Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

Posts Categorized: Tales-from-the-classroom

Part 2: Is the Play the Thing?

Part IIa: A Brief Narrative Interlude: Other Inspirations and a Metaphoric Preamble On January 21st, I left you with a promise that I’d be back to talk about specific and pragmatic plans for applying the student-centered learning credo I learned, or at least had recharged, this summer at the Folger… but because I’m an English… Continue Reading »


Debating Ophelia’s Death—and Becoming a Better Teacher

I am an English teacher because of my English teachers.   What dedication I have I learned from a man who had Paradise Lost taken off of his syllabus but came into work an hour early, each day, to teach it to a small group of curious readers. What patience I have I learned from… Continue Reading »


Introducing Iambic Pentameter: Feeling Our Way

*Beware the ides of March…and join us for our live-streamed Master Class on teaching Julius Caesar! Since Caesar is in the air these days, we’re bringing you a special post on teaching meter in this play. Enjoy—and let us know how it goes!* With Julius Caesar, I introduce iambic pentameter to my students with a… Continue Reading »



A “Good Lesson” Indeed!

“I shall the effect of this good lesson keep As watchman to my heart.” (Hamlet 1.3.49-50)   From the wisdom shared by brilliant teachers and scholars (Michael Witmore, Gail Kern Paster, Kathleen Lynch, Amber Phelps, Jill Burdick-Zupancic, Mark Miazga, Josh Cabat, and more—wow!) during the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Master Class and Live Q & A… Continue Reading »



What Does Fun Have to Do with Lifelong Learning?

One thing I try to remain conscious of on a day to day basis is my students’ demeanor when entering the room. I try to greet them, smile at them, start a conversation, etc. However, inevitably everyday someone asks the question that I hate to answer: “Mr. Nissly,” chirps some well-meaning, enthusiastic student, “can we… Continue Reading »


Connections Through Writing: Boosting Students’ Projects and Performances through Close Reading and Writing

Any good teacher knows that there are a variety of ways students can demonstrate their understanding of a reading. Projects that prescribe students to create original posters, board games, models, etc. based on a class reading are all great methods to get students to engage with literature. As many teachers who use Folger’s performance-rich curriculum… Continue Reading »


Tossing Lines, With a Twist

  I first read about this go-to strategy in the Folger Library’s Shakespeare Set Free resources. Over the years, I’ve developed and personalized my own take on this interactive way of getting students to jump into Shakespeare’s language.   The basic “Tossing Lines” activity is to give each student a different line from the play,… Continue Reading »


Differentiating Shakespeare: Text Analysis with Crayons

In ten short years as an educator, I have taught every grade from sixth through twelfth, and every level of ability from AP to self-contained special ed.  I say this not to impress you with how many different preps I have tackled in ten years, but to highlight this fact: I teach Shakespeare to every… Continue Reading »