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How often do you take time to do things just for fun in your English class?

It's the last week of class for us and my grade tens have been working on a final essay and a multi-genre project. I had a couple of buffer days that I had hoped to use for the poetry scavenger hunt I usually do at the end of the year, but it required a nice day, because they need to walk to the park. We could have done it in the cold and the rain, but I decided to have them act out Oedipus instead.

Now, you might think that reading a very old play for two days, rather than running around a park, doesn't sound like fun, but to my surprise, these kids quite enjoyed it. The whole concept of the play is one that horrifies and captivates them: a guy who killed his father and marries his mother? It's so "gross" that they want to read on to see just how that's going to play out.  I also had old bed sheets and taught them how to make a toga -- that was worth a few laughs. But the other thing is that we were just doing it for fun; there were no marks or assessments involved.  I told them that it was a great idea to know about the basics of Greek tragedy because they will read two Shakespearean tragedies in the coming years; having the background knowledge will only help them better understand those plays. Other than that, I wanted them to just sit back and enjoy as they took turns reading the parts. And they did.

It has me wondering.  Why don't we do this kind of thing more often? We study Pride and Prejudice, and Merchant of Venice in my IB class and I've often thought of taking the time to expose these classics to my other students through the recent movies of these works -- but then I don't because I'm worried about taking the time.  Imagine, though, if we did take the time, if we did focus more on just reading (or viewing) for the sheer enjoyment of it.  I mean, isn't that why most of us pick up a book or watch a movie in real life?

The reality of school, though, is that we need to assess.  Some of you have the great pressure of the standardized test pushing you forward.  Despite this, I think we do our students a disservice when we don't give them time to just enjoy reading -- and writing. My experience with my tens this week has me planning to do more of that next year; I'm already planning some lessons to do with some films of classic literature.  I'll keep you posted on that.

I'd love to know your thoughts on this. Leave a comment below!

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