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Shakespeare Across the Curriculum



Forming connections with Shakespeare.


Shakespeare does not have to be taught only in English classes. As former  high school teacher Bob Harrison notes, "With all the emphasis on standards and student achievement, teachers need to find ways to deliver content standards across the curriculum that teach specific content for one or more subject areas but can be also contribute to student learning about Shakespeare."  


Shakespeare factoids can help. For example, the composer Giuseppe Verdi wrote an opera based on Shakespeare's Macbeth, which became extremely successful in Italy and became a rallying cry for unity and nationalism. "What A Piece of Work Is Man," a song in the rock musical Hair, borrows lines from Hamlet.   


To try this approach in your classroom, use Bob's teaching module here.


More ideas for building cross-curriculum connections:

  • Ask the physical education teacher or a community resource person to teach lessons about the sport of fencing while your class is studying Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, or Macbeth. If there is a fencing team in the area, invite members of the team to do a demonstration unless weapons in the school policies would be prohibitive.

  • Ask a comparative religion or sociology teacher or a member of the clergy to be a guest speaker in the class to explain Catholic teachings on the subjects of suicide and the Sacrament of Reconciliation as it applied to Shakespeare’s time and today. Your class may then discuss in relation to Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, or Macbeth.

  • Ask the music teacher or a community resource person to be a guest speaker on music in Shakespeare's era, particularly songs from his plays.  

  • Ask the art teacher or community art gallery education outreach person to talk about art and artists who were influenced by Shakespeare’s plays.


Teacher Resources

Teaching Module: Macbeth - A Three-Dimensional Approach

Online Resources for Teachers

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