Friday, December 18, 2015

Graphic Novels: Teaching Shakespeare in Prep English

It’s definitely challenging teaching a Shakespeare text to a class with such diverse needs and demands. The graphic novel (with its fascinating illustrations) helps students visualize the scenes in the story; since there are so many characters and plot twists, the illustrations help them understand the plot and tone. However, don ’t be fooled by the vivid images; the graphic novel follows the original Shakespearean language, which makes the text that much more complex.

Despite the barriers of Shakespeare’s language and a Middle Ages setting, my co-teacher and I try to create a means for students to apply self-monitoring skills as we read the graphic novel. Nonetheless, we did feel overwhelmed with how much we had to build a schema for our students; some of them had never even heard of Shakespeare. After immense pre-reading and previewing the text, students began to come up with questions, predictions, and comments that reveal their thinking and learning. They have two colored post-its: one is to answer the questions we ask during each scene and the other is used for their own thoughts and observations.

My favorite comment is when a student stated, “Macbeth is so annoying.” Immediately, I became ready to explain once again the importance of reading the story, but then she continued by saying, “He keeps changing his mind. Like one minute he feels guilty, and the next minute he doesn’t.” This comment was a game-changer. The fact that a student was able to make a critical comment with his/her own evaluations about the character made us feel like there was value in this process.

We try to engage our students even if the language itself is unattainable to them. In the end, we are finding that students are still working on the literacy skills that are important and that they critically thinking about the text.

Here are some examples of their work:

For an additional blog post about teaching Shakespeare through standards-based learning, check out this post!

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