting sweatshop labour

The students then got into groups of four to create a fashion show. They brought a variety of clothing with them. I adapted this idea for our Sweatshop Fashion Show: 

Here is the document that the groups used to create the commentary for their fashion show. They were to have one model with ethically responsible clothing and one model with non-ethically responsible clothing.

Here is the main information that they used to assess their fashions. 

I think that this session helped our students to look at clothing in a different way. Hopefully, they learned more about the fashion industry and the idea of living wages and floor wages. 

They certainly learned those companies that have changed their practices over the past 10 years. They also learned about those companies who have full disclosure and who have signed either the FLA - (Fair Labour Associations) guidelines or the ETI - (Ethical Trading Initiative).