The Bard Blitz will work best if students have already read or seen the play and spent some time in class on it. You will need to decide where the Bard Blitz might fit most valuably within the time period assigned to studying the play. This placement will determine how much introductory explanation the teacher might have to do.
For the Bard Blitz to work properly each stage must be given adequate time and not skimmed over (especially Stage 1 and Stage 2). Since each stage builds on the previous, it’s important to ensure adequate time for each stage. One hour is not really enough to cover the four stages properly; however, if one hour is all you’ve got, then Stages 1-3 can be proceeded through workably enough and Stage 4 dealt with as homework or, better, in a later class. Another scenario would be two one-hour lessons, the first covering Stages 1-2 and the second Stages 3-4. Such intensive learning is a luxury in today’s crowded curricula, but is worth it pedagogically because it develops core, reusable skills.
Before holding the Bard Blitz, the teacher should either select from the Hamlet passages offered here or select short extracts of their choosing. We recommend extracts of around fifteen lines that are poetically rich but not too obscure. Extracts should be chosen so that students can:
- respond relatively immediately to them;
- decode/translate them accurately with some effort;
- find diverse ways into relational and extended abstract thought about them and the play.
Since an accurate understanding of vocabulary and meaning is essential for Stages 1-2 there is much to be gained by teachers going through their chosen extract/s word by word with the glosses and explanatory notes of a good critical edition (Arden, New Cambridge, Oxford). In developing the Bard Blitz, we did just this, and discovered some long-held misunderstandings of our own. The Bard Blitz benefits the teacher as much as the student if its challenges are taken seriously and in depth at each stage.