Every year, I struggle internally as I ponder on the best way to teach Shakespeare to my Freshman. I want my students to love and not hate the Bard. I know that part of the experience is to deeply dive into his brilliant and amazing use of language as his imagery, metaphors, puns, allusions,…are truly unique and universally known. It is a task that requires so much more time than we are allotted during a school year. So, I do the best I can and start slowly.
Hence, I teach them the Shakespearean Sonnet recipe along with Sonnet 18 and Sonnet 130 as a preview into his longer master piece, the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. We discuss structure, figurative language as well as theme. They really enjoyed both sonnets equally, but Sonnet 130 was the favorite as it is more relevant to our current culture, which is obsessed with perfection. We analyzed how Shakespeare redefines beauty in his terms and goes against the social norms of what constitutes beauty.
Currently, we are halfway done with Romeo and Juliet, and I decided to give my students the choice to read the Shakespeare version versus the Modern version. Now I know some of you are aghast at the audacity of choice, but it is my experience with the time frame that some if not most need that extra support. In a perfect classroom, we would devote more time to the Bard; however, I also want to devote time to other texts that are worthy of attention. Alas! One of my many teacher planning problems.
I hope that my lesson helps you and your students have a smooth transition into whatever longer piece you will be reading in your class. Adieu!