Dr. Debra Barrett-Graves
14 May 2012
Evaluation of Resource Materials: Folger Shakespeare Library Film Lessons
The film lessons section of the Folgerwebsite offers material for several plays including Macbeth, Hamlet, and Henry V. Upon close review, it is clear that this is an excellent source for English teachers. This assessment has been determined through a review of the site’s intent, content, navigability, visual allure, and usefulness for students with special needs.
This intention of this site is to provide varied and focused content. Some lessons incorporate film clips to bring clarity to a work while others ask students to create video clips as a way to show an understanding of the work. Multiple lesson plans for “illuminating” sonnets, the process of creating videos coupled with music and images to accompany the sonnet, are available. There is also a lesson on the positives and negatives surrounding modernizing Shakespeare’s works. Exceptionally varied, this site uses video to teach and assess, while also addressing various levels of difficulty to accommodate nearly every student in the classroom.
The content of the film lesson plans is educational and targets junior high and high school students. The videos available are useful supplements to reading the plays; they bring Shakespeare to life through visual and performance-based activities. Many of the videos are linked to YouTube, allowing easy accessibility. “Living Iambic Pentameter,” a lesson teaching students to understand poetic rhythm by marching to the beat of the lines, is the most popular lesson. Also useful, the Insider’s Guide podcast series combines interviews with scholars who have experience teaching Shakespeare with actors who have performed his plays. The content is valuable for a general overview of Shakespeare rather than individual plays.
Navigating through the site is simple though it will take some guesswork to find exact information. The set of horizontal tabs beneath the main banner at the top of the page provide the visitor with general categories to explore, and the subcategory tabs on the left side of the screen will always let you know “where you are” and “what you are looking at.” First-time visitors should explore the “Especially For” options on the right side of the home page before proceeding further. Overall, finding specific items may require some hit and miss attempts, but with patience, the experience is favorable when compared to other academic or library sites.
Visually the website is quite alluring. It contains seventeen lesson plans displayed over three pages. Next to each lesson plan is an etching, drawing, painting, photograph, or print relating to a scene in one of Shakespeare’s plays, stimulating the viewer’s imagination. The works are in color, as well as black and white, displaying pieces from the 18th to the 21st century, thus providing students with a virtual time capsule for how artist’s depictions of Shakespeare’s characters (as well as the great bard himself) have developed over the years.
While there are many interesting lessons archived on the Folger website, it is difficult to find lessons specifically designed for students with special needs (SWSN). SWSN do benefit greatly from watching and listening to traditionally read texts; these venues or modes allow the student who hasn't understood the written text to gain understanding; therefore, many of these lessons would be highly beneficial. For example, "Is that Your Sandwich?", "Knock, Knock," and "Interpreting Character" are excellent lessons because they ask students to learn in creative ways. The "teacher to teacher" video section also gives good advice and can be applied to all types of learners. A close inspection finds many lessons that would work well for SWSN.
After close examination, it is evident that this website offers excellent resources and tools for teachers. Any instructor intending to teach Shakespeare should make the Folger’s website a favorite on their homepage tab.
Group 3 members: Mike Chon, Faith Espudo, Nicholas Filipek, Robin Grabowski, Johann Schiffer