Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2015
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Globe Education Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

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Meet the players with full text, analysis of the star-crossed lovers

Subjects & skills
  • Arts
  • English Language Arts

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: This unique approach goes beyond analysis to include info on theater and acting.

Cons: Even with the full text included, there's no option to hear or see the entire play in action.

Bottom Line: This excellent resource would be an asset to literature or theater classes.

The online listing for this iBook specifies that it's meant to be used individually, not broadcast onto a screen for whole-class use. Nevertheless, teachers can use their own judgment about when and where they might effectively use the iBook for whole-class instruction. That said, it's certainly possible to use it as a textbook, one per student, for a Romeo and Juliet unit. The full text is included, along with vocabulary support and analysis. To boost engagement, be sure to try out some of the supplemental acting exercises with your students. Theater teachers will find those exercises especially helpful if directing Romeo and Juliet, or even as general exercises to help students develop their craft.

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This iBook includes the full text of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, including highlighting and pop-up definitions for many words students might find unfamiliar. The preface introduces the Globe Theatre, both in Shakespeare's time and today, including a virtual tour. The text of the play is scrollable, like an ebook, and features pictures from recent productions of Romeo and Juliet along with audio clips of commentary from the actors and directors. There are also a few video clips of excerpts from the play.

The Rehearsal Room section includes acting exercises to deepen students' understanding of a scene or character, taking kids out of the tablet and onto the stage. Each scene includes a brief summary and the "director's notes." Students can review the highlighted terms as flashcards or review sample questions and answers about key scenes in the Examiner's Notes section. As with any iBook, text can be highlighted, underlined, and annotated.

Throughout Globe Education Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, clear instructions explain the iBook's features. Navigation is intuitive, and the analysis is presented in more of a question-and-answer format while still maintaining depth. The pop-up vocabulary help is on par with other similar tools.

What really sets this digital reading of the play apart is its emphasis on the players. The included images from the Globe today, as well as the conversations with modern-day actors, help bring the play to life. It's an innovative approach that makes perfect sense for anyone reading the plays in a classroom setting. The Rehearsal Room activities lend themselves to some great active learning exercises. The more students connect with the play, the more they'll find it engaging, deepening their understanding.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Performance photos from the Globe and multimedia commentary from a diverse range of actors enhance the experience. Kids can't see the whole play acted as they read the full text -- this would greatly enhance reading.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

In-text vocabulary helps students understand the language. Study cards and detailed, annotated study notes help students review and analyze the play in depth.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The Rehearsal Room, accessed with "ticket stubs" throughout the book, gives student actors exercises to improve their acting craft and understanding of the characters.

Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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