How can the use of multi-modal texts facilitate a positive teaching and learning environment and how can it be used to teach Shakespeare, without deviating a class from its original source roots ??? I am interested in your thoughts ....
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More, perhaps, than any other "classic" author, Shakespeare benefits from the digital classroom. Enormous numbers of web sites on Shakespeare exist, and many of them are quite useful and helpful. Shakespeare rightly inspires passionate commitment on the part of those who study him, and so Shakespeare scholarship benefits greatly from the web. Numerous films based on Shakespeare's works are available in whole or in part on youtube, and obviously these can be used very effectively in teaching (for instance, by allowing students to compare/contrast the ways different roles have been played or the ways different scenes have been enacted). I was also very pleasantly surprised to discover that eNotes itself has a video presence on youtube emphasizing Shakespeare. Here is an example (very well done, unlike many other "instructional" videos on youtube):
I like the way that we can use youtube and clips of various plays to present various versions of plays and scenes within plays. In addition, I use google image to present students with the wide number of ways in which certain characters have been presented, both on stage and in art. When I taught The Merchant of Venice, students had to do an essay based on their impressions of Shylock and whether he was a victim or a villain. Showing them a number of different images of him throughout the centuries was a very instructive exercise.
In order to reach students and get them interested in older texts, we have to incorporate new technologies. For our students, everything is instant. It is already so different from when we learned the same material in school. Today's students lack the patience and stamina to plunge through the "old-school" plays. Digital technology and multimodal texts are very helpful in keeping students interested in the play as well as finding a connect to the real world from the text. I frequently used texts like those featured on eNotes which display the original work side by side with a modern translation. I also had students create their own multimodal style work with a family tree of characters for Romeo and Juliet. My students were so accustomed to receiving information visually that they responded much better to a unit of study which included PowerPoint presentations, video clips, and other multi-media presentations.
I love to incorporate digital aspects of any "old" (as my students call it) texts. We listen to readings of Anglo-Saxon poetry, research the daily life of those who lived in the time period, and make the most out of the amazing interactive sites on the web. The more primary sources you use helps to deepen both understanding and relevancy for a student. I always try to have something from the web to embed in my lectures and classroom. Let's face it...it is a digital age. Teachers who ignore that fact are more likely to lose their students from lack of stimulation. Technology stimulates our students. Why not make the most of it so out students get the most out of our lessons?
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