Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2015
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The Sonnets, by Shakespeare

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Search, read, and listen to free library of Shakespeare's sonnets

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • English Language Arts

Skills
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
7–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: You can search sonnets by word or phrase.

Cons: No vocabulary, analysis, or annotation tools available.

Bottom Line: More resources would be nice, but easy access to sonnets is quite handy.

Teachers could use The Sonnets, by Shakespeare as they would a textbook printing of a sonnet or a photocopied version, saving space and paper. They could also use the share feature to share an individual sonnet with a class via email or other social media without requiring every student to download the full app. The search function may be especially handy for teachers who need to find a sonnet with a specific phrasing or theme to pair with another literary piece. Classes likely won't want to listen to the same computer-generated voice read every sonnet, but the inflection is well done, so a few readings would be worthwhile.

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The Sonnets, by Shakespeare is a searchable compilation of all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets. The free app opens with a simple screen with three choices: Read, Lookup, or Videos. The Read mode offers each sonnet, starting with Sonnet 1, to read, hear read aloud, or share (via email or social media). Kid swipe to turn the virtual page to the next sonnet. Lookup includes an index of all the sonnets in order, with first lines listed. The search function uses keywords to search all the sonnets. The Videos section includes a dramatic reading of the poem. Some videos feature artwork that complements the poem, while others just show the words.

The interface is elegant -- including just the sonnets -- with the modern convenience of searchable text. The voice reading aloud is pleasant, though a male voice reads everything. The sonnets alone are wealth of information, but a dictionary or commentary function to help kids make sense of Shakespearean language or explanations of the literary devices would be a nice addition. Overall, this is a helpful reference tool, but more connections to the wealth of Shakespearean scholarship and references online would make this an even more powerful gateway to engaging with Shakespeare's language.

Overall Rating

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

Poems are read aloud by a computer-generated voice that is suprisingly lovely, but all of the sonnets are read by the same voice.

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

No dictionary, analysis, or commentary is included. The app serves as a searchable ebook of sonnets.

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

Kids can read the sonnets themselves or have them read aloud.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Tracey W. , Media specialist/librarian
Media specialist/librarian
P.S. Is 54
Bronx, NY
Singing Through Shakespeare
The Sonnets by Shakespeare app is the perfect tool to stimulate more thorough understanding of Shakespeare in the classroom. This app allows the user to search sonnets by first line index, key words or sonnet by sonnet. Students can read sonnets on their own, or listen to them read aloud, which is especially helpful for English language learners, low level literacy or special needs populations. Videos and visuals of artwork play as the sonnet is read aloud. This reinforces comprehension and expands the student's vocabulary. One particularly nice feature is the app has a share button that allows users to share the sonnets with other users through email or social media. The computer generated voice makes good use of intonation and it allows students to work independently or in small groups. What would make the app even handier would be to have a modern day translation in teenage slang and lingo.Teachers can save time and use this app to pair with a nonfiction text in order to prepare students for ELA exams.
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