Journal of Social Sciences

Shakespeare and Literacy: A Case Study in a Primary Classroom

George Belliveau

DOI : 10.3844/jssp.2012.170.176

Journal of Social Sciences

Volume 8, Issue 2

Pages 170-176

Abstract

Problem statement: Childhood is an integral time for literacy development and the aim of this article is to closely examine what pedagogical strategies were most effective to promote literacy learning with a group of six to nine year old children. This case study investigates how the use of specific literacy and drama-based strategies prepared and stimulated young children’s understanding and appreciation of a Shakespeare play. Approach: The study was conducted over a period of three months in a multi-age Montessori primary classroom in Vancouver, Canada. Over 600 writing samples from the class of 22 children were analyzed. Eight classroom observations by the author and another researcher were documented, using field notes, still photo images and video. Interviews with the teacher, parents and children were undertaken and two years after the study, a focus group was conducted with eight of the original children who had participated in the initial research. Using a qualitative research approach, the data was analyzed in search of recurring patterns and themes that highlighted literacy strategies where children’s understanding and engagement with Shakespeare was most effective. Results and Conclusion: It was observed that five particular writing and drawing strategies (word wall, journal, character masks, letters and newspaper) allowed the children to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare’s work. The above literacy strategies fostered vocabulary development, understanding of plot and character motivations and the ability for the children to rehearse and perform the Shakespeare play for their peers and family. Member checking with a randomly selected group of children two years later and written feedback from parents confirmed key learning outcomes that occurred during the study.

Copyright

© 2012 George Belliveau. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.