That's a Wrap: Counting Bodies and Themes in Act V of Othello

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SWBAT demonstrate their ability to read and comprehend text independently and proficiently by reading and interpreting key scenes from Act V of Othello.

Big Idea

A body count...and no justice served. How will Shakespeare finish this play?


10 minutes

We will start class with 10 minutes of reading. I will wander the room to check in on student progress/engagement.

Act V Reading and Listening

35 minutes

I really hate to spend more than three weeks on any text. Spending longer, at least for me, usually indicates that I have strayed from standards based instruction to English geek instruction, which includes diving in too close for too long on my favorite passages or ideas and dragging my pace to a grinding halt. This can sometimes be fun for me and for the students, but more often than not, it is a self-indulgence that kills the love of the text for my readers. I have to remind myself often that I am looking at things through the lens of my tenth reading and they are in their first. If I can help them to be proficient readers of Shakespeare, they have many years to find their own favorite passages and nuances. Making sure my pace is well matched to their interest and ability will hopefully make them more likely to go back and dive in again when they are older.

I am a realist too, though. I know that taking longer is sometimes inevitable, but for my readers and for this unit, I think it is time to move on from reading Othello and move into the application of our comprehension activities. As such, I am going to push us through the last act by listening to an audio version. I'm using this technique today so that students can hear a performance, which is one of many skills a reader of Shakespeare should have. I will ask my students to follow along in their texts as they listen and I will pause the recording occasionally to check for comprehension by asking them what is happening and why it is important. I also write character names on the board as they die. This helps students to track with the body count and helps them to find closure for particular story lines.

At this point in the play, I am hoping that their "Shakespeare Ears" have been turned on and that they are able to track with the dialogue and comprehend what is happening in the play at an independent level (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10). My oral check ins will help me to gauge this as will their written work next week.

Wrap up and Next Steps

10 minutes

After we have finished listening to Act V, I will hand out their Act5SeminarPrep for next week's analysis discussions. This graphic organizer will take the place of a dichotomy journal for this act. We will return to our discussion of dichotomy and major themes of the play as a whole early next week once we've completed our analysis of Act V. With this Seminar, I will be asking them to focus on a key scene as presented in multiple performances and then participate in a discussion about the interpretations.

I will ask them to complete the first page, which is a reading guide for the text of Act V, scene ii, for homework. If there is time, I will let them work on this in class.