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Shakespeare in 7th Grade
Old 05-26-2009, 09:23 AM
 
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Does anyone have any thoughts, ideas, opinions or suggestions about introducing Shakespeare to 7th graders?


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Old 05-26-2009, 11:48 AM
 
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Read the Lamb's version of Shakespeare. It's easier than the scripts.

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Try No Fear Shakespeare
Old 05-26-2009, 01:59 PM
 
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We use the No Fear Shakespeare editions for 6-8, published by Spark Notes. It has the Shakespearian English on the left page and a contemporary translation (line for line) on the right facing page, along with explanatory margin notes. It really does make Shakespeare accessible to middle schoolers and I can't recommend it enough. They love being able to glance over at the original and compare, or read the original aloud for certain scenes after reading the contemporary silently first. For 6th we do As You Like It and they really do enjoy it. For 7th, we do Twelfth Night--a few lines are way too bawdy and I blacken out the margin explanation, but otherwise it's well received. However, I must say that these titles were in place before I came and I do find the transgender comedy and, as one resource I read put it, the 'homoerotic' tones a little uncomfortable, but of course just gloss over that with the kids; much of it goes over their heads. But as a result I am now looking at The Tempest instead, which is the only other No Fear title which I think would appeal to 7th instead of 12th Night and is not already taken by the other grade levels in our school. Otherwise, I would strongly consider Midsummer Night's Dream. I won't go into everything we do, but one thing was really fun. We study the play toward the end of the year and Shakespeare's birthday falls during that time. This year there was a national "Talk Like Shakespeare Day" declaration and I found examples of insults and other recommendations online for the students and myself to use. Have fun!
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Thanks for Shakespeare
Old 05-26-2009, 04:32 PM
 
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MiddlingAZ,

Thank you so much. I was looking at "Shakespeare made easy" which outlines the story as you said...the left, one version and on the right, another version.

Your ideas are great!

Thanks.
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If I were to do Shakespeare
Old 05-27-2009, 02:39 PM
 
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with 7th graders (and I would think carefully about that) I would either do Romeo and Juliet or a Midsummer Night's Dream. These are the two most approachable of his plays. Both plays also have numerous ballet and movie versions you could show as an extension.


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Old 06-02-2009, 08:05 PM
 
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Midsummer nights dream would go well with grade 7, it is fun and has a play within a play.
Or even the comedy of errors which is good fun tracking which twin goes where.
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Shakespeare in Middle School
Old 06-04-2009, 11:31 AM
 
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I teach at a private school, and the headmaster has mandated that I teach particular plays.....this was my first year. I used either the NO FEAR SHAKESPEARE (by Sparknotes) or SHAKESPARE MADE EASY (by Barrons). Whew! So much s-x or s-x talk! However, other than Othello (which was WAY too much for this particular group of 8th graders), the other classes really got into the plays, even Julius Caesar! I was totally surprised. I think they particularly enjoyed reading the plays aloud. Sometimes we did the original Shakespeare, sometimes we did the translation.

5th (yup, 5th!) Julius Caesar
6th Romeo & Juliet (some pretty bawdy parts.....and "bad" words in the "translations"....)
7th Merchant of Venice
8th Othello

My personal opinion is that the STORY with some of the exact QUOTES is the way to go. There are actually quite a few picture books out there. I've also shared Shakespear Stories by Terry Deary, which the kids really enjoyed.
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Wednesday Wars!
Old 06-05-2009, 08:20 AM
 
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I just finished Wednesday Wars, a Newbery Honor by Gary Schmidt and I am so jazzed! It's about the main character's hilarious experiences in 7th grade, including reading Shakespeare! Several titles are part of the plot and he loves them. At one point, his teacher says, "He wrote t express something about what it means to be a human being in words more beautiful than had ever yet been written." It's so entertaining I'm going to read the first half (Sept through Dec) as an intro to our reading of The Tempest. Kids who want to finish it can check it out of the classroom library, choose it for lit circle (I have a few copies--it just came out in paperback and is published by Scholastic), or choose it for their Honored Book project.
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Switching to S. Made Easy
Old 06-11-2009, 12:11 PM
 
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I was really sold on No Fear Shakespeare, but happened to run across a copy of Shakespeare Made Easy and looked at it because Sanrisa had mentioned it. I compared both for The Tempest and I like Made Easy better! The translation seems to have more of the flavor of the original, closer to it. Because of that, I do think the Made Easy translation is higher reading level/vocab load. Some of the translations in No Fear were rougher, more obscene, than Easy. The original said 'hag-seed,' No Fear said, 'son of a b--', and Easy said 'son of a witch' (which makes sense because that's what Caliban is). Since I am required to do Shakespeare for both my 6th and my 7th graders, I'm switching!
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Old 06-27-2009, 01:55 AM
 
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I tutor a 7th grader and we just read this really great book by Susan Cooper, called King of Shadows, which is about a boy who is performing Midsummer's Night Dream when he finds himself sent back in time to the original performance of the play with Shakespeare himself. It has a lot of quotes from the play and a lot of information about Shakespeare, as well as being an enthralling read. So if you're looking for a book that might accompany your Shakepeare, I recommend that!


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Old 06-28-2009, 11:52 AM
 
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Shakespeare in American Communities offers a great teacher resource package (for free!!). I have used the video as part of an introduction; this allows the students to hear what Shakespeare should sound like. I have taught Midsummer to my 8th graders for several years now and my best experience has been in having students to connect to the emotions behind the characters. The motifs of love, jealousy, obeying parents, etc. are all things that teenagers can relate to and it makes the material so much more approachable. Also, get a recording of the play you are going to teach - listening to a performance of Shakespeare has made such a difference for most of my students.

Good luck - have fun with it!
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Thx!
Old 06-28-2009, 02:43 PM
 
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Dustofsnow & NCLA Teacher: thank you for the Susan Cooper & video kit tips--they both sound great. Appreciate it
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Shakespeare in 7th Grade
Old 07-04-2009, 04:52 PM
 
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I just taught straight up Midsummer Night's Dream to seventh graders in public school and we all loved it. It fits perfectly with the 13 year old sensibility and was a great follow up to a mythology unit earlier in the year.
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