Common Sense Review
Updated October 2013

Shakespeare in Bits: Julius Caesar

Slick version of well-known play uses animation to boost understanding
Common Sense Rating 4
Pros
Text highlights as characters speak, and summaries and analyses make sure students know exactly what is going on.
Cons
The lack of a tutorial means students must discover many of the special features on their own.
Bottom Line
Side-by-side text and animations help students understand the plot as well as Shakespeare's writing style and language.
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

This version of Julius Caesar is one of the most engaging ones you'll find. Animations and other textual supports help readers experience the backstabbing, politics, and excitement of this tragedy firsthand.

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

Through features such as text highlighting, plot summaries, and character relationship maps, one of Shakespeare's tragic plays becomes accessible to teens, even reluctant readers and those with learning difficulties.

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

While subtitles and definitions help make the text more accessible, there are no tutorials or other instructions to help teens discover these features.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Shakespeare in Bits: Julius Caesar can be the main way students access the play, or it can play more a supplementary role. You could offer this version to reluctant and lower-level readers to help them better understand the play and to make it more engaging. If you're working in a flipped classroom, have students read and watch a scene at home; when they come to class the next day, you can do a brief recap of the events and move right into a discussion or activity.

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What's It Like?

In Shakespeare in Bits: Julius Caesar, the play is performed not on a stage, but through animated characters who read the text of the play line by line. As the characters speak, readers see lines of dialogue highlighted. Students can also tap on confusing words that are highlighted to reveal a definition. The play is organized by scene, with the animation and text sitting side by side. Separate tabs contain plot summaries and analyses for each scene, as well as a place for students to take notes. Those looking for an overview of the play as a whole can find a general summary, thematic analysis, and character overviews to aid in their understanding.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Unless this is your first time teaching Shakespeare, you've probably struggled to find ways to get students to actually read and understand the play. Shakespeare in Bits: Julius Caesar is designed to help students understand the text and offers many features to make that easier to do. By offering the text alongside animations, students get a better understanding of the words in context and can gain an appreciation of the beauty of the dialogue. Students can also learn plot, character, and literary analysis as the comprehensive app takes them back to the Roman Empire. The animations, text highlighting, scene summaries, and analyses in Shakespeare in Bits: Julius Caesar can help students improve their understanding of both the play and the author's writing style and language.

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See how teachers are using Shakespeare in Bits: Julius Caesar

Lesson Plans