If you are looking for engaging, easy-to-adopt (or adapt) Shakespeare lesson plans, one of the best resources online for anything Shakespeare is the Folger library. I’m deep in the first act of Romeo and Juliet with my students right now, so I’ve been spending a lot of time browsing the net for new stuff. One of the problems with Shakespeare online is that there is just so much out there. I recently searched “Shakespeare Lesson Plans” on Google and got 693,000 results. And so much of it is the same old material. Where do you start? I get a headache thinking about it. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel after ten years that some of my Shakespeare stuff is getting, well, “weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable” (sorry, couldn’t help quoting Hamlet there). If you haven’t bookmarked the Folger Library site yet, you should. Liven up your Shakespeare.
One of the sections I most often visit this time of year is the lesson plans archive. There are dozens of lessons for many of Shakespeare’s plays, general Shakespeare introductory lessons, curricular units, and much more. The Romeo and Juliet section includes seventeen lesson plans with standards outlined. One of my favorites is “Your Words Like Musick Please Me” [sic]. It is a fun look at “pick-up” lines from the 17th century using a digital copy of a primary document (a few pages out of a manual for “wooing” women).
Many of the lesson plans on this site provide primary documents in Adobe .pdf file format. The kids in my classes are intrigued by the idea that three hundred years ago they had a “manual” for picking up girls (and boy are some of the pick-up lines suspiciously similar to Romeo’s). Other lessons include pages from a book on child rearing and pages from Gogh’s “Academy of Complements” (check out “A Rich Jewel in an Ethiop’s Ear” lesson plan).
The Folger Library website has much more than just lesson plans. You’ll also find Podcasts, video, and audio, including interviews with actors, directors, and teachers. Exploring this site is worth your time, and you are sure to find something to freshen up those old Shakespeare lesson plans and liven up your class. Check it out, but promise me you won’t call Shakespeare the “Bard” around your students. Don’t be a boorish rube! Trust me; they’re rolling their eyes when you do…