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Star-Crossed Lovers Online: Romeo and Juliet for a Digital Age
|Grades||9 – 12|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Five 50-minute sessions|
This lesson invites students to use their understanding of modern experiences with digital technologies to make active meaning of an older text, such as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, by asking students to create their own modern interpretation of specific events from the drama. Students first brainstorm a list of technologies they use, and then imagine what would happen if Romeo and Juliet were set in a modern-day world and that technology was available to the characters. Students work in small groups to create technology profiles for characters in the play, and then discuss their ideas with the class. Next, students select from a variety of projects in which they re-imagine a scene from the play with modern technology incorporated. Finally, students share their projects with the class and discuss why they made the choices of scene and technology that they did.
Modern-Day Interpretation Projects: This handout outlines a variety of projects students can do in response to Romeo and Juliet.
Rubric for Modern-Day Interpretation Projects: Use this rubric to assess students' projects.
The best literature activities encourage students to make their own meaning out of what they read and to discover for themselves the beauty of great literature. But achieving this goal consistently is easier said than done, especially with Shakespearean texts where students struggle with language and cultural details that are quite different from those that they encounter in their day-to-day experiences. In "Dialogue with a Text," Robert Probst argues that authentic meaning-making cannot be achieved by asking students to learn a range of facts and details about the time period, the text, and the author's language. Rather, students must engage with the text and make their own meaning. Probst continues, "...if meaning is a human act rather than a footlocker full of dusty facts, then we must focus attention on the act of making meaning rather than simply on the accumulation of data." To move from Probst's "footlocker full of dusty facts" to active meaning making allows students to unlock the mysteries of a text on their own and at their own pace. In practice, this lesson allows students to explore the text in relationship to their own understanding of the world and their own experiences. As a result, students not only identify underlying meaning in the play itself but also find echoes of the drama's theme and subject in the modern world.
This lesson plan was adapted from Gaylynn A. Parker's "Antigone in Cyberspace" from Ideas Plus: Book 17 (NCTE, 1999).
Robert E. Probst. "Dialogue with a Text." English Journal 77.1 (1988): 32-38.