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Understanding Shakespeare and Launching A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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In this first unit, students will begin by studying the universal appeal of Shakespeare’s works along with the intriguing question of the authorship of Shakespeare. Students will read informational texts and analyze them for the author’s craft of forming and supporting an argument, as well as how the author structured the text. For the mid-unit assessment, students will read and analyze a complex informational text about the authorship controversy. Students will then begin reading the central text of the module, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As they dive into the text, they will begin to build background knowledge about Shakespeare’s craft and unique use of language. As they read Acts 1, 2, and some of 3 of the play, students will begin to address this module’s overarching thematic concept of “control” by exploring various characters’ motives for trying to manipulate others. In addition, students will support and enhance their reading of the play by analyzing several film clips of the play. For the end of unit assessment, students will analyze differences between a film version of the play and the play itself.


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • Why do Shakespeare’s works hold a universal appeal?
  • What motivates people to try to control one another’s actions?
  • Is it possible for people to control one another’s actions?

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards as students read literature and informational texts about the universal appeal of Shakespeare’s works and the question surrounding the authorship of Shakespeare. However, the module also touches on Social Studies Practices and Themes to support potential interdisciplinary connections to this compelling content.

These intentional connections are described below.

  1. Time, Continuity, and Change

–   Considering competing interpretations of events


Texts to buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please refer to Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Cover Text Quantity ISBNs
Shakespeare Set Free: Teaching Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth & A Midsummer Night’s Dream
by Peggy O’Brien
ISBN: 978-0-671-76046-5
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
by William Shakespeare
One per student
ISBN: 978-0743482813

Texts included in the unit

Texts that are included in the lesson materials.

Cover Text Quantity Publisher
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, film
by Michael Hoffman
Shakespeare’s Universal Appeal Examined,” in DNA
by Jonathan Bate
DNA, 2012
The Lure of Shakespeare
by Robert W. Butler
Calliope, 2005
The Shakespeare Shakedown
by Simon Schama
Newsweek, 2011
Top Ten Reasons Shakespeare Did Not Write Shakespeare
by Keir Cutler, Ph.D
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.,
The Harvest That Never Came
by Aaron Shepard
Cricket, 1993
"Pyramus and Thisbe"
by Thomas Bulfinch,



ELA G8:M2B:U1:L6

ELA G8:M2B:U1:L18

End-of-Unit Assessment

Optional Activities

Consider inviting actors from a local theater group to perform some of Shakespeare’s works and/or work with students so that students may perform excerpts of Shakespeare’s works. Local actors and directors might also provide expertise on staging, stage directions, and the choices they make when interpreting a script for a performance.

Consider having students attend a live production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and analyze the choices made by the actor and directors.

Arrange for students to perform excerpts or the entire play for various audiences, including younger children, nursing homes, shelters, etc.

With the library media specialist, provide opportunities for students to research other aspects of Elizabethan England, the Globe Theatre, Shakespeare’s background, the authorship of Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s contemporaries, etc.

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