In my last blog post “Don’t Just Read Shakespeare, Perform It!”, I encouraged other teachers to have students perform Shakespeare’s plays instead of simply reading them. I want students to enjoy Shakespeare, but I also want them to think about why the situations, themes, and characters in his plays have remained popular for hundreds of years.
Since we perform the play in class, students don’t have reading for homework. Instead, they complete an ongoing Shakespeare Soundtrack Project. Each night they take the scenes we’ve performed in class and pair each scene with a song. They have to write a paragraph analyzing how the song fits the scene. I encourage them to think about the following questions:
- Is there a theme present in the song that is also developed in the scene?
- Does the song describe a person who reminds you of a character in the scene?
- Are the emotions in that particular song reminiscent of the emotional state of the characters in the scene?
- Does the song mirror the action in the scene?
- Does the pacing of the song match the pacing in the scene?
Students must include quotes from both the play and the song (if there are lyrics) to support their analysis of how the song fits the scene. Instead of collecting their soundtracks on paper, I use my Schoology site and students post their analytical paragraphs to a shared discussion thread. This makes the activity more social and exciting because they can read and comment on each other’s song choices.
Below is a screenshot of our soundtrack project for the Prologue in Romeo and Juliet.
Most students love music, which makes this project a fun challenge for them. I love that they are analyzing the play and supporting their statements with textual evidence. It’s a win-win!
Click here to view a Google document with a description of the project and some fun extra-credit ideas. If you have a Gmail address, simply log into your account then click “File” at the top of this document. Select “Make a copy” and it will automatically save in your Google Drive.
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