Shakespeare Comes Alive


Think back to your experiences learning Shakespeare when you were in high school. Rather than simply reading the play, the teacher probably told you that you would be performing it in class. While this sounds like it might be fun, it probably devolved into a few apathetic students standing at the front of the room reading in monotone voices.

Students learn Shakespeare when they perform Shakespeare. They understand his words when they can truly interact with them. Unfortunately, most of our students aren’t actors, and they really aren’t comfortable performing in front of their classmates. How can we get our students to engage with Hamlet & Macbeth in ways that won’t bore or embarrass them?

There are some amazing tools available for iOS devices that will allow your students to create projects that force them to connect with the text in fun and exciting ways.

1. ThingLink 

ThingLink is both an app and a web-based tool ( that allows you and your students to annotate images. How can this be used to analyze text? Simply take a screen shot of a page in any play and email that image to your students. If you have access to Keynote or a graphic design program, students can create their own graphic version of the text. Students can then annotate the text in the image with notes, images, and other media to demonstrate an understanding of the text. Here is link to an example that some of my students created for Romeo & Juliet.

2. DoInk Green Screen 

There is not shortage of films based on Shakespeare’s plays. Just type “Hamlet” into IMDB and see what comes up. DoInk Green Screen turns your high school students into film critics. Using some type of cloud based storage or AirDrop, you can provide your students with a video clip that would be too large to email. Students can then record themselves commenting on the clip in front of a green background. Using the DoInk app, they place their commentary over the video. The end result looks like this:

3. iMovie

We always want our students to focus on the text. I encourage my students to constantly question Shakespeare’s word choices. It’s not enough to expect our students to understand that “It is the east and Juliet is the sun” is a metaphor. I want my students to ask, “Why in this metaphor does Romeo compare Juliet to the sun?” iMovie is a great tool for examining word choice in a visual format. Your students can find closely examine the text of an aside or a soliloquy and find images that visually represent the ideas, tone, or mood in that portion of the play. They use iMovie to put it all together. Here is an example one of my students created based on Puck’s final speech at the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

4. Tellagami 

Imagine that you are a painfully shy student. How would you feel standing in front of your peers trying to read lines from a play written 400 years ago? Students can use Tellagami to display an understanding of language and vocal inflection without the risk of public humiliation. Students create an avatar for themselves that will deliver the lines. Images can be placed in the background to show hoe Shakespeare is using figurative language and other literary elements.

Here is an example of the Prologue to Romeo & Juliet done with Tellagami:

5. ComicLife 

Not every students is an essay writer. Some are better at doing it with their bodies instead of their words. ComicLife gives your students the opportunity to kinesthetically express an understanding of Shakespeare’s language. This works especially well with ESL students that understand the play but lack the words to show it. Though body language and facial expressions, students dissect the language of the play. They imagine how parts of this scene would look if they were frozen in time. Two of my students created this project for Act 1 Scene 2 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

For some more ideas on making Shakespeare interactive, check out my free book, If Shakespeare Could Tweet on the iBook Store:

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One thought on “Shakespeare Comes Alive

  1. Wow! Thanks for your great suggestions and examples. I have used iMovie with great results by creating movie trailers with their provided templates–didn’t know about the other options.

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