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Discovering Shakespeare CD-ROM Review by Jessica DeForeBride Media International
Pioneer Drama Service, Inc.
PO Box 4267
Englewood, CO 80155
When I decided to homeschool I was intimidated by the thought of teaching my children algebra, chemistry, Latin, and Shakespeare. As a public school student, I experienced Shakespeare's plays in a boring format, listening to cassette tapes as a monotone narrator tempted me to sleep during English literature class.
Now in the role of teacher, I want to my children to experience Shakespeare in a different way--a lively approach that won't put them to sleep or send them screaming to their rooms: "No, not Shakespeare!"
Pioneer Drama has a provided a way to relieve those Shakespeare blues with an interactive CD-ROM, Discovering Shakespeare. Students have access to summaries of 37 of Shakespeare's plays and 8 sonnets, 30 guided video tours that last 2 minutes each, timelines of 16th-century events, and a look at the legends and myths that surround Shakespeare's name. Students will walk with the experts as they explore the streets of London and Stratford-upon-Avon and learn in detail about theatres, the Plague, and Shakespeare's family, marriage, and career.
The CD-ROM is put together quite nicely; we especially enjoyed the video tours that highlighted a topic of Shakespeare's life and times. They truly helped to transport you into Shakespeare's era much better than a book would. The CD-ROM is compatible with both PC and Mac. We used it our Macintosh computer, and it worked wonderfully. This CD-ROM was created in 2001, so the technology is a bit old. But it serves its purpose--creating an interactive and entertaining view into Shakespeare and his world.
I would suggest using this as supplement, not as a spine or core product. The Discovering Shakespeare CD-ROM can be used in any type of homeschool and would benefit visual students greatly. It can be used by more than one student or by an independent learner. I will use it for the guided video tours the most, to enhance my children's understanding of what we are talking about. I consider this CD-ROM appropriate for all ages and will not hesitate to use it with my elementary-age child.
Bride Media, the creators of the CD-ROM, have an essential teacher's guide that is accessible only through the CD-ROM itself. (You won't find it on the website that's listed on the CD-ROM booklet.) The teacher's guide is very useful, providing tips on how to use the CD-ROM, activities, study suggestions, essay ideas, and a bibliography. Personally, I like bibliographies. They provide suggestions for additional resources if I feel I need them. The CDROM is fine on its own, but the teacher's guide enhances the learning experience.
Navigation though the CD-ROM is quite simple. If you get lost, there is always a button for help or an icon to take you back to the main page. The price of this CDROM is $49.95, which is expensive for my taste and budget. If I were considering this for my homeschool, I would probably try to find cheaper, more up-to-date resources first. Discovering Shakespeare does an excellent job of covering Shakespeare's life, though, and I would have to weigh that against all the other options.
If you make the choice to purchase Discovering Shakespeare for your homeschool, you will have a wonderful resource for interactive learning.
Product review by Jessica DeFore, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2006