In Honor of The Bard-Celebrating Shakespeare

Yesterday was Shakespeare’s birthday, and I can’t go without mentioning it. I AM an English teacher after all. From reading The Tempest in 8th grade, Hamlet and Macbeth in high school, to teaching Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo and Juliet, and The Merchant of Venice, I can truly say I am a fan. There is a wonderful website called Good Tickle Brain that has many of Shakespeare’s works redone as stick figures. It also has 3-panel plays. It’s genius. In honor of our decision to switch out Romeo and Juliet for The Merchant of Venice next year, I present Portia. Click on the photo to visit the website.

Some question the relevancy of Shakespeare to today’s students, but I’m a firm believer in the ability of his plays to address current problems that teenagers face. What kid can’t relate to the gossip in Much Ado? The sting of love in Romeo and Juliet? The good kid actually being the villain as in Merchant?

My motto has always been “The learning happens in the struggle”, and I think reading Shakespeare is a perfect example of that. If you teach it correctly, students will clamor for more. Don’t make them read it like a novel. It’s a PLAY. Let them see it. Let them act it. Let them listen to a radio play of it. Body language and tone of voice are such important cues when they are trying to decipher meaning from unfamiliar text.

Plus, it’s just awesome. When I teach R & J, I always play clips from different versions- the Leo DiCaprio version, the Hailee Steinfeld, the Zeferelli… you can even play certain clips from Shakespeare in Love (there is a FABULOUS shot of the Globe Theater AND they are staging Romeo and Juliet!).

So here’s to Will, you gotta love him! Happy birthday!