Students Write the Darndest Things–Hamlet and Animal Farm

I am astounded that my 9th graders are understanding and enjoying Hamlet
Typically, it is a play that Juniors or Seniors read, and because of that, I was nervous to teach it to 9th graders, but they are understanding the concepts very well.
We analyzed a lot of Hamlet’s monologues, and my students had to write summaries of them. This is one of my student’s summaries of “To Be or Not To Be”:
“He is weighing the ideas of whether to die or to live. The argument is whether you suffer through life’s tragedies or you end it. The consequences of ending it are unknown. So do you live, knowing the pain, or do you choose to die, hoping that afterward will somehow be better? But also, if you die and nothing happens, could you be missing out? The bottom line is should you die, not knowing the outcomes, or live knowing you’ll suffer?”
I also had my students write journals for the different characters in Hamlet. Here are some entries for Hamlet:
“My depression has only deepened. The world no longer seems fit for living.”
“Seriously though, if I were a lion I would eat insects because I would be too depressed to chase deer”
“Well, that spiraled out of control rather quickly”
“I was upset when Claudius got up and left. I felt it was a trap that he walked right into! He’s such a fool! Obvious he committed such a crime!” 
“O worried that if I killed him, he would go to heaven. Let’s be honest though, nobody wants that.”
Here is an entry to Gertrude:
“My poor sweet Hamlet! What is wrong with my one and only son? He’s mad I tell you, mad!”
And here are a few for Polonius:
“I’m a parent, you can’t blame me for worrying. So I decided to send my humble friend Reynaldo to check up on him. I certainly could not go myself, he’d notice me and you know how kids are.”
“I have also noticed a change in behavior of the Prince. Hamlet and I have never really got along. I do not like him dating my daughter. Also, he’s acting all crazy. I think he’s love crazy.”
My 7th graders just finished Animal Farm. They really understood the allegory how I taught it. I made sure to check to see if they could connect the dots often each week, and was so astounded that they understood the deeper layer of the story. Now, since Animal Farm doesn’t have chapter titles, I had my students create titles for each chapter, then, as a class, we voted on the ones we liked the best.

Chapter 1–Beasts of England
Chapter 2–The Pigs Strike Back
Chapter 3–All’s Well That Ends Well
Chapter 4–Snowball Fight
Chapter 5–Who Let the Dogs Out?
Chapter 6–Sheetless Beds
Chapter 7–Bloody Piggy
Chapter 8–Human Makes a Boom-Boom
Chapter 9–The Only Good Man is a Dead One and the Only Good Horse is a Live One
Chapter 10–Happily Never After

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

  • I've never actually read Animal Farm! But of course I know the gist of the story–I probably ought to get around to reading it one of these days since it's long been a part of most educations!

    • Honestly, when I read it in 9th grade, I hated the book! I still don't like it, at all, but I did enjoy teaching it.

  • Your students are so funny! I love reading these posts!