Can students learn something from watching a video in class? Yes. Here are five creative ideas integrating film with teaching Shakespeare.
"These techniques call upon the students’ sense of visual literacy and awareness of the filmmaking process to stretch their thinking about the plays. Always keep in mind that all of these techniques are based on close reading in one form or another," says high school English teacher Josh Cabat.
Activity #1 – The Pitch
In an effort to avoid undertaking arduous book tours, many authors have taken to creating short films in which they discuss their latest work, and then uploading those videos to YouTube or social networking sites. For this activity, have the students imagine that they are Shakespeare and that they have four minutes to pitch the idea for the particular play we’re working on in class. They have to highlight the most exciting parts of the story and convince a potential audience that the story is worthwhile. Students should present their pitches in video format.
Activity #2 – The Storyboard
I introduce this activity by showing students the school playground sequence from The Birds and giving them a copy of Hitchcock’s original storyboard for the scene. After a brief discussion of how storyboards work, the students then choose a soliloquy or set-piece from the play being studied, and they storyboard it on large poster paper as if they were plotting out how shoot the scene. With the arrival of such programs as ComicLife and Creaza, it’s now easy to create storyboards in graphic novel form using still pictures.