Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
Cliffs Notes are a familiar sight in backpacks and dorm rooms the world over. Those distinctive yellow and black booklets are beacons of hope to any students who ‘haven’t had time to do the reading, and I happen to know more than one teacher who has dipped into the chapter summaries while preparing lesson plans.
Of course we all agree that perusing the Cliffs Notes version of Romeo and Juliet is no substitute for reading the play, but any tool that can help students understand and appreciate literature has value. Cliffs Notes has recently branched out and released a series of short animations summarising six of Shakespeare’s most popular plays.
The films are around five or six minutes long and introduce us to main characters, themes and plot points in a humorous way. Students will see Macbeth’s ‘ambition meter’ rise and fall as he grapples with his decision to kill King Duncan and will laugh when Benvolio describes Romeo as a ‘total emo.’ Characters’ names pop up when they are on screen to tell us who’s who and Cliff, the narrator, pipes up with a running commentary designed to help students’ understanding.
I think these videos would be really useful as a way to introduce Shakespeare and his plays to a class before you dive in and start reading an entire play together. They are funny, engaging and relatable and students will enjoy watching them. Librarians and teachers could also point eager readers toward the films before offering those slick graphic novel versions of the plays or encouraging students to tackle the originals on their own.
Have you seen these videos? How do you get kids excited about Shakespeare?
flickr image by tonynetone
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