Shakespeare Activities for ANY Play

Teaching Shakespeare can be a mixed bag. On the one hand, it's the bard! Whoo hoo! Perhaps the best writer in the history of humanity. On the other hand, the potential is definitely there for confused, disengaged, alienated students.

No one wants students to hate Shakespeare! That's why I know you are ever on the lookout for creative strategies to help them connect with the great Will Shakespeare (Besides watching Shakespeare in Love, which I love, don't you?).

In this post, I'm sharing some of my own favorite classroom activities you can use with any Shakespeare plays, and the results of my Shakespearean treasure hunt around the web. Spend five minutes with this post right here, right now, and I'm SURE you'll find at least one great new option for your Shakespeare curriculum.


Episode 031: 3 Engaging Lessons (Murder Mysteries, Ted Talks, SNL Clips)

In today's episode of The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast, I'm talking to Amanda from Engaging and Effective

I first discovered her blog a few months ago and have been hooked ever since. 

You're going to love the way she weaves pop culture and multimedia into her curriculum to help further her students' learning and build relationships with them. Half the time, I bet they're having too much fun to notice how quickly they are learning! Amanda is definitely the kind of teacher I would want if a crazy time warp took me back to high school. 


One Pagers: The Simplest Way to Success

One-pagers are becoming increasingly popular as a way to help students process what they have read in one powerful activity. Like sketchnotes, they combine visuals with text to make ideas come alive in students’ minds and memories.

But it’s easy for students to struggle with one-pagers if they are not naturally inclined toward art and have not previously been encouraged to represent their ideas this way. They may feel they are being graded unfairly on their artistic abilities.

Some students will hear directions to create a graphic representation of a reading and dive right in. Others will moan and mutter things about "ridiculous art projects." But the popularity of one pagers with teachers lately is undeniable. If students can get over their hang-ups, they really learn a lot from processing what they've read in visual form with a one-pager. 

So how to help the art-haters thrive alongside the artists? How to show everyone that their one-pagers are about critical thinking and interpretation, not just flair pens (though flair pens are a pretty fabulous addition)?


The Innovative Creative Writing Unit You've Been Needing

The great thing about a stand-alone creative writing unit is that you can plug it in anywhere. It develops writing skills, class community, and creativity. I've been thinking about a new one for the last month, and it's finally ready to share here. 

I've written before about Angela Stockman's wonderful book Make Writing, and her innovative methods of turning the English classroom into a maker space. Recently, I finished John Spencer's book Launch, about using design thinking in the classroom. As I began to explore design thinking with little experiments at home with my son, it was easy to combine Stockman's ideas about making with some of Spencer's about launching to an authentic audience. 

What if students created maker pieces, then wrote creatively about them, then launched their work out into the world? (By the way, in a huge hurry? Find the free curriculum for this unit right here, and be sure to follow along with me on TPT for future freebies!). 

It really wouldn't be very difficult. To do a collaborative maker space writing project in class, you'd just need to follow these simple steps.

Step #1: Make

Invite students to engage in a makerspace activity. Using materials you provide or materials they find at home, students create characters or settings to share with the class. They might paint or animate, sketch or build, create a photo collage or a sculpture. They might use legos or play doh, clay or papier mache, wood or cloth. 

Step #2: Share

Let students present their maker pieces back to their classmates, introducing them to the ins and outs of the people and places they have created. As the writing community listens, they can take notes on which characters and settings they will eventually use in their stories.

Step #3: Consider the Launch

After setting up a display of the pieces around the classroom, invite students to meet in groups to talk about how the class might share their pieces and stories once they are done. 

For example...
  • Students could display their maker pieces with excerpts of stories that include them in a gallery at a local coffee shop or museum.
  • Students could create an online hyperdoc with photos of the maker pieces that link to their stories, then share it.
  • Students could create a video explaining the project and featuring some of the maker pieces and their stories, then post it to youtube.
  • Students could bring the maker pieces to an elementary school, read some of the stories, and lead a makerspace writing project for the younger kids.
  • Students could create a writing maker challenge online, featuring some of their own stories and pieces as examples, and then inviting students from around the world to submit to them to be featured on a writing site the class creates.
Let groups share their ideas and choose one to follow through with as a class. 

Step #4: Write 

Let students photograph the characters and settings they plan to work with, then go home and write their stories. Ask them to weave in whatever writing elements you are focusing on in your course - sensory detail, dialogue, character development, varied sentence structure, striking imagery, etc. 

Step #5: Peer Editing Workshop

Let students trade their work with several other students, providing mechanical insights and overall feedback. 

Step #6: Share and Launch

Let students trade and read each other's work on the day the maker stories are due. Celebrate their successes. Grade the stories and then follow through with your launch plans. 

Wow, that was easy. You've just given students a chance to ride the maker movement wave and use some design thinking to target an authentic audience and share their work in a meaningful way. Whoo hoo! And remember, you can find all the free curriculum for this unit right here. 

Looking for more creative classroom inspiration? Check out the Ed Deck. With forty-one beautiful cards full of creative strategies you can use tomorrow in class, lesson planning is about to get a whole lot easier. FIND IT HERE. 


A Beginner's Guide to Teaching Abroad

Do your thoughts ever drift across the ocean? To some faraway place where everything you see and do will be new? 

My husband's sure do! He LOVED our time teaching abroad so much that he is always talking about going back someday. And I have to admit, I'm pretty tempted myself.

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