Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

@Hamlet: Twitter in the Classroom

The internet is a growing teaching resource and tool, especially when approaching Shakespeare and literature. Digital Theatre projects like Such Tweet Sorrow and Much Ado About N<3thing doubled as insights into familiar characters as well as cautionary tales regarding responsibility, communication, and cyber-bullying. We’ve discussed Twitter and Facebook’s influence on studentteacher communication before, but one teacher has recently been commendably profiled for using Twitter to teach Hamlet.

As part of their Shakespeare unit, students create Twitter accounts for characters from Hamlet — from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to Ophelia and Queen Gertrude — and send out tweets as they work through the acts.

“You can make the role as big as you wanted.” Barker said. “It wasn’t . . . tweeting for the sake of tweeting. It was more like a strategy to get them to focus on what was really happening in the play and to become really invested in what was happening.”

It’s not fabulous that they’re not playing with the actual language, nor are they exactly on their feet with the text – however, you can’t deny that Mrs. Barker’s students are invested in the play.

Barker gets her students to blog regularly as part of their novel studies unit. She posts discussion questions to the blogging site Ning and students have to write entries, comment on classmates’ posts and use content tags.

“It’s, like, a collective knowledge. You can look back at last year’s blog posts,” said Erin Kope, 17.

Classmate Connor Swick, 17, agrees that blogging is a great educational tool, especially for collaborating with other students.

“If it was in essay form it’s not like you could go over and read everybody’s essay. People get their ideas out and everyone can share it,’ he said.

We do a similar project with our High School Fellowship classes where each day of the course a different student is asked to blog their perspective on the lecture, discussion, rehearsal, or performance, and everyone is required to comment a certain number of times. Sometimes the discussions that blossom without our involvement are pretty spectacular.

What do you think? Is this #Shakespeare approach going to help students relate to Shakespeare better? Are we sacrificing language and performance to use it? Could they be incorporated together?


  • Having loved “Such Tweet Sorrow” I was enchanted by the story of using Twitter to teach Hamlet. Language and performance can come later if the material is made relevant to the target age group.

  • Sounds like a wonderful way to keep students engaged. Here in Florida the Charlotte Danielson are I have chosen to work on for my own professional development is “student engagement.” I am going to try this strategy for Romeo and Juliet after Christmas. I already have a character study / backstory project that students do. This will just enhance that.– Holly Ward, Spruce Creek High School, Port Orange, Florida

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