June 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Get Thee to a Makerspace: A Shakespeare-Themed Festival from SLJ’s 2017 Maker Hero

SHAKE FEST IS A BLOW-OUT EVENT with Bard-related activities, crafts, and games in my school library designed to kick off the English department’s Shakespeare units for freshmen through seniors. A former English teacher, I have a repertoire of fun Shakespeare ideas in my tool belt. Shake Fest activities include period dancing, sword fighting, a trial for Hamlet, and much more. You’ll never see students and teachers more engaged in your library space than when you host learning events related to classroom curriculum. Here’s a snapshot of some hands-on learning at Shake Fest.

Build the Globe

I set out a big pile of LEGOs and K’nex and the pop-up book Shakespeare’s Globe: An Interactive Pop-Up Theatre by Toby Forward. Some students went to town. Our tech coordinator was throwing out a huge pile of Chromebook boxes. One of my students started stacking the boxes and turned them into the coolest Globe I’ve ever seen, complete with little stick characters onstage and in the audience.

Robotic Shakespeare. We have several Ozobots in our library, so the task was to re-create a Shakespearean scene in our “Ozobot Theatre” using the bots as characters. Students had made a variety of props and could program the scene using color-coding guides or with the Ozobot app.

Coat of arms. There are tons of online activities that allow students to design and print personalized coats of arms. Basically, anything students can equate with their family or personal interests can be included visually in the coat of arms, from soccer balls to dogs to flowers. Another great idea from the Folger Shakespeare Library is to have kids construct a customized shield. Also, if you aren’t following the Folger library on Instagram, do it!

Photo courtesy of Alisha Wilson.

Hamlet skull toss. We made this game from a cardboard box and solo cups. My students decorated Yorick’s “grave,” and I purchased toy skulls to be tossed in.

Rules: First to land three skulls in Yorick’s grave wins.
Three seemed to be the perfect number—challenging but not impossible.

Hamlet’s trial. My school’s wonderful AP English teacher shared her students with me a few times prior to the festival. We developed a definition of madness together, and students sought evidence from Hamlet  showing that he is mad and/or faking madness. One class prepared a case for the prosecution and another class for the defense. The trial was live, unrehearsed, and run entirely by the students, which made for some pretty great moments. Hamlet was found guilty.

Write like the Bard.  I have a giant whiteboard wall where students love to express themselves. I did a Google search for common Shakespeare expressions, printed them on card stock, and attached tape to the back. I then typed up various topics in four categories: places, celebrities, events (Leonardo Dicaprio, Kanye’s Debt, etc…), people of Washington High (such as popular teachers’ names), movies, and more. Students drew a topic and wrote one sentence about it using at least five of Shakespeare’s expressions, mixing in their own words. It was funny, and the students loved it.

Fencing. Two members of the University of West Florida fencing club came to teach our students. They did some fencing demonstrations in their full gear in a corner of our library. After drawing a crowd, they provided a Powerpoint demonstration and some fencing clips, and then got students up and practicing footwork and form. The kids had a blast! If your local university doesn’t have a fencing club, try looking into theater or Renaissance groups.

Read Alisha Wilson’s expanded version of this article.


SLJ 2017 Maker Hero Alisha Wilson is the innovation specialist at Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola, FL.

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Comments

  1. Awesome sauce!

  2. PLEASE look for my book, ALL THE WORLD IS A STAGE (Creative Editions), an anthology based on “Seven Ages of Man” speech.

    Keep the bard rolling.

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