In preparation for teaching Romeo and Juliet, I started re-reading the play last night. As I read, I’ve also been going through the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Shakespeare Set Free teaching guide for the play, examining activities and handouts and determining whether they would work for my kids and our project. While I am definitely not using everything, there are several good ideas that I will be borrowing and building on.
I’ve also been thinking about how I can incorporate the types of activities that we did at our first Globe workshop into my teaching of the play. To that end, I remembered that somewhere in my classroom is the book Shakespeare’s Insults: Educating Your Wit. I’m thinking that in order to introduce the story’s situation I may split my class into two groups: one representing the Capulets and the other the Montagues. While setting the scene and introducing the cast of characters, we may throw a few insults back and forth between our two feuding families so that my students can start to play with Shakespeare’s language.
In addition to all this reading, I also viewed–for the first time in its entirety–West Side Story. Despite the fact that the film features dancing and finger snapping that my students will find quite cheesy, I do want my kids to watch the film. They will be comparing the story of Romeo and Juliet to our modern-day issue of gangs and gang violence, and the film does a wonderful job in making that comparison. I’m still working on a calendar for the project, so I don’t know whether or not I’ll be showing it in class yet. I’m toying with the idea that if there isn’t enough time for the film in class (since we’re already viewing Romeo + Juliet) I may offer an after-school viewing. We shall see.