Shakespeare!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by newengltchr, Nov 23, 2014.

  1. newengltchr

    newengltchr Rookie

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    Nov 23, 2014

    Hello,

    I am just wondering how you, teachers of Shakespeare, approach his texts in your classroom. I brought students to see a production of Hamlet last night and they seemed to really enjoy it. I have read many articles from teachers who completely eliminate Shakespeare out of their curriculum, but I don't think that is the right approach. My students are very low with their reading and writing skills; however, I still want to expose them (my 12th graders) to his works, specifically The Comedy of Errors and Hamlet. I want to spend time introducing them to Shakespeare, the times, and theatre. I've visited The Globe many times and I want to share that experience with them. Overall, I think it's essential to give them a lot of context.

    I struggle with the language myself, but I also consider myself a learner of Shakespeare and I am not afraid to admit that to my students. I will, however, prepare as much as I can before teaching the text. How do you teach it? I was thinking of watching the entire text (movie or live production) and then reading significant sections of the text, especially the monologues. I can't see spending time reading an entire play front to back, but I am open to suggestions. Do you teach the text in its original language or do you use an even more modern translation? I was thinking about both.

    Were you nervous the first time teaching Shakespeare? Thanks for your time. I look forward to your responses! Enjoy your day! :)

    Mr.M
     
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  3. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Nov 23, 2014

    I do exactly what you suggest. We watch most of it, and then we read some specific passages. I firmly believe Shakespeare was meant to be watched and performed, not read as a novel. I have done whole readings in the past. It was pretty painful. The last two years my Macbeth unit has been a favorite among my students.
     
  4. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Nov 23, 2014

    I finished a very successful round of Romeo and Juliet last quarter. We read scenes aloud and did a lot of Stop and Think, where I made the "actors" try to explain what they had just said. We watched pivotal scenes from a variety of different film adaptations. One of the things that seemed to really help was to keep reminding the students that the main characters were about their age and that things were moving incredibly quickly. Reviewing the timeline snapped a lot of students to attention.
     
  5. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Nov 24, 2014

    It's odd. I taught both Hamlet and Macbeth to juniors and seniors as a student teacher. They loved Shakespeare.

    I'm teaching Hamlet now as a first year teacher to my Honors seniors... and they despise it. We read an act, discuss and recap, and then watch the corresponding act from the movie. I sometimes have analysis questions or creative writing assignments.

    I'm not sure what else I could do to make it more engaging. I think a majority of my class just expected English to be easy this year because I'm the fourth English teacher in the past two years. It's sad.
     
  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Nov 24, 2014

    That's exactly how I taught the 3 acts of the Twelve Angry Men, and the students loved it. I don't think it's you, I think it's your students. They probably have 'senioritis', and think everything will be easy since they made it this far.
     
  7. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Nov 24, 2014

    We just finished act 1 of Hamlet today. I approach it by showing a scene and then reading it. I summarize parts and have students read other parts with me (I have a degree in drama, so I have no problem reading dramatically!) My seniors are generally only moderately interested, but I get them up out of their seats whenever I can. One thing that works very well for me is to give them one of the soliloquies printed out and glued to the middle of a piece of oversized paper. They work in groups of three or four to annotate the piece, aided by some guiding questions. I put out narrow markers and require that every student write part of the answers. It's quite a pleasure to walk around the room and hear them actually discussing the language and its meaning!
     
  8. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Nov 25, 2014

    I'll show them the film of the act we're about to read, first. Then I have the actors on tape read it and the class follows along. We use "parallel texts" - the play in its original form on the left side of the page and the right side in contemporary English. I stop the tape periodically when I think there's enough of a concept that's been presented for me to explain/answer questions.

    I never have the kids read it. Between the ones that would be horsing around and causing a distraction that way and the ones who try but butcher it - which in turn loses the rest of the class to boredom, it's been the technique that has worked the best for me over the years. Besides, the professional actors on tape put the right voice inflection into the dialogue and there are sound effects, which I think is critical to properly enhance their understanding.
    ;)
     

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