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Teaching Shakespeare for Gifted Students: 3 Ideas

written by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 7/28/2015

Shakespeare and gifted students fit together like a glove. Students enjoy exploring the suspense, romance, mystery, fantasy and action found in Shakespeare's work. Providing them with challenging and creative means to learn will enhance learning, as well as allow gifted students to develop skills.

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    Shakespeare in Everyday Language


    The work of William Shakespeare is filled with one-liners, which have become a part of our everyday language. Using a Complete Works of Shakespeare, students will research the quotes, discovering their origins and use in society.


    Prior Knowledge

    Present students with a list of one-liners. Ask them to review the list. Do they recognize any of the quotes? Ask them to record what the quote means to them. They will later compare their understanding of the quote with what they find in their research.


    Students will research online the origins of the quotes. They will list:

    • What play the quote came from.
    • Who said it the quote.
    • What it means in today's vernacular.


    Students will get points for each correct answer. Bonus points will be given for each quote they knew the meaning of before doing research.

    Click here for a sample test that can be revised to suit your class.

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    Another way to have students with gifts and talent enthused about Shakespeare is to have a Shakespeare Festival.


    To allow students to immerse in the Shakespearean culture, learn about characters and language first-hand by portraying characters. To share knowledge with others within the school and community

    Prior KnowledgePurpledoublet

    Brainstorm with students what they already know about Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Era. This knowledge will help them develop their characters and the various components of the Festival. Discuss food, culture, games, and jobs of that time.


    Create a Shakespearean Festival that will be shared with the entire school community. Dress is costume. Break students up in groups and have them decide on a scene from one of the Bard's plays to perform. Organize and facilitate other aspects of the festival including food, games, and crowning of the King and Queen of the festival.

    Crowning of the King and Queen can be done fairly by pulling names of students who worked on the festival from a hat. This eliminates favoritism by teachers or popularity contests with students.


    Participation in the preparation and production of the festival will be graded. Have students prepare a paper after the festival is over that discusses what they knew and what they learned by being involved in the festival. (Note to teachers: If they are having fun, then they will be learning!)

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    Quick Assignment


    Students will discover in depth everything they can about one character in a popular Shakespearean play.


    From a list of well-known main characters from various plays, have students individually pick one to research. They will prepare a character sketch of the person to present to the class. The sketch should include:

    • main character traits
    • physical description (this will be open to the student's interpretation)
    • one or two quotes that demonstrate the character's personality
    • an artistic rendering of the character
    • a list of actors who have portrayed this character as well as suggestions for who the student would enjoy seeing act the part


    Students would be graded on the depth of research, their understanding of the character, and their presentation.