Plague: Romeo & Juliet Poster

How do you make people want to know more before you start a topic1?

I liked this whole series done for Science World by Rethink Communications. Think of this idea as visual pre-reading. The posters get you curious. Curiosity is good.

I’d like to make a series before starting novels and post them around the room. It’d work nicely for history as well. The key, in both cases, is to focus on what would capture the interest of your students and make a strong connection to something they do like and understand2. It’s likely you and your English teacher friends are not like most people. You’re going to like oblique references to Kafka- your students, not so much. Remember to think about things normal people like. This is another reason it’s good to know your students and to pay attention to the many realms outside of education.

A quick mock up of a poster for Romeo and Juliet.

Rationale – Remember this isn’t meant to strictly portray what happens in the play but to get students curious and interested in what might happen. The line has been beaten to death but it seemed like portraying it more literally and with a dystopian-future twist would capture some attention.

It also has a chance to resonate because of all the terrorism and killer virus scares going on. The biohazard sign is shaped like an “A” so I left that out of the quote. Leaving out the “A” also increases the focus on the fear word – “plague.” “O both your houses” kind of reminds me of “all your base are belong to us.” I may be the only one to think that but it amuses me.

The students may or may not recognize the biohazard symbol for what it is but I think they’ll understand it enough to draw them in. I believe there’s a fine line between hitting their interests, being patronizing, and doing things that are played out.

I’ll probably get around to making a few of these for some other pieces of literature and maybe some historical figures as well.

—Advertisement found via Ads of the World which always has interesting stuff.


1 I’m going to pitch this from the teacher does the work POV but you could just as easily work the idea into student projects based around lines or facts.

2 Note to self- There’s a big difference between making something less sucky and actually making it interesting.

Comments on this post

  1. Jim said on February 17, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Screw education. We should make video games.

    All your plague are belong to us.

    • Tom said on February 17, 2010 at 6:10 pm

      Well if Dante gets a video game . . .

  2. Alan Levine said on February 17, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Of course your are insanely creative- it might be interesting to have two contrasting versions, or go to having students create some after they do the activity….

    • Tom said on February 18, 2010 at 8:59 am

      That would be fun. I think I’ll have to try an alternative candy-coated one with the same quote- some fun cognitive dissonance.

  3. Meghan said on February 18, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    You’ve almost made me want to go back to teaching just to use that Romeo and Juliet poster. (Almost.)

  4. Ben said on February 20, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    This really walks a fine line though, doesn’t it? I mean, yes, it’s humorous, and gets the kids curious, but at the risk of turning it into a Michael Bay-esque affair. Especially when there’s already been a terrific example of getting people interested in Romeo and Juliet with the Leonardo Dicaprio version in which the families were dueling gangs complete with “swords” written on their guns 🙂

    • Tom said on February 20, 2010 at 9:07 pm

      i have no problem with that. Whatever gets people interested in the story works for me.

      I’d use explosions and fire if it supplied the momentum.

  5. Jacquie said on March 15, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    I love this concept. It gets students thinking about subjects that should otherwise come with a warning not to operate heavy machinery after reading. The students can also create posters about the subject once they are finished or even at the beginning, to get them working on prior knowledge to use when they start the assignments.
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Tom said on March 17, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Jacquie, I agree. It’d be interesting to see how those posters shifted after the reading.

  7. Cris said on February 7, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Thanks for another great visual metaphor idea, Tom. And all who riffed on it. I’ll add to my Diigo group for my Learning Through Literature with Young Adults class.

    There’s a tool that has great effects for photographs that you upload that could be fun for making minimalist poster art. Pikistrips at http://www.pikistrips.com/ Many more effects than cartoons.

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