English - That's a rap for Othello

Adam Webster

What the lesson is about

When I heard my head of department lamenting the fact that software sometimes fails to meet our key needs, it set me thinking. Why not devise a project where pupils are in charge of their own learning, using technology of their choice, writes Adam Webster.

I was swayed by the Learning Pyramid, a study done at the National Training Laboratory Institute in Maine, which showed that students retain only 5 per cent of information from a lecture, but up to 90 per cent of information they use immediately.

So I launched an independent learning project with my Year 9 (S2) class based on Othello. After we had read Act One together, they had to produce a subsequent Act in any medium, other than written. They had to include some of Shakespeare's original language and complete it in four weeks.

Their innovative and sophisticated use of technology astounded me. They turned in projects ranging from PowerPoint presentations and stop-motion animation to radio plays. I was left in no doubt that each pupil had an impressive understanding of the language they were handling. They are now assessing each other's work in class for a review section in an imaginary newspaper.

You can't guarantee that a project such as this will yield "better" results than traditional explorations of the text, but a five-minute rap of the narrative of Act Two - including a number of direct quotations - was one of the most impressive pieces of work I have ever seen from a pupil.

What else?

Try RMNewbury's adaptable "it's a fine line" card game to engage pupils with Shakespeare's language in Othello.

Hip-hop and rap meet Shakespeare in misschurchill's Twelfth Night lesson.

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Adam Webster

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