The lessons in this unit showcase my pedagogic philosophy that students learn best when they are actively engaged. Traditionally teachers teach Shakespeare's plays much as we teach novels and short stories: Students read the text, analyze and discuss it, take quizzes and tests, and write a paper. What happens when we approach Shakespeare's plays through performance pedagogy and pay homage to the Bard's original intent?
The lessons in this unit emphasize fresh approaches to literary analysis.This lesson is part of a larger unit on William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. In its unit context, this is
Lesson 17 of The Taming of the Shrew.
This lesson begins w/ Act 5 as a jumping off point and allows students to demonstrate their understanding of various themes throughout the play.
In this lesson, students will
Before students arrive for the discussion, teachers must prepare the materials. I first acquire five pieces of butcher paper on which I attached the materials I gave to students the previous day. Carousel Discussion Chart Labels are enlarged to enable easy use by students, and the student handout Act 5 Carousel Discussion. This gives students the opportunity to look over the ideas they will discuss in the activity.
Prior to their arrival, I hung the posters/charts around the room, making sure to leave enough room for groups to gather and share the space. It's important not to give students a reason to avoid participating.
When students arrive, they see the posters and know something is up. After they have been seated, I direct their attention to the posters/charts and tell them they'll participate in a carousel discussion.
I define Carousel Discussion:
Carousel Discussion (also known as Rotating Review) scaffolds both new concepts and/or information for review through movement, conversation, and reflection from one station to the next in a circular pattern, similar to the rotation of a carousel. It is a cooperative learning activity that allows students to discover and discuss ideas and themes in a literary work, such as The Taming of the Shrew. This technique allows for small group discussion, followed by whole-class reflection.
While taking part in Carousel Discussion, small groups of students rotate around the classroom, stopping at various “stations” for a designated period of time (in this case, 5-6 minutes). At each station, students demonstrate their knowledge of a topic or concept and share their ideas with their small group and with other groups who have already visited the station. Each student posts his/her ideas at each station for all groups to read. In turn, students may respond to the contributions made by those who have already rotated through the station.
After all students visit each station, the class reconvenes for a whole-class discussion and to report on each topic.
I remind students that they have already seen the topics they'll be discussing, that they may use their scripts, that they need to use parenthetical citations in their responses, and that they need specific references to the text to support their ideas and opinions.
Finally, I instruct students to initial their responses as these will be the basis for their grades.
I tell students I'll evaluate their posts based on the following criteria:
Students report to their stations, which are all numbered.
Set the timer and remind students not to talk. I put 6 minutes on the timer for the first round and allow one minute for rotating to the next station.
Between rounds, I tell students to circulate clockwise with those who were at #1 going to #2, those at #2 going to #3, those at #3 going to #4, those at #4 going to # 5, and those at #5 going to #1.
We continue through the rotation five times until each student has had a chance to respond to each post. During rotation, I respond to questions and remind students that discussion means interacting with what others have written.
The students circulate and remain quiet during the lesson. Many use their texts to look for supporting material. One student returned to a previous chart, when she had time remaining from the next one, so she could modify her response.
Since students had notes to which they could refer, the use of their texts, and the discussion items prior to the discussion, they remained on task throughout the activity and at times commented that they had more to say on a given topic.
The Animoto highlights students working on the discussion as well as their finished Carousel Discussion charts ready for reporting: animoto_360p (1).mp4
We used the last part of class to report back and to clarify ideas. For example, during student reports, I was able to point out where students needed additional information to make their arguments. I did this by posing questions. For example, when one group reported that Petruchio was polite to Katherine at first but became rude later, I was able to ask them why he behaves this way. "Is Petruchio being deceptive or is something else going on?"
That same group reported that Petruchio's kissing Kate at the end and going off to bed is a form of deception. This allowed me to ask why they label the ending deceptive. That resulted in a student saying she didn't understand the question because she didn't know the term deception.
This admission was quite revealing because we have talked about pretending, deceiving, tricking characters throughout, and without an understanding of the term, the student cannot get to the heart of the play.
Consequently, I was able to remind students that knowing the words leads to understanding and that they need to help me realize when we need to spend more time talking terms.
The discussion also exposed gaps in student knowledge when students struggled with analyzing the relationship between Bianca and Kate. Carousel Discussion Chart #3 I learned that we need more time talking about whether or not Bianca is jealous of Kate and/or vice versa. I also learned that we need to revisit the scene in which Baptista and others compare Kate to Bianca.
Since each group reported on the totality of each chart, these discussions were much safer than a whole-class-discussion that might leave a student feeling embarrassed or silent from fear of being wrong.
As kids prepared to leave, several told me they really liked the activity. One told me she reread the entire play the night before in preparation for the discussion. Others confirmed that the activity helped clarify their thoughts and helped them discover new textual references to support their ideas.