A Marriage Plots the Plot: Act I, sc. i and ii

4 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT lead discussions by posing and responding to questions about ACT 1 of Othello.

Big Idea

Students question the implications of an elopement and the consequences of Othello and Desdemona's choices.

Let's Get Started: It's More than a Summary

10 minutes

This is the first day of student led discussions. To begin, I ask the students to review their summary of act I sc i and ii.  Before I move the students to small group discussions, I want to make sure that the whole class shares a foundational understanding of the events in the scene.  Also, objective summaries do not ask the student to draw conclusions or interpret the text. By establishing the events in the scene, students can begin to distinguish the difference between evidence and inference when analyzing a text. The powerpoint for  act I scene i and ii tells them to be prepared to report on what happened.  After a few minutes, I ask the students to share their summaries with their groups. Finally I ask each group to pick a spokesperson to share their summary of act I scene i (RL 9-10 2).  

After one person from each group shares their summary, I ask the class if the summaries missed any key details.  

Next, we move onto the question: Why is it important for you to complete section one and two of your journal before class?  I ask this question not only because I want them to acknowledge that homework is done before class but also to move them toward ownership of the discussion. If the students do not have questions and character inferences, I will have to completely change the structure of the class. 

Building Knowledge: Student Generated Questions on Othello

40 minutes

Students are sitting in their Othello party groups.  Since we have shared the summaries as a whole class, I tell them to move on to the questions for act I scene i.  Each person asks their level one question and the group responds. Next they move onto level two questions and finally level three questions. Ideally the students will lead their small group discussions without interference from me (SL 9-10 1c).  

The students develop the questions for their dialectical journals. As we continue reading Othello, I want to step away from leading the class and allow the students to determine the course we take based on their questions on the text.  When students pose a question to their group, the group member who answers the question must support it with evidence from the the text (RL 9-10. 1). 

I move from group to group monitoring how they ask and answer the questions such as "How will Brabantio's actions affect Othello and Desdemona?". I can also provide support for the students who are struggling to write their questions.  

After the groups finish scene one, I tell them to go on to scene two. Just like we practiced as a whole class, begin with each person sharing the summary of scene ii then move onto the questions.

It is possible that some groups will finish scene one before other groups, I would just let the groups move at their own pace. I try to lend extra support to groups that are struggling and are behind. If necessary, I can give the groups that finish early a question for them to work on as a group.  No group should be idle. 

Building Knowledge: Inferences about Characters in Othello

30 minutes

Now the students transition to their character groups.  All of the Desdemona's sit together, the Othellos are together etc.  I give everyone a giant post it.  Each group writes their character's name on the top of the post it. The group that has Emilia makes a poster for all the minor characters in act I because Emilia is not in act I. 

The directions are: Use your journals to provide inferences about your character. 

  • —Write the inference
  • —Provide the Act, scene, and line # that supports your inference
  • Choose a reporter for the group.  The reporter will give an overview of the character to the class. Another group member can assist with the evidence. 

I also tell them to consistently use the same Othello text for their post it since not all of the students have the same edition. They need to be consistent with the information they present to the class. 

I circulate around the room listening to the discussions on the characters and prompting students when necessary.  CCSS RL 9-10 3 asks students to analyze the development of characters over the course of a text.  I begin with asking for inferences about Desdemona and the other major characters in Othello. 

Finally the groups will present their findings to the class.  The information is on display for everyone to see or the students can write notes on each character in their journal. 

Closing: Last Minute Questions and Homework

10 minutes

After the presentations, I ask if there are any unanswered questions about act I scene i and ii. Students can pose questions and hopefully their classmates will answer them.  In a pinch, I can guide someone to the answer.  

Finally, I give them their homework. They have to finish act I scene iii for the next class.