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Drama Lesson Plans: Shakespeare

Updated on July 28, 2016

The Globe Theatre

Inside The Globe
Inside The Globe

Make Shakespeare Fun

Teaching Shakespeare can be a daunting task. Even the modern versions of Shakespeare's popular plays cannot always get the students excited. I have used this lesson plan with various grades and year groups. It was mainly designed for older students, but can easily be adapted for younger ones.

William Shakespeare

Elizabethan Playwright, William Shakepeare
Elizabethan Playwright, William Shakepeare | Source


LEVEL: Intermediate (Can be adapted to be easier)

TIME: Five Hours (can be spread out over several lessons)

PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: Any Shakespeare text and some knowledge of the history of the time

SKILLS TAUGHT: Creativity, problem solving, team work, apply prior knowledge

GOAL: Students to create a newspaper with factual information from the Elizabethan Times.

RESOURCES: Any Shakespeare text, text books and other books with information about the history of the time. The film "Shakespeare in Love" is historically very correct and gives a quick insight into the habits of the times, clothes, dances and theater practices. It is, however, not suitable for young students, unless you can edit it.

Elizabethan Writing

Written During Elizabethan Times
Written During Elizabethan Times | Source

Information for Students

You can prepare the information as a handout or assessment sheet.


1. Create an Elizabethan newspaper which is authentic to the Elizabethan Times.

2. Prepare the parchment, drawings and fonts in the Art class. It must be authentic to the time.

3. Write articles for the newspaper based on the text you studied and the history of the times.

4. Choose an editor, journalists and advertising team.

5. Each student is responsible for two articles and two advertisements or columns. Each article needs to be at least 300 words.

6. Remember it is Elizabethan Times and everything must reflect that. No mobile phones or TV's existed during the time.

7. Compile the newspaper and hand in for assessment.

Characters From Shakespeare Plays
Characters From Shakespeare Plays | Source

Combined Art and Drama Project

If possible do it as a combined Art and Drama project. The students can prepare the parchments, drawings and writing/typing fonts in the art class and do the article and advertisement research and writing in the drama class. Some of the writing and reading can also be done in the English class. It is the ideal activity for a cross-curricular project.


It is important to constantly remind students that the work must be authentic. They easily forget there were no digital products available.

Give them some ideas of what they can use for the articles, columns, and advertisements.

For the advertisements they can maybe advertise a sword, horse, or clothes of the time.

Depending on the ability of your students, you can maybe provide the article topics or give them a few to get them thinking.

For Romeo and Juliet these topics can make interesting articles:

* Is the apothecary responsible for the death of Romeo and Juliet?

* The Montagues and Capulets are fighting again.

* Romeo banned.

The columns can be based on celebrity gossip and maybe an agony aunt section. They can also do advertisements for performances at the different theatres of the time. They can brainstorm ideas in their group and you can check that before they start writing. This can form part of the ongoing or summative assessment.

Insults by Shakespeare

Assessment for the Theory Component

Mark the articles, advertisements and columns using a standard essay rubric. This is an individual grade.

Give a mark out of 10 or 20 for the overall look of the newspaper. This is a group grade.

Give a process mark out of 10 or 20 for teamwork. You will assess this during the process based on how well the student work in a group, participation in the brain storming sessions, listening skills, time management etc. This is an individual grade.

This assessment is 50 percent of the final mark.

Practical Component

Once the newspapers are completed the students will use articles from the newspaper and rework them into news bulletin items.

They will have to prepare a bulletin each, which they will then read to the class pretending to be a radio news reader.

The class will sit with their backs to the readers during the news bulletin to ensure they only listen to the readers as if it was a real radio news reading.

If you have recording equipment you can record each reading and do the peer assessment and formal assessment from the recordings. It is also useful to keep the recording to compare with other similar tasks. It will give the student the opportunity to evaluate his or her progress and they can reflect on which areas need more work and which areas they have mastered.

Speaking Clearly

Assessment for Practical Component

The key objective of the assessment is to focus on voice skills and presentation. Assess the following out of a mark of 10.

1. Articulation

2. Tone

3. Pace

4. Inflection

5. Overall presentation

Use the following scale:

1-3 Not acceptable

4-5 Average - some areas are good. For example the articulation can be good, but the pace

tone might still need a lot of work.

6-7 Good but some areas still need work.

8-10 Very good. Minor problems.

Peer Assessment

Even though the grades from the peer assessment are rarely used as a formal grade, it is an invaluable tool for students to learn from.

Allow students to assess each other's work. There are a few rules involved.:

They always have to explain their observation. For example, if peer assessors feel the newspaper article is not authentic, they must explain why they say that and ideally give a solution.

They are not allowed to say negative things about a person.

They have to name the positive and the not so positive. They can therefore not only give negative feedback, but also have to include something positive.

The idea of peer assessment is for it to be a learning process for the assessor and the person getting assessed.

If you have enough time allow them to engage in a conversation, which will allow the students being assessed the chance to explain their reasons for certain actions. Valuable new ideas can come from this.

Peer assessment doesn't have to be recorded formally. Having a conversation about the piece of work and trying to find solutions for problems are the most useful form of peer assessment.

Tips for Newly Qualified Teachers


If you know your students' abilities allow the weaker ones to do the advertisements

or columns.They will still get a chance to practice their writing and show their

knowledge of the text and the times, but the task of writing an essay/article

won't be so daunting.

Divide the class into groups. If you allow them to choose their own groups it

can become chaotic and you will end up with uneven groups and a lot of

time wasting.

Try to balance the group with weaker and stronger students. They can learn a lot

from each other.

Classroom Control

You will have to be actively involved in the project. Move around between groups

and make sure they are following the guidelines. Assess for progress.

Make sure they don't go off task. Group tasks are wonderful teaching tools as long

as they stay focused.

Make sure each student is actively involved. There will always be one or two

students in a group with very strong personalities and they can easily take over.

They need to learn to accept other ideas and listen to the group.

They quieter ones will learn how to contribute without being judged.

If you are firm and insistent they will quickly learn how to behave during group work.

Be especially firm about bias behaviour.

After a few group work sessions they will understand the rules and abide.


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    • Annette Hendley profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Hendley 

      4 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Thanks Simon. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Annette Hendley profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Hendley 

      6 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Thanks Joe. They are sometimes challenging, but there is no better reward than a student really doing well and continuing to pursue their dreams. It is good to know you played a small part in helping them realizing that dream.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      6 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Good students, in part, are the result of good teachers intuitively knowing how to challenge them to rise to their potential. I can see by the reading of this excellent Hub that you definitely are a "cut above!" Thanks for sharing, Annette! Aloha, and have a great rest of the week!


    • Annette Hendley profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Hendley 

      6 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Thanks for your comment Sheri. I learned through making these mistakes so I hope it might be useful to some new teachers.

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 

      6 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Great tips for teachers!


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