All students have heard about Shakespeare, but few of our students would know any of his plays. The main reason is that educators feel that the language is too complex. However, I have always felt that this is not justification enough to deprive students of the beauty of Shakespeare’s stories. So, when I came across this set of abridged Shakespearean stories I bought it with no real plans on how it would come in useful. What I liked in particular is that these books are a quick-read with large fonts, crucial to draw in reluctant readers.
Whenever I have a class of students who struggle with independent reading (practically every year) I allocate one term in which students choose their own books to read rather than follow a designated class reader. Usually this includes regular visits to the library, sessions of book recommendations and generic activities, however, this year I wanted to use the Shakespearean set. In pairs, students chose a book from the available options and they were given two lessons in which to read it and take notes to fill a book review sheet. Afterwards, they had to select their favourite scene and create the corresponding dialogue. I don’t hide the fact that due to absenteeism and several outings, this took longer than I anticipated. Eventually, students started working on the cutouts for shadow puppetry. A colleague suggested using the class projector to facilitate the tracing of the characters’ outline and this worked brilliantly.
Some kebab-sticks, a torch, a box was turned into a theatre with a sheet of parchment paper and we were set to go.
The creative aspect of the project generated a lot of interest in the students and while they were helping each other to set up their puppetry show, students were sharing the stories. Some looked up film adaptations and a few even asked me to borrow a couple of the other books to read at home. The following video shows snippets from a selection of the students’ presentations.