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Filming Shakespeare: Shakespeare on Screen

  1. Published by Film Education

  2. Key Stage 3,4,5

  3. English

Professional Review by Eddie Halliday

Your Professional Context
I am assistant head teacher in a secondary school with responsibility for personalising the curriculum and developing the use of e-learning within the school.
My school is in an inner city setting with the number of pupils eligible for free school meals far exceeding the national average. Many pupils have English as an additional language although very few are at an early stage of learning the language

Students’ usage
The program suits the GCSE requirements to study a Shakespeare play and helps to support the play as a performance piece rather than a text to be read. It is suitable for whole class teaching as it encourages teacher intervention and support and is not intended for pupils to work through independently, although the discs are capable of being networked to allow students to work on them alone.
It takes the form of contrasting video clips which enable the teacher to easily analyse and present key scenes from different film versions alongside worksheets to scaffold the discussion. The program is designed to be used as a teacher-led resource. Some of the questions that are posed are rightfully demanding and will stretch able students.

Curriculum Focus
The clips are far more suitable for KS4 exam requirements although, with greater support, could be used effectively with KS3 groups to study small sections of the text. It focuses on:
* the way that Shakespeare’s plays were adapted for the screen;
* the way that language is used within the plays;
* how the use of imagery contributes to the audience’s understanding;
* how the plays have been divided into different genres
* how the modern audience have been enticed back into Shakespearean films.
It can be used by the whole class within a teacher-led lesson with the practitioner having to introduce and explain the tasks as well as drawing out answers to share with the whole class.
The content only covers small extracts of the texts but enables the user to compare how these are presented in different versions. It is not designed to teach the whole topic but is a valuable resource when the teacher wants to focus on the use of imagery or language.

Value as a teaching resource
The resource’s strength is the ease with which it presents clips in a structured and organised way with a good set of worksheets which enable pupils to work through the different topics. These worksheets could either be given out to the class or used by the teacher to structure the lesson.

The clips are professionally produced and well selected, making this resource extremely useful. I would happily find a place for them on the Department resources shelf. The clips chosen are of interest to pupils and the activities enable them to focus easily on the tasks. The printed materials are a useful resource. The challenging nature of some of the questioning will stretch able students and will need some teacher mediation. The fact that it comes with pre-prepared worksheets is a benefit although it is a shame that these are only made available in pdf format it means that they can’t be edited. However, they do give the teacher plenty of ideas of their own questions that they might want to pose.

The clips are clearly relevant to the students and would enable them to understand key aspects of the plays and Shakespeare’s stagecraft. It has been written with GCSE exam criteria in mind but would also be useful for pupils in KS3 to study key aspects.
There are also some useful images included to allow classes to analyse the scenes in detail using a workshop provided.

The title enables classes to focus on particular aspects of Shakespeare plays supported by short clips from a variety of plays. Some of the clips allow the same scene to be compared between versions while others allow a particular theme to be examined in a number of plays.
All of the clips are supported with a great number of detailed worksheets, which help to structure the learning. They are very useful in structuring the analysis of the scenes and are likely to have real value to the teacher helping structure the lesson.
It covers many aspects of Shakespeare’s work: different adaptations, language, imagery, genre and audience as well as an image folder, which contain film stills and a selection of film posters enabling the advertising of Shakespeare to be examined.