Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Epic Romeo and Juliet Project: Update 7

Subtitled: Are we there yet?

Well, we have finished the first act of the play. It was quite the event. I put in a 14 hour day at school so the kids could decorate the cafeteria and film scene 5. Two hour of filming paid off with an amazing 13 minutes of footage. I'm not being sarcastic at all. I was moved by the motivation and dedication the students showed during the process. They had fun, but got the work done.

One of my favorite parts of the filming on Monday was the fact that kids from my other classes showed up to help. Some moved tables and others helped "block" the scenes while the director was working on other scenes and camera setup. Another student showed up with a bag filled with props and costumes for the extras to wear and he is only in charge of props for a different act. The fact that all of the students are coming together to make sure the entire project is a success.

I've already started to piece together Act 1 and it looks wonderful. My Romeo and Juliet absolutely NAIL their first encounter. They sold the love in their eyes. I was moved by their dedication and acting in general. They are a couple of special kids. Really, all of my students have been pretty kick butt. I've showed some of the rough cuts to the director and cameraman and they like what they put together. I still need add music, (cough, cough @TaylorSwift13, cough, cough) and some transition slides. I hope to finish each act as they get done so I can use my Spring Break to get ready for the rest of the school year and @edcampDetroit

My students Skyped with Van Meter today and we exchanged some more ideas regarding filming and scripts. The kids get very excited to talk to the VM kids. We also had a couple of guests in the room as well. A student teacher in my department and a school board member stopped by to see the fun. When I told the kids that a school board member was coming to watch, they were excited. It is great to have other people stop by the class. It makes the kids feel that the work they are doing goes beyond the classroom. I really encourage all administrators to stop by classrooms and let the kids see you. It does have an impact on the kids.

A student told me they were getting questions from friends in other classes. Word is spreading around the school and the kids are getting excited. For many, they have never had this much attention on a project they have worked on. This raises the bar for them, but they seem to be excited about it. They want to do well and they want to impress everyone else. It really is something I'm proud of.

Still tired, but every day I go to work, I get to see excited students engaged in Shakespeare. As an English teacher, I couldn't be happier. I know the subtitle says, "Are we there yet?", but I know that a large part of me will be very sad to see this unit end. I haven't invested this much energy in a project of this scale since I used to do my Mock Trial of Mark Twain years back. I thought that was work, but compared to The Epic Romeo and Juliet Project, it's a worksheet.

I hope everyone is doing well. There will be some screen shots of the filming and some goofy behind the scenes footage posted on the Epic Romeo and Juliet Wiki. Please feel free to head to the wiki and check out some of the blogs the kids have created. They would love to get comments from you.

Thanks again for all of the support everyone has given me as I take this journey. It has ups and downs, but I couldn't imagine sharing it with anyone else. Have a great week and talk to you soon.

- Nick

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