Subbing for a Course

Today I subbed for a course I have taught before. What I found was:

1) subbing is easier than teaching the whole course, partially because the professor knew this section was my favorite and scheduled it for when I would be subbing.

2) experience teaching the course makes doing a day or two of subbing much more interesting, because usually I have a whole plethora of things related to the topic that I might introduce throughout the course. I get to pick the most interesting and do them in class.

3) it isn’t as hard to have former students in a sub class as I was afraid it might be. I have taught at least 4 of these students before.

4) it is easier to sub for an upper division class if you are trying to get student interaction. I’ve never had so much participation on the first day of class. I do get this much participation by the second week, so maybe it is not a phenomenon related to the subbing or the students but related to the time of semester.

It was quite a lot of fun.

I wrote on the board in Old English and then read it to them and asked them to figure out what it said. (I wrote fairly simple things and gave clues on changes we have made.)

I asked questions about the video they saw last class period–since I also had watched it, even though I wasn’t able to substitute for that class due to committee obligations. We reviewed the Celtic -> Old English -> Old Norse -> Norman French -> Middle English history.

We discussed alliteration (Old English form of poetry) versus rhyming (French form of poetry brought over by the Normans).

I explained to them that most of the exceptions they had learned in first grade (and on up) for verb endings were due to the Old English verbs hanging in there. I mentioned specifically the difference between new verbs (like jive/jived and older verbs like dive/dove). Then I had them make a list of the “exceptional” verbs in English. We were able to look at those and identify the seven conjugations.

I gave them a list of words that are no longer used in modern English, but were used in early modern English, and had them guess the meanings. Some had some excellent guesses–meanings I actually thought were better for the words than the real ones. One they were able to figure out the meaning. One I recommended we all begin to use and bring back (bellytimber for food).

Then I showed John Branyan’s Shakespearean version of the Three Little Pigs (noting that he got the date wrong).

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