With Will’s 450th almost upon us, it’s possible that there has never been more Shakespeare-in-education action going on around the great globe itself than there is now and will be during the coming weeks. From flash mob balcony scenes to readings to birthday cakes (start stocking up on candles) and songs, the scale of the celebration is truly astonishing, and much of it will happen in schools. What a great time to be encountering Shakespeare’s works as a young student.
Here is a quick skip through some of what has been going on or is about to pop up — not all of it birthday-related — in the world of Shakespeare-in-education during this festive month.
Where be your flashmobs of merriment…?
Here’s a simple and fun way to engage your students in the worldwide birthday party — a Romeo and Juliet Balcony Scene Flash Mob Festival. The Folger Shakespeare Library’s education staff has it all set up for you — you can download an edited version of the scene, then you have to follow some basic structures (choral speaking for the two characters) and video your version and upload it to YouTube and send the link to the Folger Education staff. Prizes will be awarded in various fun categories!
“In honor of whose birth these triumphs are…”
As you might imagine, the Royal Shakespeare Company is pulling out the stops for the big bash. This article in The Stage online will give you a glimpse of what’s cooking in Stratford and online later this month. If you’re a teacher, you may want to check for events your students can follow, such as a Twitter interview with the RSC’s director Gregory Doran.
Houston-area teachers gather to share ideas and inspiration
A conference organized by the University of Houston’s Department of Education brought together nearly 20 high school and middle school teachers to share thoughts on how to best inspire their students to fall in love with the words and characters of Shakespeare. The forum focused on teaching Shakespeare actively, and on approaches for successful teaching of complex text for English language learners and struggling readers. Attendees were able to have a Skype conversation with Peggy O’Brien, legendary education guru of the Folger Shakespeare Library, and scholar Ayanna Thompson of George Washington University; they also were treated to an active-learning workshop for secondary students called “Peer to Peer Shakespeare,” offered by Main Street Theater in Houston. Said conference organizer Laura Turchi, a UH assistant professor:
“Throughout, we asked the teachers to write, to discuss in small groups, to question our speakers, and generally to open the doors of their classrooms so that we could understand their students. The event captured the teachers’ ideas on video and on paper, and from here we’ll be working to create more opportunities at UH for teachers to get reinforced and even reinvigorated about active approaches to literature and learning.”
“Have you seen Thug Notes yet?”
Along with “What are you doing for Shakespeare’s birthday?”, that’s one of the questions buzzing around secondary school faculty lounges these days (or so one can imagine). If you aren’t hip to it yet, Thug Notes is the latest in the oft-fruitful collision/connection of Shakespeare and hip-hop — a kind of “gansta” Masterpiece Theater-type introduction to the plays, delivered with wit and insight by your host Sparky Sweets. A recent piece in the LA Weekly will fill you in on how the YouTube phenomenon was born.
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