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

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE PRINCIPLES: 

  1. If you teach middle school or high school, know that you do the most important work on earth. Period. The. Most. Important. Work. Amen.

 

  1. Shakespeare has something to say to every kind of kid—grade, ability level, ethnicity, color, ease with English, you name it—and every kid has something to say back to Shakespeare. This means IB students and AP students and students with IEPs . . . every single student.

 

  1. All kids have the right to discover and learn from Shakespeare, and they have the same right to discover and learn from Baldwin, Alvarez, Alexander, Twain, Lahiri, Whitehead, Adichie, Frederick Douglass (who was a Shakespeare scholar!) and more.

 

  1. The learning and discovery begins—for your students and for YOU—in the direct connection between your students and Shakespeare’s language. You are not the connector, but you engineer the set of all-important connections so that your kids and Shakespeare meet each other directly.  What happens as a result?  Close reading.  Primacy of all student voices. Energy. Ownership of language and the play.

 

  1. Taken together, these connectors are the bedrock of the Folger Method, the set of tools that students use to make their way through a Shakespeare play reading closely, asking rich questions, positing their own interpretations. And these tools work beautifully with any other complex text.

THE 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