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Seeking Shakespeare in Local Communities

Teachers' Rating:
  3 ratings

Shakespeare's Birthday

November 2009
Erica Smith teaches English at Clear Lake High School, Houston, TX

Plays/Scenes Covered
Any play, but preferably one being studied at the time.
What's On for Today and Why

Students will create a 20 minute documentary in order to determine the extent to which Shakespeare is alive (or not) in their own communities. The documentary will give students a sense of relevance, bringing Shakespeare out of their text book, out of a film, off-stage and directly into their lives.

The main objective of the documentary is to provide  answers to the following questions:

Why are we studying Shakespeare and how is this experience relevant to our lives today?

The documentary consists of four parts:

1. Community interviews

2. Professional interviews

3. Round table reading of a scene



The project will take 7x 55 minute class periods to complete but these do not need to be consecutive.

What You Need
  •  Digital camera with video capability
  • Access to a computer and software such as Quicktime Pro, or Windows Movie Maker
  • Clips from Looking for Richard
  • Folger edition of a Shakespeare play

Documentary Assignment Handout
Group Self-evaluation Form
Documentary Assignment Rubric
What To Do

Day 1

1. Have students answer the following in a quick-write format:

What do you know about Shakespeare and why do you think we study his works in high school? Create a K-W-L chart on the board and discuss




What we know



What we want to

  find out



What we learned and still need to learn



2.Show students various clips from Looking for Richard where Al Pacino is approaching people on the street, and/or discussing what the text means to the actors.

3. Have students discuss the following questions:

Why did Al Pacino ask random New Yorkers about Shakespeare?

What were the actors doing while they were rehearsing and why?


Day 2

1. Distribute Documentary Assignment Handout to students

2. Divide students into groups of 5 and designate each one a specific task.

  a. Director/Camera-this student will be in charge of filming the project

  b.Editor-this student will edit the clips, add music,credits etc

  c. Interviewer (up to 2)-this/these students will be the on-camera personality, posing questions to interviewees

  d.Producer/Leader-this student will coordinate the project and ensure it is completed on time


Have students work together to devise questions for the interviews, to decide on a scene for the reading, and possible interviewees.

(Teacher may need to assist in accessing local professionals, educators, etc).


Day 3

1. Have students create a storyboard, computer-generated or paper copy, to accelerate editing process and allow teacher to chart progress of project.

2. Conduct round table reading using performance-based techniques such as choral reading, blocking, physicalisation of the language*. Have students discuss how active reading techniques affected their enjoyment and understanding of the text. How does this experience with Shakespeare's text relate to interview responses they recorded? Have students suggest ways to promote Shakespeare in their communities.

* For more information on physicalization see October lesson plan, Let's get physical.


Day 4 and Day 5

1. Have students work on editing footage.

2. Have students hand in group self-evaluation form


Day 6 and Day 7

1. Show the documentaries!

2.Have students write comments on each other's work. What did they think worked well? Any suggestions for improvement?

How Did It Go?

The self-evaluation sheets and rubric will provide some material for assessment. In addition,at the completion of the assignment, were students able to answer the questions they set themselves?

Why are we studying Shakespeare and how is this experience relevant to our lives today?


If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

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1 Comment

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Wayan November 10, 2014 4:53 PM
  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
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