15 Apr '13

News How to teach … Shakespeare

There is no better time than the week leading up to Shakespeare's birthday to check out the Guardian Teacher Network's hundreds of lessons and teaching ideas on the Bard

With the Bard's birthday celebrations on 23 April, what better time to share some of the wonderful teaching resources the Guardian Teacher Network has to offer on Shakespeare? A quick scan of the network will reveal hundreds of lessons and teaching ideas on the most popular Shakespeare plays studied in school, but here is a guide to some highlights.

Globe Education has shared inspirational teaching resources and ideas that provide students with unique opportunities to interact and engage with Shakespeare, from its www.playingshakespeare.org website.

First check out this teachers' guide to the site. This year, Globe Education is focusing on Romeo and Juliet, the play (along with Macbeth) most studied at school, and so many people's first encounter with Shakespeare.

Why did Shakespeare reach for rhyme in his most romantic play, despite blank verse being favoured from the 1580s for its realism? Globe Education's Rhyme in Romeo and Juliet explores this. Incredibly, the action of the play takes place in less than four days. Find some useful insights on time and also see notes on the generation gap that has kept the play resonating with teenage audiences for hundreds of years. More ideas on the themes of Romeo and Juliet are explored here.

The Globe's active and practical approach to teaching Shakespeare is brought into the classroom with these activity briefs and templates designed to help students develop the creative processes needed to stage a production of a play – the best way to understand and enjoy Shakespeare. Find a poster design brief and accompanying template, plus a set design brief and template. Students interested in costume can find design templates for male and female characters,  together with this creative costume design brief, and for further insight students can listen to an interview with the Globe's head of wigs, hair and makeup. This guide to developing text into a performance of Romeo and Juliet is also invaluable.

Globe Education has partnered up with Hodder Education to bring the world of actors, the rehearsal room and performance on stage together in some engaging multi-touch books for the iPad. Four plays are available – Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, a Midsummer Night's Dream and Much Ado About Nothing – here on iTunes. And for Shakespeare's birthday month of April the multi-touch books are available at a reduced price of £3.99.

Students can also listen to podcasts of Shakespearian actors: Joseph Marcell talks about about his experiences of playing Shakespeare and how he feels about being cast as King Lear, and Paul Chahidi opens up about voice, text and movement work for playing Maria in the 2012 all-male production of Twelfth Night.

Thanks to English teacher Sarah Jane Swann for sharing her exciting, stimulating and super-engaging Shakespeare lessons on the site. Find this hilarious Introduction to Shakespeare in the form of a ready-made PowerPoint – it's one of the most popular resources on the Guardian Teacher Network in which students get to delight in the rudeness of the Bard. The lesson is written for secondary school students, but teachers in primary schools have commented that it also works for year 6 groups. Swann has also created this fantastic lesson to help students feel more comfortable with Shakespeare's language and work with Elizabethan sentence structure, aimed at levels 5-7. Her ready-made PowerPoint on Shakespeare and love is another jewel. Activities include creating a dating profile for Shakespeare's ideal woman and analysis of Shakespearian chat-up lines. An imaginative lesson on Shakespearian sonnets will help pupils unlock their meaning.

Digital Theatre Plus, which works in partnership with some of the UK's leading theatre companies to capture live performances of acclaimed productions, has created resources to bring them direct into the classroom. We have David Morrissey on playing Macbeth (together with the Is this a dagger I see before me? speech), Julia Ford analysing the language she uses as Lady Macbeth and Michael Attenborough on King Lear. Also find this guide to the characters in Much Ado About Nothing focusing on Beatrice, possibly Shakespeare's greatest comic role.

And finally, for any teacher who has been asked in a whining tone ... "but why do we have to do Shakespeare?" do see Was Shakespeare the first gangster rapper? for inspiration.

Join the Guardian Teacher Network community www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network for free access to teaching resources and an opportunity to share your own. There are also thousands of teaching, leadership and support jobs on the site. Visit http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/schools.

guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Read the full story in Guardian Education
Log in Join