Shakespeare. The word can conjure up a host of responses from students. Boring? Outdated? Too hard? Too confusing?
Folger Education's Teacher to Teacher video series features ideas from educators around the country as they share their tips and strategies for successfully teaching Shakespeare in today's classrooms. Each short video (most are less than 3 minutes) is accompanied by lesson plans and related resources so you can immediately apply the techniques with your own students.
Click on a link below to discover teacher-tested ideas for sharing Shakespeare with your students.
General Techniques for Teaching Shakespeare
Activities and insights for any play.
Chicago high school teacher Joe Scotese shows how introducing Shakespeare by getting students up on their feet and interpreting the play's action builds confidence and increases engagement with the text.
"What If" questions, demonstrated by former teacher Diane Herr, can be used to help students make personal connections to the play.
Students as Directors
Erica Smith shows that through close reading, performance, and directing techniques, students are encouraged to discover multiple meanings within a scene, even if they're too shy to read aloud.
Tory Virchow shares how students can actively engage with Shakespeare's language, even if they aren't the ones performing it in front of the class.
Shakespeare Across the Curriculum
Shakespeare does not have to be taught only in English classes. Former high school teacher Bob Harrison discusses how teachers can find ways to deliver content standards across many subjects of study.
Famous Last Words
You don't have to start with Act 1, Scene 1. Demonstrated by middle school English teacher Leslie Kelly, Shakespeare's plays are full of dramatic death lines that make an excellent introduction to Shakespeare's language.
High school teacher Scott O'Neil uses famous soliloquies from a variety of Shakespeare's plays to introduce students to the richness of the language and build their confidence as students of literature.
Beauty in Difficulty
Shakespeare's plays allow us to explore advanced issues. High school teacher Kristyn Rosen is ready to take Shakespeare to the next level with her students and teach plays like The Merchant of Venice and Othello to address difficult cultural questions.
Shakespeare and Technology
Bringing the Bard to a 21st century classroom.
Engage Everyone's Voice
High school teacher Kimberly Dickstein describes how using technology to host a monitored chat-session in her classroom fosters more discussion with her students.
"It's collaborative... and available 24 hours a day," says high school teacher Robert Barker. Getting students to connect to their studies can happen when we make connections to the techonology they're familiar with.
Can students learn something from watching a video in class? Yes! Here are five creative ideas integrating film with teaching Shakespeare from high school English teacher Josh Cabat.
Explore, Flip, Apply
Secondary teacher Greta Brasgalla shares her technique of incorporating technology in what's called a "flipped" classroom. Students view a collection of videos from Greta online at home and synthesize what they experienced together in class.
Tweets to the Tweet
High school teacher Bill Parsons shares his techniques for plugging his students into Shakespeare using technological tools they're already using at home to feel connected to the plays, each other, and the world of Shakespearean scholarship.
Which Play Should I Teach?
Teachers make the case for their favorite plays.
Hamlet: The Perfect Play to Teach
Three high school teachers share their opinions as to why Hamlet is the perfect play for high school students. Finding relatable moments and suiting the action to the word through performance will bridge the gap between students and Shakespeare.
King Lear: A Play of Extremes
Gabriel Fernandez, teacher for the Upward Bound Program for high school students in San Antonio, TX, loves teaching King Lear. Despite all of the darkness and the drama, this is a play about family and love. How can we apply these lessons to our own lives?
Macbeth: Read, Watch, Perform
Melanie Whitely enjoys teaching Macbeth not only because her students get so into the exciting elements of the supernatural, the consequences of violence, and the shifting relationships and loyalties; but also because there are so many different interpretations of this popular play to study and discuss to inform students' performance choices when they eventually put the play on its feet.
The Merchant of Venice: Teaching the Gray Area
High school teachers Sara Lehn, Christina Alvarez, Amber Phelps, and Robert Thompson all look forward to challenging to their students to confront The Merchant of Venice. On the surface, the play seems straightforward. After sinking your teeth in, however, more and more ambiguous situations and character traits present themselves for criticism.
A Midsummer Night's Dream: Variety and Levity
High school teachers Sarah Brewe and Darren McGarvey enjoy teaching A Midsummer Night's Dream. The play features of a variety of classic characters, an interplay of light and dark elements for discussion, and more besides.
Othello: Examining Ourselves and Others
Five teachers from all over the United States show that Othello is a great example of how Shakespeare's plays relate to our modern life - we still feel anger, jealousy, and love, and still see situations of bullying, manipulation, and revenge.
Titus Andronicus: A Relevant Study of Revenge
Gina Voskov enjoys exploring today's relevant topics with her middle and high school students. Matching Titus Andronicus with the works of Francis Bacon and the Buddha on the topic of revenge, Gina's students reflect on what sort of people find joy in the pain of others.