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Color-coding Richard III

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George Vertue. Richard 3d. Drawing, early 18th century

October 2009
Mark Miazga teaches 9th (MYP) and 11th (IB) English at Baltimore City College High School in Baltimore, MD

Plays/Scenes Covered

Richard III 1.2

What's On for Today and Why

In preparation for any assessment in which a student is asked to analyze a passage – students will be asked to use color-coded annotation (textmarking) to analyze a passage from Richard III . Students will  identify imagery, linguistic devices and be able to appreciate Shakespeare's skill with language.This lesson will take approximately 100 minutes.

What You Need
  • Richard III (1.1.74-111) Folger edition
  • Highlighters
  • White board/large sheet of paper


Literary Terms
What To Do


  1. Pass out approximately 40-line passage of Richard III (I.2.74-111 in Folger edition).
  2. Read text aloud with class, using two volunteers.
  3. Discuss as a class initial impressions and effects of the passage.
  4. Tell students to circle in red all images of animals in the passage. Share and discuss as class.
  5. Instruct students to find at least two more aspects of the passage that strike them as intriguing. These could include linguistic devices such as repetition, enjambement (lines running on), other imagery, as well as breaks in the rhythm, etc. Tell students not to worry about “getting it right,” but, rather, about identifying literary features on their own. Students may find it useful to consult the handout of literary terms.
  6. Discuss their findings as a class. 
  7. Have students devise a system of color-coding and annotating (for example, circle all body parts in red, draw a square around animal images, underline death images in black, asterisk any breaks in rhythm, etc) and write this legend up on a large sheet of paper or whiteboard for the whole class to use.
  8. Share responses as a class. Note similarities and differences.
  9. Have students re-read the passage in pairs and follow this with a class discussion on the ways their understanding/appreciation of the text compared to after the original reading.


How Did It Go?
At the end of the lesson, the teacher should assess students’ color-coded annotation (not whether it is “right,” but whether students have engaged in genuine grappling with the text). Students should assess in what ways their appreciation of the text altered through this activity.

If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

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  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
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