Why Did They Do That? Othello Comparitive Analysis (Day 2 of 2)

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SWBAT demonstrate their ability to propel a conversation forward through textual support, questions and strong connections by participating in a seminar over Act V, scene ii of Othello.

Big Idea

Collaborative discussion can be a challenge, but is worth tackling for great higher level thinking and discourse.

Seminar Set Up

10 minutes

Before I have the students move into their seminar groups, I will remind them of the things I am going to look for during their seminar. Specifically, I will look for:


To help them be better about their listening, I will ask them to complete rubric for seminar for a peer. I will randomly assign one student to another using symbols on their papers and ask each student to identify their symbol before each group begins to speak. While they seminar, I will take note of important ideas that are raised and use How to Score a Seminar to assign points.

This seminar will be a fishbowl seminar, which means that only 15 students will be in the inner, speaking circle at a time. I do this for two reasons. First, my class is so big that to do a straight Socratic seminar with all 58 students would not work. My quiet kiddos have a hard enough time jumping in when they are in smaller groups. Building their groups based on typical speaking ability and chemistry helps those who might struggle to have a fighting chance of meeting the speaking standards. The second reason I frequently use this format is that it provides a really nice way for me to assess them on their ability to listen and then use what they hear in their own speaking. They are required to be listeners for a good portion of the seminar, which provides an equally good opportunity for my gregarious students to learn how to absorb ideas and information from their peers.

Fishbowl Seminar

40 minutes

Once we have the logistics covered, I will ask them to rearrange the room so that there are 15 desks in the center and all the other desks pulled closely up around them. We will have four seminar groups. Each group will get ten minutes to discuss their prepared questions or other observations from the play.

I will do my best to stay out of the conversations, but may push them towards higher level questions by asking them to explain their reasoning or to answer the "so what" of their observations. Inevitably, my earlier seminar groups are slow to start so I will likely have to push them a little more: Start of Seminar Slump. Hopefully this will allow later groups to discuss a little more unaided: End of Seminar.

The students will be discussing the significance of different film making choices with Desdemona's death scene as well as diving into new interpretations of the Shakespearean text as influenced by their viewing analysis yesterday.

Wrap up and Next Steps

5 minutes

At the end of their discussions, I will ask them to get the room back in order and turn in all their written work. If there is time, which I don't anticipate there will be, I will ask for any final thoughts about topics that were discussed.