Shakespeare & the Common Core

A sample of how Shakespeare and the Common Core

come together in a residency


They demonstrate independence

This standard aims for students to “comprehend and evaluate complex texts” and there is no more complex a writer than Shakespeare. Through performing and directing scenes, students become close readers of the text. This is a skill that they will carry on to any complex texts in the future.


They build strong content knowledge.

No writer gets quoted (and misquoted) more than Shakespeare. A working knowledge of his plays will be useful in any field.


They respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose and discipline.

In creating their own versions of Shakespeare scenes, students inevitably have to consider what it is they are trying to say, as well as how they say it and to what purpose. In addition to refining their own literary and aesthetic points of view, this trains them to examine and understand other works in this way.


They comprehend as well as critique.

In working to make Shakespeare’s work their own, students will sometimes fight with him as a writer. They will be compelled to question (and understand) the writer’s choices and decide whether or not to follow his lead.


They value evidence.

When discussing the play, students will always be called upon to demonstrate where in the text they find their ideas. For example, a student that claims that Jacques is unhappy will have to point to a line in the text that supports this idea, something like: “They say you are a melancholy fellow.” In Act 4, scene 1.


They come to understand other perspectives and cultures.

The last sentence of this standard reads: “Through reading great classic and contemporary works of literature representative of a variety of periods, cultures and worldviews, students can vicariously inhabit worlds and have experiences much different than their own.”

In embodying the literature, the depth of that vicarious inhabitation is significantly magnified.