"And if our sticky noting doth fail?
But screw your Post-Its to the sticking-place,
And we'll not fail!"
- Macbeth (kind of)
This is one of my FAVORITE teaching activities! It's perfect for any unit-long study of drama or fiction -- but it is especially a hit when getting students to make sense of Shakespeare. Class-tested on the front lines of America's achievement gap, this activity will get your students GENUINELY EXCITED to read and study any play you can think of from the mad genius of William Shakespeare.
I started my teaching career in a high-needs public high school in one of the lowest performing public school systems in the country. Some relevant data
to help set the scene:
+ State reading percentile: 35%
+ National reading percentile 36%
+ Percentage of students receiving free and reduced meals: nearly 20% higher than the state average.
+ Average class size: 30+ (my largest was 42!)
Suffice to say, kids were NOT. INTERESTED. in learning anything about William Shakespeare, let alone reading anything that the guy had written -- so what was a struggling first year teacher to do?
Answer: sticky notes. Like crazy.
Using the activity outlined in this digital download, we drove student engagement through the roof in each of my ninth and tenth grade classes -- ultimately resulting in students achieving the highest state test scores in the building (second highest in the entire county!), and an annual addition to my teacher bag of tricks in which my various classes studied not just one, but THREE plays of William Shakespeare because the students responded so well to the first activity. (As we wrapped up our unit on Julius Caesar, one of my sophomores *begged me* to assign them Antony & Cleopatra for summer reading "so we can see how the story ends and talk about it in junior English again next year!" How's that for student engagement?!)
Word to the wise: you'll probably need to gather up a ton of sticky notes and some oversized charting paper to really make this unit work in your classroom. But this digital download will take care of the rest to walk you through all of the planning, pedagogy, resources, and brainstorming ideas that went into making this unit such a resounding success. And coming from the perspective of a teacher who saw students absolutely fall in love with Shakespeare in one of our nation's lowest-performing public school systems? I am confident that this resource will absolutely work wonders for any other high school classroom throughout the country.
To borrow a line from Polonius: "Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't." I hope you and your classes will have an absolute blast with this sticky note student sensation. Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have. And happy Shakespearing!