Teaching Shakespeare in the 21st-Century

With tablets provided for each student in Albert Cavalluzzo’s 10th-grade class, students go through the opening act of “Macbeth, by swiping digital pages on their screens.
The famous William Shakespeare play was first published on paper nearly 500 years ago. But in most classrooms, the text are being replaced with new technologies.

Over the past decade, America’s classrooms have seen the proliferation of computers, tablets, software, platforms, and apps but most of them are just used to ease administrative burdens rather than to create new learning experiences.
When it comes to teaching a play such as “Macbeth,” most teachers say the “what” and “why” remain unchanged: Whether using paperbacks or iPads, their aim is to assist young readers to be able to understand Shakespeare’s original language.
At Mineola High School, however, many of the students prefer paperbacks to the electronic versions.

The beauty of Shakespeare is that his works remain vibrant and relevant even as the world keeps changing, said Mary Ellen Dakin, a literacy coach at Massachusetts’ Revere High School, a former master teacher with the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, and the author of Reading Shakespeare With Young Adults.

A classroom at Mineola High built in 1962 is not looking too different in terms of the building structure as at now but the technology that is now available to the students in one of the English classes was scarcely imaginable 50 years ago. The english teacher shares that he can now get instant feedback from 25 kids by posing a question via an application on his iPad, rather than just hearing what one or two students think by raising their hands in class. With regards to Macbeth, Peggy O’Brien says you have to teach students to get inside the play and find their way around it, and the best way to do that according to her is to get students on their feet to perform.

In using technology once again, the students paired up at their desks. Their job was to dive into the text of Macbeth’s soliloquy to identify how Shakespeare used language to communicate subtle messages about his characters. Once completed, students connected their tablets to the projector and presented to the class.
Years from now, we know that students will still be grappling with “Macbeth” in its original language, if not its original medium.

Based on http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/11/09/teaching-shakespeare-with-21st-century-technology.html


Derek Turner