Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

As Schoolboys from their Books

Image via Becky from London (tumblr)

The end of the school year is ticking ever-nearer. Final papers and projects are turned in, you’re running low on time to grade them, and even lower on ideas for classroom activities that are simultaneously not movies or graded projects while report cards are finalized and the students are still in class. Whatever the case, perhaps these short activities would be fun for your classroom as the year winds down:

Stage a Scene – give groups of students a scene from a play you studied this year (or didn’t) one scene to perform for the class. They may cast and direct themselves, and rehearse in clumps in your classroom. Have a trusty group? add an extra level of interest and send them into the yard (with permission) to record their performances on video (camcorders, smartphones, any media they have available) and air them for the class at the end of the week.

Make a Mashup – Hand out lines from the play you studied in class this year, as well as lines from another play (15-minute versions are great for this). Fill the students in on the plot of the new play, and give them the class period to create a 2-minute mashup scene from the lines they have. For even more mashing, give them lines from any play! Perform the scenes for the class in the next period.

Create a Quarto Yearbook – using 1 sheet of 8.5×11″ paper, fold twice (once each way), and mark the each of the page numbers while it’s folded (even the ones you can’t see, yet). Open the paper again, and pass it around to classmates to write a couplet, compliment, or quote, or even draw on each page in the direction of the number. Once it gets back to the original student, re-fold, cut the folded-over parts open to make the pages even, hole punch the center-line and bind with a piece of string. Make a cover out of construction paper and glue it to the “book.” This is how many books were printed in the Elizabethan era (only, of course, the printers would have used typeset), including collections of Shakespeare’s poetry.

“As Luck Would Have It” – Shakespeare’s plays hold the first recorded use of many words and phrases we now find familiar today. Give your students a handout of some of these phrases (link is to a Folger handout), and have them create a short story using a certain number of these phrases. Shakespeare also used words never before seen – like “eyeball” and “unreal” so don’t be afraid to combine your own words, too!

Certainly, you are as eager as your students to get to the last day of school, but keep checking in with us all summer! We’ll keep posting news, ideas, and tidbits that you may be able to incorporate into next year’s lesson plans! (But we won’t go there, yet).

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