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Friday, November 14, 2014

Star Wars, Shakespeare, and Rebels

Let's travel back in time, shall we?  No, not to 16th century England.  About a year ago, while at a bookstore with my oldest daughter, I stumbled upon Ian Doescher's William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope.  Shakespeare and Star Wars?  The English teacher in me nearly swooned.  I bought it, loved it, and began thinking how I could use it in a classroom.  Six months and a grant later, my freshmen English students were reading and analyzing the text while comparing it to other media, such as the original film and a radio drama adaptation. At the end of the unit, Ian himself generously agreed to Skype with our classroom.  (He insisted I call him Ian, and I don't like to make New York Times best-selling authors mad.)

Tangent #1: I wrote a reflection on our Skype experience here, along with 7 tips on how to successfully run a Skype chat, in case you want to read more about it.

The WSSW educational experience ended up being a whole Core Content-aligned unit that lead into reading Romeo and Juliet, and I had created a significant amount of material.  Shame to let it go to waste and not be shared, I said to myself.  So I began thinking, and I Googled.  But soft!  What website broke through yonder Windows screen?   Star Wars in the Classroom.   Educators that love Star Wars?  Be still my heart!

I emailed Thomas Riddle and Wes Dodgens, the co-webmasters of the site, with my conundrum: a bunch of lesson plans, resources and handouts and nowhere to put them.  Turns out they were about to start a Rogue Initiative to gather just that sort of thing from educators.  And that's how my entire unit ended up online, and how I became the first Rogue.

Tangent #2: Throughout the process, the social media manager Eric Smith from Quirk Books (the publisher of WSSW) was extremely helpful and generous, so a tip of my hat to him.  He was also responsible for putting my academic materials on Quirk's site, as well as getting Random House to publicize my unit at librarian conventions and even Pinterest.

And now we come to present day.  Thanks to Star Wars in the Classroom, I have become connected to many like-minded educators.  One of them, Dan Zehr, is not only a teacher but a blog contributor to the official Star Wars website.  This week, Dan and his co-host Cory Clubb invited me as a guest on their Coffee With Kenobi podcast.

It was a thrill to talk about the impact of Star Wars on my life both personally and professionally, as well as do a literary analysis on a recent episode of Star Wars Rebels.  A link to the podcast's page is here.

Ian, Thomas, Wes, Eric, Dan, Cory: thanks to all of you for helping me merge multiple passions!

And for all of you educator readers out there...May the Edtech Be With You!

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