What Is the Folger Method?

What Is the Folger Method?


A BRIEF ANSWER...

Through the Folger Method, a highly effective set of principles and strategies for helping all students grapple with complex texts, the Folger Shakespeare Library is revolutionizing how not just Shakespeare but literature is taught. The Folger Method is an engine for educational equity that enables all students to own—and enjoy—the process of reading closely, interrogating texts, collaborating with peers, and creating meaning. Over and over again, teachers call this way of teaching and learning “transformative.” 


...AND A LONGER ANSWER

THE EIGHT FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLES BEHIND THIS WAY OF TEACHING AND LEARNING: 

  • Shakespeare's language is not a barrier but a portal. 
  • Your students and you deserve the real thing. 
  • Give up Shakespeare worship.
  • Throw out themes, tidy explanations, and the idea of a single right interpretation.
  • The teacher is neither the connector nor the explainer but rather the architect. 
  • Every teacher can teach this way and every student can learn this way. 
  • Set students on fire with excitement about literature. 
  • Amplify the voice of every single student. 

THE TOUCHSTONE QUESTIONS WE ASK OURSELVES AS TEACHERS AS WE DESIGN AND GUIDE LEARNING: 

  • Are Shakespeare’s words in ALL students’ mouths? How?
  • Are ALL students collaborating with each other and Shakespeare? How?
  • Is every student’s voice fully included and honored?
  • Did I get out of the way?


AN OVERVIEW OF THE PRACTICES:

While studying Shakespeare or any complex text, students move along the following arc. Instead of following a teacher-driven "I do, we do, you do" structure, Folger students "do" from the very beginning, without any modeling. The scaffolding happens when intentional groupings of students (and eventually students working independently) work their way up to longer, more complex pieces of text: 

WORD

LINE

SPEECH

SCENE

PLAY

Along this arc, students complete NINE essential activities that connect students deeply and directly to the language. The names of these essentials are below, and you'll see them mentioned across a wide range of resources here on Forsooth! 

TONE & STRESS

TOSSING WORDS AND LINES

TWO-LINE SCENES

TWENTY-MINUTE PLAYS

3D SHAKESPEARE

CHORAL READING

CUTTING

PROMPT BOOK

GROUP SCENES