Friday, April 08, 2011

Resources for studying 'Hamlet'

Term ends today, and classes resume on Wednesday 4th May. Our Leaving Cert pupils will be busy preparing for their exams over the next three weeks, so this is a re-posting of helpful Hamlet resources. Again, the quotation auto-test is at the bottom.
  1. The whole text of the play: put it on your own computer...
  2. Our slideshow of Hamlet soliloquies (including Claudius) via Wordle word clouds, and including YouTube versions of the soliloquies by actors such as David Tennant, Kenneth Branagh and Patrick Stewart.
  3. The whole text of Hamlet as a Wordle (click on the image for a bigger view).
  4. 10 Characters in Hamlet: our 5-minute podcasts on 'lesser' characters: Fortinbras, Horatio, Laertes, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Polonius, Ophelia, The First Player, Osric, The First Gravedigger. In two handy podcasts as well. You can also subscribe to SCC English on iTunes.
  5. SCC English revision podcasts are here.
  6. An excellent resource: the BBC Archive Hamlet
  7. 'This American Life' radio documentary, 'Act V', on a prison production of the play.
  8. Miriam Poulton's review of the fine recent National Theatre Live production, starring Rory Kinnear.
  9. Links to six press reviews of the Kinnear Hamlet.
  10. Shakespeare Searched: a 'Google for Shakespeare' - terrific resource for looking up quotations, self-testing and so on.
  11. The Ten Best Hamlets.
  12. The Hamlet Weblog.
  13. Alan Stanford's Hamlet masterclass, on RTE Radio (4 programmes in January 2011).
  14. A quotation auto-test (and below; see the first slides for instructions)

TES Resources

SCC English is March's top contributor to the TES Secondary English website, and gets some welcome book tokens as a result. Featured on the TES Connect email are our Patterns of Poetry podcasts.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Rory's Story Cubes for English class

This review of Rory's Story Cubes covers two products: the physical box, and the iPhone app - click here for our series of apps useful for English teaching and learning.

The idea is simple: nine 6-sided dice with, instead of numbers, icons/images on each face. As the packaging states "9 cubes, 54 images, 10,000,000+ combos, infinite stories." Some of the images are: a magnet, a speech bubble, a flower, a lock, a bee... The instructions are very simple - create a story using all of the images. One of those ideas: why did no-one think of this before?

The age recommendation on the packet of is "6+". But this is in fact a brilliant idea for secondary school classes of any age, too. I've used it recently for classes to think about 'the shape of a story' (a useful short talk by the novelist Kurt Vonnegut is at the bottom of this post: show this first as a way of introducing the concept). Divide your class into three: the first group provides the set-up by choosing the first three cubes and linking them (starting, of course, 'Once upon a time); then the second group takes over with three more cubes covering the middle development, and the final group has to provide the resolution with the last three cubes. [Another tip: in class, use a visualiser/document camera and zoom in to project the cubes large-scale on the screen.]

This is a simple idea for a really effective class, particularly in working out and arguing about the nuts and bolts of a narrative arc. One example: Leaving Cert candidates can learn a lot about Vision and Viewpoint when they get to the final three cubes and decide on the nature of a resolution. They can also be inventive when developing metaphors (A magnet: the character is drawn to something. A bee: a character suffers pain, or a realisation). It's also just great fun.

The app (right) costs a mere €1.59 on the iTunes Store. You shake your phone to roll the 'dice' (the phone makes a pleasingly convincing chunky sound doing this). You can move the dice around on the screen, and particular rolls can be locked.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

'Hamlet' quotation auto-test

For those of you studying Hamlet, here is a way of checking your knowledge and focussing your minds on key issues and ideas in the play. Below is a quotation auto-test (also, direct link here). This consists of 25 useful quotations from the play. Get a piece of paper, and when you see the quotation, jot down who says it, and in what context, and why it might be useful/important. Then click to the next slide, where you will see the answers. You could also do this in pairs, testing each other as you go through the play.

Revision podcasts on minor characters in the play are here and here. Longer ones are coming next term.

Monday, April 04, 2011

4 more 'Hamlet' audioboos

Our 27th podcast gathers together the final four short 'audioboos' from our series 10 Characters from Hamlet, which deal with these characters: 7) Ophelia, 8) The Player King, 9) Osric, 10) The First Gravedigger. Click here for the first six characters - Horatio, Laertes, Fortinbras, Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

The series looks at the 'lesser' characters in the play, in five-minute chunks. Note that there is a brief gap between each talk.

You can also listen to this podcast via the player on each post, or the 'widget' on the sidebar to the right, or by visiting our podcast page here (if you have iTunes on your computer you can also subscribe by clicking here, and so download our episodes to your MP3 player, or by searching for 'SCC English' in the iTunes Store).

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Patterns of Poetry 9-15

Our 26th podcast brings together in one handy file seven more brief talks from the Patterns of Poetry series, which was runner-up in the 2010 Edublog Awards in the category 'Best Educational Use of Audio.' The talks are, in order: (9) Rhyme, (10) Repetition, (11) The Sonnet, (12) Punctuation, (13) Foreshadowing, (14) Metaphor, (15) Hyperbole. Note that there is a brief pause between each talk.

The first 8 talks are available in a single podcast here

Podcast Powered By Podbean

You can also listen to this podcast via the 'widget' on the sidebar to the right, or by visiting our podcast page here (if you have iTunes on your computer you can also subscribe by clicking here, and so download our episodes to your MP3 player, or by searching for 'SCC English' in the iTunes Store).


Saturday, April 02, 2011

10 Characters from 'Hamlet'. 10: The First Gravedigger

Our Audioboo series on 10 (relatively) minor characters in Hamlet concludes with the first gravedigger, who we see at the start of Act V and who engages with Hamlet himself in a discussion about death. The episode tells us much about Hamlet's state of mind as we see him for the first time following his return from England.

Get our Audioboos as podcasts on iTunes here. Our Audioboo page is here. Listen to today's talk via the player below. Listen to the first 5 talks on one podcast here.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Willis Shakespeare Prize

Congratulations to Miriam Poulton, winner of the 2011 Willis Memorial Prize for Knowledge of Shakespeare.  A small but impressive field had to consider Sonnet 18, and then to write an essay on the qualities which have made Shakespeare regarded as the finest author in literary history.