The subjects of Hamlet -- identity and self-knowledge, parents and children, justice and revenge, truth and illusion – all resonate with high school students. Given exposure to a good film version, theatrical experience, or even an in-class reading, students respond to the difficulties Hamlet faces. This packet contains two pages of open-ended questions for discussion on various levels, as well as seven prompts for impromptu essays and an in- depth prepared essay assignment tied to literary criticism research and analysis. I have also attached some sample student-generated thesis sentences, both the original and the improved versions. These thesis sentences contain highlighted commentary – which must go beyond the basic prompt. This is a difficult and sophisticated skill I do my best to encourage, particularly with the AP English Literature test in mind. Also in the packet are four substantial quizzes and two different types of unit tests, with two alternative test essays. Finally, I have included two supplements I frequently use, one by T.S. Eliot and one by Mark Twain, as well as a literary criticism analysis sheet that helps students focus on what they need to get out of the criticism they read.
Taught after students have read Hamlet, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead stands the test of time. A short and energetic read, the play lends itself to about a week’s worth of study, followed by the 1990 film, adapted and directed by Tom Stoppard himself. This packet includes open-ended discussion questions, several essay prompts, a final test with an objective and an essay segment, and supplemental materials to enrich students’ understanding.