February 2021 at Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation

Hello and welcome to Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation’s shiny new blog!

As we find ourselves dispersed across the country to work and learn from kitchen tables, coffee tables, bedrooms, home offices, studies & sofas, we at Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation wanted to create a space to gather together the latest on everything we’re up to at the moment, and to highlight the work of friends & colleagues (& their pets)! Here is where I’ll be signal boosting all the different projects and opportunities we’re planning and running - we all know that while January may look quiet, there’s nevertheless a lot going on under the surface, getting ready to come to fruition.

Free Resources:

I couldn’t begin with anything but the free resources we’re offering to help schools navigate through another term of remote learning, whilst keeping creativity - and Shakespeare of course - firmly on the agenda. These are activities that you can use to teach directly or set as tasks for students to explore independently. All the resources will support your students to become more familiar with Shakespeare and encourage them to delve into the worlds and characters of his plays, eliciting creative responses.

If you’re teaching Key Stage 2, dive into our history curriculum resource on Shakespeare’s Theatre, a scheme of work that immerses students in the world of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, inviting them to consider questions like:

  • What was it like to be a child actor?
  • Why did Shakespeare have royal fans?
  • How dangerous was it to live in Shakespeare’s theatre-land?

For Key Stages 3 & 4, get to grips with Shakespeare’s Language in a wide-ranging scheme of work that combines text-based and drama-based exercises to get students on the right track for GCSE and equivalent level exams. Covering everything from tone and imagery, to iambic pentameter and directorial intent, these lesson plans use three rich and complex texts (Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth & The Merchant of Venice) to put this into practice.

You’ll also find six play-specific sets of resources for you to get stuck into. I’m particularly taken with the concept of Macbeth Top Trumps, but I also love this idea of using your daily lockdown walks to reflect on the environment in your local area, in the spirit of A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s fairy queen Titania (fairy crown optional but highly recommended.) Alternatively, if you’re still in the cinematic spirit of One Night of Shakespeare you might want to check out this exercise on Romeo & Juliet trailer-making.

You know we always love to see what you’re getting up to in and out of the classroom, so if you want to share what you & your students have been working on, it would be a pleasure to see. Just use the hashtag #ShakespeareSchools to tap into our creative network of teachers & learners!

Shakespeare @ Home:

If this year has taught us anything, it’s the importance of staying agile, responsive, and ready to grow - & that’s exactly what we’re doing with our new project, Shakespeare @ Home.

We all I think at this point are aware of how easy it is to feel disconnected and isolated during lockdown. The impact on young people’s mental health is not to be understated: anyone living or working with children and teenagers cannot help but be aware of a wealth of coming-of-age experiences disrupted, derailed & delayed. A recent survey by Young Minds, a mental health charity for young people in Britain, found that 69% of respondents described their mental health as ‘poor,’ and this was before the escalation of the second wave and the imposition of the November and January lockdowns.

The Shakespeare @ Home project is being piloted as a means of counteracting some of these negative social and emotional consequences of lockdown on this age group. It will bring together a limited number of Key Stage 3 students from all corners of the UK, for a series of digitally delivered weekly workshops, outside of school hours. Each workshop will hone in on one skill or theme - movement, creating a character, or duologues, to give just a few examples - for a ninety-minute masterclass that will give students the opportunity both to work independently, and share and collaborate. Our aim is to bring together young people from a variety of backgrounds & regions, & provide them with a creative outlet to explore and express ideas and emotions through the medium of drama. Keep an eye on this blog & on our social media channels for future installments spotlighting this programme, and to see what the brilliant young people we’ll be working with will create!

Digital Shakespeare Workshops:

We’ve really relished the challenge this year of taking to Zoom, Teams, and Google Meets to deliver our workshops, of adapting to a new medium for engaging and inspiring young people & teachers, as the world has changed so rapidly over the last ten months. Some classic Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation workshops that you know and love are available now for remote delivery. (Pop your details down on this form to book in a quick, free consultation from our workshops team about the kind of sessions we can plan for you!)

2021 Programme Launch:

Finally, a reminder to stay tuned for the big announcement of our 2021 programmes! We’re currently putting the final touches to our plans, but I’m so hyped that we’ll shortly be able to start welcoming schools on board for another year of the Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation journey.

That’s all from me for now, but we’re looking forward to updating you on all the above as plans develop! We know that times are tough right now, and I hope that you’re staying safe and taking care of yourselves. You can get in touch with us through all the usual channels, and by using the #ShakespeareSchools tag on social media if there’s anything you’re inspired to share, and to help us keep the creative juices flowing!

Until next time!

Beth & the Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation team.

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Coram SSF is a cultural education charity that exists to instil curiosity and empathy, aspiration and self-esteem, literacy and teamwork - giving young people the confidence to see that all the world is their stage.

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