Shakespeare

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by ms.irene, Feb 19, 2016.

  1. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Feb 19, 2016

    I am working on Hamlet with my seniors and I honestly forgot just how *long* of a play this is! Last year I taught Macbeth to sophomores and it went by pretty quickly, but Hamlet is almost twice as long! I don't want to assign the reading as homework, but reading it aloud in class is just taking forever. I started off using the Shakespeare Set Free lesson plans, but they all seem to assume that the students will be able to read and comprehend the text on their own, and the majority of mine just can't get there on their own (and trust me, they are trying!).

    What I have resorted to is reading a scene out loud and then watching a video of the scene (the BBC version with David Tennant is all on youtube!) followed by a written journal entry. It's working, but is very slow going. Does anyone have any other suggestions to make this move a little faster? I don't want to take the rest of the semester on this one text!
     
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  3. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    Feb 19, 2016

    I am glad that your seniors are truly trying to understand this challenging play. One teaching approach that I would like to share is to have the class find the places in the play where Hamlet is interacting with each of the following characters. The topic that the students will discuss and respond to is, "What can be revealed about Hamlet in his dealings with each of these people?"
    • Claudius
    • Gertrude
    • Ophelia
    • Horatio
    • Polonius
    • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
    You can use this as a whole class, partner, jigsaw, or small group activity. For small groups, each group can be assigned one of the characters to focus on. The groups can ultimately present their findings and explanations to the whole class. Some groups can even incorporate a specific video clip that supports their findings into their presentation.
     
  4. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Feb 19, 2016

    Sorry. That is the only way I've managed to be able to teach Hamlet to a large group of seniors in a way that they can comprehend it. We assign roles, read aloud in class, and then watch the act from the Kenneth Brannagh version. They have a study guide to fill out and we test over two acts at a time. It does take quite a while, but they score well on the tests and the final is a Socratic seminar that many do very well with.
     
  5. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Feb 19, 2016

    Thank you for the great ideas! Allara, how long do you usually take for the play (how many class periods)? What are your tests like?

    Mia, that is a great idea for a jigsaw activity! What do you do to get them reading and comprehending the text in the first place?
     
  6. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Feb 19, 2016

    Let's see. It takes us one or two 50 minute class periods to get through reading the act, depending on the act. It takes another class period to watch the act. They complete the study guide on their own time, but the tests take a class period (we usually assign roles on tests days as well, so we can get right to reading.) So five acts = roughly 20 days. My tests ask students to identify who said a quote, trace the steps leading up to the quote (plot summary), explore the implications of the words (analysis), and explain the ramifications that resulted (cause/effect).
     
  7. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    My thing about Shakespeare (and all plays, really) is that they are meant to be performed and watched, not read. So I don't make my kids read it. We: watch an accurate stage production of the play, summarize each scene, break into groups and perform the scenes in pantomime or modern language. They rehearse for several days and bring props and things from home. Throughout, I choose important scenes to do close reading of, with different types of assessments, so they do get into the rich language, but only having to tackle a very small part of it each day. I also use journal prompts that mirror the motivations of the characters to facilitate discussion and more formal writing.
     
  8. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Feb 19, 2016

    Thanks again...do you read all the way through each act in class? Do you assign readers or choose volunteers? I have been doing a read-around (read to the first full stop) to engage more students.
     
  9. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I really like this approach -- it's similar to the Shakespeare Set Free method. I have been feeling like we need to "get through" the entire text in class, but if we are watching a good staged version, perhaps we can just revisit key scenes. Great food for thought!
     
  10. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Feb 19, 2016

    That's the approach our whole school takes, pretty much. For my kids with a lower reading level, I let them use the No Fear Shakespeare, which helps with comprehension. I've never looked at Shakespeare Set Free before. I'll have to look at it!
     
  11. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    I actually reverse the process: we watch a scene (I use Brannagh) and then we read together. It lets them get a general sense of the scene, and then we can look at the language more carefully. I read with them, and I always take the biggest part, because as they know, I am the biggest ham in the room.:p
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
  12. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Feb 19, 2016

    I use No Fear Shakespeare, which helps. We also read some and watch a lot. They get really into watching it and it seems to help a lot. We read some of the more key scenes.
     
  13. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    Feb 22, 2016

    You're very welcome, ms.irene. I am glad that you liked my idea for a jigsaw activity. Thank you for the compliment!

    To get students to read and comprehend this play in the first place, I place the name and picture of a character on a piece of construction paper and do this for all major characters (so there is one name/picture per paper). I post these characters on the front wall so everyone can easily see the names and pictures. Before we read each act, I make a storyboard that displays pictures of six major events and brief event descriptions. Again, I place the storyboard on the front wall where it can be easily viewed by everyone. Sometimes I give interested students an opportunity to make the character and storyboard artwork. This is done before we begin the whole unit. Students who help to create these visuals become class experts on the text. At the very least, all students in class will know the general plot and characters by the end of each act.

    Similar to what Mrs. K said, I also have the students watch the scene before we read it aloud, discuss it, and participate in activities such as journal writing.
     
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  14. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Feb 22, 2016

    Shakespeare Set Free was a suggestion from someone on this forum -- I don't remember who, but whoever you were, thank you! I used their Macbeth plans and am adapting for Hamlet.
     
  15. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Feb 22, 2016

    I like the idea of doing a storyboard! I might incorporate that along with the Director's Notebook project from Shakespeare Set Free.
     
  16. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    Feb 22, 2016

    Thank you, ms.irene! Shakespeare Set Free sounds like an excellent teaching resource. With using a storyboard as a visual, another possibility is to ask art and theater teachers if their students would be interested in helping to make sketches of each storyboard scene. I have found that some art and theater teachers are even happy to help by creating the sketches themselves.
     
  17. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Feb 22, 2016

    I love the Tennant version! The students do as well. You can really hit upon how a piece of writing translates to the screen.
     

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