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By Corinne Viglietta

 

Shakespeare was a maker (39 plays, 154 sonnets, lots of new words, and more), and he wrote about making things, too. In Shakespeare we meet makers of all kinds: noisemakers, grave-makers, jig-makers, hornmakers, peacemakers, ballad-makers, ropemakers, gallows-makers, shoemakers, cuckold-makers, card-makers, widow-makers, sailmakers, and makers of manners.

Fast-forward four centuries. There’s buzz around the Maker Movement in education, and students all over seem to be tinkering, creating, hacking, and working on maker projects that cross—and disrupt—traditional subject areas. As a result, experts say, students are becoming skilled innovators and problem-solvers who feel confident and excited about new challenges.

When we think of today’s (and tomorrow’s) brave new makers, we might picture 3-D printers, gadgets, and design labs. That makes sense, but doesn’t it also make sense to talk about making in the English classroom?

 

"Making"

What does “making” look like in the English classroom? And where does Shakespeare fit in? (Photo credit: Corinne Viglietta)

 

According to Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager, a good maker project can happen almost anywhere. It simply must engage students in the creative process and have these 8 elements.

Does making language, making meaning, count? Was Shakespeare a maker in today’s sense of the word? Can—and should—English classes make other stuff, too? What lessons can we learn from hands-on makerspaces? How can making be assessed? Tell us what you think—and show us what making looks like in your classroom.

 

Are your students makers? How does making play a part in your teaching of Shakespeare and other texts?

 

 

Let’s start a conversation! We’re collecting your responses and sharing them on Twitter. Tweet us (@FolgerEd) your stories and images, or email them to me at cviglietta@folger.edu.

 

 

Corinne Viglietta is Assistant Director of Education at the Folger. She has taught English in DC, Maryland, and France.

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Happy holidays, readers! We’ll be on hiatus until January 6, 2015. Check back then for a new post—and have a very merry winter break!

 

By Sara Lehn 

Othello promptbook

Paul Robeson’s promptbook from production of Othello in 1930. (Folger Shakespeare Library)

 

Occasionally, those of us who revere the Bard speak of his works as if they are some sort of holy text. These plays contain such incredible and untouchable genius that it’s sometimes hard not to treat them with awe.

The danger is that once we start to look at a work of literature as something to be revered we cease to see it as something over which we can take ownership.  It is too awe inspiring, and what right have we, peons of the modern educational system, to touch such perfection?

The answer is, of course, that we have every right, and that teaching our students to revere these plays as paintings in a museum, to be seen and not touched, is to put up a wall between inquiring young minds and the very real and lively nature of these plays.  Instead, we need to give students the tools to take these words into their hearts and their minds and truly embrace them.

The need to dig deeply into the language is one reason that performance is such a key element of teaching Shakespeare.  Sometimes, however, jumping directly into performance can be a bit intimidating for shy students.  It can be helpful to offer other ways for students to familiarize themselves with Shakespeare’s language as part of the performance process. (more…)

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