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HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Analyzing Advice as an Introduction to Shakespeare

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Analyzing Advice as an Introduction to Shakespeare

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jacqueline Podolski

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Student Objectives

Homework Prior to Session One

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • apply a range of strategies to comprehend and interpret two texts.

  • use their knowledge of structure, conventions, and figurative language to create texts, modeled on the texts they have discussed as a class.

  • draw conclusions about the genres explored and the connections among the texts.

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Homework Prior to Session One

To prepare for the first session, distribute samples of the advice genre, such as newspaper advice columns. Alternatively, you can point students to online examples. As they read the examples, ask students to pay particular attention to the characteristics of the texts and the ways that the authors give advice and make the advice believable (or not).

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Session One

  1. Begin the session with a focused freewriting, asking students to respond to the following questions: What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? What is the worst?

  2. After students have finished gathering their ideas about advice, invite them to discuss their answers in either small or large group settings. As students compare their responses, ask them to work towards a definition of "good advice". Ask students to bring in examples and observations from their homework reading.

  3. Discuss students' definitions, asking them to choose two or three that they think are the best. Write these definitions on the board or display them on an overhead transparency.

  4. Share the text of Schmich's "Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted on the Young." Pass out copies, display the text on an overhead projector, or ask students to visit the "The ‘Sunscreen' Column" on the Chicago Tribune Website. Note that the Website does require a login, so other options may be more desirable for your situation.

  5. If possible, play the musical version of the "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" by Baz Luhrmann.

  6. As students read and/or listen to the words, ask them to pay attention to the advice the speaker is giving.

  7. For students who need a more structured analysis tool, use the Advice Text Comparison Chart interactive or the Advice Text Comparison Chart handout to record information as students to work through the text, identifying the pieces of advice. Students can complete the chart before moving to further discussion and exploration of the ideas.

  8. In small groups or as a whole class, ask students to evaluate the advice given in the text, focusing on the questions below which can be displayed on an overhead or LCD Projector if desired:

    • How did you determine what the individual pieces of advice were?

    • How well does this advice meet the criteria established at the beginning of this lesson?

    • How is this advice similar to advice you've been given?

    • Who has given you this advice?

    • Did you (or would you) follow it?

    • Why might someone give this advice to someone your age?
  9. If students discussed in small groups, gather the group and invite students to discuss their responses.

  10. Once students have identified the features of Schmich's text, ask them to consider how well the advice meets the criteria listed on the board (or overhead), listed in step 2 above.

  11. Make additions or revisions to the class definition as appropriate.

  12. With at least five minutes left in class, ask students to list advice they would give to next year's incoming sixth graders on scrap paper or in their writer's notebooks.

  13. Begin by asking students to brainstorm a list for the class, writing down the suggestions on the board or on chart paper. To ensure participation, go around the room, asking each student for a suggestion.

  14. Once everyone has contributed, read over the list, and add any additional items or revisions to the list.

  15. Ask students to choose the suggestions that they like best, and write these suggestions in their writer's notebooks so they can use the information at home for their poems.

  16. Before students leave, distribute and briefly explain the requirements for the poems they will be writing for homework:

    Use the class definition of "good advice" and the class discussion to create an informal advice column, similar to Schmich's "Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted on the Young."

  17. Share the teacher's advice column with your students, or if you'd prefer, you can share a similar text that you have written based on Schmich's model.

  18. Remind students to use the printout of the column for reference at home.

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Session Two

  1. Ask students to share the advice columns they composed for homework with the class or in small groups.

  2. If appropriate, make additions or revisions to the class definition of "good advice" based on students' experience with writing and reading their columns.

  3. Connect the discussion of advice to the kinds of advice people give about school, reading, and so forth. If students' advice to incoming sixth graders includes pertinent ideas, connect directly to their texts (e.g., a student's advice text might suggest that you have to read things more than once if the information is not clear).

  4. Ask students what advice they have heard about studying Shakespeare. Encourage students to connect to the general advice they've gathered when possible and appropriate.

  5. In the context of this discussion, ask students to share their feelings about, experience with, and knowledge of Shakespeare's writing.

  6. Pass out copies of Polonius' advice, explaining that the passage is a father's advice to his young son, who is leaving home for France. The version of the passage that has been divided by pieces of the advice may be easier for students to work with. If you choose this version, be sure to show students the text as it is normally published by displaying the speech with an overhead projector.

  7. If desired, play an audio or video version of the passage. Alternately, you can read the passage aloud.

  8. As they listen, ask students to mark words or phrases that they are unsure of.

  9. Play the recording or read the passage a second time, this time asking students to figure out some of the advice Polonius is giving.

  10. Allow students to share some of their comments or questions.

  11. Working as a class or in small groups, students can use the Glossary at the Shakespeare 101 Website to identify the meaning of any terms they've marked on their copy of the text.

  12. Discuss the iambic pentameter form that the passage uses in order to familiarize students with the structure and rhythms that are featured in the text.

  13. Ask students to use the other pages in Shakespeare 101 Website to interpret Polonius' advice. For students who need a more structured analysis tool, use the Advice Text Comparison Chart interactive or the Advice Text Comparison Chart handout to record information as students work through the text, identifying the pieces of advice. Students can complete the chart before moving to further discussion and exploration of the ideas.

  14. Allow students the remainder of the class to work on their analysis. As students work, circulate among groups, looking at entries in the Advice Chart or notebooks, asking questions about their opinions, or guiding students' interpretation.

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Session Three

  1. Allow students additional time at the beginning of this session to finish their research on the passage.

  2. Once research is completed, in small groups, ask students to evaluate the advice offered in the passage, focusing on the questions below, as they did in the first session:

    • How did you determine what the individual pieces of advice were?

    • How well does this advice meet the criteria established at the beginning of this lesson?

    • How is this advice similar to advice you've been given?

    • Who has given you this advice?

    • Did you (or would you) follow it?

    • Why might someone give this advice to someone your age?
  3. Come together as a large group to answer questions and evaluate some of the advice, using the criteria for "good advice" established in the previous sessions. When possible, allow students to answer their peers' questions based on their own discoveries interpreting the passage.

  4. Reserve at least ten to twenty minutes at the end of class to demonstrate how students can turn their informal advice poems into formal poems.

  5. Ask students to volunteer advice from their poems for incoming sixth graders, and write the suggestion on a transparency or the board.

  6. Choose one example, and ask someone to identify and paraphrase the key information: what the advice is in five words or less as well as why the advice should be followed in five words or less.

  7. Write this key information on the transparency or board under the original lines of the volunteer's poem.

  8. Use key information to create two lines of iambic pentameter containing the same advice.

  9. As appropriate, refer to the Shakespeare 101 Website pages for resources to adjust the word order and word choice.

  10. Share the formal advice passage for a new teacher with your students, or if you'd prefer, you can share a similar text that you have written based on Shakespeare's passage.

  11. For homework, ask students to create their own "Shakespearean" advice for incoming sixth-grade students, using their homework from Session One as a starting point. Explain that students will share rough drafts of both poems during the next class session.

  12. If time remains in class, students can begin working on their formal advice poem. Remind students that they can use the Glossary at the Shakespeare 101 Website as they work on their drafts.

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Session Four

  1. Ask students to revisit the class definition of "good advice." Based on their work writing their "Shakespearean" advice texts, invite students to add or revise the definition.

  2. Working from the class definition, collaboratively create a class checklist for the features that students' own advice texts should include.

  3. If you plan to also use the Advice Text Rubric, pass out copies of the rubric and align the characteristics that students have identified in their class checklist with the requirements listed on the rubric.

  4. In small groups, ask students to share one another's texts and offer feedback, using the checklist (and if desired, the rubric).

  5. Allow students to make changes to their texts before submitting them for grading or additional feedback, if necessary letting students complete their revisions as homework.

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EXTENSIONS

  • Use the advice texts as a bridge to persuasive writing. Ask students to choose three pieces of advice that they are offering to incoming sixth-graders in their texts, and use those ideas to structure a persuasive essay. Use the Persuasion Map to identify the main pieces of advice in their texts and the support for those points. See the ReadWriteThink lesson Persuasive Essay: Environmental Issues for additional resources on teaching persuasion.

  • Connect this lesson plan to a reading of Walter Dean Myer's The Beast (Scholastic, 2003) by asking students to consider how the advice that Spoon, the main character, receives is useful and how his perceptions of that advice change when he returns home from prep school for a holiday break.

  • Try this activity inspired by the English Journal article by Tabers-Kwak and Kaufman: Focusing on the advice texts from this lesson, ask students to turn the perspective on its head and write advice from the point of view of a younger person, advising an adult. Students might follow the format of one of the texts that they've examined in this lesson plan, write a persuasive essay using the Persuasion Map, or write letters to an adult in their lives, using the Letter Generator.

  • Have students explore the debate over who really wrote Shakespeare's plays. The PBS Frontline resource The Shakespeare Mystery is a great starting point.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

Assessment of students’ work in this lesson plan should be closely tied to the definition of “good advice” generated in class. The list of characteristics that students identify in the checklist that is created in Session Four should provide the criteria used to provide feedback on the poems. If you prefer more structured feedback, the Advice Text Rubric can be used to shape the feedback that you give. Be sure to distribute the rubric to students during the class sessions so that they are aware of the criteria.

In addition to the specific feedback on the advice texts that students write, you can pay attention to the following indications of student involvement in the project:

  • Student participation in all activities and completion of homework assignments

  • Quality of student responses to in-class and homework activities

  • Confidence and ease students demonstrate in future Shakespearean readings, if any occur in your classroom.

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