Common Sense Review
Updated October 2013

Shakespeare in Bits: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Animations and text supports bring the Bard's fantasy world to life
Common Sense Rating 4
  • Shakespeare in Bits: A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Student notes help them remember what they were thinking while reading or watching.
  • Section notes help students understand difficult acts and scenes.
  • Text highlights as characters speak.
  • Subtitles help students connect the animations with the text and offer additional support.
  • Click on highlighted words to see definitions.
Pros
Side-by-side text and animations, as well as subtitles, help students connect the text and video; analyses make understanding the text easier.
Cons
Some students may rely on the scene summaries and other analyses instead of actually reading the play.
Bottom Line
Numerous supports, including cartoons, audio, and paraphrased passages, help students understand one of Shakespeare's most popular and most confusing comedies.
Stacy Zeiger
Common Sense Reviewer
Homeschooling parent/instructor
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Shakespeare itself may not be engaging to some students, but animated videos to accompany the text and other special features will help them get into it.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Getting students to understand and appreciate A Midsummer Night's Dream is the goal, and it is reached through various ways of getting students involved with the text.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Subtitles, highlighted texts, animation, scene summaries, and other support features make the text accessible to reluctant and low-level readers; however, the app lacks resources to extend the learning.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers may opt to use this version of A Midsummer Night's Dream as the sole version of the text or as a support for students who have trouble understanding the more traditional version of the text. At times, highlighting the animation in certain scenes may help the class as a whole understand a confusing section. Scene summaries, character descriptions, and other analyses may prove useful when writing papers and completing projects related to the play.

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What's It Like?

Animated Shakespeare is what you will find in Shakespeare in Bits: A Midsummer Night's Dream. Scene by scene, students can watch animations that follow exactly the text of the comedy, seeing the text highlighted or in subtitles as characters speak and clicking on unfamiliar words to get definitions. Students who have trouble understanding the Bard's language will find that the other supports, such as scene synopsis, character profiles, and general analysis, help enhance their understanding of the play.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Reading Shakespeare can be a frustrating experience for many students. Those who struggle with reading and Shakespeare may see a light at the end of the tunnel when they encounter this version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. By placing the animations and text side by side, students do more than just watch a video version of the play. They connect the words directly with what's going on, helping them not only understand what's happening in this magical play, but also build an understanding of the language of Shakespeare.

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