The Moral (and Literal) Geography of Othello

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SWBAT demonstrate their ability to participate effectively in partner discussions that determine the authorial choice about text structure by completing moral maps of Othello.

Big Idea

The contrasting geography of the play is one (of many) keys to understanding Shakespeare's purpose for writing Othello.


10 minutes

We will start class with our usual 10 minutes of reading time. I will read with the students during this time.

Finish Viewing Act 1

10 minutes

We did not finish viewing Act 1 yesterday, so we will need to take about 10 minutes to finish watching and discussing the last small bit of scene 3.

When we are done with this, I will ask students if they found this activity to be useful. I anticipate that they will say yes, but I want to hear specifically what was helpful to them in seeing vs. reading the text.

Connection to History Class

Not represented here is the 45 minutes of a history lesson that will go in between finishing Act 1 and doing a critical analysis of the text. To help bridge the content areas, my teaching partner is going to spend some time looking at the geography of the Renaissance. The students will read and label a map of Europe during the 1500 and 1600s.

Article Review

15 minutes

Once the students have finished filling in their maps, I will assign them one of two articles to read. I will copy each on different colored paper so that I can give half the class "The Moral Geography of Othello" and the other half the "Othello Cultural Introduction." I will give them 15 minutes to read and annotate the texts before moving them into jigsaw partnerships to complete the English side of the mapping activity.

This is a nice example of how to blend the informational reading (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7) and literature reading standards (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5). Asking the students to look at literary criticism gives them the opportunity to look at Shakespeare from a literary and historical/analytic perspective.

Othello Mapping Activity

15 minutes

Once the students have had a chance to read, I will ask them to pair up with a friend who read the other article. I will then hand out instructions for creating a moral map of the play using the instructions provided.

To make sure that the connections are being made with the history lesson, I am going to modify the instructions a little and ask them to do their drawings and analysis on their geographical maps from earlier in the period. I really want them to see how the geography and context influenced Shakespeare and think this visualization will help them with this a great deal.

Letting them work in partners will be a good way to exercise their collaborative negotiation (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1) as well as a way to help them check their interpretations against their partner's.

Wrap up and Next Steps

5 minutes

Once the students have finished their maps, I will ask them to complete a verbal exit slip by providing a connection between the articles/mapping and the text itself.