Di Ianni U05a2 – Spotlight on Strategies: Hamlet’s Big Question



The challenge for this activity is to ask students to apply their understanding of the function of symbols in literature. The process of reproducing a concept in an orginal work applies effective teaching strategies on many levels.

When I was young my father bored us nearly to tears on a regular basis by “explaining” detailed episodes in world history that he was studying at the time. He would act as if we were having a discussion but basically he was reciting what he knew on the topic listing facts and dates as well as creating connections to the larger meaning of the events and people involved. He also motivated the narratives by using imagination to give the main characters life through descriptions of how they looked, acted and probably felt. This had the affect of creating interest and empathetic understanding which helped give emotional meaning to the stories. These elements are essential for deep learning.

This evening family activity had two main results. We began to understand some of the connections in history that would form an understanding of the connected threads in all history. It also acting as a rienforcing activity for my father to clarify and retain the information that he was studying.

Later in life I found that in my profession which included creating videos to explain events and the people involved in them, the process of having to explain something to others caused me to have a deeper understanding by gathering the necessary information needed to fully explain and then to process the information to communicate to others. This activity gave me deeper understanding and helped my memory to retain the information by virtue of going through the process of explaining.

In the above activity, assigning the task of creating a literary symbol will foster a deeper understanding of the function of symbolism because students will have to interalize and personalize the understanding. We see that learning involves empathy and storytelling, Mangione,R (2013)  which when personalized become more effective for deeper learning. Formative assessments are also part of effective teaching strategies Hattie, J (2013) and this activity is very adapted to that goal.

Including digital media such as the video overview accesses the multiple intelligence of students and supports visual learning. The Nike video also brings context to the material which creates a connection and deeper meaning to the topic by associating the concept to their lives in an immediate way. The photographs also support an element of storytelling and visualization of some ideas for diverse learners and visual learning in general. Students can see the object and get a sense of context which is easier to access when refering to the meaning than are written words which require the additional mental processing step from abstraction to concrete.


Mangione, Giuseppina Rita et al. “Measuring empathy to support learning design and narrative game: A phenomenological approach.” Complex, Intelligent, and Software Intensive Systems (CISIS), 2013 Seventh International Conference on 3 Jul. 2013: 401-406.

Hattie, John. Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Routledge, 2013.


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