Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

Folger Education in Florida

~by Amy Ulen

Educators explore Shakespeare on their feet at NCTE 2010

Teachers from around the country descended upon Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida, last weekend to attend the National Council of Teachers of English annual convention.   In years past, the Folger Shakespeare Library conducted a one-day Shakespeare Set Free workshop on the Monday after the convention.  This year our goal was to share our performance-based teaching methods with more participants by breaking our workshop into five acts over the weekend.  As a result, we reached over 500 participants who will be able to incorporate the new techniques in their classrooms this week!

If you missed the convention, here is a brief overview.  Act I started with Susan Biondo-Hench and Kevin Costa engaging the participants in on-your-feet pre-reading strategies and close reading activities that will instantly engage students.  Their workshop ended with well over 100 people standing in a circle enacting lines from Romeo and Juliet!  Act II continued with Julia Perlowski, Erica Smith, and Amy Ulen presenting performance-based activities and the research that supports this style of teaching.  Act III expanded our notion of performance when Scott O’Neil, Chris Shamburg, and Rebecca Hranj demonstrated the use of Web 2.0 tools that assist students in a close reading of Shakespeare’s texts. 
On Saturday morning, Josh Cabat and Mike LoMonico continued showing participants how technology
Educators explore Shakespeare's language physically at a Folger Worskhop, NCTE 2010
enhances the study of Shakespeare; Act IV focused on using video and film in an active way to connect students to Shakespeare’s plays.  In Act V, Dana Huff summarized the entire Shakespeare Set Free workshop and shared ways to create meaningful and authentic assessments for your Shakespeare unit.  Carol Kelly gave tips on creating a Shakespeare Festival—one of the most authentic assessments of all!

The Shakespeare Set Free workshops were a huge success, but we didn’t want to end it there.  On Sunday morning, Peggy O’Brien, Rick Vanderwall, and Glenda Funk presented a Teaching Teachers to Teach Shakespeare workshop to 30 English methods teachers.  They began an important conversation, and Folger Education looks forward to continuing the discussion.

On behalf of all the presenters, I thank those participants who attended our workshops and encourage those of you who weren’t there to host a Shakespeare Set Free workshop in your own school/district.  We would love to share our performance-based Shakespeare methods with you.

Folger Education representatives at NCTE 2010

Amy Ulen teaches at Tumwater High School in Tumwater, WA.  She also runs the website Shakespeare High (www.shakespearehigh.com).  Amy attended the Teaching Shakespeare Institute in 1996.

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