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The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast | ELA

May 16, 2024

Today I want to talk about a fantastic podcast for you to use in class if you teach Shakespeare. With dozens of intriguing episodes like "Shakespeare and Game of Thrones," "Shakespeare and YA Novels," and "Pop Sonnets," The Shakespeare Unlimited Podcast, by the Folger Shakespeare Library,  is a great way to bring in modern connections and relevancy to whatever play you're studying. Today I’ll give you a quick rundown on four fun episodes, and then I hope you’ll go exploring on your own to find more episodes that could help your students make connections between your chosen Shakespearean text and modern life. 

In “Akala and Hip Hop Shakespeare,” Akala explores how the rhyme and rhythm of Shakespeare as well as the deep meaning  relates to the same components of hip hop. He talks about the traditions of music flowing out of Africa and into the diaspora, and also brings up questions of who education is for and how Shakespeare came to be associated with elite society. 

In “Shakespeare and YA Novels,” two novelists talk about how they have used Shakespeare’s work to inspire their own, and how they felt connecting themselves to someone so renowned.

In “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars,” one author  explains how and why he came to rewrite the Star Wars series in Shakespearean language. Bet you didn’t see that one coming! 

And in “Pop Sonnets,” a popular online writer shares the story of how he came to rewrite pop songs as Shakespearean sonnets. And spoiler alert, they sure did become a sensation! 

When integrating episodes like this into class, try giving students a sketchnotes template to provide a little loose structure as they listen. Let them know how you’ll be using the text moving forward, so they have a reason to pay attention. Maybe it’s going to lead into a writing activity, a silent discussion, or a mini-podcast project of your own! 

Shakespeare can sometimes feel far away to students, but Shakespeare Unlimited helps bridge the gap. That’s why this week I want to highly recommend you hit follow on their feed and see what wonders you discover. 

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