Ghettos: from Shakespeare to #BlackLivesMatter (LS-IT-633)

Context

Inspired by an insightful Europeana blog post, this Learning Scenario constitutes a journey which starts in Shakespeare’s 16th-century fictional Venice – with Shylock, Antonio, and their biases – and leads students throughout history to our troubled, less-than-perfect present. It is a journey into language, literature, and society, focusing on the word “ghetto” and the various linguistic and social connotations it has acquired during all these years and in different geographical areas.

It has been designed for a group of Italian EFL students aged 16-17 who not only study English literature as established in the Italian national curriculum but are also part of an IGCSE course which prepares them for the Cambridge IGCSE English as a Second Language and IGCSE Global Perspectives exams. These students are therefore used to active learning tasks and CLIL activities requiring them to work both individually and collaboratively on interdisciplinary topics and to critically evaluate the sources examined.

Learning Objectives and Activities

After reading an annotated version of “The Merchant of Venice”, students use Europeana resources to discuss Shakespeare’s play, its plot, characters, and setting and then move on to complete a set of varied activities aimed at researching how ghettoization has changed throughout history and how the term “ghetto” has acquired different shades of meaning, up to its recent social developments. Learners will also analyze different contemporary sources such as online magazines and newspaper articles, as well as songs on the topic.

Reflections on songs about the topic

Moreover, the learning pathway specifically requires students to reflect on the English language and work on all four skills (Reading, Listening, Writing, Speaking), thus allowing them to acquire new vocabulary and consolidate their communicative competence. 

Finally, they are introduced to one of the phases of inquiry-based learning, having to devise a driving question for a hypothetical IGCSE Global Perspectives Individual Report inspired by what they have learnt.

Assessment for Learning and feedback are integrated throughout the activities and made visible through the use of an exit slip.

Would you like to know more about this learning scenario? You can download it below:

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CC BY-SA 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Fondazione Biblioteca Europea di Informazione e Cultura (BEIC).

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