Building on last week's post, English teacher Laura Vlahos shares how her Grade 8 students have used Oxford Next to get the most out of Shakespeare this year.
Oxford Next is a website that has previously been used in senior grades, and was piloted for use in Grade 8 this year. Oxford Next allows students to explore the text from multiple angles, including through the use of images, audio recordings, film clips, an interactive play script, and a graphic novel.
When I spoke to students to find out which section of the website they found most useful, there were almost as many different answers as there are students in the grade. One student mentioned that the graphic novel wasn’t useful at all; overhearing this, another student exclaimed “What are you talking about? It was the most useful part!” This exchange highlights the fact that a multi-faceted approach to a text truly allows each student to access the material in a manner that best suits their individual learning style, interests, and ability level.
The end result of having a variety of tools at our disposal has been that we have been able to dig much more deeply into the material than in previous years. In the past we have focused on simply understanding the plot, the characters, and a single theme. This year we have been able to delve into dozens of themes and explored the language in a much richer way. Students created seminars in which they explored many different elements in a single scene, and assisted their classmates with their understanding of the text.
We finished off our unit with some inspired performances, ranging from Lysander waxing poetic about true love, to Bottom comically mixing up his words. All in all, I think the Bard would have been proud.