Sunday, October 23, 2011

Playing with Hamlet

Kenneth Branagh doing his version of "The play's the thing"
from Shakespeare II-En 356
So, my Shakespeare students had to compete in the Hamlet Quote Game this week for extra credit.

The game is easy (most of what they do falls under Bloom's Knowledge and Comprehension levels): 
  1. Students send via the Ning e-mail their two favorite quotes from Hamlet. Length is (usually) irrelevant.
  2. I classify each quote depending on how easy it is to recall if you've been paying attention in class (say, 1.4's "Angels and ministers of grace defend us!" versus 1.3's "And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,/With almost all the holy vows of heaven"). Some I discard  because they are too difficult/obscure. If necessary, I add one or two of my own (usually not).
  3. I create 5-6 groups with 7 quotes, making sure each group gets a couple of easy quotes and a couple of harder ones to recall. I add an 8th, extra-extra credit quote. It is usually a hard one. This time around I did 
Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in you;
though, I know, to divide him inventorially would
dizzy the arithmetic of memory, and yet but yaw
neither, in respect of his quick sail. But, in the
verity of extolment, I take him to be a soul of
great article; and his infusion of such dearth and
rareness, as, to make true diction of him, his
semblable is his mirror; and who else would trace
him, his umbrage, nothing more.
   4.  Students get in groups pre-determined by me to make sure they don't get their own quotes. They get 15 minutes (sometimes I make it 20 or 25, depending how hard the quotes are) to figure out  and write down who said the words, to whom (if applicable), and what is the situation in which the words were said. They can only use print copies of the play. Whichever group finishes first gets the most extra credit points (though everyone gets some points for participating--it's hard work after all). 

How did it go?
I had to do a bit of shuffling with the groups because not all students came to class or were on time, but I managed to make it so no one got her own quotes. After 5 minutes into the game everyone was completely absorbed trying to find the correct answers. Groups where everyone had a print copy of Hamlet worked faster than those that did not, a fact that I pointed out to the students and asked them to remember for the upcoming quote game on Othello. While one group finished the seven required quotes in the time alloted, a second group was the one who got quote 8 correct, so they got the extra-extra points. While everyone worked hard, I plan to up the ante the next quote game by offering ore extra credit points than this time around.

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