ENG 4U – Everything’s Coming Up Hamlet!


Good morning!

Today we embark on our study of what is (arguably) Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy. This will probably be the longest post of the semester, but for good reason. We’ll start by getting to know the characters, then discuss just what makes Shakespeare and his great tragedy so very relevant over 400 years after his death.

To start, please use your handy cue card to complete the Dramatis Bookmarkis (or, to commoners,) the Dramatis Personae, found below:

By William Shakespeare (c. 1591)
Setting: Elsinore Castle, Denmark

 Hamlet                                     — Prince of Denmark

        Gertrude                          — Hamlet’s Mother, queen

        Claudius                          — Hamlet’s Uncle, king of Denmark

Horatio                             — Hamlet’s trusted friend

The Ghost                       — Hamlet’s Father, dead king

Polonius                                  — King’s counselor

        Laertes                            — Polonius’ son

        Ophelia                            — Polonius’ daughter


Fortinbras                                   — Prince of Norway

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern   — Hamlet’s childhood friends


 Marcellus                                 — Officers on watch


Reynaldo                                    — Servant of Polonius

Francisco, Cornelius               — Ambassadors to Norway

Players                                       — A group of travelling actors

First & Second Clowns            — Gravediggers

Osric, Lords, Gentlemen         — Courtiers at Elsinore   


Next, please watch this video, kindly provided by Mr. Pedrech.


Hamlet is the only play that has inspired its own cult, and there’s even a name for it: Hamletology, the study of all things Hamlet. Hamletologists can readily cite every record-breaking statistic about the play. Here is a brief encounter with some of their findings about Hamlet:

  • It has been performed more than any other play in the world, and more has been written about it than any other literary work.
  • It’s been translated more than any other play and has inspired more spoofs, spin-offs, offshoots, sendups, burlesques, and adaptations than any other work of literature. There is even a Popeye version of the play.
  • There are more than 46 movie versions of the play, ranging from Italian to Indian to French. Here’s the trailer for the newest, Bollywood style:
  • The line “to be or not to be” is the most quoted phrase in the English language.
  • The actors that have portrayed Hamlet are as varied as can be: hippies, dwarfs, fat men, tiny men, women (one with a wooden leg) and twins. It`s been performed by the five-year-old prodigy hailed as `Master Betty, the Infant Phenomenon of the Regency Period and by the octogenarian Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson.
  • It has inspired twenty-six ballets, six operas, and dozens of musical works.
  • Hamlet is the longest play Shakespeare wrote. The uncut version, rarely performed in its entirety, takes four and a half to five hours to perform.
  • The play’s first performance outside England occurred in 1607, when a group of sailors enacted it off the Cape of Good Hope. The performance was entered in the ship’s log as “this popular play now running in England.”
    • From “Hamletology” by Norrie Epstein


    With a partner (and then in your own notes), discuss different life situations that may be traumatic, using the information gathered from the poll and your own ideas and experiences. In your discussion, describe some of the characteristics of people who are grieving. Try to give reasons for their attitudes or actions.


ENG 4U – Reviewing the essay with an essay

Good Morning! Here are our goals for this week:

1. Complete our essay writing/reading/analyzing unit with a review and a sight passage test;
2. Spend (limited in-class) time writing and peer editing your generic essay, due next Monday, Sept. 29;
3. Begin our study of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Friday is a PD day and our time is short, so let’s begin with a quick insight into our use of language:



Next, and to review the elements of an essay, here is one borrowed from the NY Times.


ENG 3U – A goodbye to summer, some review, and effective group work

Good morning! Our goals for this week are as follows:

1. Finish up our study of satire & rhetorical devices;
2. Review and implement effective group work strategies;
3. Begin our study of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

That’s a tall order, considering that Friday is a PD Day. Let’s get started, shall we?

First things first. It’s the last day of summer. Feel free to cry. Now, and to review the elements of satire, your task is to write a thank-you note to the season. Together, we’ll take a few minutes and brainstorm what we love (or love to hate) about summer.

Remember the elements of satire discussed in class:

– Tone (This is the emotion conveyed in the writing – is it witty, sarcastic and/or ironic? Good.)
– Rhetorical Devices (These make up your persuasive tactic tool belt. Go back to your list for reference.)
– Exaggeration (to point out the possible downside of summer).

Your task is to write a 200-word satire. Titles can include (but are certainly not limited to):
A Thank You Note to Summer
Farewell Summer, We Barely Knew You
A Lament to Summer Vacations Gone By


On a completely separate note, here is the link to the effective group work strategies video we viewed on Friday:


Please ensure that you view the video at some point today and if you haven’t already, take notes on the major points discussed in the video.


The rest of this post has been borrowed from our good friend, Mr. Pedrech. Please read

  1. Satire is the attempt to use humour (and irony) to point out flaws.
  2. Create a list of 4-5 of the subject’s flaws.
  3. Write your 200 word satire, ensuring that the literal meaning and the inferred meaning are different.  For example, I might write that “Students who swear openly in class should be praised.” Clearly, I don’t think we should praise students for swearing openly in class; thus, the literal meaning (we should praise students who swear) and the inferred meaning (students who swear shouldn’t be praised) are different.
  4. Satire works best when the exaggeration (or the hyperbole) increases as the satire continues. Thus, consider saving your best bit of satire for the end of your piece.

ENG 3U – A shortened period. Let’s make the most of it.

Good morning! We have Mass this morning and will be leaving the classroom at 9:00. Here’s a little Thursday morning English wackiness:



Okay, now back to satire. Below is a short selection satire:



What makes each of these examples satirical? Do you consider it effective satire?


Now let’s take a look at the satire you completed for homework.






ENG 4U – Induction, Deduction, Thesis Statements & Essay Writing

We have three goals today:

  • to take a second look at induction and deduction (based on the questions found on the page you received yesterday)
  • to identify what makes a series of introductions really effective (or not, as the case may be)
  • to introduce the end of unit writing task (get your excitement out now!)

First, here are some bad thesis statements to get us started:


On to the next thing. Yesterday, we talked about induction and deduction, and how faulty reasoning can lead to all sorts of errors. Tonight, please read The Closing of The American Mind on page 325 of your textbook. Write a 1 page journal style response in which you agree or disagree with the writer’s reasoning.   If you see faulty induction or deduction in the article, please identify it.

Finally, your task for the end of unit is to write a generic essay on a topic of general interest. It should be between 700 and 850 words in length.

The essay should be well-organized, interesting, enlightening, and must be written in Standard English. Slang and other colloquialisms may be used for rhetorical effect, but use them sparingly. Your audience should be your teacher and your peers, or, in other words, a reasonably intelligent audience.

Your first task will be to choose your topic and begin your outline. Outlines should be 1-1.5 pages in length and should act as a point-form version of the essay. This will be due by Friday in order to prepare for the next stage.

ENG 3U – Satire, a dish of mixed ingredients


Here’s a quick bit of satire to start the day off on the right foot. . .

If by its very definition, satire is “a dish of mixed ingredients,” then perhaps a simple way to consider it is to think about satire as being like a bag of mixed nuts. Or better yet, trail mix.

With the proper ingredients, trail mix (satire) can be delicious (entertaining), nutritious (educational) and can take care of nagging hunger (direct focus on a ridiculous or cultural issue or problem). But put in too little of one ingredient (read: M&Ms) and too much of another (ahem, raisins, ahem), and you may have a problem. A not-so-delicious problem.

When creating satire, a fine balance must be kept between the ingredients. These are, of course, rhetorical devices. Too much, and it can become convoluted or insulting to the point of the message not getting across. Let’s review the basic rhetorical devices, shall we?


While we watch this clip, think about what makes this particular clip satirical.



Next, let’s focus on active listening strategies:

What are the benefits of active listening, especially in small group and larger group settings?
What does it take to become an active listener?
What barriers sometimes stand in the way of listening actively? What strategies can be developed to overcome those barriers?


Finally, I want you to write a 150 word satire of something that would like to poke fun at or openly ridicule. This is the only time I will ever tell you to be sarcastic in class!

ENG 4U – The Organizing Principle (Not Principal…There’s a Difference)

Today, we’ll hopefully come to a better understanding of how the method of organization you choose changes the structure and the audience’s perception of your work.

Step 1: Read one of the following essay from the text

  • Lord of the Geeks – p.410
  • A story of War and Change – p.364
  • The Enchanted Forest – p.318

Step 2: Using the sheet I gave you yesterday, identify the organizing principle of the essay you read. Provide 4-5 specific bits of evidence to support your claim.

Step 3: Choose another method of organization that might work for this essay. Create a rough 5-point structure for this “new” essay, making clear connections between your points and the method of organization. You are NOT writing the essay.

Step 4: I will put you in groups to discuss the essay you read. I’d like you to come to an agreement about the method of organization used by the author.