Review by Stacy Zeiger, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2013
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Shakespeare in Bits: A Midsummer Night's Dream

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Animations and text supports bring the Bard's fantasy world to life

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Arts
  • English Language Arts

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
8–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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1 video | 6 images

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.

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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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.

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.

Overall Rating

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

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?

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?

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.


Common Sense Reviewer
Stacy Zeiger Homeschooling parent

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Christine F. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Van Wyck Junior High School
Wappingers Falls, United States
Excellent for comprehension and engagement
I would love to work with this app with small groups or partners if I had access to more ipads, and the budget for purchasing the apps for more than one device. If classrooms had ipads for all students, it would be well worth the cost to purchase this app rather than a print version. If this were used as the text for a whole class read aloud, it would be so beneficial for students to have instant access to unfamiliar words as they follow along , and it would help to keep them engaged. While I do think it is helpful for students to hear the text spoken aloud, and see the text come to life, so to speak, the animated graphics lack expression that I think is important for students to see. I would definitely show them scenes of live actors performing the lines. Aside from the lack of live actors, this app really does have everything students need to understand the play, as well as a very thorough "Analysis" section which contains a plot summary, and notes on themes, imagery, language, notable quotes, and information about Shakespeare. Shakespeare in Bits has a version for several other noteworthy plays by Shakespeare.
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