Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

The World’s Largest Balcony Scene: Are You In?

Won’t you join us at the lively conference also known as “English teacher heaven”? We hope so!

If you’re planning a trip to St. Louis for the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention, add these Folger family events to your calendar. In the coming weeks we’ll be getting more specific about each of these sessions, including the world’s largest balcony scene. Oh, yeah!

For now, please save the date(s), get excited, and tell everyone your plans on Twitter (@FolgerED and #NCTE17).


Thursday, November 16

General Session: “Our Family Gathering: A Conversation with Students and Educators”
Time: 4:00pm – 5:30 pm
Where: TBA
Who: NCTE leaders, teachers, students—and our very own Dr. Peggy O’Brien and Michael LoMonico

Friday, November 17

Session A: Make Romeo and Juliet Lively and Rewarding for ALL Students!
Time: 9:30 am – 10:45 am
Where: Room 220
Who: Dr. Peggy O’Brien (D.C.), Mary Dea (MT), and Jillian Ratti (TN)

Learn wildly effective strategies for connecting all kinds of students to the language and characters of Romeo and Juliet. Practice active techniques that get ALL readers understanding and enjoying that tricky opening scene, Juliet’s soliloquies, and lots more in between. Students end up improving their abilities to read closely, ask good questions, cite textual evidence, collaborate with peers, and embrace new challenges with confidence.

Session B: Teaching Thought and Action in Macbeth—Soliloquies, Cauldrons, and More!
Time: 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
Where: Room 220
Who: Dr. Peggy O’Brien (D.C.), Elizabeth Dixon (IN), and Mari O’Meara (MN)

Experience firsthand the lively Folger approach to teaching Macbeth that works with all kinds of students—ELLs, special education, on-level, AP, IB, everyone. Work deeply and actively with key scenes, including the witches around the cauldron and speeches by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. By practicing textual editing and performance activities that put students in the driver’s seat, learn how to deepen student knowledge of this play in particular and Shakespeare’s language in general.

Session C: Connect ALL Students to the Language and Humor of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Time: 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm
Where: Room 220
Who: Corinne Viglietta (D.C.), Michael LoMonico (D.C.), and Jessica Cakrasenjaya (IA)

Master techniques that get students speaking and moving and figuring out the language of Midsummer actively and on their own—from pre-reading exercises to during-reading approaches that propel students through this comedy. Learn essential Folger strategies for engaging ALL students in wildly lively and rigorous close reading of Puck’s language, Bottom and his pals, and lots in between.

Session D: What Matters Most When We Teach Othello—and What to Do in Class
Time: 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm
Where: Room 220
Who: Dr. Peggy O’Brien (D.C.), Dominique Parker (MD), and Willie Plaschke (MO)

Every student deserves to have—and is capable of having—a real, direct experience with Shakespeare’s language. In Othello, this language raises questions about identity, race, and power. This session will demonstrate how to get students inquiring actively into Iago’s lies, Othello’s transformation, and Desdemona’s death. By exploring the words in the context of a dramatic situation where the action takes place, students use all the available cues to make meaning from the text and arrive at their own answers.

Session E: Students Close-read Hamlet by Putting It on Its Feet
Time: 3:30 pm – 4:45 pm
Where: Room 220
Who: Corinne Viglietta (D.C.), Stefanie Jochman (WI), and Jacqueline Smilack (CO)

Learn how to get ALL students learning and loving Hamlet from day one. Gain effective tools for connecting students to the rich language and big questions of this play—especially those juicy soliloquies! Practice using primary sources from the Folger vault to deepen student knowledge and ownership of the text. Learn how to sequence and scaffold learning from words to lines to whole speeches and scenes—and also what to do if you don’t have time to teach the whole play.

Exhibition Hall
Time: 11:00 am – 6:30 pm
Booth: 922

Stop by the Folger booth for all things Folger: teaching ideas, digital resources, professional development options, and tons of fun, including a Shakespeare selfie station!

Friday Happy Hour!
Time and Location: TBA

Saturday, November 18

Exhibition Hall
Time: 10:30 am – 5:00 pm
Booth: 922

Missed any of our sessions on Friday? Don’t worry: there’s still plenty of time to visit the Folger booth for all things Folger!

Folger Flash Mob!
Time: 5:00 pm
Where: The Washington Lobby Rotunda in America’s Center
Who: Everyone!

We host a flash mob every year at NCTE—a beloved English teacher tradition! This year, join us for the world’s largest balcony scene! Join a chorus of Juliets (or Romeos) and shout that beautiful balcony scene for all of NCTE to hear. As a bonus, and thanks to our friends at Simon & Schuster, we will give away Folger Editions of Romeo and Juliet to the first 100 participants.

Sunday, November 19

Exhibition Hall
Time: 9:30 am – 1:30 pm
Booth: 922

Stop by the Folger booth for your last chance to take a selfie with Shakespeare!