Micahel Paulson teaches at The Friends School, Baltimore, MD
Much Ado About Nothing, 2.3.8-23
What's On for Today and Why
This lesson will help students engage with Shakespeare's language in several ways. First, they will gain a stronger understanding of Benedick's character in relation to events in the play as well as changes in Claudio. Students will also undertake a close reading of a specific passage in order to better guage Benedick's reaction to his friend's transformation. By reading aloud and having creative control over their voices and other sounds, they will be making specific choices that help enhance their audience's conception of the language and character. Finally, the students will have the opportunity to add elements of visual language to this speech with the goal of illuminating the text for their classmates.
This lesson will take 3 x 40 minute class periods and computer access is required.
What You Need
Folger edition of Much Ado About Nothing
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
Access to Audacity, Photostory 3 or Garage Band (Mac) or similar programs.
Teacher sample presentation
What To Do
1. Have students read aloud 2.3.8-23 chorally several times until they become familiar with the language.
2. Have students discuss the specific ways that Benedick claims that Claudio has changed. What has promoted this change? Is Benedick justified in these claims? What words might be emphasized to highlight meaning? What possible tones could Benedick adopt to deliver this speech? How could the speech be paced to highlight meaning?
3. Have students record this speech using their own voices, and incorporating ideas from earlier discussion.
4. Allow students the option to insert music and/or sound to help "aurally" enhance the text.
5. Have students select at least 5 images that would help to illuminate the text. These images can refer to specific words, phrases or they might comprise a visual "feel" for the speech.
6. Have students write 200-400 words explaining both the process of working on this assignment as well as a thoughtful rationale for their choices of music, sound or visual images)
7. Have students present their illuminated texts to the class with a brief oral explanation of their piece. Encourage students to respond with critical feedback or questions.
How Did It Go?
Did students plan and complete the project in the allotted time? Were they willing to experiment with their voices? Were they able to combine voice and image effectively? Were students able to claerly explain their editorial choices? Did the audience respond in an appropriate and thoughtful manner? Did the students enjoy the opportunity to turn a 400 year old text into a multi-media presentation?
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.