I just finished my Design Challenge Project! And I really wish I had some students to test it out on. Anybody feeling some Shakespeare? I decided to do my design challenge project on Shakespeare, which seems cliche, but I think that’s the point of connected learning; to revitalize old content with new, innovative, interest-driven assignments. I want students to feel like they haven’t ever read Shakespeare before–at least not like this. I want them to find it interesting, and vital. As vital as Shakespeare has been to literature and the English language.
The assignment I created has students first rewrite an Act of one of Shakespeare’s plays in a modern vernacular, then present it in a new and creative way using some form of technology. The reason this assignment is so great is because of how open-ended I am leaving it. Students can choose any forum of communication they want to express the content and style of Shakespeare. They don’t even have to use the same names of the characters in the play. They could write a completely new story with new elements, as long as they recognized and reproduced the literary devices and major themes of the plays they choose.
Another great element of the assignment is that it is interest-driven. I will have modernized descriptions of the plays, or lists of themes in the plays, by which they will decide the play they find most interesting. By doing this, they aren’t choosing a play to study, but first an interest, and then finding a way to learn through it. This will keep the students engaged and excited for their assignment. I’m allowing them to be as creative as they choose with it.
But what kind of teacher would I be if I didn’t first test out the assignment for myself, and work out the kinks? A pretty bad one. So here I will also endeavor to translate the text into (drumroll please) A SOCIAL MEDIA DIALOGUE!!!! What would Shakespeare have done with social media? Would he spout verses upon verses of poesy? Would he be that annoying friend that rants about their roommate or love interest? I suppose we will never know. But here on this blog I post my attempt of the melding of two cultures, one of the past and one of the present.
In creating my own presentation of Romeo and Juliet‘s Act 5 Scene 3, I have discovered a very many things. For one thing, if Romeo and Juliet were teenagers today, they would be very annoying Facebook friends to have. For another thing, when my students are completing this assignment they will face a very many challenges. Challenges with technology, challenges with Shakespeare, and challenges with making Shakespeare, a parade of thees and thous, into a modern text. Also if they go the social media route as I have they will realize that most people don’t have lengthy conversations through social media. It is difficult to translate in person interactions to digital. Some things must occur in person, especially if it is the discovery of a misconstrued death.
All troubles aside, the project was very rewarding. I felt more immersed in Shakespeare than I have before. It was also quite humorous to be tweeting from @Romeo. Maybe I’ll change my twitter handle to that. Anyway, without further adieu, I give you my digital script of Romeo and Juliet: Trials of the Digital Age. (link posted below)