An Appreciation of Sonnet XXIX Through Emojis

Here, I’ve used emojis in a video format to break down each line of Sonnet XXIX. This exercise helped me gain a better understanding of the poem whenever I attempted to choose an emoji that best fit the authorial intent of each sentence. It was interesting to try to shape such an old literary work using technology I use daily to communicate with my peers. In my opinion, hearing the sonnet structured alongside the emojis helps the reader to understand the meanings behind the words.

Sonnet XXIX

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
       For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
       That then I scorn to change my state with kings.


Posted in #PBL #StudentCentered, 21st Century Learning, Digital Shakespeare, Divergent Thinking, Learning Through Technology, Project-Based Learning, Shakespeare | Leave a comment

Interpreting Sonnet 65 in Minecraft


Sonnet 65

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o’er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out
Against the wreckful siege of battering days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack,
Shall Time’s best jewel from Time’s chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
O, none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.

Posted in Learning Through Technology, Minecraft, Shakespeare | 1 Comment

How can we apply an interdisciplinary approach to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein?

We will return to the “In Our Time” podcast to open our unit on “The Modern Era.” This particular podcast will help us appreciate Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and promises to be quite a podcast. It has been noted to be one of the best podcast in this long running, critically acclaimed series. For more on the “In Our Time” podcast, read this New Yorker article by Sarah Parker who write the Podcast Department column

Check out the Wikipedia page on the eruption of Mount Tambora:

Respond to these questions in the Schoology link for later this week. Enjoy the opening of the podcast. Then focus on minutes 9-10:30: the conversation reveals the fact that the price of bread doubled in some places because the weather impacted crop productions. Compared to central Germany, how did England survive this food issue? Furthermore, what sector of the British economy helped the whole nation survive this flour deficit?

Minutes 10:30—13:47: English Romantic writers on holiday in Switzerland were influenced by the weather. Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, and Lord Byron. According to the scholars, what was the genesis of the story, Frankenstein?

Minutes 20:35: Melvyn Bragg brings up the point that these poets were in the shadow of Wordsworth. We’ll come back to this point after we read these authors.

This is a great interdisciplinary topic. Apart from the topic of literature, pursue another topic, such as any aspect of the scientific topics examined, military history (Napoleon), social history issues in Europe, the western migration trends from Europe to America as well as from the east coast of American into the Midwest, or the consequence of the eruption in the Indonesian islands. Conduct some research and compose a short paragraph on your chosen topic; if you can find and incorporate compelling images or graphs to complement your prose. So feel free to venture off and research one of these topics: famine, social unrest, migration, or the opium trade that begins in this region. Likewise, if you want to appreciate the thesis regarding the political impacts of famine and apply it to one of the scholar’s theories about the recent Arab Spring, by all means let that be your avenue of research and learning. #PBL = #VoiceandChoice here!

Minutes 36:50: Was the world in a vulnerable place in 1816? Interesting discussion on epidemics. 39:35 what were the impacts on China?

Bonus minutes: includes Arab Spring theory that it began because of the food crisis. What do you think? Can you find other sources on this topic?

NB: Bryon’s poem, “Darkness” link:

Threshold into the Age of the Modern

Posted in 21st Century Learning, British Literature, Interdisciplinary, Podcast, YouTube | Tagged | 23 Comments

What Will You Create for the Sonnet Project?

This sonnet project will be a great learning opportunity for you to express your understanding of Shakespeare’s language and content as well as how it might illuminate something of our humanity today. While I have been giving time lengths for videos suggesting that 30-60 seconds should be enough length, by no means feel constrained by that. I have also mentioned that time limit early on because I was imagining some folks to read their sonnet into an I-movie track and then incorporate images into a movie. This is just one way you might consider creating this multimedia or digital sonnet project. Others have come to me and asked about creating old fashion art as a way to interpret their sonnet. Such a step is great. Others are considering using “After Effects” in the Adobe software package. Someone is imagining a sonnet video where he/she verbally captures an interpretation of the sonnet in a video format. All of these imaginations are great. Above is an interesting video of “Sonnet 29” with music by Rufus Wainwright. The creator blended scenes from Pride and Prejudice to illuminate narrative aspects of the sonnet. It’s clever and creative. What will you do?

For some more ideas, consult the many sonnet videos on the Sonnet Project NYC, Presented by NY Shakespeare Exchange.

Here’s another actor, Matthew Macfadyen, interpreting “Sonnet 29” in a modern persona:

Posted in 21st Century Learning, Digital Shakespeare, Shakespeare, YouTube | 1 Comment

Minecraft Reimagined: Exploring #BritLit Monuments in the Virtual World

Minecraft is a game where creativity and divergent thinking is celebrated through architecture and creation, and Suffield students have taken advantage of this opportunity right in the classroom. We have begun to outline and construct the Tabard Inn, a place in which serval characters from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales entertain, inform, and share their stories. As our project progresses, we plan on using monuments from Beowulf, such as Heorot the mead hall, or even pulling inspiration from Shakespeare with the Globe Theater.

Original Tabard Inn:

Screen Shot 2019-12-19 at 11.57.00 AM

More information about the historic inn can be found here:

Minecraft Reiteration:

:Minecraft Reiteration,

Please comment below and provide us constructive feedback. Annotate links that we might explore for more support. While our group of students know about the game, we are exploring more creative ways to incorporate our “disciplinary” goals from our study of British literature. We are using the Norton Anthology of English literature:


Posted in #PennPBL, English IV Honors, Learning Through Technology, Minecraft | Leave a comment

Let’s Celebrate Divergent Thinking!

Do you see how one thing these two thinkers have in common about explaining divergent thinking involves school? With that in mind, let’s leave behind your school brain and enjoy this moment to foster a new cognitive skill that helps with creative problem solving. So we will add another step of divergent thinking so that you might incorporate this cognitive skill and develop creative disposition more deeply in your thinking. Interestingly, this type of thinking may help you navigate the college process as well as your future challenges in your college courses and future careers.

While we had fun viewing Sir Ken Robinson for homework along with this short video from Guy Claxton. Now select another video from one of these thinkers (or view both) and reflect on a specific moment in a movie, show, book, or drama where a character exhibits divergent thinking. In 5-7 sentences of Standard English, locate quickly the character’s personality and situation in the work and explain how one scene captures this “out of the blue” (Claxton) that enables the character to move forward with this new idea, new thought process, or new mindset. This is an opinion-based prompt that simply requires you to support your creative claim with support from your selected text. By all means include any links if they will help the general reader.

I hope you enjoy this hook portion of the video that sets up his thesis for finding a way to help students develop the most important capability in their life: the ability to learn for yourself. The ability to cope calmly, creativity, confidently, and capably with challenges and frustrations [in the learning process].

Likewise, Sir Ken Robinson helps us expand our culture’s narrow definition of creativity. Let’s us then explore that value of your original ideas in several of these assessments. Later on we will go back to the drawing board and have you brainstorm your topic. In the meantime throw yourself into this exploration of divergent thinking and realize that we are never going to emphasize product over process in this class. This long conversation has been about giving you an opportunity to practice these thinking and creativity skills. As a facilitator of the creative process, I will meet every student wherever they are in the process and help them move forward by individual mentoring as well as by creating a collaborative and iterative culture that helps fosters growth for everyone.

Posted in #PBL #StudentCentered, 21st Century Learning, 21st Century Skills, Design Thinking, Design Thinking on HMK, Divergent Thinking, Project-Based Learning, Reflective Assessment, TED Talks/TEDx Talks, Twitter | Tagged , | 43 Comments

Let’s Have Each Student Design a Project in our British Literature Survey

What is project-based learning? Let’s start by celebrating this diagram that will explain our instructional goals during this creative and meaningful learning process. After deliberate reflection, the way for us to enter into this great mode of learning is for me to give you “voice and choice” regarding a project you want to make that complements your learning in English IV Honors. Moving forward we will keep these points in mind and discuss how best to help each learner design a project.

  • So realize that when you make something in a learning atmosphere, brain based research informs that you will remember that content far longer than material studied for traditional academic assessments.
  • Also appreciate that the iterative and collaborative process that we use in class will better help you internalize confidence in the complicated and messy process of collaboration and authentic learning so that you hopefully transfer these skills into your college courses and future careers.
  • Disciplinary suggestion: What is the migratory project associated with any of the stories in our anthology? Note that we will be visiting an exhibit at Yale on this very topic:
  • Gamification in a learning environment = the future of education: One possible track: Minecraft. Can you create Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and bank side neighborhood?
  • Realize that designers actually enjoy and revel in the design process itself. So begin with an open mind and a belief that if you create many ideas and prototypes, you will then find one more appealing in later stages of our work. Good designers and engineers also remove harsh judgement from this phase of the project. Instead try to come up with multiple ideas and pursue them a little more with words and images.
  • Let’s devote time to research other students who made projects for an English or ELA classroom. Perhaps you will find a good model to share because it resonates with our disciplinary goals (British Literature) for this endeavor. Or you may find a topic that involves a technique and illuminates an aspect of the collaborative nature of project-based learning. See how we will ask you in this phase to find a project and employ our four instructional goals–disciplinary, authenticity, collaborative, or iterative–in your evaluation of that student project.
  • We are currently in the “voice and choice” aspect of the project. Realize that this type of work will be much more common next year at the college level. You may also be uncomfortable with this learning position because in our previous AP modes, students were pacing themselves towards a curricular or skill-based acquisition. Now, we are asking you to create flow with our curriculum and that takes time. The more time and energy you invest in this part of the process, the more you will get out of this fun approach to learning. Summoning the Beatles’ Abby Road (50th Anniversary commemorative process right now!) closing song, I would like to suggest that any project where you invest yourself into the learning process will produce personal and profound results. So if we unpack these words from the Beatles’ last recorded collaborative performance, “The End,” we can realize that “love” in this case is what the student experiences when he or she invests “voice and choice” into a topic and hopefully loves the work. This type of love can also mean struggle, because we also struggle with our most meaningful relationships in life. So celebrating the lines, “And in the end, the love you take/Is equal to the love you make” (Abby Road), be mindful moving forward that we will help you find and declare your own (#VoiceandChoice) #PBL topic (aka academic “love”) for our class.

So, as we aim to create a learner-driven classroom, let’s take a moment here to research other models and reflect on what specific aspect of #PBL makes that project soar.

In the comment thread below, please compose 3-5 sentences in Standard English a thoughtful annotation. Explain how the #PBL model you discovered during your research resonates with one as a learner and explain in your own words how the project illuminates one of the instructional goals illuminated by the image and article above. For now, feel free to hone your observations to one aspect of a #PBL learning environment. When you pitch your model to class, we can all have fun wondering about the other dimensions together. Therefore, reflect on how the project that you think effective for us to consider as model displays one of these instructional goals: disciplinary (academic subject, British literature, including postcolonial authors, issues, etc), authentic, iterative, or collaborative. I’m excited for us to consider our collective internet research as it might facilitate a more productive brainstorming process and foster more considerations for each student’s #PBL experience. I’ll make this prose a small “Learning Through Technology” grade event in the gradebook.

Posted in #PennPBL, Project-Based Learning, Reflective Assessment, Twitter | 30 Comments

Aiming for a Learner-Driven Classroom

This is an embedded Microsoft Office presentation, powered by Office.

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Make One Critical Observation between Shakespeare & Sting

What is happening in the Sting song, “Consider Me Gone”? In five to seven sentences of Standard English, create a critical observation about Sting’s lyrics. Be sure to supply at least one word, phrase, or line of textual evidence to support your point.

Consider Me Gone, lyrics by Sting

There were rooms of forgiveness
In the house that we share
But the space has been emptied
Of whatever was there
There were cupboards of patience
There were shelfloads of care
But whoever came calling
Found nobody there

After today, consider me gone

Roses have thorns, and shining waters mud
And cancer lurks deep in the sweetest bud
Clouds and eclipses stain the moon and the sun
[From: ]
And history reeks of the wrongs we have done

After today, consider me gone

I’ve spent too many years at war with myself
The doctor has told me it’s no good for my health
To search for perfection is all very well
But to look for Heaven is to live here in Hell

After today, consider me gone

Sonnet 35

No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authorizing thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are;
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense —
Thy adverse party is thy advocate —
And ‘gainst myself a lawful plea commence.
Such civil war is in my love and hate
That I an accessary needs must be
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.

Posted in Flipped Classroom, Learning Through Technology, Reflective Assessment, Shakespeare, YouTube | 11 Comments

How did The Last Lecture Inspire You?

While you may know that the word inspiration means to motivate or stimulate, the word inspiration derives from the root spiritus, which means breath. Part of the reason why we say “God bless you” to someone who sneezes, is that we fear some of their spirit may have departed with the sudden sneeze. (Read through other reasons on the Library of Congress page here.) In addition, the prefix in, in this case, emphasizes the breath of a god or goddess being breathed into the mortal.  The word resonated with the ancients who believed that gods and goddesses breathed “spirit” into humans, and as a result, humans felt emotionally charged and ready to accomplish something special or creative. In that spirit, create 5-7 sentences and use MLA format to explain how a passage, idea, line, or word from Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture inspired you. 

Posted in 21st Century Learning, Community Theme, Text, Learning Through Technology, Summer Reading | 26 Comments