MyShakespeare

I’ve been in love with Shakespeare since college. However, the very thing I love about Shakespeare’s plays–the language–is the exact thing that alienates so many students. The language is foreign and the humor goes over their heads. I’ve tried a variety of techniques to hook my students from having them complete soundtrack projects for the plays to performing the scenes in class. These have helped to engage my students, but I still finding myself spending a lot of time explaining what words, phrases, jokes and put downs mean.

While teaching a course at Stanford this year, I was fortunate to cross paths with the creators of MyShakespeare. This is a fantastic resource for teaching Shakespeare in the digital age. The site is brand new and there are currently 4 plays available–Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, and Macbeth. 

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The site has interactive full-texts of each play complete with footnotes and multimedia resources. Each play includes:

  • Complete audio recordings that emphasize clarity and comprehension
  • Contemporary translations to make the language more approachable
  • Popup notes offering insights into literary devices
  • Animated videos that explore the play and spark further discussion
  • Performances of key scenes to bring the play to life
  • Interview with characters about the events unfolding in the play.

It was clear watching my students navigate the site that they enjoyed listening to the audio recording, reading the modern definitions of archaic words, and engaging with the popups that provide explanations about what is happening in each scene.

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The video interviews with the characters are high quality and entertaining. They provide insight into the characters’ thoughts, feelings, and motivations. These video elements are perfect conversation starters. They are also a great model for any teacher who wants his/her students to role play in order to learn more about the characters.

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If you (or someone you know) is teaching Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, or Macbeth, I’d recommend checking out MyShakespeare! It’s exciting when new, high-quality resources pop up for our favorite texts.

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10 Responses to MyShakespeare

  1. Rachel Knowles says:

    This is awesome. However, when I clicked on Julius Caesar it says they are still working on it? Any idea when it will be done?

  2. Melinda Malaspino says:

    I’ve always been a little skeptical about using technology to teach Shakespeare since I primarily use Lively Action, theater-based activities from Shakespeare’s Globe education department. However, I plan to give this a try as an alternative for take-home reading. Any tips?

    • Hi Melinda,

      We read and perform the play in class. MyShakespeare helps students better understand the play as they read and prepare for the performances. I also used the video interviews to provide insight into the characters. It also inspired a similar “in character interview” activity.

      I think you’ll find your students enjoy it!

      Catlin

  3. Melinda Malaspino says:

    Any tips on getting the embedded videos to work on Chromebooks?

  4. Melinda Malaspino says:

    Yes, probably. I need to contact our district IT.

  5. Ron Wright says:

    Hi Caitlin,

    Great tool. I shared this on our blog site and gave you credit for sharing with me!

    Ron Wright
    Schlechty Center

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