Using Comics to Improve Understanding (Shakespeare)

January 15, 2018

How we can make sense of difficult topics like Shakespeare? How do you help students comprehend Shakespeare? How do you make Shakespeare fun and engaging? Use comics to help students translate, visualize and analyze Shakespearean plays.

Translate and Visualize

The most challenging barrier preventing students from embracing Shakespeare is the archaic language. When you start reading Shakespeare, have students translate every single line of dialogue so they can fully comprehend and visualize every scene. Instead of a tedious discussion or writing assignment, make this translation and visualization exercise fun with comics. Assign each student one section of dialogue to translate and illustrate using comic strip dialogue bubbles. In order for students to comprehend a text, they must be able to visualize it and translate it into their own words. Comics are the most effective comprehension and visualization tool allowing students to illustrate Shakespearean plays through characters, backgrounds and dialogue bubbles.

Story Element Analysis

Once students comprehend Shakespearean language, they must analyze the story elements on a deeper level. Pixton comic maker allows students to create character maps to illustrate a character’s appearance, personality traits, important quotes, relationships with other characters, and more. Plot mountains, timelines, comic strips and story boards can be used to track major conflicts and events in every act and scene of the play. Mind maps are the perfect tool to track text-evidence related to specific themes, motifs and figurative language. Pixton Comic Maker’s eight Shakespeareean play lesson plans include discussion questions and comic activities for Othello, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tragedy of Richard III, Hamlet and more. Browse Pixton Comic Maker’s “Shakespeare” lesson plans for no prep activities and student comic exemplars to effortlessly introduce and model comic-based text analysis.

Shakespearean Play Genres

In addition to text comprehension and analysis, teach students to identify and analyze the three Shakespearean play genres. Comedies, tragedies and histories each have distinct elements unique to their genre. Students can follow along with Pixton’s “Shakespearean Play Genres” lesson plan to review the elements of each genre, and to illustrate these traits as they read their assigned Shakespearean play.

Modern Day Adaptations

Shakespeare’s plays and the Bible are the most commonly alluded to written works in the history of literature. The last stage of any classroom study of Shakespeare must include an analysis of a modern day adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s famous plays. After reading the original play, watch its modern film adaptation. Students can easily compare and contrast the differences between the original work and the modern novel or film by illustrating a mind map on Pixton Comic Maker. When reading a novel or short story that alludes to Shakespeare, students can track isolated illusions to Shakespeare through storyboard illustrations. For a no prep analysis activity comparing the original Shakespearean text and the film adaptation, use Pixton Comic Maker’s “Modern Day Adaptations” lesson plan.

Whether you are beginning or ending a unit on Shakespeare, use comics to help students comprehend and analyze the unique language, conflicts, characters, themes and motifs in original versions and modern adaptations of Shakespearean plays.

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