Teaching with Shakespeare’s First Folio

A Workshop for Teachers at KS5

We are delighted to announce a free workshop for teachers, led by Dr Emma Smith, whose research inspired our First Folio project.

You can download a flyer [PDF] for this event. Please help spread the word!

This workshop is focused around the publically funded digitized copy of the Bodleian Library’s First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays. The aim is to help teachers devise teaching resources using the digitized First Folio, by sharing ideas with colleagues, and drawing upon the expertise of the University.

Where: Hertford College, Oxford OX1 3BW

When: 11.00—15.30, Saturday, 22 June 2013

The workshop is open to any teacher, and is particularly aimed at English or Drama teachers at KS5. Please note that places are limited, and will be offered to the first applicants. We will provide refreshments, lunch, and a contribution to travel expenses.

We ask participants to bring their ideas and expertise to the workshop to collaborate in creating teaching resources based on the First Folio, and give us permission to publish them online (fully credited to their authors) to help other teachers. It would be helpful if participants could bring a wifi-enabled laptop with them: please let us know if this is a problem.


  • 11.00—11.30 Arrival and coffee
  • 11.30—13.00 Shakespeare in Print (a talk by Dr Emma Smith, Hertford College, University of Oxford)
  • 13.00—14.00 Lunch
  • 14.00—15.30 Resource planning session

To book a place, or if you would like further information, please email us: shakespeare@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

If you have particular plays you’d like to hear about, as well as if you have any particular requirements (for example of access or diet), let us know when you write!

Beware the Ides of March

Guest blogger, Anneli James, writes…

On 23 April, I was teaching singing to a lovely year 6 boy at my favourite primary school. He has just got a merit for his Grade 1 singing and we were choosing new pieces for him to learn, and especially a suitable one for the school concert.

We debated the pros and cons of singing a well known song that people would enjoy hearing, against the fact that they would know if he made a mistake. Shortlisted, but rejected, were: ‘Consider Yourself’ (Oliver!), ‘No Matter What’ (Whistle Down the Wind, although apparently more notably covered by Boyzone), and ‘Summer Holiday’ (Summer Holiday).

Finally, and somewhat as a last resort, I asked if he’d like to sing Lin Marsh’s ‘Beware the Ides of March’. I told him it was a song about Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. In great excitement my pupil exclaimed, “Shakespeare! Wasn’t he a Tudor? And he wrote stuff! We are doing Tudors in class. Won’t an audience be impressed if I can sing something by Shakespeare?” He asked me to play him the song.

It is exciting, slow and menacing in a minor key with plenty of piano tremellos. We discussed the plot briefly, and chatted about Shakespeare writing a play about something that was ancient history even to him. ‘Beware the Ides of March’ beat all the other shortlisted songs, by virtue of the Shakespeare connection.

My pupil went home very happily to try and get his head around complicated words like Caesar, Cassius, conspiracy, prophecy. The song will be featured in the June concert — wish us luck! And a big congratulations to the wonderful class teacher who inspired them with such excitement about Shakespeare. It just seemed a wonderful thing to happen on his birthday!

Anneli James