How to Handle Shakespeare for Homeschool Co-ops

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Handle Shakespeare for Homeschool Co-ops.

Teaching Shakespeare in Homeschool Co-op

 

How to Handle Shakespeare for Homeschool Co-ops

Sabrina and Vicki love Shakespeare and they love teaching Shakespeare for their homeschool co-ops. They have had so many fun experiences with their high schoolers as the teens learned about Shakespeare and a few of his most famous plays.

So what are some ways to handle Shakespeare for your homeschool co-op?

Keep it fun! Don’t scare the teens off by taking his works too seriously!

Remember, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school and there’s not ONE right way to teach Shakespeare.

Show the teens the timelessness of some of his characters. (Some of the character types are folks you can run into today. Look for Sabrina’s Literature Study Guides for Shakespeare to help with this.) You can start with this FREEBIE on timeless expressions that Shakespeare gave us.

Also, check out this episode with Sabrina that has more ideas on teaching Shakespeare.

Traditional Academic Co-op (Let’s call it Sylvester)

The Sylvester co-op feels comfortable with textbooks, scope and sequences, syllabi, and grading assignments with rubrics. When approaching teaching Shakespeare, Sylvester co-op teachers will plan for a formal atmosphere. They will spend a lot of time translating Elizabethan English into modern English. They will teach iambic pentameter with counting syllables and finding accents in lines of words. They will discuss rhyming couplets. They might even do some copywork with this FREEIE from our friend, Kat Patrick.

This is all fine and dandy! (Remember, there’s not ONE right way to teach Shakespeare!) But Sylvester co-op, here’s word of advice: You might be tempted to ONLY do those things. Sabrina recommends that Sylvester gets a little loose and have fun. How to do that?

Ask yourselves: Why has Shakespeare remained so popular all these years? Now you can answer yourselves: Because it’s good storytelling with good characters.

While there is strange language, important form and structure, there is lots of interesting stuff to discuss in co-op. Take for instance: Discuss Much Ado About Nothing. It is a Shakespearian rom-com! Anyone who has seen a modern romance-comedy can find points of connection back to Much Ado About Nothing!

Organic, Bordering on Unschooling Co-op (Let’s call it Beatrice)

The Beatrice co-op might be a bit all over the place. They might be allowing a go-with-the-flow, find-a-passage-to-read co-op. They will probably be acting out favorite scenes in a light-hearted manner.

That is all groovy! (Remember, there’s not ONE right way to teach Shakespeare!) But Beatrice co-op, here’s a word of advice: You might be tempted to just have fun with interacting with favorite scenes. However, Sabrina recommends spending a little time explaining why Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter.

You know why? Because Shakespeare’s plays were produced by a company (SO many plays for one company to remember, line after line after line). But what Shakespeare knew (like many of his playwright peers) was that the rhythm patters of Shakespeare’s plays made heavy memorization of lines possible (and quicker). That’s because the rhythm of iambic pentameter is similar to English speech patterns and the musicality of the rhythm aids the memorization.

A fun activity for a co-op like Beatrice is to take a conversation the students just had over lunch, write it down, and then change it to iambic pentameter!

The Somewhere-in-between Co-op (Let’s call it Bob)

The Bob co-op is so moderate, a bit of fun, bit of strenuous academics. You have a lot going on at your co-op. You could choose a couple of scenes for creating a readers theater production.

Readers theater is a bit more than just a reading around the room- that’s fun, though, try it sometime. Rather, you will cast students as specific characters. They will read over and study them ahead of time, they read the script as part of the performance.

Usually characters wear black with one special piece that helps identify the character- like the “fool” character wearing a jester’s hat. This piece can be anachronistic, too- like a sea captain wearing a modern sailor hat.

Readers theater works great on Zoom, btw!

I guess our co-ops were a bit Sylvester-sh, Bob-ish AND Beatrice-ish because our homeschool high schoolers did all these activities with their favorite teacher, Sabrina!

SO, how do you handle Shakespeare for homeschool c0-ops?

One way is to use 7SistersHomeschool’s soon-to-be-released Literature Study Guides for Shakespeare! Sabrina has created these guides based on the activities she did with our teens. The guides will include:

  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Mid-Summer Night’s Dream
  • Hamlet
  • King Lear

Like all 7Sisters study guides, they will be no-busywork, don’t-kill-the-play. They will focus on the timelessness of the plays and characters, a little bit on form and structure, and links to good productions of Shakespeare’s plays for the teens to watch.

Join Vicki and Sabrina (and the Bard) for an inspirational discussion! For more on teaching Shakespeare, try some ideas from our friend, Kat Patrick.

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How to Teach Shakespeare so Teens Will Like it!

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Teach Shakespeare so Teens Will Like it!

How to Teach Shakespeare so Teens Will Like it!

How to Teach Shakespeare so Teens Will Like it!

Sabrina and Vicki are so excited we got to be together (on Zoom, anyway). The pandemic has sure made it a challenge to all be together. In this episode, we talked about one of our favorite Literature topics: Shakespeare.

Don’t gasp! Studying Shakespeare can seem intimidating. However, Sabrina has experience teaching our local homeschool high schoolers the works of the Bard that inspires teens to enjoy it. Join us for some of Sabrina’s top tips on teaching Shakespeare!

Why study Shakespeare in homeschool high school?

  • Because it makes you look smart (especially seeing it on the homeschool transcript)!
    • Teens feel smart when they study Shakespeare. It sounds so intellectual to say, “I’m studying Shakespeare this year!”
    • Moms feel smart just typing it on the homeschool transcript!
  • Because it helps teens understand the human experience.
    • Many of Shakespeare’s characters have feelings and thoughts that teens have felt or thought. It is eye-opening for them to discover that people for eons of time have had the same human experiences.
  • Because it is an opportunity to experience masterful storytelling.
    • Homeschool trivia: Did you know that Shakespeare’s great storytelling followed the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle’s storytelling guidelines:
      • Tragedies require that things do not turn out how the reader thinks they should. In fact, the good people are punished for their goodness and the bad guys are rewarded. It causes the reader to say, “That’s not right!”
        • Vicki points out that tragedies can be used to change people’s behavior. For instance, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a tragedy. People read the book and felt that the world could not go on in that tragic way. A response was generated. As Abraham Lincoln reportedly said when he met the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, “So this is the little lady who made the great war.”
      • Comedies require that things turn out as the reader thinks they should. The good people are rewarded for their goodness and the bad people’s evildoing is revealed and punished.
  • Because when homeschool high schoolers read great books and plays, like the works of Shakespeare, they bring to the reading their own personalities, ideas and motivations.
    • Shakespeare himself wrote with his own personality, ideas and motivations.
    • So when teens read his works (as in all good reading experiences), there is a genuine meeting of the minds.
    • This brings about a challenge to action or growth in thinking.
  • Because Shakespeare’s plays are entertainment
    • In his day, as in our day, there was great production value that gave audiences a wonderful experience.
    • In our day, it is easy to go on YouTube and find excellent productions of his plays for teens to watch. (Check out Bob Jones University’s and Rice University’s productions of Shakespeare’s plays.)

BTW- This summer 7SistersHomeschool will be releasing literature study guides for our favorite Shakespeare plays:

  • King Lear
  • Hamlet
  • Much Ado about Nothing
  • Midsummer Night’s Dream

As always, our literature study guides don’t kill the play, are user friendly and adaptable to different levels of interest and ability!

How do 7Sisters Shakespeare Study Guides work?

In 7Sisters Shakespeare study guides, Sabrina encourages teens to watch a performance. Sabrina actually uses “a sort of backwards format” from many other Shakespeare guides.

  • First, she gives a background to the story.
  • Then, she tells them what happens in the story (total spoiler alert). This way teens have in their minds when they watch the production the plotline, the characters (and how to expect them to behave).
  • Next, they watch the performance. (Sabrina points out that students will not be able to follow the entire story, but they will have the basic idea and in watching the performers’ expressions and behavior, they will catch the basic ideas.)
  • Finally, they read the play. They discuss the plot, characters, wordy passages and difficult to understand material, the rhythm (iambic pentameter) and rhyme schemes, etc.
  • Vicki points out how much our teens have enjoyed learning Shakespeare’s plays.

BTW- As a freebie on 7SistersHomeschool.com, there will be a list of phrases the Shakespeare invented. It is a fun discussion tool to start a Shakespeare unit.

Why did Shakespeare write in iambic pentameter?

  • The Globe Theatre had its troupe of actors. They had many plays to memorize quickly. Iambic pentameter helped them quickly memorize their plays.
  • Iambic pentameter also closely mimics our natural speech patterns. (Ever think about that?) Therefore, it is easier to listen to.
  • When teens know trivia like this, it sometimes makes Shakespeare feel more enjoyable.

Why did Sabrina choose those particular plays?

Both of the tragedies have main characters who are similar: The main character thinks he knows who he is and what he is doing in the world but finds out the opposite. But each of the characters is opposite in age (King Lear is in his 80s and Hamlet is late teens). This shows the universality of existential crises.

Both of the comedies have a look a “love” and all the social implications and silliness of finding true love. There is also a wonderful character type who uses words wrong all the time (malapropisms): remember Dogberry the constable in Much Ado about Nothing or Dick Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream? They just can’t get their words right (to hilarious ends).

Want more Shakespeare resources? Check out this interview with our friend, Kat Patrick, on teaching Shakespeare, a freebie from her, and her wonderful courses at Dreaming Spires Home Learning.

Join Sabrina and Vicki for a fun chat about teaching Shakespeare’s plays.

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  3. In the search bar type: Homeschool Highschool Podcast
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How to Teach Shakespeare so Teens Will Like it!