2015 Caesar Raps

So that title is actually a misnomer. Are the raps from Julius Caesar? Sure they are – but the students are actually charged with updating Antony’s funereal speech in which he eulogizes his friend Caesar while charging the commoners with seeking revenge for Caesar’s death.

While some students dread the assignment (cough, cough, Melissa!), others look forward to it and shine. Beyond creating a rap or a song, what’s most important is demonstrating their ability to update Shakespeare’s Elizabethan English while “translating” Antony’s speech at the same time.

It’s great to see this final product — and it’s also great to see students get out of their comfort zones and push themselves!

 

Caesar Raps…

This is an oldie but a darn goodie from not too long ago. I’ve always liked the assignment – update to modern language either Antony’s or Brutus’ funereal speech from Julius Caesar – and do it in rap form.

For the most part, the kids do a great job with it; they have some fun and demonstrate that they get it at the same time. Admittedly, most of the students aren’t that talented when it comes to rapping, however!

So these are two of my favorites – you can definitely tell that they got into it – but pay attention, the content is king – and both really impressed me with their content!

(I mean, she deserves props just for that outfit!!!)

And for the second, these ladies decided to channel their inner JT to create “Bringing Caesar Back.” Just don’t try to cut them short!

And do you know what I love the most about these? I guarantee that this has stuck with them. I think they had some fun with it, but they got it, too, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

 

To just have an ounce of this talent…

To just have an ounce of this talent…

 

Last night I had the chance to check out the Advanced Art Portfolio Exhibition (I think I just made that title up, so please don’t hold that against me!) at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art’s temporary location. To say that I was blown away would be an absolute understatement.

I’ve been to plenty of Museums and I’ve seen a ton of great art, some famous and some not so famous. I love walking through a gallery and then just being crushed with a piece in front of me. It’s hard to explain what my taste is in art, but when I see it, I just know.

We have an extremely talented group of artists at our school and several had the opportunity to show off their work – some of it I had seen before, but some was completely new to me. It was also really cool to get the chance to read the artist’s statements – some really took the time to examine what has brought them to where they are now. In addition, we also have some incredibly dedicated teachers who’ve worked extremely hard to foster this student talent (thank you Kelley and Renee!)

I was absolutely stunned at how many pieces just stopped me in my tracks — almost rendering me breathless at times. These were just a few of my favorites from the show. Please keep in mind that these are pics from my phone and some were taken quickly with horrible angles – so don’t hold these against the artists!

carrapple

collage2

williams

youngcollage

carr1

Just so much talent.

I’d also like to take a minute to thank the Westmoreland Museum of American Art for enabling our students this wonderful opportunity. By no means do they have to do this, but I can assure you that it’s appreciated.

If you aren’t aware, the Museum is currently undergoing major renovations – exciting things are happening for sure. It was also great to see a small section of the temporary location that is dedicated to this construction. I can’t wait to see the new building once completed.

model

artistsdrawing

 

 

Imagine the possibilities…

We have a Senior Project requirement at Greensburg Salem and I have a little bit of a love/hate relationship with it. I truly like that we have this requirement and feel that it’s a strong one at that. I know that many students get a ton out of their project, and for that reason, I think they’re great.

But then there are those students who simply go through the motions and have to be pushed and pulled and prodded to get through them whatsoever. (And I am very aware that this is part of my job with many!) In my opinion, however, the positives far outweigh the negatives – and I base this even more on talking with the seniors after they’re done, especially the ones who will provide an honest response concerning the whole process. And it’s the actual process itself that I feel is the most valuable aspect of the whole thing.

All of that blabbering brings me to this: we can do better. And here’s how: we can demand more – the students will rise to the expectations that we set, in fact, they’ll go way past them. They will amaze us if we push them and they will struggle though the process and they will have doubts and they will have ups and downs and they will learn about life. And they’ll have an incredible project at the end that they can be proud of. Isn’t that what we should want (and demand) out of each of these?

So where did this all come from you ask? Why are you writing about this now??? Well, my brother Tony, a Case Western grad, posted a video to Facebook today and I took the time to watch it. I hope that you do, too. It’s a relatively quick video and you might say to yourself no high school kid could do that. And I would tell you that you’re wrong. We just have to show them that we believe that they can do it and they will.

Or maybe they’ll fail after trying. And there’s nothing wrong with that, either. We fail in life almost daily, don’t we? And that’s a lesson, too.

So check out the link by clicking on the picture – then click on the video – I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

screencap

 

 

Remembering just how fortunate I am…

I talk to friends who don’t teach and always hear about them complaining about those they work with and I realize that I really am fortunate to work with some great people — people who are dedicated to not only helping others, but to becoming better at what they do at the same time.

Oh, and they’re funny. Really funny.

Exhibit A? If you have read my blog, then you know about my little rant about Mr. Ashton Kutcher telling us how important it is to learn to code. Well today, after getting some flak from the person who was responsible for putting said posters up, I later found this staring at me after closing my door for the day:

before

Now, I will freely admit that I cracked up when I saw this. She got me – and she got me good. But, what I also noticed, since it was outside my door and I had a little more time to examine it, was what else it said:

after

And now it makes total sense. Unless it really was just his good looks that got him to where he is. Hmm – come to think of it, I’m not sure that I’ve ever thought his acting to be all that good…

Good one, JoAnne!!!

I think I’ve said this before…

…but just in case, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiative drives me up an absolute wall. It’s not because I don’t think those subjects are critically important, because I do. It’s simply because there’s one little letter that’s missing: an A. Change that to STEAM and we’re all good. Show people that the Arts are just as important as those other subjects and I wouldn’t be blogging about it.

What, you may wonder, is the big deal? Well, if you don’t work in the field of Education, I can understand that question, partly because I’ve had discussions about the topic with friends who aren’t involved and have a differing perspective. I get it. It doesn’t seem like a big deal to you – it makes sense to you – but as a teacher, let me tell you why it doesn’t make sense to me.

You see, in my opinion, NONE of those other subjects exist without a piece of the Arts attached to them – and vice versa as well. I joke with my students about me not using Math on a daily basis, but it’s a joke. Do I need Calculus or Algebra? Well, no. But that doesn’t mean I don’t value them – I just joke about them.*** In addition, I’m working in a pretty specialized field which doesn’t require it. (And that brings me to one of my all time favorite shirts…)

photo

Make no mistake about it, though, we need to make sure our students – both male and female – are exposed to ALL subjects, not just the STEM subjects (and not just the Arts for that matter).

And that brings me to what even brought this up. In our high school we currently have a bunch of posters that were put up concerning the need to learn how to code. I have no issues with the need to push this – heck, if you can’t see that this is a necessary skill for many – especially our young ladies – then you might not be able to foretell anything in our society. But seeing this poster made me a little stabby, so to speak…

kutcher

First, I have a hard time taking Kutcher seriously – even though he gave a great speech at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards Show. I just don’t see him as a master of coding. Perhaps I’m wrong, perhaps he’s at home in his free time learning how to do it, and if that’s the case, then I apologize. But we see celebrities pitching ideas all the time (I’m supposed to believe that Tiger Woods drives a Buick?), so that’s not even the biggest thing that bugs me about this.

Again, we see the Arts being shrifted – and in this case, by someone who’s made his living as a result of them. “…right next to biology, chemistry, or algebra.” – UGH! How about right next to Drama or English or Pottery or Digital Communications or Choir or Band or Creative Writing thrown in there alongside the others? And again, the last thing I want to do is de-stress the importance of biology, chemistry, or algebra, but c’mon!

Okay, rant over, I’ll keep this relatively short, besides, I’m probably just overreacting…

 

*** There’s something else I tell my students about those who are strong in the math and sciences, and that’s that they typically make a whole lot of money…