Teaching Shakespeare!

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The Folger Method: First Principles, Now Practices for Teaching ALL Literature

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Teaching Colleagues,

Last week, we shared with you the Folger Method’s Eight Foundational Principles—the taproot of this entirely accessible and effective way to teach and to excite all kinds of students about any kind of literature. Quite a number of you wrote back with your own excitement! (Wait, WHAT?! Did you miss those? Go here.)

And…what do those principles look like when they’re put into practice? What do they look like in your classroom? While we have been teaching like this for a l-o-n-g time, it took the brains and perspective of two brilliant Teaching Shakespeare Institute mentor teachers—Stefanie Jochman (Trinity Episcopal School, Richmond, VA) and Heather Lester (International School at LaGuardia Community College, NY, NY)—to help us pull these parts together and frame them clearly and practically. Where would we all be without smart teachers?

Here we go, Part Two, Practices for Teaching ALL Literature:

The Folger Method: How Does It Work?

A. THE ARC OF LEARNING AND TEACHING

This arc mirrors the architecture of the play (or novel, or other long-form text) and right from the start, students interact directly with the original language. No teacher modeling. No “I do—We do—You do.” Instead: “You do—You do—You do!” Students are inside the language and making meaning from the start. The learning is scaffolded by increasing the length and complexity of the language.

 

B. THE 9 ESSENTIAL PRACTICES

At the core, the Folger Method involves 9 essential practices that get students connecting directly and deeply with Shakespeare’s language. For a play-by-play description of each essential practice—along with tons of related lessons and professional development—join the Folger community of Teacher Members. Keep reading to learn how!

  1. TONE & STRESS
  2. TOSSING WORDS & LINES
  3. TWO-LINE SCENES
  4. 20-MINUTE PLAYS
  5. CHORAL READING
  6. 3-D LIT
  7. CUTTING A TEXT
  8. PROMPTBOOKS
  9. GROUP SCENES

C. TOUCHSTONE QUESTIONS THAT GUIDE OUR PLANNING AND REFLECTION

How do we know how it’s going? As teachers, we use these questions to guide our planning and teaching as we teach all authors. In the list below, feel free to substitute the name of any author you teach:

  1. Are Shakespeare’s words in ALL students’ mouths?
  2. Are ALL students collaborating with each other and with Shakespeare?
  3. Has the voice of every student been included, honored, and amplified?
  4. Have students bravely and respectfully confronted the tough issues (identity, difference, power) raised by the text?
  5. Did I, the teacher, get out of the way?

Learn More About the Folger Method!

We hope you’ll join us as a Teacher Member and check out our online resources and professional development for reaching success with this way of teaching. Lots more Folger Method goodness is coming!

Always honored to support you and your students,

PO’B

Peggy O’Brien, Ph.D.
Director of Education
Folger Shakespeare Library
pobrien@folger.edu
@obrienfolger

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