Thinking About Theme: Othello Act IV Analysis (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT demonstrate their ability to support an argument about theme as presented in multiple versions of a text by writing about and analyzing passages from Othello.

Big Idea

How do you determine what is the "most right" interpretation of a text?

A New Focus for the End of the Play

As we start the last two acts of the play this week, I will be shifting my instructional focus from character analysis and basic Shakespeare reading skill building to a broader discussion of theme and style. This is mainly to help my students prepare for their final written analysis of the play, but also to make sure that I am addressing a wider range of the CCSS standards. Their final papers will be an assessment of their ability to analyze how a theme develops over the course of a text and how that theme is influenced by stylistic and rhetorical choices made by the author (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2).


10 minutes

We'll start class with our ten minutes of reading. I will read with my students during this time.

Side-note: As my lessons go live, they are not in chronological order. My SSR practice is something that I started at the beginning of the school year and have been supporting with ten minutes of reading time each day. Here's a little info on where this practice comes from, as quoted from an earlier and yet to be posted lesson =):

A few years ago, my teaching colleagues and I read the book Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It by Kelly Gallagher and decided it was really important for us to support student reading growth with dedicated time in the classroom for choice reading.

Gallagher's main argument is that school's have killed the love of reading and that to engender this in our students again, we need to let them read purely for choice, with no guided accountability. Our rationale has to do with the many statistics that are available for how readers become better.

However, this is hard to do because as a teacher, I want to monitor their growth and make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, especially if we are using valuable class time to do it.

Based on the recommendations of a peer and through conversation with my teaching partner, we are going to read for ten minutes EVERY day. We will have the students create reading goals based on their desired speed and fluency. We will use their state testing data as a place to begin and then time them on the first day. They will be required to read for 90 minutes a week, which means that they are accountable for 40 minutes on their own each week.


Acts I-III Poster Quiz

20 minutes

To demonstrate their ability to both prove an argument using textual support (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1) and to analyze the representation of a theme as represented in multiple texts (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7), I will ask students to do a short written analysis of Othello play posters. I'm hoping they do well on this as we have practiced this skill with Paradise Lost.

There will be four posters projected on the board so they can see the posters in color. As I can't post the posters here (copyright--bleck), here is the prompt: Examine the four play posters below.  Using specific examples from Acts I-III and references to the dichotomies you have been tracking, explain which poster you think is the best one to represent the play so far. And here are some thoughts on how to chose posters that will work for your classes: OthelloPosterQuiz

I will give them 20 minutes to complete this quiz.

Act IV Small Group Reading and Dichotomy Journals

20 minutes

As we continue reading the play, I will have students return to their reading groups from Act II and read Act IV out loud together. While they read, I will ask them to fill in their dichotomy Graphic Organizer

The first half of the play, our focus was on character and dichotomy. Now that we are nearing the end of the play, I am going to ask them to be more mindful about theme (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2). Their final paper will be a theme analysis, so I am hoping that they will start to notice trends in the dichotomies so that they can begin to hone in on a topic for writing.

To push them towards some of that thinking, I will circulate the room and ask them questions such as:

  • What is Shakespeare's purpose for contrasting men's and women's reactions to what is happening here?
  • What is the implied message about the theme of trust in this act? Why does no one seem to trust the people they should trust (i.e. a spouse)?

These questions are intended to get them past just identifying the dichotomies and/or rhetoric. I don't want them to know that there are men and women in the play--I want them to think about what Shakespeare is saying about gender roles. I don't want them just to see Iago manipulating Othello--I want them to think about what Shakespeare is saying about both of these men and their ability to manipulate/be manipulated.

Wrap up and Next Steps

5 minutes

At the end of class, I will pull the class back together to check in informally to see how they are doing with their reading comprehension. My hope is that they will get through the first few scenes of the act so that we can finish and do analysis tomorrow.

For this final discussion, since it will be short, I will just ask them some basic comprehension questions about what happened.