From the article: Teaching Shakespeare
Do you teach Shakespeare? If so, we want you to share your experiences and tried-and-tested techniques here on About.com. The question is simple: what is your top tip for fellow Shakespeare teachers? Share Your Top Tips
Performance-Based Learning is the Best!
- I work in the education department at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA, and we gear all our activities towards getting students to explore Shakespeare's lines aloud and in action. The language comes alive in a way that it doesn't when flat on the page; students see what instructions and opportunities Shakespeare gave his actors through his language, to help them craft a story that would move audiences. We offer Study Guides for teachers, providing a comprehensive approach to exploring the play in your classroom. From the basics of getting your students out of their seats and thinking like early modern actors, to exploring historical context, staging challenges, and the intricacies of Shakespeare’s wordplay, to the challenge of assessment, these Guides give you a start-to-finish model. Check our guides out at www.tinyurl.com/ASCeducates. Happy teaching!
- —Guest Cass Morris
Adapted Scripts for Young Students...
- If you'd like to try working with Shakespeare with younger students (2nd-5th grade), check out www.kidsloveshakespeare.com.
- —Guest Kids Love Shakespeare
Teach Shakespeare with a rap
- I loved your top tips for teaching Shakespeare. I try to teach it by writing a rap about the play's story before beginning to teach it so that the students are more open to the Bard's greatness. For example, here is a section about Hamlet I wrote and the students loved it: JOSH/RAPPER 1: Good Prince Hamlet’s melancholy HAMLET: What? Should I be bright and jolly? My dad is dead and my mom’s big folly Is marrying my uncle, gosh oh golly Well I guess that’s just fine with me So fine I say, “To be or not to be?” Should I kill myself? That’s the question. Anyone out there got a suggestion? Should I shuffle off this mortal coil Or stay alive and try to spoil What that smiling villain, Uncle Claude Is trying to do, and prove him a fraud? J/RAPPER1: Now a theme of this play, one of Shakespeare’s best: Is Hamlet mad or just depressed? By mad I mean off his rocker, OK? Or is he just faking it to get his own way? (I'm almost out of room. But I can tell you, it works!)
- —Guest Bob Zaslow
- In high school, teach Shakespeare with a spoken-word recording of the whole play. Let the kids follow along. They will gain an appreciation for the language and really get into the story. In college, let students read the play on their own. They will then have the maturity to get through the language truly enjoy it. I taught Shakespeare in high school successfully for seven years. My students loved him and wanted to know, "What else did WILL write?"
- —Guest JerseyPeach
Teaching Shakespeare is my dream!
- I have never taught Shakespeare. Actually, I am a postgraduate student in Iran. But teaching Shakespeare is my dream! Because I am quite intimate with him and his works inwardly. I studied Shakespeare intensively in my undergraduate period while other students convinced themselves with Hamlet and Othello. First of all, as Mansoor mentioned above, Shakespeare should be taught aesthetically. I myself enjoy Shakespeare a lot, I have to transfer this joy to the students and show the way how to enjoy. It involves many techniques. Then I should work on Shakespeare, the way they work in Yale. This Yalish way is important too in having a depth understanding of Shakespeare and his works.
Of Course It's Relevant!
- Hamlet is the story of a young man whose father is out of the picture, and he's got issues with his new stepdad (and his mom, for choosing him). Romeo and Juliet is about two kids trying to be in a relationship with someone their parents disapprove of. Macbeth is about a guy who cheats the system to get what he wants, and what becomes of his life in the guilty afterward. Kids need to see Shakespeare first from an angle they can understand, not as the poetic ramblings from somebody who died 400 years ago.
- —Guest ShakespeareGeek
Tips for Teaching Shakespeare
- When an appropriate quote comes up I teach it, specially to intermediate grown up people, and they love it!
- —Guest Mirta
Explore the Language Through Song
- As the previous posting suggests, song is a very powerful medium to help kids cross the threshold into Shakespeare. I too have written a musical (nowhere near as funny as the previous posting but worth a look. My musical follows an abridged version of the original script or a modern-day translation of it (or a mixture of the two). You can judge just how much 'Old English your students can cope with in performance or you can use it in the classroom to help children compare and contrast the two forms of the language as the scripts are presented side by side. The songs can be used just as flexiby as each one has a set of lyrics taken from the original script and a set translared into modern English. The are eight song, three of whch are reprised in slightly different forms, meaning the children have fewer tunes to learn but explore more language more easily. Draft backing tracks can be heard on www.myspace.com/shakespearerocksyou. email me on shakespeare firstname.lastname@example.org for more info
- —Guest shakespearerocksyou
New Shakespeare Rock Musical
- I have written a comedy musical about the Bard and his many delightful characters. Songs like Lear singing a blusey redition of, I'm More Foolish Than My Fool, Macbeth, Is This A dagger or Mick Jagger? and Shylock singing, Just Because I'm A Jew just to name a few. Thought there maybe interest in teachers perusing script
- —Guest roger downing
Give Shakespeare a chance!
- I have been teaching Shakespeare's plays to junior high kids. I always get a positive response. They are very intrigued by the characters. The language may seem an obstacle, but after listening, reading, and watching a video...the students are not daunted by the language. At the end of the year, we have a presentation for the whole school the play they learned in class. Parents are happy to see their children on stage and learn Shakespseare. In fact, the following year they always ask, which Shakespeare playing are we learning?
- —Guest annie ang
An absolute must!
- See the play ... live or films with famous actors. This is an absolute must when teaching Shakespeare.
- —Guest Trudy J. Sundberg
- Shakespeare should only sometimes be taught! The students should be given maximum opportunity to "know" and "sense" Shakespeare for themselves - the teacher should only help them achieve this goal. Shakespeare can never really be taught!
- —Guest mansoor alam
35 years of teaching Shakespeare
- I taught Shakespeare in High School for 35 years in New Jersey and became known as the "Shakespeare teacher". I started by teaching Shakespeare, the man. I made him a living breathing person using slides and videos of trips with students to Stratford and London. I tried to show how he lived and how his life was reflected in his writing. They saw video tours of the Henley Street home, Anne's cottage, the Arden farm, Holy Trinity and the inside The Globe Theatre in London. I interviewed students on camera in England, and it helped my desk-bound students to see the excitement of actually walking in Shakespeare’s footsteps. I would read selected parts of our studied plays and discuss the meaning of the lines, but I avoided letting students recite out loud. Butchered dialog certainly didn't help them appreciate the Bard's poetry! Round robin class discussions of themes and character traits were also a great teaching tool!
- —Guest leethebard