Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Out of the Box, Onto the Stage #SOL16 Day 9/31

The ninth annual Slice of Life Story
Challenge is sponsored by the fabulous
team at Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, TWT! 
A guilty blogging pleasure I have involves visiting the Pondering Preschool blog and reading about the ways preschoolers learn. I'm frequently inspired to reflect on the learning in my own classes as a result. 

On Monday, Maureen shared about her students' play with refrigerator boxes, so I decided to share the ways seniors in my AP Lit and Comp class played with boxes during our study of The Tragedy of King Lear.

Shoebox staging offers students a way to think through and visualize difficult texts. It works particularly well with plays since the shoebox functions as a stage, and students literally block a scene onto the "stage" and share their learning with the class. 

My students worked with Act II, and I assigned each group a different scene, although when I use this activity in regular classes, each group stages the same scene and we make comparisons. 

One of my favorite things about this kind of play is watching and listening to students discuss the text. 

Another point of enjoyment is watching the students laugh as they experiment with the blocking. This laughter permeates the room, and it's as inherent when the kids work with a tragedy as it is when they study a comedy. 
During presentations we frequently stop to look at the text together and negotiate its meaning. Students know they can look to one another to offer support when they are unsure about a passage's meaning. 
In The Tempest Shakespeare writes, "a turn or two I'll walk, to still my beating mind" (4.1).  Through playing both inside and outside the box, as well as with the box, students step into learning.  Advice from The Tragedy of King Lear seems an appropriate way to close this post: 

Have more than thou showest,
Speak less than thou knowest,
Lend less than thou owest,
Ride more than thou goest,
Learn more than thou trowest,
Set less than thou throwest. (I.4)

*This teaching method is one I learned at the Folger Shakespeare Library during the 2008 Teaching Shakespeare Institute. 


  1. When I was a little girl, one of my favorite (and most inspiring) books was about a little girl who was given a refrigerator box. The book is about the different things she made with it, and all of them required creativity and imagination.

  2. My two favorite words in this piece: play and laughter. I love how talk, accountable talk as Steph Harvey would say, girds all kids do around these creations.