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Lesson Plan

Becoming History Detectives Using Shakespeare's Secret

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Becoming History Detectives Using Shakespeare's Secret

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa L. Owens

Lisa L. Owens

Issaquah, Washington


International Literacy Association



From Theory to Practice



Students use Shakespeare's Secret, a featured title on the Teachers' Choices Booklist (International Reading Association, 2006), as a springboard to exploration of the controversy regarding the authorship Shakespeare's works. The novel makes liberal use of the historical details surrounding William Shakespeare's life, and exposes students to the possibility raised by some theorists that Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was the true author of the works that have long been attributed to the Bard. Students explore the historical references in the novel and generate questions for further research. As they research these questions on suggested websites, they organize their findings with the help of the ReadWriteThink Notetaker. Then they work in small groups to create and present short dramatic skits that creatively connect the novel with the historical facts.

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Kornfield, J., & Leyden, G. (2005). Acting out: Literature, drama, and connecting with history. The Reading Teacher, 59(3), 230238.

  • Dramatic engagement can greatly enhance students' understanding of the stories they read, adding depth and dimension to the plot, setting, and characters that simply reading the printed words rarely accomplishes.

  • Drama can be the perfect vehicle for integrating reading with other areas of the curriculum. In particular, acting out historical stories in the classroom can bring history to life in powerful and exciting ways.

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