Holy smokes, teachers. Have you heard of Wordplay Shakespeare? My mother-in-law brought me this article from the Star Tribune and enlightened me. Let’s just say that every teacher of Shakespeare’s life just changed:
Performance and text, side by side. Modern English translation. Built in dictionary. Pop up translations. A place to take notes.
In case anyone reading The Take Back of Lincoln Junior High thinks I’m biased against technology in the classroom, let me be clear: THIS IS AWESOME.
Wordplay’s video is here. I promise this will be a part of my curriculum when I find myself back teaching the Bard!
I’m amazed at how many schools have little to no Shakespeare in their curricula. Why? Well, there are plenty of reasons. He’s inaccessible. He’s white and male, like 90% of the other authors we teach. He talks funny. He’s old.
And yet, he is arguably the most important writer of all time. And even more importantly, he’s perfect for the classroom. Here are five reasons why:
- He must be read aloud
How great is this? Most of your time teaching it is spent reading the words with your kids, assigning parts, pointing out the humor and the dirty jokes (and there are LOTS!).
- There are tons of fabulous movies about him and his work.
I’ve lost count of how many adaptations of Hamlet there are. And what about Romeo and Juliet? Merchant of Venice? Even Joss Whedon’s gotten in on the action with Much Ado About Nothing. And don’t forget The Hobart Shakespeareans—a fabulous documentary to watch with your colleagues.
- He’s free.
Not enough copies for your classroom? No big deal. He’s free on the web. Not to mention the hundreds of websites devoted to analyzing his work.
- He’s hard.
There are always groans in the classroom when the first few lines of a Shakespeare play are read. ‘How are we ever going to get this?’ ‘Why doesn’t he just speak in English??’ But by the end, many of those same students are pretty proud of what they’ve accomplished in reading his work. Reading ‘hard’ stuff makes our kids feel like they’ve achieved something great.
- Culminating Assignments
Why write an essay about Macbeth when you can act out a scene from the play? Better yet, act it out while being set to Men in Black? How about the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet? Set in the movie Twilight?
The possibilities are endless.