". . .the word of God is not bound." II Tim. 2:9b

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How I Use Famous Shakespeare Quotes to Teach Literary Elements

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First Folio, cardboard cutout, the Bard, teacher
Me and Will Shakespeare
One of the units I teach every year in 9th, 10th, and 12th grade English is Shakespeare. They say "Necessity is the mother of invention," and necessity certainly inspired some of the Shakespeare unit resources I've created. I wanted a memorable way to teach literary elements and introduce students to the plays they would be reading before they ever got to the prologue.

I also wanted a way to build character through quotes from the play and the discussions the quotes would ignite.

The wall docs I created for Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Julius Caesar help make connections for students, which is always a good thing. They build understanding of terms students will work with throughout the Shakespeare unit, and they help students remember what they learn.

How I Use Literary Elements in Famous Quotes Wall Docs in My Classroom


At the beginning of the semester, I hand out the full list of quotes and their corresponding literary elements, such as metaphor, symbol, or rhyming couplets. I explain that students will not be expected to memorize the quotes, but that they will need to be able to match the literary element to the quote that demonstrates it.

I then post the first quote doc on the wall and ask the class to read the quote aloud with me, either from the wall doc or from the handout. We then discuss the quote, the literary element, and how the language of the quote exemplifies the literary element. That's it for Day One. 

Macbeth quotes on my classroom wall
Each day, we repeat the reading and discussion for one week. On Monday of the next week, I introduce a new quote. Periodically, we review previous quotes and the terms that match them.

I assess students on terms and quotes as I see fit. This resource allows the teacher to use informal assessment daily without imposing an extra quiz on stressed-out students.

The beauty of working with specific famous quotes in a targeted way is that before students even read a line of the play, they become familiar with some of the famous lines and plot elements. Then, when we read the play and come across these quotes, light bulbs go on all around the room. Students see the quotes in context, understand the richness of the language, and remember the mechanics behind the poetry of Shakespeare. As an added plus, my students often tell me, "I was watching Sponge Bob and they quoted Shakespeare!" I love it when kids recognize literary allusions in the world around them. It's all about making connections!

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