When my Grade 12 College level students study Hamlet, we do not spend weeks analyzing the details. We do not debate about Hamlet or Claudius proving the greater villain; we do not philosophize on whether or not Rosencrantz and Guildenstern got what they deserved; nor do we try to pin Ophelia’s death on Gertrude. All of these arguments are saved as essay topics for the University level students.
No, with College level students, our three-week focus is on understanding and enjoying the story of Hamlet and its production. Students are challenged to think about changes that they would make were they producing the play.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the unit for students is when they speculate on how they would stage the Ghost in Act 1.
What Worked Well
- The handout that I provide is easy for students to follow. Their task is to find five quotes in Act 1 that describe the Ghost, and this handout proves to be a good guide for that.
- Students have fun comparing their ideas for staging the Ghost with the decisions made by the director of a production that we view in class.
- Students use ten words of their own to describe the Ghost. This helps them clarify their images of the Ghost and sharpens their ideas for their own imagined production.
- Students always have fun sketching a zombie of their own and describing his movement and voice.
What Needs Work
- Trying to fit this unit in between Thanksgiving and the Fall Break has rushed this entire unit and students just didn’t have enough time to speculate on the Ghost. Two-and-a-half weeks is rushing it; I feel like this unit is probably about a week shorter than it should have been. (It didn’t help that a large group of the students were on a three-day canoe trip with the Outdoor Education class, either.)