We turned it around a bit this year, watching the movie version starring Leonardo and Kate (if you don't know them by first name, then the last names won't help either). Student were able to follow the key points of the story and for the most part enjoyed the story. Lively discussion around marriage, parental consent and family conflict followed. I was happy that the story had managed to generate interest.
We then moved over to reading the play proper. The integration of technology in the form of individual workstations for each student was key in this regard. Each student was able to read the play along with a modern translation thanks to sparknotes wonderful website. From the readings, students were asked to write a summary of each act in their own words and pick a line(s) from each act to comment on. We are now almost at the end of the assignment and it has gone wonderfully!
The greatest challenge has been around originality. Convincing them that I don't desire to read a reworded interpretation of sparknotes has been tough but it is happening. Developing the belief that their ideas, interpretations and feelings are both valid and desired has been the focus. I have found that letting them know that there is no "correct" reading (at least in our forum) has allowed most to take the risk of providing original thought. Still it has been tough to let go of the "is this right?" mindset for many, including myself on a few occasions.
I believe it is the relentless search for marks which drives students away from what they really think and pushes them to what will bring the most reward in terms of marks. More on this next time... time to get back to it.