Bard blitz: website offers new ways to teach Shakespeare

6 November 2014

An innovative open-access website will give teachers imaginative ways to engage with Shakespeare, outside the boundaries of the curriculum.

Shakespeare Reloaded, which launches tomorrow, is filled with new materials, leading research and classroom activities to refresh teaching and learning approaches to Shakespeare. It blends world-leading research with educational activities in a way that is clear and accessible.

The activities are flexible and adaptable so teachers can adjust for the particular needs of their students and pursue their own professional development. Students will benefit from innovative approaches to essay writing or learning about plays such as Richard III and Hamlet.

Associate Professor Liam Semler of the University of Sydney's Department of English said the project makes no apologies about offering teachers the freedom to experiment with Shakespeare and with approaches to teaching.

"If we always teach Shakespeare the same way, we are limiting our students' potential and creativity, as well as our own as educators," said Associate Professor Semler, the project's leader.

"Genuine learning requires change, so to open up possibilities for ourselves and our students, it is critical that we explore different ways of thinking about Shakespeare and the teaching of English literature. In our current social climate, it is increasingly vital that we consider alternative ways of understanding Shakespeare and how his plays are taught both in Australia and overseas."

The website includes three activities, all with downloadable worksheets and guides:

  • The Imaginarium, a four-stage, professional learning course for teachers of Shakespeare
  • The Bard Blitz, a close-reading and argument-building exercise for teachers to use with students in the classroom
  • Kings' Games, an engaging classroom activity that helps students to understand the narrative and motivations of Shakespeare's Richard III through dramatic gameplay

"Shakespeare Reloaded is an empowering project for educators, both secondary and tertiary, because it provides a shared space to reflect on our own implicit habits and practices and ways of thinking," said Associate Professor Liam Semler. The website includes a forum where educators can discuss fresh research ideas presented on the site.

Shakespeare Reloaded is produced by the 'Better Strangers' collaborative project between the University of Sydney and Barker College.

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