This week we began to meet with the children with whom we will be working on our scene with. The three students in the room were all great to meet, and seemed very interested in what we were doing. As we explained what the project was supposed to look like, they tossed out ideas and even brought up how they use robots in their classroom, and whether or not they could use those robots in their videos. We also had them watch a quick synopsis of what Much Ado About Nothing is about, in order to make sure that they understand the context of what the project will look like on their end. I know that COVID-19 will make this year different than previous years, but that being said, it doesn’t not mean that the project will be any less interesting. We have an opportunity to interact with kids and potentially teach them skills like recording and sound editing if they want to learn, and we in turn could learn about these robots that they are now being taught to use in class (I once took a Lego robotics class, I wonder if its anything like that). Anyways, I am extremely excited to work with my group members and with the students. If we can keep the positive momentum I saw on Monday, then I know that we will end up with a successful project.

Going into this week, I was a little nervous but also very excited to meet the kids. I did not know what to expect, especially with everything being on google meet, but I was pleasantly surprised with the overall experience. Despite some technical difficulties in the classroom, both the students and their advisors were very interactive with us and the material. Even though there were only two kids in attendance, it seemed as if there were excited to learn about us and our project, which inspired me to thoroughly describe and keep the project interesting for them and for us. Most of the meeting was small talk and introductions, but it was refreshing and I think thats what the kids needed. Most of my classes are in person this semester, which I am very thankful for, but this project has made me realize the virtual education world is especially challenging with younger students (getting them to focus, engage in course material, etc). Overall, I am very optimistic about the Jepson Shakespeare Experience and I am eager to see how many/which students engage with the material next week.

I’m in Group 5 and we are working with four fifth-graders that each had different levels of interest in the project. Our interaction started with the students from Stage and Screen introducing themselves and sharing a fun fact. Then our students introduced themselves and then we watched a summary video of Much Ado About Nothing. Some of them were confused, but one student seemed to grasp the content very well.

In the end, we decided to break Act IV up by scenes. 2 students are focusing on scene 1 and 4. The remaining two students are working on scene 2 and 3 individually. We quickly realized they weren’t too interested in making illustrations, so we may be moving forward with recording videos of action figures or legos. Another suggestion they gave was to incorporate music. Hopefully we can build off of these ideas and get them excited to be retelling Shakespeare.

One challenge I see us working to overcome is that all four students are one classroom. This will make checking in on the progress of the individual scenes more difficult, but I’m still excited to see how this goes!

Monday was my group’s first meeting with the HEF students from the Wilder virtual program. I was originally pretty nervous to meet the kids, especially because I have never used Microsoft Teams and wasn’t sure how the meeting would go virtually. However, because of my group and how engaged the kids were, the meeting went very smoothly! We started with an ice breaker and had the kids say their names and their favorite ice cream flavor. Next, we talked to the kids about what what the plot of Much Ado is, and introduced the characters. Finally, we suggested some ideas for the adaptations we’d be doing. The kids were really excited and funny, I am excited to work more with them!

The first meeting with HEF this week was a nice introduction to the kids we will be working with and gave us a better sense of how to move forward with the project. We started by introducing ourselves and having the four kids introduce themselves. Some seemed more quiet and uninterested than others, so we definitely need to come up with more ways to keep them engaged and excited about the project. We then showed them a video explaining the plot of Much Ado About Nothing and answered any questions they had about it to help them better understand what the original play is about. We finished by explaining that we will be recreating Act V in a high school setting. The kids overall seemed a little confused about the project, but I think with more meetings and discussions they will start to understand more. The four students decided to divide the four scenes in the act with one working on Scene 2, one working on Scene 3, and two working on Scenes 1 and 4 together. The teacher was able to help facilitate some discussion and attempted to keep them engaged and listening to us but it was a little difficult to gauge their interest virtually. Some ideas we came up with to try to make them more excited about the project were the possibilities of incorporating music, Legos, or other figurines in the adaptation. In the future it would probably benefit us to have a better laid out plan to keep them engaged, but overall it was a good introduction!

This week was really good, and it got me more excited about the project. Going into our first meeting I was anxious about if our kids were going to be engaged, or if they were going to want to participate. But, they are so excited about the project, and they have so many amazing ideas. The challenge will definitely be figuring out how to bring their ideas into our adaptation and how to make things make sense with the rest of the play. I am a little concerned about equity within the class, I want to make sure that the girls are being heard as much as the boys. There was one boy who had really good ideas, but he didn’t use the raise hand feature like the other students were. I want to make sure that he isn’t talking over other people in the future. Going forward I want to create a few more boundaries so that we are using our time really efficiently. I initially thought an hour sounded like a lot, but now it feels like we honestly could have gone for another hour.

My group’s first meeting with our community partners went well! I was a bit nervous about how Monday’s meeting would go, considering we had no idea what age the students would be, what previous Shakespeare experience they would have, or even how many would be assigned to our group. For the most part, these nerves subsided once our Microsoft Teams meeting began. I never thought I’d be presenting Shakespeare to a group of 15 or so fifth and sixth-graders; however, the experience was less chaotic than I expected it to be. Excluding a few very minor instances of talking over other students, the students were all well-behaved, engaged, and raised their hands politely using the “raise hand” feature. We realized that we would get the most kids to participate by including them directly in the decision-making process, rather than simply telling them what our class had already decided. For a large portion of the meeting, we (UR students) offered some limited options about the plot, and the students expressed their own opinions about which directions we should take our adaption. I was shocked that, when asked how Don Pedro should set up Claudio and Hero, most students thought that it should be done in-person instead of online. Overall, for having never heard of Much Ado About Nothing, the kids were very excited to be involved in deciding what elements of the story we should keep or change. I look forward to continuing our discussion of the plot and officially voting on the options we provided next week!

Meeting our group of kids was really exciting, yet very chaotic. Our group is composed of five fifth graders, ranging from very outgoing to very quiet, which I think is going to be a struggle that we make sure that we include everyone’s voices. I was really excited to meet the kids because I normally volunteer at Youth Life after school and the kids are the same age, however, due to Covid, I have been unable to do so this semester. The format of zoom was definitely super chaotic because it was hard to 1. hear them, and 2. get them to not talk over one another, however, I think that it is good that we have smaller group so that we can hopefully get them to all be able to participate. The teacher in the classroom was not super helpful in controlling them and I felt as though she maybe could’ve done a bit more, but I also could not imagine being in her shoes. Hearing the kids reactions to what happens in Much Ado was really funny because they thought that it was so outrageous that everyone is trying to fool eachother and Hero fakes her own death. A lot of their comments highlighted the importance of an adaptation that they will be able to relate to and understand because the concept of wanting to marry someone at first sight, is a little as they called it “stupid”. Overall, I am looking forward to coming into the next meeting with a better outline and idea of what we want to do now that we know how it is going to work.

Our first meeting with our group was pretty chaotic. The kids were all together in the room, so there were a lot of side comments and they really struggled to stay focused. The kids were funny and seemed somewhat interested, but it was really hard to get and keep their attention for any extended period of time. It was nice having a teacher in the room with them, but she wasn’t particularly effective in getting them to focus. We started by introducing ourselves and we tried to give a basic rundown of the project and the plot. We tried to go more in-depth about our scene and what we are doing, but it was difficult to see if they understood what we were saying and if they understood the plot at all. My group has discussed having a more structured plan going forward and sending their teacher a brief synopsis and character list before our next meeting so that the basic ideas of the play stay fresh in their heads. I think that will greatly help the success of our sessions going forward. From an overall communication standpoint, we had a much more difficult time than I was expecting, but I think we will get the hang of it going forward and as we get more comfortable with the kids and the virtual setting.

This afternoon we had our first meeting with our students! I was excited about going into it because I love working with kids, however, it was nerve-racking because there were so many unknowns. We logged onto Google Meet and were greeted by one screen with 5 students sitting in a classroom. We started with some casual introductions which revealed our first technological issue. It was extremely difficult to hear them and I was unable to pick up on all of their names. Additionally, because they are all in one room and we are just a few faces on a screen it proved to be difficult to maintain their attention. There was a teacher there with them who was helping us to keep them on track, but it was challenging.

We began working on the project by showing a video to help explain the plot, this seemed to confuse them. From there we decided to relay the plot of our Act through casual conversation. This helped the students learn about the plot, however, they were still confused. They asked lots of questions and were very engaged. This is exciting because I think they will be very active participants in this project.

They were very interested in how and why the actors worked so long ago. They asked questions about what the play was like during Shakespeare’s time and what the actors were like. This reminded me of the conversations we have had as well as the podcasts that discussed England during Shakespeare’s time. This meeting made me very excited to begin working on this project, but it also made me aware of some of the challenges we will face, such as technology. Obviously, it would be nice to be with the students in person, however, we are doing the best we can and I am excited to see what comes out of it!