This bundle combines three (3) engaging activities to enrich your students' Hamlet experience and enhance their literary analysis skills, employing analysis of Aaron Sorkin's TV drama, The West Wing. The bundled concept employs a scaffolding approach, utilizing the following 3 exercises:
1. Lit Analysis Meets TV Drama - The West Wing (2-4 days)
This 2-4 day unit serves as a review, a reminder, or a ratcheting-up of high school students’ literary analysis skills, and it is designed for early in the school year (or any time prior to experiencing a major text). The novelty here is that students are asked to analyze the "Two Cathedrals" episode of the TV drama, The West Wing, a potentially more engaging story form than written text, yet one that is fresh and challenging because so few students have encountered this particular drama before. As a stand-alone lesson, it provides an opportunity to hone analytical skills, applying them to an alternative “text” before embarking on more in-depth reading and literary analysis.
2. Of Princes & Presidents Poster Project (1 day)
This fun & engaging assignment is designed to heighten and enhance students’ analytical abilities by comparing protagonists from two dramas: William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing (“Two Cathedrals” episode). In lieu of a traditional writing assignment, this exercise encourages students to adopt the role of a music concert promoter for the “Princes & Presidents Tour” and create a poster featuring the two compelling characters, Hamlet and President Jed Bartlet. Students will choose one character as the headlining act (the most interesting) and the other as a featured performer, using the poster templates provided or creating their own design, and “argue” their position via the promotional language they employ.
3. The Great Debate: Hamlet vs. Jed Bartlet (3-4 days)
This fun & engaging TEAM DEBATE assignment is designed to heighten and enhance students’ analytical and communication abilities by comparing protagonists from two dramas: William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing (“Two Cathedrals” episode). This debate exercise encourages students to select and argue a highly subjective position involving nebulous language, thereby forcing them to define elements and dig deep into character analyses to support their positions. As a team, students must not only develop criteria for what “interesting” and “complex” mean, but also analyze these two significant characters whose contexts and themes converge and diverge in compelling ways.
The beauty of using these 3 activities in sequence is that it allows teachers to scaffold from reviewing lit analysis in an interesting and engaging form, to applying character analyses across two distinct "texts" but using minimal language, to digging deep into character analyses using a team approach.
Moreover, although these combined activities have been employed in lieu of a lit analysis essay, one could certainly use them, together or individually, as a precursor to an in-depth essay.