The Wonder of Will: Education

Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare

Teaching and learning played a vital role in connecting audiences to Shakespeare in 2016. Through a wide range of Wonder of Will programs and resources, the Folger welcomed thousands more teachers, students at all ability levels, and families into our educational community, locally and nationally. 

Folger Education prepared guides for docents and materials for family programs, which First Folio! exhibition partners used to welcome visitors of all ages. Teachers participated in Folger-designed teacher workshops at tour stops as well as an online series of Master Classes and the Teaching Shakespeare Institute at the Folger which brought teachers from around the country to spend a month in Washington, DC.

Folger Education continued its close partnership with District of  Columbia Public Schools—developing ninth-grade Romeo and Juliet and tenth-grade Hamlet curriculum, leading professional learning workshops for teachers, and providing free student matinees for hundreds of young people. DC Public Schools also participated in Crosstalk DC, a public initiative to discuss religion and race based on The Merchant of Venice and District Merchants. DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson shared her Shakespeare story in The Wonder of Will LIVE televised broadcast on the anniversary day. 

In addition to this work in K-12 education, the Folger awarded 21 micro-grants to college faculty members nationwide to improve undegraduate instruction of Shakespeare.

District of Columbia Public Schools

In collaboration with teachers and district leaders in DC Public Schools, Folger Education developed an active, language-centered Shakespeare curriculum that is being implemented in all ninth- and tenth-grade English classrooms across the district. Folger Education supports student learning in these grades by working directly with teachers and providing professional development that increases teachers’ knowledge and confidence with Shakespeare’s language and this curriculum. 

The Folger also partnered with DCPS on CrossTalk: DC Reflects on Identity and Difference, a community engagement initiative funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, to host public conversations about race and religion, using The Merchant of Venice and a Folger-commissioned play called District Merchants as conversation catalysts.

A CrossTalk DC participant reflects on the convesation

DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson shared her Shakespeare story for The Wonder of Will LIVE, the Folger’s celebration of the Shakespeare 400th anniversary on Apr 23, 2016.

Watch DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson's Shakespeare story

First Folio Tour

Folger Education developed materials on Shakespeare's language and the First Folio for teacher workshops and family programs for First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, a traveling exhibition that was seen by more than half a million people as it toured to all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC. To help host sites connect with their visitors, Folger Education also prepared a docent guide that included an exhibition overview, facts about the First Folio and the printing process, and frequent visitor questions.

Teaching Shakespeare Institute

In July 2016, twenty-five middle and high school teachers from around the United States worked with scholars, theater professionals, and mentor teachers at the Teaching Shakespeare Institute, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This flagship program of Folger Education, established in 1984, immerses teachers in the very best of the Folger and equips them to teach Shakespeare in a way that impacts student learning and consistently transforms teacher practice. The theme for the 2016 institute was America’s Shakespeare, with deep dives into Othello, The Tempest, and The Merchant of Venice—in particular, their connections to American history and culture.

Undergraduate Instruction

In 2016 Folger Institute awarded 21 micro-grants, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, to strengthen undergraduate-level instruction of Shakespeare’s plays. The grants went to college faculty who were involved in the Folger’s First Folio! national tour. Education resources developed in workshops among these grant recipients, such as a DIY First Folio with an animation tool for assembling pages for printing and gathering, will be shared online.