Reading Shakespeare: Understanding Shakespeare’s Language | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M2B:U1:L9

Reading Shakespeare: Understanding Shakespeare’s Language

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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)
  • I can determine the meaning of words and phrases in literary text (figurative, connotative, and technical meanings). (RL.8.4)

Supporting Targets

  • I can analyze how specific lines of dialogue in A Midsummer Night's Dream help the play move forward.
  • I can analyze Shakespeare's use of language in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Act 1, Scene 1 Written Conversation note-catcher
  • Lesson 9 structured notes

Agenda

AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

     A.  Engaging the Reader: Sharing the Gist (3 minutes)

     B.  Reviewing Learning Targets (2 minutes)

2.  Work Time

     A.  Drama Circle: Act 1, Scene 1 (25 minutes)

     B.  Written Conversation: Understanding Shakespeare's Language (10 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

     A.  Tips for Reading Shakespeare (4 minutes)

     B.  Previewing Homework (1 minute)

4.  Homework

     A.  Reread 1.1.21-129 and complete the structured notes.

  • Having built a bit of confidence in reading Shakespeare's language and a bit of engagement about the humor in the play (during Lesson 8), students now read the play from the beginning.
  • As noted in Lesson 8, throughout this module, much of students' initial reading of the play will occur during an in-class Drama Circle. Students will read the selected lines twice in class, once all the way through without stopping and a second time with guided teacher questions.
  • Students then will reread the same scene independently for homework, reinforcing the idea that complex texts often require multiple readings. Today, they read part of Act 1, Scene 1 in a Drama Circle so they can continue building confidence with the text with teacher support. 
  • In a classroom with many struggling readers, consider conducting the initial Drama Circle read-aloud yourself (i.e., reading all the parts) so students can hear the scene read fluently before attempting it.
  • In order to spend more time closely reading and studying other passages, students will skip certain lines of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The decision to skip certain lines was made by considering opportunities for students to attend to the character and thematic developments over the course of the text.  When students skip a portion of the text, you will provides an oral summary and there will also be a written summary in the structured notes.
  • In this lesson, students skip a portion of the opening scene between Theseus and Hippolyta, in order to jump right into Egeus's plea to Theseus for help controlling Hermia. (Consider assigning the omitted scenes to strong readers as extension homework.)
  • In advance: Copy the Tips for Reading Shakespeare bookmark on cardstock and cut into strips, one per student.
  • Review: Written Conversation protocol (see Appendix).
  • Post: Learning targets.

Vocabulary

dialogue; vexation (1.1.23), consent (1.1.26), cunning (1.1.37), beseech (1.1.64), relent (1.1.93)

Materials

  • Play Map (from Lesson 8; one per student)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (book; one per student)
  • Act 1, Scene 1 Teacher's Guide, Part 1 (for teacher reference)
  • Act 1, Scene 1 Written Conversation note-catcher (one per student)
  • Tips for Reading Shakespeare handout (one per student)
  • Tips for Reading Shakespeare bookmark (one per student)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream structured notes, 1.1.21-129 (one per student)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream supported structured notes, 1.1.21-129 (optional, for students needing additional support)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream Structured Notes Teacher's Guide, 1.1.21-129 (for teacher reference) 

Opening

Opening

A. Engaging the Reader: Sharing the Gist (3 minutes)

  • Invite students to sit with their New York City discussion partners.
  • Have them discuss their gist notes about Act 1, Scene 2 from last night's homework.
  • After a minute, cold call a pair to share ideas about the most important plot details from Act 1, Scene 2. Listen for students to remember that this scene featured Bottom and the other workmen discussing the play they will perform at Theseus and Hippolyta's wedding. They should also recall that Bottom emerges as a comically controlling, but ignorant, character. 

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (2 minutes)

  • Read the learning targets aloud as students follow along silently:

*   "I can analyze how specific lines of dialogue in A Midsummer Night's Dream help the play move forward."

*   "I can analyze Shakespeare's use of language in A Midsummer Night's Dream."

  • Draw students' attention to the word dialogue and explain that it refers to a conversation between two or more people in a play(Consider asking if anyone knows what it is called when just one character speaks in a play, and listen for a volunteer to say "monologue.")
  • Tell students that they will begin reading A Midsummer Night's Dream from the beginning today. Have them take out their Play Maps from the previous lesson to use as a reference throughout class.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Drama Circle: Act 1, Scene 1 (25 minutes)

  • Invite students to set their chairs up in a Drama Circle like they did in Lesson 8. As they do this, distribute a copy of A Midsummer Night's Dream to each student.
  • Ask students what they learned about reading and understanding Shakespeare's language in the last class. Listen for them to say that Shakespeare wrote using difficult language and style (unfamiliar vocabulary, challenging syntax), but that they can get the gist of the story by reading it more than once.
  • Explain that students will skip certain parts of this play so they can focus more intensely on other parts. The first part they will skip is the first page of the play. Draw students' attention back to the Play Map and point out the sentence at the top of the page: "In Athens, all are getting ready for the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta." Tell students that A Midsummer Night's Dream opens with a conversation between Theseus and Hippolyta in which they look forward to their wedding, which is four days away. The setting of this scene is Theseus's court, or palace. Students will begin reading on the next page, when a character named Egeus enters the palace, hoping to talk to Theseus. Ask:

*   "Based on what you see on the Play Map, what do you think Egeus wants to talk to Theseus about?"

  • Give students a moment to look back at the Play Map and think. Then, listen for a volunteer to say that Egeus wants to talk to Theseus about his daughter, Hermia, and who she is going to marry.
  • Have students turn to page 9. Draw their attention to some of the features of this text: the line numbers in the right-hand margin and the notes on the left-hand page that correspond to those line numbers. Tell students that during a Drama Circle, they should focus on the original script on the right-hand page.
  • Remind students that in a Drama Circle, a different person reads each role. Assign parts for this scene: Egeus, Theseus, Hermia, Demetrius, and Lysander.
  • Have students read the scene aloud, starting at the top of page 9 (1.1.21) and ending on page 15 (1.1.129).
  • After this first read, tell students they will reread the scene to deepen their understanding. This time you will have them pause to answer questions about what they read. Consider switching roles for this second read.
  • Have students reread the scene aloud. Refer to the Act 1, Scene 1 Teacher's Guide, Part 1 for detailed notes on guiding students through the scene. 
  • As in Lesson 8, you may want to split the roles up by page (Egeus 1, Egeus 2, etc.) so more students can participate in the Drama Circle. This also allows you to differentiate, as some pages have fewer lines than others.
  • Consider creating a nametag for each character to wear during the Drama Circle to help students keep them clear.
  • As students are just beginning to build confidence reading Shakespeare aloud, consider playing one of the main roles (Egeus or Theseus) yourself. This will allow them to hear longer chunks of the text read aloud fluently.
  • Consider appointing several students to act as "interpreters." When the Drama Circle read-aloud hits a particularly challenging bit of language, the interpreters are charged with referring to the left-hand page for explanatory notes, then reading or paraphrasing those notes for the class. 

B. Written Conversation: Understanding Shakespeare's Language (10 minutes)

  • Invite students to sit with their New York City discussion partners again. Explain that students will have a Written Conversation with their partners to analyze some of Shakespeare's language choices. in this scene. Remind students that in a Written Conversation, they should not speak aloud.
  • Distribute the Act 1, Scene 1 Written Conversation note-catcher. Tell students to choose which partner will start on Question 1 (on the front of the page) and which partner will start on Question 2 (on the back of the page).
  • Give them 2 minutes to think and fill in the first column on the note-catcher ("I Say").
  • Have students switch papers. Give them 90 seconds for each remaining column on the note-catcher.
  • Cold call one or two pairs to share their thinking about Question 1. Listen for them to say that Shakespeare might have chosen the phrase "dispose of" to imply that Egeus sees his daughter as his property, not as a full human being. Others might think that he is saying "dispose of" because he is so angry at Hermia that he is trying to make her feel like a piece of garbage. Jot down some notes about this question on the board and have students write them in the "Notes from class discussion" space at the bottom of the page.
  • Cold call one or two pairs to share their thinking about Question 2. Listen for them to say that Shakespeare might have chosen the word "yoke" to show that Hermia sees marrying Demetrius as an unfair way to control her, making her more like an animal than a human who can make her own choices. Jot down some notes about this question on the board and have students write them in the "Notes from class discussion" space at the bottom of the page.

Closing & Assessments

Closing

A. Tips for Reading Shakespeare (4 minutes)

  • Tell students to put their Play Maps in a safe place as you distribute the Tips for Reading Shakespeare handout. Have students turn to their discussion partner and partner read the handout aloud.
  • Distribute the Tips for Reading Shakespeare bookmark and tell students that this bookmark will be a helpful reminder of what they just read on the handout. Encourage students to have this bookmark and the Play Map out when they do their reading homework.

B. Previewing Homework (1 minutes)

  • Remind students that they will be rereading passages from today's Drama Circle for homework.
  • Write "1.1.21-129" on the board and show students how to read it: The first number is the act, the second number is the scene, and the other numbers are the lines. In this case, they should reread Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 21-129. Draw students' attention to the act and scene numbers listed on the top right-hand corner of each page of the play.
  • If you have time, quiz them on reading this format by challenging them to find the following lines: 1.1.66, 2.1.125, 4.2.32.
  • Distribute the A Midsummer Night's Dream structured notes, 1.1.21-129.

Homework

HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs
  • Reread 1.1.21-129 and complete the structured notes. 
  • Provide struggling learners with the supported structured notes for additional scaffolding as they read the play.

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