Why this memorization testing? Memorization may be becoming a lost art, but it's very exciting to perform something you know and know well. Ask any musician who knows a piece "by heart" (sort of an interesting phrase when one considers passion needed to perform, no?). In any case, I see a bit of a resurgence in spoken word and performative work.
Poetry Out Loud is a national contest asking students to recite memorized poetry; Louder Than a Bomb is a spoken word recitation contest for original student works. The National Shakespeare Contest is yet another. Here's the thing: the more digitized and externalized our memories become--the more trapped in the "pages" of google docs, if you will--the further removed from our experienced lives they can sometimes become. A memorization/dramatization test like this makes it real, immediate, and powerful!
I have been heavily influenced by the Shakespeare Set Free series on this, and if you have not gotten a chance to pick one of them up, it is very much worth the time and money to acquire!
It's a pretty exciting day in class! I expect the students to come in with a buzz of excitement to be able to share what they know and have learned about Antony's speech. In order to provide support and flexibility, I have defined the following protocol:
1.) Yes, Everybody will be performing from the front of the class.
2.) We will put a friend as prompter in the front row. If you need help, just say, "line," and you will get a complimentary line.
3.) Grading is not based so much on a perfect recitation, but more on your attitude, effort, and voice in your delivery shakespeare recitation contest rubric.
4.) Let's all be a supportive audience!
Students will come up to the front of the class, one by one, to deliver their lines (SL.9-10.6). I will take notes on each one, allow prompted lines, expect applause for each performer, and ask a question or two about key words and choices of inflection to reveal figurative langauge (RL.9-10.4) and to further analyze Antony's rhetorical purpose (RI.9-10.6).
To conclude our discussion of Julius Caesar and rhetoric after the recitations, I will ask some group processing questions (SL.9-10.1):
1.) What did you appreciate most about the performances?
2.) What made this easy/difficult?
3.) What did you learn about Shakespeare's language that you did not already know?
4.) What suggestions do you have for next year's class?