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Teachers get Elizabethan groove at Bob Jones

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MADISON – Forsooth! Shakespeare Day brought out the customs and cadence of medieval times for English classes at Bob Jones High School.

William Shakespeare’s 449th birthday was April 26, so ninth-grade English teachers declared Shakespeare Day. They decided that their students could best learn about Shakespeare and Elizabethan history from the Bard himself.

“Students learned about food, dating, dancing and the man himself,” Kristi Combs said. “Instead of lecturing, the teachers wore period Shakespearean clothing and led the classes in interactive ‘carousel’ lessons, all day, every block.”

Shakespeare Day demonstrated the times from which Shakespeare came, instead of a character from literature, Combs said.

In her role, Combs explained “The Art of Wooing,” a 1658 book by Richard Edwards about courtship of the time. “When the ‘lords and ladies’ (students) came in my room, they learned Elizabethan pickup lines,” she joked.

Jon Campbell spoke as Shakespeare on stage in the courtyard. “Today, we’re doing a performance lesson where I teach these wonderful children how I use emotion to create mood and how that mood elevates and drives my plays,” Campbell said. Students came to the stage and suggested an emotion for Campbell to portray.

Nichole Murray examined fashion, music and entertainment in the Renaissance. “We’re focusing on the Elizabethan period and how important clothing was. It was against the law if you didn’t dress appropriately. You could lose property … you could lose your life,” Murray said.

In other scenarios, Mary Oliver explained the schedule in a day in the life of an Elizabethan individual. Kristen Bergesen demonstrated Shakespeare’s connection to modern rap and hip-hop.

Bob Jones Principal Robby Parker surveyed the festival atmosphere of learning in his “Principal’s Corner” webcast. “Five teachers are banding together. Fair maids and teachers are doing monologues and dialogues,” Parker said.

Students learned about bubonic plague and infant mortality. “Are there any potential plagues today?” Parker asked the class. One boy answered, “Avian flu.” Parker agreed and said that disease could cause a similar epidemic.

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