Guest Author - Lorel Shea
Prufrock Press has a great set of Shakespeare guides developed for use in the Advanced Placement classroom. Individual volumes are available for Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Each guide is written by a different author, with a unique “voice”, yet all are similar in appearance and quality. Timothy J. Duggan authored the Hamlet book, R. Brigham Lampert wrote the Romeo and Juliet guide, and, “Advanced Placement Classroom A Midsummer Night's Dream” was developed by the team of Kathryn L. Johnson and Laurie Heineman. These are appropriate for use with younger gifted kids able to read and understand the original Shakespeare, as well as with advanced high school students in or out of the AP classroom.
The Hamlet guide contains reproducible student activity pages, along with relevant internet links. Chapter three reviews major and minor characters as well as the basic plot. Chapter four offers suggestions for student activities and takes a closer look at particular scenes. Sample activities require the student to observe and describe in detail what a classroom partner does, and to design a set for the graveyard scene. The Hamlet guide is the longest of the three Shakespeare AP books, at just under 230 pages.
The guide for Romeo and Juliet has a helpful table which shows how the book aligns with standards of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). The author discusses themes and motifs of note, shares impressions of Verona, and reviews Shakespeare's early history. A very interesting section of the guide contains a taxonomical worksheet for each act of the play. It has prompts for the students which challenge, “To get an A on this assignment, you must answer this question, plus all of the ones below it.” Those who are happy to get just a passing grade, or a B, may chose to do less, while more ambitious students may decide to complete every option. The book also has a nice section devoted to essays, with sample questions and essay prompts for a 25 minutes SAT style essay as well as the longer AP essay.
A Midsummer Night's Dream is the most compact of these guides, with about 130 pages of information and project suggestions. Kids will enjoy the Shakespearean Insult Slam, which instructs them in how to torment others Shakespeare style. Who would turn down the opportunity to utter word such as, “churlish maggot-pie” or “beslubbering canker-blossom!” Skit cards encourage creative expression without a whole lot of preparation. This guide also covers the individual acts of MSND and production notes to assist with performance.