Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2016
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Shakespeare Pro

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Exhaustive but dense compilation of the Bard's works and history

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.
7-12
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5 images

Pros: All of the sonnets and plays are included, along with plenty of background information.

Cons: Though it's great to have all the texts in one place, the tool lacks helpful resources such as analysis and in-text translations.

Bottom Line: Shakespeare’s works are easily accessible here, but teachers will need to provide additional support to make this a valuable tool for the classroom.

Plays can be purchased individually, or the entire collection (including the sonnets) can be purchased as one collection. For a class studying Shakespeare, teachers can choose to use this app's version of a play rather than printing copies or using a book. No matter what play or sonnet you're studying, check out the study information section, which is full of fun facts, or the quotes section, which include the ever-popular compilation of Shakespearean insults. Students can take notes within the app and share them with teachers or classmates. Since students can highlight selections, the app can be used for reading the play aloud with assigned parts.

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The compilation of Shakespeare's works include the full text of 41 plays, 151 sonnets, and six poems. Works are organized in alphabetical order with photo images representing each, and every text is searchable. A searchable glossary provides definitions as well as context for unfamiliar terms, and students can take notes in-app and share with others. Portraits of Shakespeare, along with information about them, are included, as are quotes and insults that can be shared via social media.

The app also includes a passport program to register Shakespeare-related events and a BardFind map showing other related apps. Some related supplementary materials are available at playshakespeare.com

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If you're looking for a digital Shakespeare reader with some solid supporting materials, this app might be for you. However, no analysis accompanies the texts, and while there's a glossary, it isn't linked within the text, limiting this resource's utility and appeal for the newest Shakespeare students. Instead, the learning value here comes from easy access to the plays and the supplementary materials about Shakespeare's life, the theaters, and statistical information about Shakespeare. Students will have to be motivated to analyze and understand the plays and works on their own or through collaboration.

While this app may not inspire new affection for Shakespeare, it definitely has tons of information for the enthusiast. If you or your students love Shakespeare, or you're working with advanced students who'll like this format, give this app a try, but know that it'll take a heavier lift to use this in the classroom with kids who are new to the complete works.

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Overall Rating

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

Lots of supplementary materials engage students wanting to know more about Shakespeare and his work. Plus, the insult generator is a blast.

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

Full texts of all of Shakespeare's works are available. Teachers and students will have to go elsewhere for analysis, audio, and linked glossaries, but they may find the fun facts in the study tab fascinating.

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

Customization options allow adjustable font sizes, line numbers that toggle on and off, and full or shortened character names. Students can take and share notes in-app, though the interface is buggy.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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