Analyzing How Shakespeare’s Play Draws upon Greek Mythology: Part 1 | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M2B:U2:L4

Analyzing How Shakespeare’s Play Draws upon Greek Mythology: Part 1

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can determine the meaning of words and phrases in a literary text (figurative, connotative, and technical meanings). (RL.8.4)
  • I can analyze the impact of word choice on meaning and tone (analogies or allusions). (RL.8.4)
  • I can analyze the connections between modern fiction, myths, traditional stories, or religious works (themes, patterns of events, character types). (RL.8.9)

Supporting Targets

  • I can express the gist of the story "Pyramus and Thisbe."
  • I can use different strategies to identify the meaning of unfamiliar words and phrases in "Pyramus and Thisbe."
  • I can analyze the word choice, tone, and meaning in the story "Pyramus and Thisbe."

Ongoing Assessment

  • A Midsummer Night's Dream structured notes, 4.1.1-87 and 4.1.131-193 (from homework)
  • Word Choice, Tone, and Meaning note-catcher: "Pyramus and Thisbe"
  • "Pyramus and Thisbe" structured notes

Agenda

AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

     A.  Engaging the Reader: Homework Focus Question (5 minutes)

     B.  Reviewing Learning Targets (2 minutes)

2.  Work Time

     A.  Finding the Gist of "Pyramus and Thisbe" (15 minutes)

     B.  Determining the Meaning of Unfamiliar Words and Phrases (10 minutes)

     C.  Analyzing Word Choice, Tone, and Meaning (10 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

     A.  Whole Group Share (3 minutes)

4.  Homework

     A.  Reread the story "Pyramus and Thisbe" and complete the structured notes.

  • In this lesson, students read the story "Pyramus and Thisbe," which is the story the mechanicals are rehearsing throughout A Midsummer Night's Dream. Students closely read the text to gain a deeper understanding of the story before they read how the story is performed in the play within the play.
  • To address standard RL.8.4, students analyze the word choice, tone, and meaning. Because of time constraints, students analyze only a small selection of words and phrases for tone and meaning. If you have more time, consider extending this analysis as a whole group discussion and discussing the tone and meaning of words and phrases later in the text. Also consider giving a partially filled-in organizer to students who require more support.
  • Students reread the same text independently for homework, reinforcing the idea that complex texts often require multiple readings.
  • The structured notes for homework are a bit different from the structured notes students have been using for scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Since students will discuss the story for the gist in the lesson, this part of the notes has been removed. As usual, the structured notes have been differentiated; consider providing the supported structured notes for students who need extra reading support.
  • Post: Learning targets.

Vocabulary

tragedy, acquaintance, ardour, conversed, lamenting, edifice, appointed, scabbard, ratified, sepulcher.

Materials

  • "Pyramus and Thisbe" by Thomas Bulfinch (one per student and one for display)
  • Equity sticks
  • Word Choice, Tone, and Meaning note-catcher: "Pyramus and Thisbe" (one per student and one for display)
  • Word Choice, Tone, and Meaning note-catcher:  "Pyramus and Thisbe" Teacher's Guide (for teacher reference)
  • "Pyramus and Thisbe" structured notes (one per student)
  • "Pyramus and Thisbe" supported structured notes (optional, for students needing extra reading support)
  • "Pyramus and Thisbe" Structured Notes Teacher's Guide (for teacher reference) 

Opening

OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Engaging the Reader: Homework Focus Question (5 minutes)

  • Invite students to sit with their Rochester discussion partners.
  • Have students discuss their answers to the homework focus question.
  • After a minute, cold call a pair to share their responses to the focus question:

*   "How are dreams used in the resolution of the events in the play?"

  • Listen for students to explain something like: "In the play, dreams provide a context for the events that are occurring during the night that was historically the night for lovers. The whimsical behavior of fairies using magic potions occurs when characters are sleeping. The confusion that follows when the characters awake seems to be a dream because nothing that is happening fits what they view as reality. Bottom awakes with the queen of fairies believing she is in love with him and with his head changing from that of an ass back to human. Both characters are so confused by the events that take place when they awake for the second time in the night that they write them off as remnants of a dream. The same is true of the lovers. The conflicts of the night before make no sense to them, so they must have been a dream." 
  • Opening the lesson by asking students to share their homework makes them accountable for completing it. It also gives you the opportunity to monitor which students are not doing their homework.

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (2 minutes)

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

*   "I can express the gist of the story 'Pyramus and Thisbe.'"

*   "I can use different strategies to identify the meaning of unfamiliar words and phrases in 'Pyramus and Thisbe.'"

*   "I can analyze the word choice, tone, and meaning in the story 'Pyramus and Thisbe.'"

  • Remind students that throughout the play, the mechanicals have been rehearsing a play that they will perform at a wedding feast. Tell students this play they are performing is based on a Greek myth titled "Pyramus and Thisbe." Share with students that they will be reading this Greek myth today to help them better understand how Shakespeare used this myth in a different way in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
  • Remind students that the play A Midsummer Night's Dream is a comedy in which the story has a satisfying ending for the characters and the audience. Explain that the Greek myth "Pyramus and Thisbe" is a tragedy. A tragedy is a story with an unhappy or tragic ending, usually involving the downfall of the main character. 
  • Reviewing the key academic vocabulary in learning targets can prepare students for vocabulary they may encounter in the lesson.
  • Posting learning targets allows students to reference them throughout the lesson to check their understanding. The learning targets also provide a reminder to students and teachers about the intended learning behind a given lesson or activity.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Finding the Gist of "Pyramus and Thisbe" (15 minutes)

  • Display and distribute "Pyramus and Thisbe" by Thomas Bulfinch to students.  Invite them to silently read along with you as you read the story aloud.
  • Invite students to silently reread Paragraph 1 for the gist. Ask them to discuss in discussion pairs:

*   "What is the gist of this paragraph? What is it mostly about?"

  • Select students to share their responses. Listen for them to explain that the first paragraph is mostly about how Pyramus and Thisbe live in houses that are next to each other and love each other, but they have been forbidden from being together, so they find ways to communicate, such as through a hole in the wall.
  • Invite students to circle any unfamiliar words in the first paragraph. Select volunteers to share the unfamiliar words they circled and circle them on your displayed text. Ensure the following are circled: acquaintance, ardour, and conversed. Explain that you will come back to the unfamiliar words later.
  • Invite students to work with discussion partners to find the gist and circle any unfamiliar vocabulary in the remaining paragraphs of the story. Remind students to discuss the gist with their partner before recording it.
  • Circulate and support students as they read. For those who need more support, ask them to practice telling you the gist of a section before they write it in the margin.
  • Refocus whole group. Consider using equity sticks to select students to share the gist of the remaining paragraphs. Remind students that the gist is just one's initial sense of what a text is mostly about; it's fine if they don't fully understand yet. Ask:

*   "What is this story mostly about? Basically, what happens?"

  • Cold call students to share their responses with the whole group. Listen for them to explain that Pyramus and Thisbe agree to meet at a tomb, but when Thisbe gets there, she is frightened away by a lioness and drops her veil, which the lioness chews with her bloodied jaws. Pyramus arrives at the meeting place and, finding the bloodied veil, assumes Thisbe has been killed and so kills himself. Thisbe returns to the meeting place to find Pyramus dead and so kills herself.
  • Asking students to identify challenging vocabulary helps them monitor their understanding of a complex text.
  • Hearing a complex text read slowly, fluently, and without interruption or explanation promotes fluency for students; they are hearing a strong reader read the text aloud with accuracy and expression, and are simultaneously looking at and thinking about the words on the printed page. Be sure to set clear expectations that students read along silently in their heads as you read the text aloud.
  • ELLs may be unfamiliar with more vocabulary words than are mentioned in this lesson. Check for comprehension of general words that most students would know.

B. Determining the Meaning of Unfamiliar Words and Phrases (10 minutes)

  • Focus students on the word acquaintance in the first paragraph. Ask:

*   "Read the sentence around the word. What could you replace this word with?"

  • Select volunteers to share their responses. Listen for students to say something like: "friendship."
  • Ask students:

*   "What do you think the word acquaintance means?"

  • Cold call students to share their responses. Listen for: "It means a friend or a friendship." Emphasize that rather than a close friend, this is more someone you happen to know.
  • Focus students on the word ardour and ask them to repeat the exercise again: to think of a word that could be a substitute to help them figure out what the word means. Listen for students to suggest: "enthusiasm" or "passion."
  • Focus students on the word conversed. Ask:

*   "What does this word sound like?"

  • Select volunteers to share their responses. Listen for students to explain that conversed sounds like conversation. Ask:

*   "What do you think conversed means?"

  • Cold call students to share their responses. Listen for students to explain that it means to have a conversation.
  • Focus students on the first sentence of the second paragraph: "Next morning, when Aurora had put out the stars ..." Students may need to be told here that Aurora was the Roman goddess of dawn for this to make sense.
  • If there are any other words students circled as unfamiliar, depending on the time you have, do one of the following:

-   Invite other students to tell them the meaning.

-   Invite them to look the words up in the dictionary.

-   Tell them what the word means.

Words students may struggle with: lamenting, edificeappointed, scabbardratifiedsepulcher.

  • Reviewing academic vocabulary words benefits all students developing academic language. Consider allowing them to grapple with a complex text before explicitly teaching vocabulary. After students have read for the gist, they can identify challenging vocabulary for themselves. Teachers can address student-selected vocabulary as well as predetermined vocabulary upon subsequent encounters with the text. However, in some cases and with some students, pre-teaching selected vocabulary may be necessary.
  • Asking students to identify challenging vocabulary helps them monitor their understanding of a complex text. When students annotate the text by circling these words, it can also provide a formative assessment for the teacher.

C. Analyzing Word Choice, Tone, and Meaning (10 minutes)

  • Tell students they are now going to analyze some of the word choice, tone, and meaning in the story.
  • Display and distribute Word Choice, Tone, and Meaning note-catcher: "Pyramus and Thisbe" to students. Invite them to read the directions and questions with you and explain that students are to work in their discussion pairs to complete the note-catcher.
  • Focus students on the first row, which has been filled in as an example. Do a think-aloud with students to show them how these answers arrived in the first row: "We determined that acquaintance means friendship, and a fruit ripens as it grows sweeter, so I think it means that friendship grew into sweet love. I think the tone is sweet because of the use of the word 'ripened.'"
  • Invite students to begin. Remind them to discuss ideas with their discussion partner before recording on their note-catcher.
  • Circulate to support students in rereading and determining the tone and meaning. As you circulate, probe as needed:

*   "What do you think it means? Why? What makes you think that?"

*   "What tone does that word or phrase suggest?"

  • Questioning students about parts of the text encourages them to reread the text for further analysis and ultimately allows for a deeper understanding.
  • Guiding questions provide motivation for student engagement in the topic, and give a purpose to reading a text closely.
  • Consider giving students who require additional support partially completed organizers.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Whole Group Share (3 minutes)

  • Go through each question on Word Choice, Tone, and Meaning note-catcher: "Pyramus and Thisbe" and invite students to share their responses. Clarify answers using the Word Choice, Tone, and Meaning note-catcher: "Pyramus and Thisbe" Teacher's Guide.
  • Invite students to revise their answers where they answered incorrectly.
  • Distribute the "Pyramus and Thisbe" structured notes.
  • Consider inviting ELL students to discuss their ideas with other students speaking the same first language to allow for deeper thinking and discussion.

Homework

HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs
  • Reread the story "Pyramus and Thisbe" 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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