At first glance, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice struck me as odd and fairly racist. I wondered what ole Will was going for when he wrote this play and its comic villain Shylock, with his “pound of flesh” threats, and I wondered what exactly my students were supposed to get from it in our study of Shakespeare this spring.
Then, at my mentor teacher’s nudging, I did a bit of research and found out that this play was written during a time when Jews were expelled from England. This knowledge caused a dramatic shift in my interpretation of the play and I wanted to share the history with my students in a way that wouldn’t put them to sleep.
Having heard of Dipity’s timelines, flipbooks and maps of contemporary news (such as the chronology of the Bin Laden raid or of key events in Charlie Sheen’s string of bad behavior), I created a Dipity timeline showing a brief history of persecution of the Jews in England before Shakespeare wrote The Merchant of Venice.
Overall, Dipity was user-friendly and I was able to combine dates, info and images onto a timeline, flipbook and map in about 20 minutes. The frustrating part came when I realized that Dipity is blocked on many school computers because it’s considered social media. So I remedied this by taking screenshots of each Dipity flipbook page, then cropping them and dropping them into Keynote, and finally exporting to PDF/QuickTime.
I’m pretty new to Dipity and haven’t done much with slideshows in the classroom yet. Any success stories? Frustrations? Recommendations or cautions? The only major caution I have is that every time I look at Dipity.com I get stuck thinking of the “Doo.Da.Dipity.” line from Black Sheep’s “The Choice Is Yours.” Which, of course, is a reminder of that bizarre hip hop hamster commercial. Be warned.