In an effort to motivate kids when reading Romeo and Juliet, I have started using a classroom competition involving competing groups (a la the House Cup competition in Harry Potter). I break kids into Capulets and Montagues, Sharks and Jets (for West Side Story), as well as the Brainiacs and the Jocks (for High School Musical). Groups get points for doing assignments and getting passing grades on quizzes. Groups lose points for anyone who does not do all the homework or fails a quiz. These are game points, not grade points. The winning group is exempt from taking the unit test (they would have gotten in the high 90's anyway based on performance throughout the unit).
What do you do to motivate kids with Shakespeare?
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These are fantastic ideas. Do any of you struggle, however, in finding the time to devote to these extensive pieces of literature due to standardized testing? It seems as if I can’t enjoy these activities with my kids because I’m always wondering, “Are we taking too long?”
I'll probably sound like a broken record, depending on if you've read my other posts...sorry! :)
I started a Shakespeare Festival at our school because all of our English classes, except American Lit and Classical Lit, read a play by Shakespeare. Each class gets to choose what scene(s) they are going to act out, and they are responsible for bringing in their own props. I order t-shirts for each class - same logo, different color shirts for each class - and so the students come that day in their t-shirts and jeans (we're a uniform school, so this is a special treat). We invite parents and grandparents, friends, etc., whoever wants to come, and each class performs their scenes.
This year I also got our little kids involved - Our elementary kids did a small scene from "As You Like It," and our afternoon kids (we're a half-day school with an afternoon Great Hall option) did a very small bit from "The Tempest."
One of our 6th grade girls did Rosalind's epilogue at the end of "As You Like It," all 22 lines of it...WOW! It was impressive! :)
What a great idea! I'm going to use this...
I use Shakespearian insults, and we also read Green Eggs and Ham to get used to iambic pentameter for the plays.
In addition, I have kids choose their favorite scenes from the play and create a modern version to perform...they always do an amazing job. We do costumes and everything.
One other thing I do is have groups rewrite the play using the most important quotes (according to them) to retell the play. The hook? They have to deliver the play in 32 seconds or less. The group who can do it, and who has chosen the most important quotes that move the plot along gets extra credit points.
I find all of these suggestions extremely fascinating and most definitely worthwhile. Best of luck to all of you!
What I would personally do is let the students dress up and perform a more modern version of the play first (perhaps a 21st version), And then let them dress up in older costumes and perform the actual thing, and compare and contrast.
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