Archive for william shakespeare

Teaching Comics: Shakespeare Charades

Posted in 2014-2015 school year with tags , , , , , , on March 26, 2015 by Christopher Pearce


I wanted to repost this comic from a few years ago as a counterpoint to yesterday’s strip where I take teachers to task for heavily relying on old ideas and lessons.

I didn’t mean to make it sound like teachers should NEVER use old lessons and ideas – indeed, building a reliable stable of working LPs you can fall back on is the cornerstone of a decades long career as an educator. You can’t do brand new things every second of your day. I was more taking aim at teachers whose entire repertoire is “read the story, answer the questions, quiz on the story and questions on Friday.” If Wednesday’s comic didn’t read that way, apologies.

The lesson in the above comic strip is one I’ve been using to great success for years; it’s become a student favorite. I pulled the idea from the Folger Shakespeare Library, but they don’t seem to have a proper link for the lesson any longer. I thought I’d share some of my armchair rationale behind the cut for what I’m doing here.

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Teacher comics: Course correction

Posted in 2014-2015 school year with tags , , , , , , on January 20, 2015 by Christopher Pearce


It does bum me out that this new (sort of ridiculously planned) testing cycle has mucked with my favorite unit of study.

Chalkboard Drawings: The Bard edition

Posted in chalkboard drawings with tags , on December 14, 2014 by Christopher Pearce

I draw a picture of myself on my classroom’s chalkboard every day. I collect those pictures as camera phone photos and post them on Sundays. See the rest here.


Only one this week (all the rest got lost on my cellphone somehow). This is the drawing in the background of the piece Local12 did on me this past week.

Doodle Day: The Bard Over the Garden Wall

Posted in illustration, sketchbook with tags , , , , on November 13, 2014 by Christopher Pearce


Here’s a little doodle I did in preparation for second semester’s Shakespeare work in my classroom. I liked it enough to ink it and scan it… but not enough to color it. If you’d like to color this, you’re more than welcome.


On the other hand, here’s a doodle I did of the characters from the Cartoon Network mini-series Over the Garden Wall. I liked this one enough to get out the Prismacolor markers… but marker colored pieces always look weird when I scan ’em.

OTGW was fantastic, by the way.

Romeo & Juliet Projects, Part 3

Posted in 2013-2014 school year with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 2014 by Christopher Pearce

Here’s the third go-around where I’ll be bragging on my students’ work on their Romeo & Juliet movie pitches. Students were asked to come up with a modern spin on the classic tale.



So here’s a cool one… this group imagined a Pixar-quality animated film where the contents of a fridge come to life and play out the story of Romeo & Juliet. They played careful attention to the feud aspect of the Montagues and Capulets by casting Pepsi products as one family… and Coca-Cola products as the other.



Here’s another reworking of an already-exisiting property: Romance Time, an Adventure Time take on Romeo & Juliet featuring many of the characters from the popular animated series. Seeing as I’m a pretty big fan of AT myself, I heartily approved.




Here, in close up, are some examples of casting for one of the projects. You can see the though process of some of my students and their conclusions.

Romeo & Juliet Projects, Part 2

Posted in 2013-2014 school year, student drawings with tags , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2014 by Christopher Pearce

Continuing to share my students’ awesome Romeo and Juliet movie pitch projects. In brief, students in my classes are assigned a scene from the last half of R&J and asked to create a modern take on the material for moviegoing audiences.

One of the things I believe made this year such a successful one in regards to these projects is my taking a slightly different approach to mentoring. I asked students to think more this year about creating a believable “feud” dynamic than I ever have before. That work reflects itself in quite a few of these projects.




To wit, I received several “Marvel Comics vs. DC Comics” Romeo & Juliet pitches. I have to imagine the popularity of superhero movies lead students down this route, casting the R&J roles based personalities of the various hero characters. In both of these projects, independent of one another, the students cast Deadpool as Mercutio… which kind of fits, if you think about it.

(FYI, the Batman/Spider-Man poster is not meant to lead you to believe those two heroes are the Romeo and Juliet of that pitch… although that is something of an unintended consequence.)





Here’s another cool take using pre-existing characters: A Romeo & Juliet casting the major roles from the play around the eternal divide between Nintendo and Sega. I wasn’t even aware this particular feud was still going on, but I’ve been since assured it is. In this version, Sonic the Hedgehog woos Princess Peach.

More in upcoming weeks…

Romeo & Juliet Projects, Part 1

Posted in 2013-2014 school year, student drawings with tags , , on March 28, 2014 by Christopher Pearce

One of my go-to projects for my ninth graders with Romeo & Juliet is a movie based presentation. I assign the students roles as movie producers with the task of updating R&J for modern audiences while retaining much of the original’s spirit. Groups are assigned specific scenes from Acts 3, 4, and 5 of the play and asked to complete a variety of tasks (write a modern screenplay, cast the movie with explanations, create a soundtrack for the film) based around their assigned scene, and their vision in general.

By far, this is the most popular project I do over the course of the year. Seniors come back to visit me and opine that it’s the most fun they’ve had in English during their high school years… and they felt they learned a lot. I’m especially proud of this year’s batch of pitches.

This first one is one of the most complete versions of my assignment I’ve ever received. Besides an immediately understandable feud dynamic, every other aspect of their presentations was well thought out and fantastic.


This next one imagines Romeo & Juliet where all the principal cast members are overweight. While that could have come off as a cruel joke, the students involved did a fantastic job of leavening the humor with smart writing. Each of the two families owned an operated a Chicago based fast food restaurant.



I’ve been so heartened to see an uptick in same sex Romeo and Juliet pitches from my classes in recent years. I feel like a take on R&J like this would have been unheard of in my time as a high schooler but I usually get a few of these a year. It makes me happy that something like this is becoming second nature to young folks.


More to come over the next few weeks…

Teacher Comics: Iambs

Posted in 2013-2014 school year with tags , , , , , on March 27, 2014 by Christopher Pearce



Complete accident, I swear. I give a lot of kudos to the student who recognized my speech patterns… that’s a way higher level of commitment than I expect from my classes normally.

Now’s a good a time as any to let readers know I’ve done a TON of Romeo & Juliet themed comics in the past few years and they’re well-worth checking out. Well… most of them are worth checking out.

Teacher Comics: The “secret” to teaching Shakespeare

Posted in 2013-2014 school year with tags , , , , , on March 25, 2014 by Christopher Pearce


How you use this particular tact toward teaching the Bard is entirely up to you but I find it useful. Young people have a hard time getting into Shakespeare for the first time, the language seems so ossified to them. I try to let them know the audiences who watched Shakespeare’s plays in 1599 weren’t TOO different from them when it comes to popular tastes.


Teacher comics: Similar settings

Posted in 2013-2014 school year with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2014 by Christopher Pearce