Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2014
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Romeo & Juliet (Enhanced Edition)

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Excellent side-by-side dramatization and text bring the Bard to life

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
9-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Professional Shakespearean actors do an impressive job of bringing understanding to students' reading.

Cons: The Tap to Translate feature fails to translate quite a bit of the Shakespearean language into modern English.

Bottom Line: High-quality production and seamless multimedia integration allow students to read and watch simultaneously, boosting engagement and learning potential.

WordPlay Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (Enhanced Edition) includes the complete text of Shakespeare's play and could be used as the primary text in 1-to-1 or BYOD classrooms where students have a device equipped with iBooks. Students can read and view individually, at their own pace. However, if your classroom has more limited device access, you could also show parts of the play -- selected scenes or even individual pages -- to your whole class so they can hear the words, demonstrating the emotion and meaning. If working individually, have students annotate the text as they read and then share notes and passages with others from within the app. You could even assign different students specific passages to read and respond to. Throughout, you'll find myriad opportunities to make students' reading a social, collaborative endeavor.

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Romeo and Juliet (Enhanced Edition) is an iBook, accessible through Apple's App Store or from within the iBooks storefront. As such, it combines features specific to iBooks (like the in-app dictionary) with features commonly found in other digital adaptations of Shakespeare's plays. Students can read the full text of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, highlighting and annotating as they read. They can look up unfamiliar words using the iBooks dictionary (or Tap to Tranlate) to see the Shakespearean language translated into modern English, side-by-side.

The most significant enhancement, though, are the videos of professional Shakespearean actors presenting the entire play, page by page. Students can read the text and tap Play whenever they want to view the video. It automatically pauses at the end of the page, picking back up on the next page when students hit Play again. Each scene begins with a summary and a list of characters.

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This sleek adaption is simply beautiful. The players act out each scene with minimal (usually no) props against a white background, which keeps students' attention on the language as much as possible. The talent is top-notch, and the book itself is easy to navigate; jumping to certain scenes via the table of contents, bookmarking specific pages, or searching by word or phrase is a cinch.

The Tap to Translate function is handy but doesn't accurately translate as much as some students may want or need. Also, keep in mind that there's no analysis included in the book, something found in most of the other digital adaptations available. Despite these minor flaws, Romeo and Juliet (Enhanced Edition) is an impressive representation of Shakespeare's work that preserves the Bard's language while also making it highly accessible for modern students.

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Overall Rating

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

The design is elegant and intuitive, with easy-to-navigate text. The actors literally bring the words to life on the page, and their modern dress and style offers an engaging lens through which students can consider the play.

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

The acting brings Shakespeare's classic characters to life with a modern twist. Sharing annotations, excerpts, and notes aids students' understanding and brings a collaborative element to how they might interpret the play.

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 text is searchable and includes a Tap to Translate option to view a modern English translation. Some users might wish for the same type of supporting analysis found in other comparable tools.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Steven H. , Student
Student
A great Shakespearean tool for all students

While viewing, it is possible to click on individual word and phrases to have them defined into a more modern English. There are additional click points that show language use and meaning, history, or thematic information. It can be viewed individually, or by the whole class. I believe that this product is well worth the price, if in fact you will be teaching Shakespeare every year.

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