How do you introduce students to Shakespeare? Through scenic models and costume construction and makeup application! Students in my seventh grade design class read their first Shakespeare scripts and then design pre-selected scenes.
My school serves a population that's 97% African-American/Hispanic (with 37% speaking Spanish as their primary language) and 87% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
We also have the largest special education population in our charter network with 20% of students receiving interventions. My students live in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and many of them come from the housing projects down the street. On a regular basis, they confront homelessness, poverty, and neglect. Yet they come into my class every day and analyze their scripts, conduct visual research, utilize the elements and principles of design, and sketch renderings. They go swatch-selecting in the Garment District and compose music on Finale Notepad. They are an outstanding group of aspiring designers, directors, composers, performers, and even producers. I want to empower these students through art and bring their literature to life.
This year, for the first time ever, we're filming HD videos for our final Shakespeare projects. My makeup designers are used to working with stage makeup, but screen makeup is an entirely different ballgame. They want to master the airbrushing techniques that are used on film and television sets. The TEMPTU Air system would give them the chance to push their makeup designs for characters like Caliban and Puck to the next level. (It's also more "mistake-proof" than other airbrushing systems on the market, which makes it perfect for middle schoolers who are still learning.)
My classroom is all about "hooking" students with high-interest topics (like clothing and makeup design) and cutting-edge technology -- and then using that "hook" to draw them into classical literature.
Most of our students come to our school reading two or more years below grade level. Tackling archaic texts can seem overwhelming to them. However, even students who have struggled with reading their entire lives can get "bought in" when the literature is viewed through an engaging lens.
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