In the 1999 comedy Blackadder: Back and Forth, a time travelling Edmund literally runs into William Shakespeare. After requesting an autograph, Blackadder punches “The Bard” in the face and proclaims, “That is for every schoolboy and schoolgirl for the next four hundred years!” (To view this scene, click here). The image of Shakespeare’s plays as dull and all but indecipherable still has a good deal of traction in modern classrooms. However, it no longer has to be so with a wide range of ICT resources now available to enhance student understanding and bring Shakespeare back to life. (You might want to find out what happens in Isaac Asimov’s The Immortal Bard when a reincarnated Shakespeare visits the future)
The sheer number of resources can be daunting. Here is just a sample of some, which I have used successfully with my classes.
Websites: It is no surprise that there is an abundance of sites but I have found two in particular, to be incredibly useful. The best of them is maintained by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and it includes an ever-growing education section. The RSC has embarked on a six-year project to produce interactive learning resources for each First Folio play. But you’ll find myriad other resources; access to live lessons, teacher professional development, the “Teaching Shakespeare” portal and even a game called
Which Shakespeare Character Are You?
The BBC also offers a mass of great material; you can find more games, resources for conducting a “60 Second Shakespeare” contest and even learn how “The Bard Inspires Blockbusters”. You might want to start here.
YouTube: A simple keyword search will yield more than 1.5 million results that range from the woeful to the brilliant. The latter category includes, a superb Simon Schama documentary and full film adaptations of virtually all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays. A special mention however for another RSC, the Reduced Shakespeare Company, who have produced many humourous short films such as the Othello Rap. Students love these films and they can be a unique way to start a unit of work. For those of you who remember Spark Notes, these are now available on YouTube in video form. Check out this link as a sample.
iPad Apps: You will find a great number of apps available for download although some are pricey. I can recommend Shakespeare For Kids for younger students although it does offer In-App purchases. One of my favourites is Shakespeare’s Globe 360 which allows students to enter The Globe although it does cost $1.99 to ‘access all areas’. As for my absolute favourite, you’ll need to read the accompanying app review.