Shakespeare in the 8th Grade Classes

15D3357D-3865-4571-BB3A-234F546350D7By Nina Hall

For the past month, all of the eighth grade honors students have been learning about Shakespeare. The lesson began with an introduction to some of the main ideas in Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.The topics were mostly related to connections between two people and power in a relationship. Some of the topics were introduced to us and we had to decide whether we agreed with them or not. One example of topic that the eighth graders might have had to have an opinion on is, it is not okay for parents to have control over their child’s marriage. Someone could say they disagree and that they agree. In preparation for the reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream we read an article that explained to us how Shakespeare liked to portray his fairies. We also read about the fact that Shakespeare’s plays are still relevant to the present day. Soon enough we were ready to begin the book.

When we got our books we were told to read Act 1 scene 1 to begin. Our books have summaries of every scene and on the left side of the book there are smaller summaries and definitions of words. Reading that first scene was easier than expected. Understanding that scene was not very difficult, but as the book went the scenes got harder and harder to read. Characters have lines that go on for whole pages and longer. Each line that Shakespeare writes is complicated and needs to be solved as if it were a puzzle. To decipher the long paragraph like lines it took longer than the time needed to read one scene. Shakespeare’s figurative language is so complex sounding. Once the meaning is revealed everything makes more sense. To help students find the meaning classes acted out the scenes in the play.

This was definitely the highlight of reading the play. Almost every student was asked to go up and perform for the class. Depending on the character received by a performer, the performer would get a costume. The costumes were a great way to add fun into the play. Going up for the first time was very intimidating, but realising that everyone was nervous made reading the lines a lot easier. Students who were watching did not care whether or not performers messed up. They knew it was hard from their own experience.

While reading the book many questions such as did all people understand Shakespeare when he was Alive? Could everyone read Shakespeare with no problem? The question has stayed with me through the entire book. Many more questions were created after the book as well. The Shakespeare unit is yet to end and my questions have yet to be answered.

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