Well, it took some fast talking but I think that I may have convinced my department to try something new this year.
Typically, all the grade 11s at our school study Hamlet. The unit probably lasts around 2 months (we're a non-semestered school) and as always, likely culminates with an essay, a unit exam and a final project of some kind.
So this year, another teacher and I thought- why do this alone? Why not put our classes together? Sure they don't meet at the same time, but with this new-fangled internet thingy it couldn't be that hard. Our idea grew and grew, and we're now at the point where we have every grade 11 student in the school involved, with the exception of one class. That's nearly 300 students.
The project? We're going to film Hamlet from Act 1, scene 1 to the very last line. It's going to be a full length movie, but not limited to live action, so I've been trying to think of creative options for the students, even while knowing that it's they who should be doing the thinking. Old habits, right?
Of course there will be the usual pitfalls, students who can't meet deadlines, problems with video programs, losing steam as we go because of all the other trillion things going on at the school between now and April 7 (opening night, of course). Still, I'm looking forward to see how this plays out because I think it's an exciting prospect for our school and really, for my experience as an English teacher in this digital time.
Although, this isn't a concept that should be limited to English, is it? Really, students are already sharing school related things online. I am not only referring to free essays and answer keys. Just the other day, I showed my students the stop motion Oedipus as vegetables video (http://www.wishnow.com/shorts.html - it's funny, if not exactly true to text) and the next day some students came in telling me that they had shared it on Facebook. I will tell myself that this is because of its textual connections to Hamlet, and not because of the tomato on potato sex scene. But there's probably a lot of instruction that does go on on Facebook, beyond the "omg thats due 2morrow?" type thing.
It pained me to type that without the possessive apostrophe, it really did.
Anyway, kids are signing up on our district Sharepoint site as I type this, and tomorrow the other 3 teachers and I are going to divvy up the play for their consumption. Exciting.
And you know what is the most exciting part? Shhhhh... I may not be supposed to say this... I think I may have convinced my colleagues that we don't need mark it.