#2ndaryELA Chat Summary: Teaching Shakespeare & Other Plays

March 25, 2016

This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about teaching Shakespeare's plays and other dramas in the secondary ELA classroom. Middle and High School English Language Arts teachers discussed popular Shakespeare plays to teach, literary terms, themes and topics to teach, how to make real-world connections and support readers struggling with the language, as well as other recommended dramas. The highlights are below.

Popular Shakespeare plays to teach:
*A Midsummer Night's Dream (most accessible for middle schoolers)
*Romeo & Juliet
*Julius Caesar
*Taming of the Shrew
*King Lear
*Much Ado About Nothing

Literary terms, themes, and topics to teach:
*plot development
*characters (dynamic and static)
*iambic pentameter
*puns & word play
*universal themes
*word choice
*figurative language
*tragedy cycle
*tragic hero

Making real-world connections:
*For A Midsummer Night's Dream, nonfiction articles about following parents rules, "frenemies"
*For Romeo & Juliet, nonfiction articles like this recent real life Romeo & Juliet story in Afghanistan, brain development in teens and life decisions
*Use parts of YOLO Juliet (Romeo & Juliet in texting) and have student rewrite other scenes in texting genre
*For Romeo & Juliet, create self-help brochures to help characters with depression, suicide, etc.
*For Hamlet, have students' parents write letters to them offering advice before college like Polonius did for his son
*Do quick writes and hold discussion about modern day parallels
*Act out scenarios
*For Romeo & Juliet, have students write advice letters to Juliet addressed to the Dear Juliet Club (they'll write back!)

Supporting readers in their struggles with the language:
*Shakespeare Set Free
*Word play
*Graphic novel versions
*Pair play with contemporary poems, i.e. Hamlet with "Late Reading" by Moori Creech, 2014 Pulitzer Poetry finalist
*Use side by side texts from No Fear Shakespeare
*Read the play aloud together, help students focus on what words they know first and build from there
*Pair plays and movies, i.e. Hamlet with The Lion King, Julius Caesar with Mean Girls
*Work on "translating" the text into everyday speech
*Edit scenes so they are still all original language, just not as long, have students read them aloud and then act out
*Read a scene together and then watch that same scene before moving on to the next scene
*Have students write scenes with dialect from different parts of the county to understand language, i.e. Southern, NYC, valley girl

Other recommended dramas:
*The Crucible by Arthur Miller
*A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
*Brighton Beach Memoirs by Neil Simon
*Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
*The Diary of Anne Frank (play version)
*Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
*Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose
*A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
*Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling
*Kindertransport by Diane Samuels
*The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
*No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre
*The Bear by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
*Marriage Proposal by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
*A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell

For more resources for teaching Shakespeare, dramas, and other literature:

Hope you'll join us next Tuesday March 22nd at 8pm EST to talk about teaching Shakespeare & other dramas. We'd also love for you to join our 2ndaryELA Facebook group (even if you aren't on Twitter). 2ndaryELA is a group of middle and high school English Language Arts teachers looking to share ideas and best practices. This group is an extension of our Twitter chat and a place for collaboration, questions, and encouragement. Feel free to post teaching ideas, success stories, resource links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction. 

If you missed this most recent chat, scroll down and read the whole thing below.

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