Shakespeare Online

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Revitalise your Shakespeare teaching with these websites and online resources that help bring the Bard to life for students and teachers alike.
 
Shakespeare’s plays are central to the English curriculum at Key Stages 3 and 4 and his contribution to the world is important to Britain’s national identity. However, not all students are immediately excited by the challenges associated with reading the Bard. Bringing Shakespeare to life for students can be rewarding for educators at all levels, but it’s not always easy find new ways to do this.

The following pages outline some useful websites that have varied and innovative approaches to engaging with Shakespeare. Many organisations have worked with teachers and researchers to develop specific resources for the curriculum so there are plenty of options for both classroom and individual project learning. In addition to the curriculum resources, there are resources that show how passion and creativity can bring vitality to the historical world of Elizabethan England and the cultural heritage of the Tudor era.
 
 
Partnering with Into Film, BFI Film Forever, The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal Shakespeare Company, TES offers a wide range of teaching resources that approach Shakespeare from many different angles. Visually appealing, the site entreats the user to “Discover inspiring resources for bringing Shakespeare’s work to life”. There are five sections on the site, including Cultural Approaches, Themes, Context, Genre and Plays.

Cultural Approaches includes information on costuming, set and stage design, adapting Shakespeare for screen, film versions of the plays, historical objects, directing and performing the works, and opportunities to compare productions.

Themes offers teachers a way of looking at the plays from themes such as love, cross-dressing, family, leadership, power struggles, magic and supernatural and war and conflict. The resources include image banks, lesson plans, performance videos, worksheets and teacher packs.

The Context section has resources on Shakespeare’s life as well as his time and place – Tudor England. Music, religion, art, clothing, objects, language and society are covered here with videos and presentations to add more life to the subject.
 
In Genre the plays are divided into Comedy, Tragedy and History, and includes introductions to stock characters, play comparisons, films and interviews, as well as a feminist criticism and analysis PowerPoint.
 
The resource collection in Plays emphasises practical approaches and encourages students to make connections between texts. There are lots of teacher packs, synopses, interviews and angles to consider for several of the Bard’s major plays.

The resources at the TES Teaching Shakespeare site are all free and have been produced by some of the nation’s leading cultural and creative industries with the intention of making Shakespeare interesting in the classroom.
 
 
Shakespeare’s Globe has put together a library of free teaching resources that cover every aspect of teaching Shakespeare. The topics include: overviews (Teach Shakespeare: Get started); fact sheets on topics such as London, the Globe, special effects, audiences and costumes; specific plays, such as Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Othello, which are set with lesson plans for KS 3, 4 & 5. There are resources for exam revision and many audio and video excerpts.

The most exciting resources on this site include their interactive media. A feature called ‘Staging It’, is an interactive film maker for desktop or tablet devices. It allows students to understand Shakespeare’s text from a director’s point of view and virtually stage a scene at the Globe theatre. Actors are filmed performing a moment of a play on the Globe stage. Each line of their speech is shot four times, each time performed in different ways (happy, flirtatious, defensive, etc.). Students can build their own scene and get a taste of what it’s like to be in the director’s seat.
 
Students can also download the Globe 360 app, which is packed with interesting facts, videos and photos, and allows anyone in the world to explore a virtual version of the world’s most iconic theatre. Users can walk through the theatre and zoom in and out of the 360 degree images. The app uses the built in camera on the phone or tablet to create an in-depth and interactive exploration of Shakespeare’s theatre.

This is a great site for secondary students to get to know Shakespeare and to immerse themselves in the specialist world of the Globe Theatre.
 
 
For the younger set, the BBC has some excellent programmes to introduce Shakespeare’s works at the primary level. The collection of audio and video programmes are creative and imaginative retellings of Shakespeare in a format that youngsters can engage with.

For the very young child, CBeebies has an animated version of A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream and other shorter episodes and activities that connect with the characters and various activities. There are videos and templates so kids can make their own donkey ears or fairy wings and dress up like characters from the play. There are also songs and supporting videos, including one on ‘Who is Shakespeare’?.

On ‘School Radio’, the Shakespeare Retold programme has 10 plays reimagined by leading children’s writers and read by famous voices in 15 minute episodes. Stories include ‘The taming of the Kat dog’, which features furry versions of the characters, ‘Macdeath’, which highlights the exciting parts of the tale (blood, gore and witches), and ‘Romeo v Juliet’, where the stars of the story face off in a football match. The Shakespeare Retold series is accompanied with extensive teachers’ notes that include further ideas for the classroom and provide additional background context.
 
There’s also the Horrible Histories ‘Sensational Shakespeare’ and the animated introduction to Shakespeare ‘i.am.Will.Shakespeare’, as well as the opportunity to learn about The Tempest and Macbeth through music. Students will also love the interactive quiz – ‘Which Shakespeare Character Are You?’, as well as the CBBC’s quizzes, funny clips and news features.
 
This is a great resource for teachers looking to get kids excited about the imaginative and playful aspects of the great playwright.
 
For more 'Shakespeare Online' websites and resources read the full article here.
Creative Teaching & Learning
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