Analyzing Character and Theme: Tracking Control in A Midsummer Night’s Dream | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M2B:U1:L13

Analyzing Character and Theme: Tracking Control in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can analyze how specific dialogue or incidents in a plot propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision. (RL.8.3)

Supporting Targets

  • I can analyze the themes of control in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
  • I can analyze the poetic language or verse in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
  • I can analyze how characters' words and actions reveal aspects of their character.

Ongoing Assessment

  • A Midsummer Night's Dream structured notes, 2.1.33-60, 153-194 (from homework)
  • Three Threes in a Row note-catcher
  • Evidence of Control note-catcher


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

     A.  Engaging the Reader: Partners Share Focus Question from Homework and Review Learning Targets (3 minutes)

2.  Work Time

     A.  Drama Circle: 2.1.195-276 and 2.2.33-89 (10 minutes)

     B.  Close Reading: Three Threes in a Row (18 minutes)

     C.  Filling Out the Evidence of Control Note-catcher (13 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

     A.  Previewing Homework (1 minute)

4.  Homework

     A.  Reread 2.1.195-276; 2.2.33-89 and complete the structured notes.

  • Students have experienced Shakespeare in the Drama Circle many times. You have facilitated discussions of the play, and students have considered text-dependent questions in Discussion Appointment pairs or whole group. This has provided the necessary scaffolds for students to try answering text-dependent questions without as much guidance. Thus, in this lesson, after the Drama Circle, students move around and discuss text-dependent questions in a Three Threes in a Row activity. This provides a change of pace and helps them build confidence to read Shakespeare more independently.
  • In this Drama Circle, students read the selected lines twice: first as a pure read-aloud without interruptions, and second with guided teacher questions.
  • Three Threes in a Row was introduced in Module 1, Unit 1, Lesson 10. This activity allows students to work in groups to answer a row of questions to become the "experts" on those questions for their classmates during the circulation time. This is not a pass-the-paper activity.
  • Students use their discussions from the Three Threes in a Row activity to inform their writing on the Evidence of Control note-catcher. The scene in this lesson deals mostly with Oberon's attempts to control Titania and Lysander. This instance of control is important, as it sets in motion the tangled web among Lysander, Hermia, Helena, and Demetrius. Due to space constraints of the note-catcher, students likely will capture just one example of Oberon's attempts to control others. Be sure to circulate during discussions and probe for other examples, ensuring that students understand the extent of Oberon's desire for control. Students will not know the full results of Oberon's plans to make Demetrius fall in love with Helena until Lesson 14 at which point they should add to the final column of their charts.
  • If students wish to use Titania as the victim of Oberon's attempts at control, guide them toward evidence: "Why does the character want to control that person?" Students skipped the scene in which Titania and Oberon argue about the Indian boy; point them toward 2.1.20-28 for evidence.
  • In Advance: Review Fist to Five Protocol; Review Three Three's in a Row protocol (see Appendix).
  • Post: Learning targets; instructions for Three Threes in a Row.


fawn (2.1.211), valor (2.1.241), woo (2.1.249), vile (2.2.40), virtuous (2.2.65)


  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (book; one per student)
  • Three Threes in a Row note-catcher (one per student)
  • Document camera
  • Three Threes in a Row Directions (one for display)
  • Three Threes in a Row note-catcher (for teacher reference; one to display)
  • Evidence of Control note-catcher (from Lesson 9; one per student)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream structured notes, 2.1.195-276; 2.2.33-89 (one per student)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream supported structured notes, 2.1.195-276; 2.2.33-89 (optional; for students who need additional support)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream Structured Notes Teacher's Guide, 2.1.195-276; 2.2.33-89 (for teacher reference)



A. Engaging the Reader: Partners Share Focus Question from Homework and Review Learning Targets (3 minutes)

  • Ask students to take out the Lesson 12 structured notes they completed for homework. Invite students to pair-share their responses to the focus question.
  • After students have discussed their responses, cold call one or two to share what they discussed with their partner. Tell students that their thinking about Oberon and Puck's desire to control others will come in handy during this lesson, when they will read on to discover more examples of control in the play.
  • Invite students to read the first learning target aloud with you:

*   "I can analyze the themes of control in A Midsummer Night's Dream."

  • Remind them that they have been working with this target for two lessons now. This will be their third time working with the Evidence of Control note-catcher, which will help them prepare for an essay in which they analyze how a character attempts to control others in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
  • Ask students to show a Fist to Five  on their confidence with this learning target. Clarify as needed and remind them that there is still time to work on the target before Unit 2, when they will begin writing about the theme of control.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Drama Circle (10 minutes)

  • Invite students to gather in the Drama Circle. Be sure they have their text, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Ask students to turn to Act 2, Scene 1, lines 195-276.
  • Remind students that they've already read the beginning of this scene both in class (Lesson 12) and for homework. In the scene, Robin (Puck) is introduced and Oberon begins plotting to distract Titania so that he can steal away the Indian boy. They may use the structured notes from their homework to help them answer some questions you will ask them.
  • Invite students to turn and talk to refresh their memories:

*   "How does Shakespeare characterize Puck?"

  • Listen for students to describe Puck as mischievous, clever, a trickster, etc.
  • Invite them to turn and talk:

*   "What does Oberon plan to do to get the Indian boy from Titania?"

  • Listen for students to describe Oberon's plan to use the love-in-waiting flower to make Titania fall in love with the first person or beast she sees in the forest. While she is distracted, Oberon will steal the Indian boy from her.
  • Remind students that they've begun to think about the idea of control in the play. Tell them you would like them to think about how the characters try to control one another as they read along or act out the remainder of Act 2, Scene 1.
  • Launch by prompting students to reflect on the relationship between Demetrius and Helena (from Act 1, Scene 1). Say:

*   "Talk with a partner: How would you describe Helena and Demetrius's relationship?"

  • Listen for them to say that Helena loves Demetrius, but he loves Hermia instead. Some students may discuss Helena's jealousy toward Hermia. Helena's feelings also prompted her to tell Demetrius about Hermia and Lysander's plan to run away together.
  • Reinforce the idea that Helena's love for Demetrius is not mutual; he doesn't feel the same way she does. Remind students that Helena tried to win Demetrius's favor by letting him in on Hermia and Lysander's secret plan to run away.
  • Invite students to volunteer for roles. Choose roles (Demetrius, Helena, Oberon, Robin) and remind students to read loudly and clearly, with appropriate expression. Begin the read-aloud of 2.1.195-276.
  • After this first read, have students read the scene again. Consider switching roles for this second read. Pause to clarify or discuss as necessary, keeping in mind the discussion activity to follow will also aid students' comprehension of the reading.
  • Before continuing to read 2.2.33-89, explain that in the skipped portion of the text, forest fairies sing Titania to sleep, vowing to protect her from magic and evil. Ask:

*   "What do you predict will happen in this scene as Titania sleeps?"

  • Call on one or two volunteers. Students should predict that Oberon will anoint Titania with the magical flower nectar but will likely not predict Puck's blunder when he uses the nectar on Lysander instead of Demetrius.

Begin reading 2.2.33-89, pausing as needed to clarify and discuss.

  • This read-aloud builds comprehension of this scene. Consider having stronger readers complete the read-aloud while others listen and follow along
  • Note that there is no discussion guide for this lesson since students will discuss and answer key questions on their own during Part B. Gauge your students' understanding of the text as you read aloud and consider pausing to discuss important elements, especially vocabulary and language. This will bolster their comprehension so that they can dig deeper during the discussion activity in Part B.

B. Close Reading: Three Threes in a Row (18 minutes)

  • Distribute the Three Threes in a Row note-catcher and make sure students have their copies of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Assign each group one row (three questions) of the note-catcher. (Depending on class size, more than one group may have the same set of three questions.)
  • Note: This is not a pass-the-paper activity. Students each write on their own note-catcher. They must listen, process, and summarize.
  • Using a document camera, display the Three Threes in a Row Directions and read them aloud:

Part 1:

  1. Your group answers just the three questions on your row.
  2. Take 10 minutes as a group to read your three questions, reread the text, and jot your answers.

Part 2:

  1. Then you will walk around the room to talk with students from other groups. Bring your notes and text with you.
  2. Ask each person to explain one and only one answer.
  3. Listen to the explanation and then summarize that answer in your own box.
  4. Record the name of the student who shared the information on the line in the question box.
  • Repeat, moving on to another student for an answer to another question. (Ask a different person for each answer so you interact with six other students total.)
  • Have students begin Part 1 in their small groups. Circulate to listen in and support as needed. Probe, pushing students to dig back into the text to find answers to each question.
  • After 10 minutes, focus students whole group. Begin Part 2 and give them about 7 minutes to circulate.
  • Then ask students to return to their seats and refocus whole group.
  • Display the Three Threes in a Row note-catcher (for teacher reference) so that students may check their answers. Students will be able to use the Three Threes in a Row note-catcher as they fill out the Evidence of Control note-catcher in Work Time C.
  • Consider grouping students heterogeneously for the initial three questions. This will help those who struggle to gain expertise on the initial questions in order to accurately share information with others.
  • Providing models of expected work supports all learners, but especially challenged learners.
  • During this Work Time, you may want to pull a small group of students to support in more basic comprehension of the scene of the play.

C. Filling Out the Evidence of Control Note-catcher (13 minutes)

  • Ask students to take out their Evidence of Control note-catchers.  Tell them that they will now use the note-catcher to record key information about Oberon's attempt to control others in the play. Reinforce that the discussions they had during the Three Threes in a Row activity helped clarify the ways Oberon sought control in this part of the play. Remind them that this note-catcher will help prepare them for the essay they will write in Unit 2.
  • Orient students to the relevant section of the note-catcher by calling their attention to Oberon's name on the left-hand side of page 3.
  • Tell students that they should consider both Titania and Demetrius and decide which character they would like to choose as the focus of Oberon's attempts to control others.
  • Ask students if they have any questions about how to fill out the organizer. As needed, invite them to read the questions on the top row of the organizer aloud with you:

*   "Why does this character want to control that person?"

  • Explain that this question asks students to consider the motivation behind Oberon's desire to control others.

*   "How does the character try to control that person?"

  • Clarify that this question asks students to consider the methods Oberon uses to control others.

*   "What are the results of this character's attempts to control that person?"

  • Reinforce that this question asks students to consider the consequences of Oberon's attempts to control others. Tell them they may leave this box blank until next lesson, when they will read about the results of Oberon's actions. 
  • Invite students to begin recording information on their note-catchers. Remind them that they must look back into the text to find the evidence that most strongly supports their answers. Their explanations of the evidence should be clear and succinct. Refer to the sample Evidence of Control note-catcher as needed.
  • If students finish the Oberon section of the note-catcher within the time allotted, encourage them to add to the Helena section as well. Remind students of how Helena attempts to control Demetrius in the first act, which is what made Demetrius arrive in the woods.
  • When reviewing graphic organizers or recording forms, consider using a document camera to display the document for students who struggle with auditory processing.

Closing & Assessments


A. Previewing Homework (1 minute)

  • Refocus students whole group. Distribute A Midsummer Night's Dream structured notes, 2.1.195-276; 2.2.33-89. Read the focus question aloud:

*   "What motivates Oberon to try to control Demetrius? What motivates him to try to control Titania? Be sure to cite the strongest evidence from the text to support your answer."

  • Tell students you know they have just considered this question while filling out the Evidence of Control note-catcher, but remind them that they have recorded evidence for only one of the characters Oberon tries to control. Ask them to consider the character they did not write about today as they write their answer. As for the character they did write about on the Evidence of Control note-catcher, advise students to translate what they have already written onto the structured notes.


HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs
  • Reread 2.1.195-276 and 2.2.33-89 and complete the structured notes.
  • Consider providing the supported version of the structured notes to students who need help summarizing Shakespeare's dense text and defining key vocabulary words.

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