A modern take on Romeo
Larry Reiff, a freshman humanities teacher, has taught Shakespeare for years, but not quite like he does today. With iPad, Larry brings classics like Romeo and Juliet to life through apps and social media — making a play from 1597 relevant and relatable to modern‑day teenagers.
“How do I get my students excited about 400‑year‑old literature? By making it an experience, not just words on a page.”
Larry Reiff, Humanities Teacher, Roslyn High School, New York
Introduce the topic.
iPad gives students new ways to explore classic language.
Shakespeare’s language can be challenging for many students to understand. That’s why Larry starts with two close reading activities that help students decode the bard’s lines.
Words introduced into the English language by Shakespeare
Putting the words first.
There are many versions of Romeo and Juliet in the iBooks Store. Larry chooses the Folger Shakespeare Library Edition because it features the play in its original form. Since it has no added stage directions or other enhancements, students must pay close attention to the words themselves.Learn more about iBooks
Tellagami & iMovie
Putting the words first.
Larry’s class uses Tellagami and iMovie to visually define the language and reinforce the concepts covered. Students record themselves reading the Prologue and associate a relevant image with each line to show they understand its meaning.View Tellagami in the App Store
Learn more about iMovie
“The iPad lets students go from reading something to interacting with it. And once they’re interacting, they’re interested, they’re engaged.”
Build student understanding.
iPad turns a literature lesson into an interactive experience.
Classroom reenactments are a traditional way to explore Shakespeare. Larry’s class takes it to a whole new level with student-led activities that culminate in an engaging performance piece.
Of Larry’s students felt iPad enhanced their learning of Romeo and Juliet
Playing with direction.
Students use the iAnnotate app to add their own stage directions and voice inflections to a PDF of the play’s text, so it can be acted out as they understand it. This exercise shows students the many ways language can be interpreted.View iAnnotate in the App Store
GarageBand & Voice Recorder
Fine-tuning their voices
To emphasize the power of inflection, students practice their lines and play with sound effects using the Voice Recorder and GarageBand apps. As they experiment, re-record, and add sound effects, they learn that the way they speak the words can be as important as the words themselves.Learn more about GarageBand
View Voice Recorder in the App Store
From page to stage.
With their annotated prompt book as a guide, students team up to perform and capture a scene using the iPad’s built-in camera. When the class comes together to watch and discuss each team’s interpretation, students see how their directorial choices can shift the meaning of a line or the feeling of an entire scene — deepening their comprehension of the story.Learn more about Camera
Bringing it all together.
Larry’s students use iMovie to edit their scene, incorporating what they’ve discovered in their exploration of staging, movement, vocal delivery, and sound effects. When they share with the class, they learn from their peers’ interpretations.Learn more about iMovie
Forming their own opinions
Next, students watch scenes from the Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann movie adaptations of the play from iTunes. Larry encourages them to think about how the directors’ interpretations of the play’s language affect the audience’s experience and understanding.
“What I love about teaching with iPad is that it gives my students an infinite number of methods to show me they understand the material.”
With iPad, each student’s abilities takes center stage
The last act: for their final project, students analyze a scene from one of the play’s modern adaptations. Larry empowers students to choose whichever app will allow them to best express their ideas.
Shakespeare-related videos created by Larry’s students using iMovie and other apps
Creating their director’s cut.
For the final project, students compare a scene from the Zeffirelli and Luhrmann films. Some create a director’s cut commentary in iMovie. They discuss Shakespeare’s intent, each director’s interpretation, and the impact of staging choices on the audience’s understanding.Learn more about iMovie
Green Screen by Do Ink
Channeling their inner film critic.
Some students use Green Screen to create their director’s cut project. They analyze the play’s modern adaptations and include clips from the film to support the conclusions. By giving students options for how they complete their final project, every student has a chance to shine.View Green Screen in the App Store
Writing it up.
Students who prefer a more traditional approach compose a paper — and it’s easy to do on iPad. They write an essay to show that they’re able to compare Shakespeare’s intent with each director’s vision and analyze how the differences affect a viewer’s comprehension.Learn more about Pages
“No matter what level I’m teaching, I teach the same unit. If you’re an honors student or struggling to pass, you still get something out of it. The possibilities for learning are that differentiated.”
Larry Reiff uses iTunes U to organize and deliver all of his lesson’s books, materials, apps, movies, and assignments directly to each student’s iPad.See what you can do with iTunes U
Personalize and perfect your lesson.
With the variety of apps, books, podcasts, movies, and music available through iTunes, designing a customized lesson is easier than you might think. Get started with the apps Larry’s class uses or explore other ways to integrate iPad into your classroom.Download a guide to exploring educational content on iTunes View the Shakespeare collection on iTunes