myShakespeare could work particularly well for students who feel ambivalent about Shakespeare. While the original text of each play remains unchanged, the ways in which teachers can help students make sense of it have evolved. The site offers well-implemented and genuinely handy interventions ranging from the simple, like vocabulary support, to the in-depth, like textual analysis. Everything is presented right alongside the text for easy and contextual access. Teachers can demo all of these supports, and encourage students to make use of whichever features they're most drawn to. Give students options to read or listen, to turn on or off the vocab support, and to read on a computer or on the mobile device. The key is to help students find the most comfortable and satisfying experience.
Make sure to check out the curriculum guides; these include lesson plans, resources, and tips for teaching Shakespeare. Teachers might also lean into the Notebook feature which offers a way to monitor student understanding and progress. These include in-text questions (both comprehension and analysis) as well as students' own highlights and notes. Since students can tag these notes, teachers might provide students with a set of tags to use to organize and guide their highlights (e.g. highlight and annotate and uses of metaphor with the tag "metaphor"). For a more creative experience, have students create short videos using the same types of animations or interview styles used on the site. While there are only six plays available, the built-in supports and enhancements to these classic works of literature keep the Bard’s words alive while giving today’s students a chance to appreciate them as intended.Continue reading Show less
myShakespeare is an interactive website where students can read, listen, watch videos, and annotate six popular Shakespeare Plays. Included on the site are Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, and Julius Caesar. Users can read, browse, and search the full text of each play by acts, scenes, or in its entirety. Each work comes with supporting resources linked through sidebar icons, including vocabulary hints, scene summaries, audio narration (with real voices), and explanations of context and literary allusions. Also included are live and animated videos featuring in-character interviews, discussions of the text, performances, and more; depending on the play, there might be a handful of videos or dozens for students to view.
If students create accounts, they'll also have access to the Notebook feature, which allows them to annotate the text as they read. Students can add tags and highlight in different colors, features that are useful for gathering evidence and making the connections they'll need for eventual essay writing. Notebooks are sharable as PDFs, so students can share their notes with peers or submit annotations to their teachers for review and, if applicable, grading. The site also contains teacher resources that give ideas for remote learning, teaching tips, and additional information about how to engage their students while making learning Shakespeare both manageable and enjoyable.
The interactive nature of the site -- and the elegant design -- will almost certainly get every student digging more deeply into Shakespeare. Students can read, listen, watch, and write, often within the same passage. There's a nice focus on makings things more clear while also encouraging students to read closely and interpret the texts. Some videos are a bit dry or corny, but many are insightful and bring the monologues and dialogues to life. It's worth nothing that there's also a focus on diverse representations, and actors of a variety of ethnicities, genders, and ages play the characters. However, some plays are better than others.
Built-in hints cover literary allusions, historical references, and the context of conversations among characters, providing necessary scaffolding for students who feel intimidated by the complexities of the language and details of each work. Glossed Words provide readers with short definitions that they can refer to alongside the original words, many of which Shakespeare invented. This is a great time saver and frustration reducer as students don’t lose valuable time struggling through language and syntax. Of course, if they prefer a more pure experience, students can toggle this feature off and ignore the hints on either side. Finally, the Notebook is an excellent way for readers to keep track of their understanding, track passages for future writing, and communicate progress to their teachers. This is great feature but could be even better. Since there's no teacher dashboard, there's no two-way communication within the notebooks, and students must export their work and send to teachers. This isn't wonderfully formatted, but it's good enough. And classrooms could use a workaround such as Kami to export the notebooks and then use them as a space for collaboration and assessment.
Key Standards Supported
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze how a drama’s or poem’s form or structure (e.g., soliloquy, sonnet) contributes to its meaning.
Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.
Compare and contrast a written story, drama, or poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multimedia version, analyzing the effects of techniques unique to each medium (e.g., lighting, sound, color, or camera focus and angles in a film).
By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 6–8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.
Analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production of a story or drama stays faithful to or departs from the text or script, evaluating the choices made by the director or actors.
By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.
By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9–10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)
Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.
Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.)
Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature, including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics.
By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 11–CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
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