The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

My fourth graders know the basics of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. But that wasn’t enough for me. So this week we started on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They already learned some of the story when they worked with their art teacher making puppets inspired by characters from the play. While I was out sick on Monday, I had my substitute read an adaptation of the play as the read aloud. (I did this mostly because I am reading Where The Red Fern Grows and I wanted to read the entire book together.) The adaptation I selected was one published by Usborne Children’s Books.

I selected this adaptation because the illustrations are delightful and the text is incredibly accessible to my students, even those who struggle with reading. After they read the story once, I wanted them to do a close reading. I decided to use a strategy that I’ve used from time to time in the past, called Stop and Jot.

The strategy is fairly straightforward: as students read, they have a focus question, such as “how would you describe Puck?” Whenever they get to a point in the story that they feel relates to the question, they stop reading, jot down the idea, and then continue. They may also jot down questions, “Aha!” moments, or feelings that arise while reading.

Using this focus question, we read the fourth chapter of the book, which was all about Puck’s tricks. Even before reading, though, I asked the students to tell me about the story in general and identify the main characters. Then we focused on Puck, who all the students felt was mischievous.

After reading, the students turned to a partner and talked about their notes before writing down a couple of sentences about the character. Tomorrow they will review their notes, read again, and write a full paragraph about Puck.

I am really enjoying teaching Shakespeare this year! I love how much my students understand about these stories and the sudden bursts of inspiration when they recognise elements of Shakespeare’s stories in texts the encounter today. During our independent reading today, I had at least half of my class reading Shakespeare stories by choice and the other half disappointed that they couldn’t today!

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One response

  1. Reblogged this on From Under the Teacher's Desk and commented:
    Here is a lesson idea using Midsummer Night’s Dream from teacher Alex Valencic. Aside from the lesson Alex describes, he also provides a useful link to the Usborne versions of Shakespeare’s plays as well as a fun graphic that could inspire yet another lesson idea. The Usborne versions of these plays are very well adapted for a younger audience without sacrificing the integrity of the plays and all have beautiful illustrations.

    The graphic Alex provides was not created by his students, but it could be a great assignment! Students can make a comic with an assigned number of slides that summarizes the act/chapter of a reading. This will incorporate visual elements in assignments to demonstrate understanding of main ideas in the reading and can create greater understanding. This is a particularly powerful tool if the students are participating in a jigsaw assignment.

    April 20, 2015 at 3:25 pm

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