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Stop, Look and Listen: The Images Behind Shakespeare's Words (Day 1 of 3)

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Carl Van Vechten. Paul Robeson as Othello. Photograph, 1944.

January 2013

Deborah Gascon teaches English at Dutch Fork High School, Irmo, SC

Sarah Lanterman teaches English at Woodinville High School, Kirkland, WA

Darren McGarvey teaches English at Kettering Fairmont High School, Dayton, OH


Plays/Scenes Covered

 Othello 3.3.299-318

 However this lesson can be used with any play.

What's On for Today and Why

Students will:

  • Look at works of art that depict the scene containing a specific monologue to be examined and  respond to the art using silent graffiti questions .(See handout)

(Silent Graffiti questions are Conversation starters-Students are not limited to answering just the questions on the list nor are they required to answer all the questions.)

  • Read the monologue looking for visual images prompted by the text.


This lesson is the first of three. Each lesson will take one  50 minute  class period.

What You Need

Computers and access to the Internet

Interactive white board (optional)

Colored markers

Large pieces of paper


Copies of scenes from plays

Handout :Silent Graffiti Questions

Silent Graffiti Questions
What To Do


Teacher Preparation:

1. Visit Luna, the Folger Shakespeare Library's digital image library and search for visual depictions of scenes from the play.


2. Print off copies of at least 6 images, OR export the images to a PowerPoint and use the images on an interactive white board.


3. Paste images on to larger pieces of paper and display around the classroom (allow room around the image for student comments).


4. If using PowerPoint option, have the white board as one "station" and another could be at a computer or tablet, where students use VoiceThread to record their observations.


In class:

1. Divide students into groups of 3 or 4.


2. Have students move in groups and visit each image.


3. Give students handout of "Silent Graffiti" questions and have them "read" the art, writing their responses on the paper, allowing 5 minutes at each image. Students should also respond to other student comments on the paper. Each group should use a different color set of markers.


4. After each group has responded to all images, have a class discussion prompted by the following questions:

  • What did you like/dislike about the art?
  • Were any images repeated?
  • Could you determine the "plot" of the images?
  • Did you struggle with any of the images?
  • What words did you use to describe/discuss the art?


(For a written assessment of this lesson, have students write out their answers to these questions)


5. Bring the class together for a discussion of the activity as a whole and their reactions to the images.


6. For homework, have students read the monologue from Othello, 3.3.299-318, looking for imagery as they read.


Looking Ahead:

Day 2

Day 3

How Did It Go?

Did the students engage in a discussion of each image?

Did the students record their responses accurately?

Did the students respond to each other's comments?

Did students gain a clearer understanding of imagery?



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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