|Photo from Wikimedia Commons|
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As a middle school teacher, my decision to teach Shakespeare was simple. In my mind, students needed an introduction to the famous author and his classic works. After all, the themes of the plays are timeless. There are also other novels and short stories students will encounter that reference Shakespeare. It seemed logical that an overview would benefit students and their future teachers. Were there objections? Yes, there were high school teachers who opposed my teaching Shakespeare in the earlier years. They argued that the works were already covered in their entirety in eleventh and twelfth grades, but once these colleagues reviewed the lower-level materials, everyone approved of the lesson plan.
The key words in teaching Shakespeare to younger students are “introduction” and "overview." It’s important to remember that middle school students’ personal experiences and depths of relationships do not equal those of high-schoolers or adults. Therefore, keep the lesson plan simple, engaging, and informative. Here is what I did. First, my students brainstormed what they knew about Shakespeare. Then we brought lots of related books and pictures into the classroom. Students broke into small groups and chose the topics below, based on the dates of Shakespeare’s life (1564-1616), to present background knowledge through timelines, or other media, to their classmates:
|Illustration 1: Translation of Brutus' Speech to the People|
|Illustration 2: Creative Twist on a Shakespeare Exam|
An introduction, or overview, of Shakespeare helps students understand the author, his life, and the plots and themes of his plays when they read and study complete works later in their academic careers. Students will feel more comfortable with this difficult subject matter if they have previously approached the subjects in fun, collaborative settings with lots of discussions and visuals. Are you ready to help your students enjoy Shakespeare? "That is the question!"
Teachers Pay Teachers Product Related Links:
Having Fun With Brutus’ Speech $3.00
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Five Paragraph Theme Writing Packet, $8.00