Neo-Shakespeare in the classroom

Another productive planning day. Today we were working on a program for year 9 that we intend to trial next term. The program is almost complete, the assessment task has been written and we are working on creating and locating resources. The unit is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with a focus on appropriation/adaptation. We are calling it Neo-Shakespeare and will be focussing on comparing the original play with the Anime adaptation Romeo x Juliet.

We are incorporating both Asian texts and technology into the unit and intend to explore the contexts of both Elizabethan England and the rise of Manga and Anime in Japan. To make the unit more accessible we have also purchased a ‘No Fear Shakespeare’ Graphic Novel version of Rome and Juliet to help differentiate amongst the varied abilities of our year 9 classes. As year 9 have the DER laptops, we have been looking extensively at incorporating web 2.0 tools and the programs available on the laptops themselves; OneNote in particular. We are also hoping to create an English Faculty Wiki in which we can all share and contribute resources and promote collaboration amongst the faculty.

We also purchased some Shakespeare apps for the iPad and have been experimenting with ways to incorporate these into the classroom. Using Air Play we can use the projectors or Smartboards to use interactive activities, watch animations or hear the audio of the play. Getting Air Play to work effectively seems to be the main hurdle at this stage. We are also on the lookout for a twitter-like program in which students can communicate quickly in the classroom to respond to questions and share thoughts and ideas. We have used Answer Garden in the past, but this doesn’t really fit with some of the activities we have planned.

I’m looking forward to exploring adaptions of the play and learning more about the Manga/Anime storytelling and development. I am also very keen to be implementing a program that promotes the use of the DER laptops in meaningful and (hopefully) effective ways as I feel they are often underutilised or misused (by students that is). The optimist in me is hoping the unit will help students develop a better attitude towards using the laptops in class, however the powerful cynic in me also sees the battle that may be yet to come…(hating whoever invented “Bubble Struggle” and “Bejeweled” right now!!)

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