In my junior level American Literature classes, we need to cover a play by Shakespeare each year to be able to meet our Common Core State Standards. Last year, however, I didn't get it done. I just couldn't figure out how to connect a Shakespeare play to one of the fulcrum texts we were already reading in class-at least not in a meaningful package that wouldn't distract for too much time.
Then, I found a great unit plan by Cindy O'Donnell-Allen and Jenny St. Romain, and I knew connecting Hamlet to Of Mice and Men with an overarching theme of resilience would work perfectly.
Next, I started to look for interesting ways to have students represent what they learned in a compact way. I was thinking of having students perform a scene from the play in groups. Yet, when I had done that in the past, students never created something worth capturing on film. The time for preparation and creative application just wasn't sufficient on my timeline. I needed something more focused.
In my reader program, I stumbled upon the Australian Theatre for Young People group, and saw their wonderfully stitched together version of the main soliloquy in Hamlet. I was intrigued. All I needed then was a way to connect it to the student's lives to make it work.
As I thought about what was really happening in Hamlet's monologue, I was simultaneously covering Joseph Campbell's ideas in other classes. Soon, I became convinced that each of my students would have had a similar moment in their lives which they could include in the film through location, setting, and reflection.