The front cover of the book describes Shakespeare as ‘the world’s greatest writer’. This introductory session is designed to get children thinking about writers they know and also the qualities that they consider makes a writer great.
- Write the following sentence opening on the board:
- The world’s greatest …
Ask children to discuss in pairs:
- How could this sentence end?
Share ideas before adding the word ‘writer’ to the end of the sentence. Ensure each child has a sticky note and ask them to write the name of the person they think of when they see the sentence:
‘The world’s greatest writer is …’
They should write the name down without any discussion at this point.
Next, ask the children to stick the names onto either the whiteboard or another large surface. Invite the class to look at the names on the notes asking:
- Do any authors appear more than once?
- Are there any authors you haven’t heard of before?
Introduce the terms, ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ by offering a statement like:
The greatest writer of all time is (insert name of author here).
Ask the class:
- Is this a fact or an opinion?
Explain that this is subjective because it is a personal opinion. Others may agree or disagree.
NotesAdd this lesson to the next one for Monday lesson.
Comprehension is built upon existing knowledge. A lack of background knowledge and experience can inhibit understanding. If a subject is unfamiliar, building background knowledge before reading will increase understanding and help to minimise miscomprehension. This lesson provides background knowledge about Elizabethan England and the context for the time in which Shakespeare lived.
- Download the Elizabethan England slideshow.
- Copies of Circle Map, one per pair.
Share the title page of the slideshow and ask:
- Do you recognise this person?
Distribute copies of the Circle Map resource to pairs. Ask the children to write ‘Elizabethan England’ in the centre and record anything they already know about this period in English history.
Gather ideas before sharing the slideshow. The slideshow contains images of some of the features of the age which are particularly pertinent to the book and definitions of some of the words found near the beginning.
- Is there anything you would like to find out about this time in history?
- Is there anything you would like to add to the frame of Circle Map?
NotesUse BBC video to introduce facets of Elizabethan England. Assume children know nothing (Ref A. Bedford INSET and KWL grids) as this will prevent misconceptions starting or becoming further embedded. Simple statement sorting activity so children can see the differences between modern and Elizabethan England.
Good readers make predictions and pose questions continuously as they read. This lesson makes this process explicit to the children.
- Display the Front Cover slideshow.
- One copy of the First Impressions resource, enlarged to at least A3.
Look at the image of Shakespeare from the front cover, keeping the text hidden. Ask:
- What do we know about this person from this illustration?
Take feedback from the children and write down responses. Distinguish between factual observations, for example, he has a moustache, and those which are inferred, for example, he is a rich person.
Move on to the Quescussion: a quickfire question session in which the children generate ‘I would like to know…’ questions about the man they can see.
The children must only use questions, and they must not answer or comment on each other’s suggestions. If a statement is offered instead of a question, everyone shouts ‘STATEMENT’. If this happens, the child makes an attempt to rephrase as a question – supported by the teacher, if needed.
Conduct the Quescussion. Record the children’s questions on the whiteboard or flip chart. They will be needed for future reference. Reveal the text on the front cover (without revealing the name) and give further time to ask questions as well as noting if any questions can now be answered.
Share the enlarged First Impressions sheet and invite the class to contribute to the different sections using the three headings: I know, I can infer, and I want to know. This could be displayed to refer back to it as you progress through the sequence.
Reveal the title of the book and ask:
- Have you heard of William Shakespeare?
- What do you know about him?
NotesComplete this lesson on Tuesday.
Reading a nonfiction book offers a different reading experience to fiction. This book presents information in different ways using a range of devices. The authors use a mixture of formal and informal styles and tenses as well as speech bubbles and a variety of fonts. Choral reading is a supportive strategy to develop fluency and confidence in reading. Using choral reading in this lesson provides an excellent way to introduce the range of styles to the children in a way which will support them when reading the rest of the book.
- Copies of Choral Reading, one per child.
- Copies of Shakespeare, at least one per pair.
Read page one aloud. The children should follow in their copies of the book. At the end of the first page, re-read and invite the children to join in the reading using choral reading. Ask:
- Is there anything you noticed about the way this is written?
- Is anything unusual or puzzling?
- Are there any words you were unfamiliar with? (Some of the uncommon words appear in the Orientation lesson Slideshow about Elizabethan England.)
Draw attention to the quotation from As You Like It, which appears underneath the heading and ask:
- Why do you think this quotation has been included?
Read page two aloud before the class join in using choral reading. Ask:
- Did you notice anything about the way the different sections have been written?
- Has the same person written them?
Distribute copies of the Choral Reading resource. This shows the text from pages 1 and 2 using different colours to distinguish between different voices. There are ten distinct sections which vary in length.
The class can be organised into ten groups with 2-4 children in each group. Give time for the groups to rehearse their section. Some groups have very little to say. The lines can be allocated so that one group has several shorter sections of text. Gather the class to read the spread together.
Next organise the class into groups of three to four. These can be self-selected or chosen by the teacher for pedagogical purposes. The children will now read pages 3 and 4, making decisions about how to read.
Invite the groups to ‘perform’ their reading of the spread to the rest of the class.
Reflect on the experience of reading the opening pages of the book. Ask:
- What have you learnt so far that has been of most interest?
- Do you have any questions about William Shakespeare?
Make a note of questions to refer to as you read on.
NotesSkip this lesson and take element from it and add to the next one.
Shakespeare lived hundreds of years ago, and this distance could make it difficult for young readers to connect with him and therefore provide a barrier to comprehension. Exploring different areas of a person’s life supports understanding of the way they behave and their motivations. Readers can then make connections between their own lives and that of a person, which builds empathy.
- Divide a large sheet of paper into quadrants with a circle in the middle. The sections should be labelled: Home, Family, Play and Day. Write the name Shakespeare in the central circle.
- Copies of Shakespeare, at least one per pair.
Distribute copies of Shakespeare to pairs. Explain that you would like the pairs to read to the end of page 8. They can read together or take turns to read sections to each other.
Introduce the Circle of Life. Organise the class into groups of no more than four children. They should work together to fill in the four sections with notes that provide information about that heading. Clarify what information is needed by asking:
- Where does Shakespeare live and who does he live with? (Home)
- Who else is in Shakespeare’s family? (Family)
- How does Shakespeare spend his time? (Play)
- What does Shakespeare do during the day? (Day)
Provide two different colours for the grids to be filled in – one colour for the information that is definitely true and another that probably happened.
Introduce the key vocabulary for judging whether something is true or not (truth, likely, probable, possible, unlikely, untrue).
Once the group has filled in their grid, give them time to walk around and look at the grids completed by other groups.
Encourage the children to make connections between their lives and the life of Shakespeare as a child by asking:
- Are there any similarities between your life and Shakespeare’s?
- What are the biggest differences?
- What would you have liked about being a child at that time?