Gina Voskov teaches English at the United Nations School, New York, NY
Robert Barker teaches English at the Pilgrm School, Los Angeles, CA
Gabriel Fernandez teaches the Upward Bound Program to High School students in San Antonio, TX
The Merchant of Venice
What's On for Today and Why
- Annotate their woven monologues
- Learn how to physicalize key words to enhance their performance.
This lesson will take 1 x 50 minute class period.
What You Need
- Handout: Annotation
- Handout: Rubric
What is also helpful:
- Glossaries of Shakespeare's language
What To Do
1. Have students re-convene in their small groups.
2. Using an overhead or white board, share a different monologue from The Merchant of Venice. Annotate the first five lines of this monologue and distribute a copy to all students (See Handout: Annotation. Note that the handout has used colors to distinguish nouns, and verbs rather than the standard squares and circles).
3. Have students work in groups to continue the annotation process.
4. Discuss the students' choices and observations-are there repeated nouns? Are there a lot of verbs? Are most of the nouns abstract or concrete?
5. Explain the concept of physicalizing words (expressing the meaning of words through body movement and gesture). Model the process and then have students try to physicalize key words.
Example-the word "feast" might be represented by spreading arms wide and then pretending to eat lots of rich and delicious food.
6. Allow the students time to try physicalizing several words and share them as a class.Which words were easy and which were hard to physicalize?
7. Have the students apply this new skill to their own monologues, first by annotating nouns and verbs, and then by physicalizing some of those words.
8. Once the students have come up with physicalizations, have them start acting out the first few lines of their monologue without the script, combining the actions with the words-the idea is that the actions/gestures will help them to remember the lines.
NB. It is important here to scaffold: the scripts can be placed nearby so that students can refer to them as much or as little as necessary until they start to "lock in" their physical representation.
10. Assign homework-students will practice their monologue (each student is just responsible for one part of it) in preparation for performance. Set your students up for success by giving them a manageable number of lines.
How Did It Go?
See Handout: Rubric
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.