Teaching Shakespeare? Check Out These Three Common Core Lesson Plans.

Last year I started an undergraduate research project titled Integrating Technology into the California Common Core Performance Classroom. From inception to completion the project took me a year, but I am very happy with the results. Here’s the abstract to get a taste of what my research was on:

In 2010, President Barack Obama set forth a plan called “Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology” which mandated that technology needed to be integrated into American classrooms to enhance student learning (Ash). The need for technology in the classroom is not only government endorsed but helps improve students’ familiarity with the use of technology in a future job market that is becoming globalized and technology-driven (Ehrlich). In 2013, the Los Angeles Unified School District spent one billion dollars to distribute Apple iPads to over 47 schools in an effort to comply with the directives set forth through President Obama’s plan and ended up recalling the iPads in under a week due to the operating system being hacked (“L.A. Unified”). The purpose of this project is to find ways of meeting the 2010 mandated use of technology within a performance-based classroom teaching Shakespeare by creating learning opportunities in which technology can be incorporated into the classroom through the use of student-generated content. Through examination of other successful classroom models incorporating technology, looking ahead at some proposed, yet still controversial, technology-driven classroom models, utilizing performance approaches to teaching Shakespeare, and studying the new Common Core standards being implemented in K-12 schools throughout the nation, a hybrid of technology and the study of 16th century Shakespearean plays can be successfully implemented in a Common Core classroom.

There were three objectives of my project: the first was to find what effect technology has in a classroom, the second was to look at what technology is being used within classrooms, and the third was to create lesson plans that integrate technology into the current common core standards within California centered around three of Shakespeare’s plays – Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, and King Lear.

My final report was 44 pages long, not counting the references, and is now available for download. The report itself includes three fully planned out, technology-based lesson plans that highlight specific (and referenced) parts of the California Common Core. Here’s a quick description of the three lesson plans included in the report.

The first lesson plan is for an 8th grade classroom and focuses on the play Twelfth Night. The main focal point of this three-week long lesson plan is to help student create a wiki, or a website that allows collaborative editing of its content and structure by its users. The lesson objective is as follows:

Students will engage with the text of Twelfth Night on a critical level to build an online database that reflects their learning. Students will explore themes, motifs, characters, character development, plots, staging, word choice, performance choices, props, setting, and more within the parameters of the wiki. Students will write, edit, comment, and critique each other’s wiki posts to build a stronger wiki community. Students will be expected to use proper citations and grammar conventions within their online wiki community. At the end of the wiki project, students will orally present their assigned portion of the wiki in class.

The second lesson plan is set for a 9th or 10th grade classroom and focuses on Romeo and Juliet. This project uses digital archives and blogging to explore the power of the author of a text. The lesson objective is as follows:

Students will engage with the first two quarto versions of Romeo and Juliet on a critical level and compare and contrast the different versions of the play, what the additions or omissions of text does for the play, critically analyze why the changes were made to the play, and write blog posts about four scenes in which changes were made. All blogs will be held to conventional language standards and appropriate knowledge levels of language. Students will write a final paper on one scene in which they talk about what cuts they would make to one of the scenes they wrote a blog about if they were directing the play and pressed for time. The students would then do an oral report or staging of their scene based on their paper.

The final lesson plan is a 12th grade Youtube/Vine project for King Lear. This project allow students to really explore the power of medium and take on the roles of director and actors within the play. The lesson objective is as follows:

Students will be able to develop characters based on the playtext King Lear and cite specific textual evidence to support those interpretations. Students will also explore how the medium of the play differs from that of other literary texts and how words written for the stage are different when delivered than when read flat on the page. Through in-class discussions and video projects, students will explore how Shakespeare’s meanings become more or less apparent to an audience through different acting exercises. Students will work in groups to record different scenes from King Lear to show how delivery affects the audience’s understanding of the playtext using advice from John Barton’s BBC series, Playing Shakespeare.

If you’re a teacher, or just curious, please feel free to use these lesson plans within your classroom. I made them to share, and I’d love for them to get used.

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