The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How to get kids truly excited about Shakespeare?

This year, I will be teaching Much Ado About Nothing. It is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, and I have taught it before with great success. Last year, the school I work at did not have this text, so I taught a brief unit on it via the movie. This year, we finally got the books, and I am excited to teach it. Even MORE exciting, a local repertory theater that specializes in the classics is going to be performing the play throughout this Spring. Could it be better timing? I think not.

However, tickets are about $16 a person. We get less than $10 per student for field trip money, and that is for the whole 10th grade, not just for my class, so I can't very well justify that this money should go towards my field trip, and besides that, that money would barely scratch the surface of paying for my trip, considering that I also have to come up with transportation to and from the theater.

Last year, I got a Target grant and did a similar trip with just my Honors students during an Ibsen unit. It was fantastic. In addition to getting the Target grant, I raised enough money from family and friends to take the students out to dinner before hand too. This meant so much to the students. It was a life changing experience for some of them. I want to see this happen again, but I do not have a grant.

My brilliant idea... spend a week in the beginning of the semester selling the kids on the idea of going on a field trip to see a play and what an excellent way this is to learn about Shakespeare. Get the genuinely excited, both about studying Shakespeare and about going on a field trip. Have them identify some potential sponsors for the trip, then they can write letters to their potential sponsors asking them to sponsor their participation in the trip. It would be a great exercise in persuasive writing, and would make the trip so much more meaningful to them. To do the trip like I really want to do it (with dinner, basically), each student would need to raise about $50. I don't think that is too much.

Now the big question that I am struggling with is.... how do I get them genuinely excited about studying Shakespeare and get their total buy-in on raising $50 to go on this trip? The success of this project really hinges on them being genuinely excited about it, but I am not totally sure how to do that. I have ideas, but none of them are like sure fire going to work. Ideas? Anyone?


  1. I have no idea really how to get them interested in doing this. I couldn't read Shakespeare for the life of me, so I'd have no idea how to get anyone motivated to want to. LOL! Could you do that donor site like you've done previously though? Or is that only for physical goods?

  2. The only thing I have ever heard that works to get kids into shakespeare or at least willing to try it out is to find some way of connecting it to contemporary life. To steal from my English teacher in high school, he gave us a song and made us compare each line of the song to a line in the play and explain the comparison. It helped with understanding the language and also giving depth to the text, etc. Something like that or finding movies that have the same story lines (10 things I hate about you, Clueless) I know there's newer movies but I'm old...
    As far as the money thing, I got nothing.