William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare has influenced so many modern authors, poets, movies, and television shows. His phrases are still being used in our everyday speech. No high school curriculum would be complete without studying his plays and poetry. Studies have shown that studying Shakespeare increases a child's standardized test scores.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Grades 9-10

  • A Midsummer Night's Dream is a whimsical fantasy of three storylines intersecting to cause a comedic mess. Students will have to keep track of the myriad characters and how they all interact, while also keeping their storylines separate. 

  • Julie Kagawa's novel takes many of the characters from Shakespeare's play and imagines those Faery courts still causing mischief in a modern world.

    • Students will conduct research into faery creatures found in mythology from around the world and create a survival guide for any humans that happen to stumble across their path.

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Romeo and Juliet

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Grade 10-11

  • Students will start by watching the Baz Lurhman production of Romeo and Juliet with a modern day setting. This eases them into Shakespeare. Then we'll take it scene by scene, using lots of different resources and tools to help interpret Shakespeare's unique language.

    • We'll watch many videos from various productions since Shakespeare was never meant to just be read. ​

  • Students will also read a modern retelling of Shakespeare's famous play to compare and contrast the two stories. One such retelling is Isaac Marion's zombie love story Warm Bodies. Yes, even zombies can tackle the bard. ​

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Hamlet

Star Wars by Ian Doescher 

Grades 11-12

  • Hamlet is considered by many to be Shakespeare's masterpiece. Its title role is prized by many and has been performed by Kenneth Branagh, David Tenant, Mel Gibson, Ethan Hawke, and Sir Lawrence Olivier. 

  • This dark tragedy tells a story, that resonates even in modern life, of a boy who finds his father murdered, his uncle taking his throne, and feeling as though his mother has deserted him. 

    • We will break it down scene by scene, ​study the language used, and analyze the actions of the characters to truly understand their motives.

    • We'll watch various productions, both from film and the stage, period pieces and modern interpretations, to see how a performance is supposed to be viewed.

  • Students will also interpret a​ modern retelling of the story, whether it's Disney's The Lion King or drawing ties to George Lucas's space opera Star Wars.

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I really think he digs Shakespeare - it's a difficult material, given the older language and the fact that it's a play,  and so we ended up reading it together.  He read the first few acts on his own and then determined that he was probably missing stuff.  We had loads of fun, and to be honest it's made up some favorite memories for me with him.

Mom of a 10th Grader

 

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