Bringing Shakespeare into the XXI century: Reflecting on the use of Social Networks


  • Carolina Gallegos, drama teacher
  • Clara Gonzalez, Y6 assistant teacher
  • Karen Roberts, Y6 English Language teacher

Mentor: Valerie Browne


The use (or better said, the incorrect use) of social networks has become an ongoing debate in the world today. All over the news we hear stories about cyber bullying and the amount of people, and especially children, who fall victims of this. Unfortunately, we do not need the news to know that cyber bullying is a real thing; it is taking place right now with our students. The difficulty this presents is that most of it happens outside school hours which means we as teachers always feel we can do little to nothing about it. Needless to say, even though we feel powerless, we cannot ignore the huge elephant in the room. Despite the fact that the children were exposed to amazing reflections on this topic during the school year, the problem did not cease to exist so we decided to take another course of action.

Social pressure and violence have existed since the beginning of time. These issues did not arise from social networks. Social networks just made them more visible to more people. Proof that this violence and social pressure inflicted on people is not something that just happens nowadays with social networks but rather has been present for years on end are Shakespeare’s plays. The Bard’s plays depict the same social problems our students are going through today. This is what makes Shakespeare so relevant in the XXI century. Therefore, with the excuse of the 400 year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, our objective is to use “Romeo and Juliet” as a trigger to reflect on the timelessness of social pressure and violence and think of ways in which we can revert these issues.

shakespeare-twitter-1s8vaikThe project will take place in four stages. During the first stage, the children will be exposed to the play. In order to do so, we’ll be privileged to have Ben Walden act out the play for the kids and engage them with his amazing skills. He will also help them understand the context and adapt the play in such a way that the children understand the story. During the second stage, Carolina Gallegos, a former member of the Education Department of the Royal Shakespeare Company and notorious expert in Shakespeare, will help the students explore the complex plot and while being in role as the main characters think and reflect on feelings, mood and atmosphere. Students will rehearse and thus explore meaning in the events of most violence and social pressure through various activities such as a making individual statutes, chanting quotes, making group still images, choral speaking, chalk talk and hot seating main characters. After that, Clara Gonzalez and Karen Roberts will ask the students to imagine what “Romeo and Juliet” would have been like had they had social networks. The objective is for them to realize that these problems have been present for hundreds of years and for them to reflect on how these problems could have been avoided or resolved with the same tools. In order to have students experience a real life situation, they will create an iMovie which will show Instagram posts the characters might have created and Whatsapp conversations which reflect the violence and social pressure which are present in the play. However, in the end, they will have to find a way in which it could have been avoided or resolved using both Instagram posts and Whatsapp conversations. The children will then have the opportunity to show their productions to Ben as well as show him their process of learning. Students will also perform their version of “Romeo and Juliet in ten quotes” and they have the chance to get feedback from Ben.

George Couros, an educator in digital citizenship and leadership, when talking about the way in which we go about cyber bullying and cyber problems as teachers says “we need to make the positive [use of technology] so loud that the negative becomes almost impossible to hear.” This is why, as a final stage, students will have to again simulate the use of social networks to praise one of their fellow classmates and model the positive and wonderful way in which technology and social networks can make a difference in everyone’s lives. Hopefully, they will be moved to use their social networks in such a way that they no longer destroy but inspire.

Categories: Literacy, Professional Development Contest 2016

Tags: , ,

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