Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Teaching Shakespeare on vocational studies Vol.1

I believe in challenging myself pedagogically. In fact, I find it necessary to do so to avoid getting bored by my job. So, I have decided to spend 3 weeks (three 1,5 h lessons) teaching Shakespeare to my Advanced Zapperclass.

This class consists of 19 boys and 1 (rather bright) girl. The boys are interested in tractors, playing cards and electricity, and not in Shakespeare, poetry or literature about love whatsoever. So, I chose "Romeo and Juliet".

Admittedly, I will spend two of the 5,5 hours watching Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet". I find that the modern setting, the guns and the pure drama of the film makes the play more appealing to the students. Also, I get a chance to have them follow their chosen character throughout the film as well as working on both setting, plot and theme. More of this to come.

To start off, I used an edition of my colleague, Lady Liz Tatton's Shakespeare relay race. I placed three pieces of paper with partly overlapping information about Shakespeare in three hard to reach places. Then, I divided the students into groups of three, giving each group a set of questions and a pen. The groups then had to find the information notes and the answer to each question, but they were not allowed to bring any paper. In other words, they had to remember each question and answer while guarding their piece of paper.

Here are some quotes to show how it went:

Zapperkid 1: He was born in 1564.
Zapperkid 2: But we need the date!
Z1: Oh...
Z2: (*hrmpf) Never mind. You take the paper and sit there guarding it. Both of you. I will do this myself (runs off)

Zapperkid 3: His wife was called Ann Hathawaysomething
Zapperkid 4: Ok...
(Z3 runs off, Z4 searches and wonders. Z3 returns)
Z4: Listen, that wasn't the question. You were supposed to find William's age when they married, you idiot.
Z3 (running off again): Oh, shite!
Z4: What did I do to deserve....

Zapperkid 5: Zapperkid 8 is hiding the notes high up! It's unfair, I'm short!
Zapperkid 6: Zapperkid 7 takes photos of of the notes with his cell! STOP NICKING MY PAPER!

In the end, Zapperkid 1 and 2's team won, with great objections. Especially from Zapperkid 7 and 8.

Afterwards, a general introduction to Elizabethan entertainment, the Globe and Shakespeare was given through Terry Deary and Gyldendal Experience Website. An introduction to both Shakespeare (with answers to the race quiz) and Romeo and Juliet was given using power-point (emphasising adaptations and history) and BBC.

This page, by the way, is wonderful for teaching literature, just as this is for teaching Shakespeare!

(Source: Picture:, last visited 3.2.2010)

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