Shakespeare's plays have been a part of traditional English curriculum in schools for centuries. Unfortunately, Elizabethan period language is difficult for many modern students to grasp. The entertaining elements found in Shakespearean plays are often lost on readers who do not take the time or interest in translating the script into more comprehensive language. Educators must intervene and give students comprehension tools to help them effectively analyze Shakespearean language in an exploratory manner. Teachers can accomplish this by incorporating interactive activities that give students an opportunity to engage the language firsthand in their Shakespearean lessons.
Provide each student with a random Shakespearean monologue. Have your class help you invent silly monologue challenges and write them down on cards. An example card would say, "You must read this monologue interpretively as Jack Black" and another card would say, "Perform this monologue as if you were on trapeze!" Put the cards in a hat and make sure there are enough cards for each student to select a different card. Call students to the front of the class one by one and have them draw a card from a hat and perform their monologues aloud for the rest of the class. See if the students can correctly identify the character based on the monologue performance and give a prize to the student that gets the first correct answer. This game is suitable for drama classes as well as English classes.
Create a Board Game
Read a play with your class and divide students into groups. Direct the groups to create a game board using four characters from the play. If you read A Midsummer Nights Dream in class, Puck, Peaseblossom, Titania and Oberon can be incorporated to represent the fairies on a fairyland-based game board. If you read Twelfth Night, students could use Malvolio, Feste, Maria and Sir Toby Belch. Student groups must determine four rules for the game and write them on the game board. Additionally, some spaces on the game board must be filled in with actions based on situations that characters encounter in the play. These squares can allow a player to progress further through the game or may a force player to lose a turn. The game boards should use as much language from the play as possible. Have the student groups swap game boards when they have completed the project and let the students play the games.
Select different insulting lines from Shakespearean plays. If you are focusing on a specific play in class or if you are planning on taking your class to see a play, select memorable insults from that play that students will recognize later while reading or viewing the play. Write each insult onto a card. Make sure there are enough cards for each student to receive a card and then hand them out. Allot five minutes for practicing to let the students get comfortable saying their insults aloud in an insulting manner. If you have elementary school students, write the insults on the chalkboard beside their modern day meanings. Have students pretend they are at a party mingling. Direct them to stop socializing when they hear your signal, which can be clapping or ringing a bell. The students will then deliver their insults to the person facing them.If you teach middle school or high school, ask the class what they think the meanings of the insults are.
Shades of Shakespeare Macbeth Edition
This game is designated for high school classes that are studying Macbeth. Shades of Shakespeare is similar to Balderdash and Origin of Expressions because all of these games involve a person prompting the other players to write answers in an attempt to make everyone think their answer is correct. Groups of five players select characters and collect vote and response sheets and another player reads the quote card. Players write their "modern" translations and turn them into the player that read the quote. The "reader" then reads all of the translations and everyone votes on which is the closest to the original quote. The votes are taken by the "reader" and the players guess which translation won the most votes. Whatever translation gets the most votes is the correct translation and the reader tells the players which translation won. Correct translations give players the opportunity to move forward a space as well as correct guesses regarding the winning translation. Whoever reaches the Globe Theatre space first wins.
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