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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

Uncovering Personalities in Othello

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/Goldman/Othello/Contentspage.htm


How it works:
Uncovering Personalities in Othello is designed to enable students to gain a unique understanding of the characters in William Shakespeare's play Othello. Through a variety of activities, students learn that the major characters are not what they seem or present themselves to be. Activities consist of online research as well as deconstructing poetry, all for the purpose of gaining a greater insight into the characters. Students are then assigned roles and spend about a week of in-class time preparing to perform scenes from the play. They are expected to block the scene, prepare costumes and props, and memorize their lines. Although not every student has the role of Othello, Desdemona, Emilia, or Iago, because they are working together, they all benefit from the knowledge they have gained. Students are graded individually on blocking, memorization, ability to stay in character, performance, props, and costumes.

Standards addressed:  
use the general skills and strategies and the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of the writing process; employ grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions; and gather information for research purposes. They use the general skills and strategies of the reading process, and use reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary and informational texts. They utilize listening and speaking strategies for different purposes, and use viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.

Materials used:
Required materials include a computer with Internet connection and printer, along with copies of William Shakespeare's Othello.

The students:
This unit is suitable for 10th grade students and older. 

Overall value:
Although many students read the plays of William Shakespeare, they often read the lines without fully understanding them or the characters' motives. There is nothing more valuable, insightful, and rewarding than their acting out the various roles.  Shakespeare’s characters are complex, but they are based on human nature and, when analyzed, students come to see similarities between them and people in their own lives. Uncovering Personalities in Othello enables students to approach the study of Shakespeare in a different way, giving them an opportunity to get inside the characters' heads and then show their understanding through acting.
Students should have read Shakespeare before and already completed Othello before starting this unit.


About the teacher:
Denise Goldman has been teaching English for six years. She is a member of the New York City Writing Project and a recipient of an Impact II grant. She received her master's degree in English Education from NYU in 1999.


Subject Areas: 

Grade Levels: 



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