Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2014
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Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet iPad Edition

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Makes the Bard accessible for all with adjacent animation and full text

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
8-12
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Pros: It's an all-in-one resource with the full text of the play, analysis, and animated dramatization.

Cons: The app version doesn't include all of the features available through the Web interface.

Bottom Line: An impressive resource for whole-class or at-home Shakespeare exploration.

Shakespeare in Bits is also available in a browser version for the same price. You may want to purchase access to that version if simply for the included quizzes and lesson plans. Your students can still use the tablet version at home, or in class if they like the interface better. Have your class read the play or view the animated videos individually, but be sure to read and analyze key passages together, as a whole class. Throughout, you'll find plenty of space to build in discussions and other enrichment activities.

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Within Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet, the full text of the play is featured side-by-side with an animated reenactment. While the style of animation is somewhat simplistic, there are professional actors voicing the parts. Within the text, simply tapping any highlighted words offers a more modern-day term. Tabs at the top of the text let students move easily between the text, section notes, a synopsis, and their own notes. A navigation bar at the bottom of the screen shows all options -- viewing by scene, examining characters, reading analysis, and reviewing notes.

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Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet makes the play more accessible to students by engaging them with fun animations of the action. The animation's simplistic style might not appeal to every user, but the play is delivered by professional voice actors, whose tone really aids in students' understanding of the play. Everything students might need is right there on the tablet, so they can see modern-day translations of words, scene synopses, and analysis with just a tap of their finger. They can also add their own notes and easily review them later; this would make it easier to include supporting evidence in an essay. When accessed on the Web, the experience is a bit more robust. But even when using the app, teachers will find plenty of content to offer their classes a rich and rewarding reading experience.

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Overall Rating

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

Though the cartoon style is somewhat rudimentary, this animated version of the play adds a bit of fun, letting students watch the action alongside the text.

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

This full-text version of the play includes a vocabulary translator right inside the text. There's also plenty of thoughtful literary and character analysis included to guide students' understanding and promote discussion.

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 included quizzes and lesson plans are available through the browser-based interface (via subscription), though not within the app.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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