Teacher Review For Shakespeare in Bits: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Excellent for comprehension and engagement

Christine F.
Classroom teacher
Van Wyck Junior High School
Wappingers Falls, NY
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My Grades 7, 8
My Subjects English Language Arts
EdTech Mentor
My Rating 5
Learning Scores
Engagement 5
Pedagogy 5
Support 5
My Students Liked It Yes
My Students Learned Yes
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time Less than 5 minutes
Great for Homework
Knowledge gain
Small group
Teacher-led lessons
Whole class
Great with Advanced learners
How I Use It
I teach A Midsummer Night's Dream, and wanted to find additional support that would make the experience more interactive for the students. I only have access to one ipad, so I am focusing on how this app would work with station work, but it really is best for individual or small group work. Animated characters read the entire play while the words of the original text are highlighted as they are read aloud. You can opt to have the subtitles appear on the images. Or you can click through the text without animation or voice over. This section of the app would work well for a careful scene study. The images show the interaction and placement of characters, as well as the setting, and more unfamiliar words translate to their more modern meaning when tapped. A thorough synopsis of each scene is given, as well as critical notes. The "My Notes" section can be used for a variety of tasks. Since I am using this for station work on one ipad, I could set up my questions ahead of time, and each group could add to the discussion when they reach that station. Or, each group could be responsible for creating pre-assigned tasks when working with a particular scene. Scenes are easy to find in the "Scenes" section where they are divided by Act and Scene. There is a very thorough "characters" section, where all of the characters are thoroughly summarized. I like that there are several adjectives assigned to the major characters. I would use this to have students find text evidence in support of (or refuting) and adjective of their choice. In the past, I have had students create character maps to show the connections and relationships of the characters. This app has one of those as well, which I would have students compare their own to. I would use this app over several days for station work. For example, at the ipad station, I would have the groups watching one scene, reading a summary, or selecting a character to analyze, while other groups were given different tasks either using different technological tools, speaking activities, or tasks using print resources. I would not want this to replace the reading aloud of the text together since students love to have roles and get up to act out scenes. But I would use this after every few scenes, or even an Act to help students delve deeper into the text that was already read together.
My Take
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.