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Lesson Plan

Constructing New Understanding Through Choral Readings of Shakespeare

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Constructing New Understanding Through Choral Readings of Shakespeare

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Suzanne Linder

Suzanne Linder

Champaign, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



From Theory to Practice



As the culmination of their study of William Shakespeare's The Tempest (or any other Shakespearean play), students explore theme and character by working in small groups to compose a 50 line choral reading made by cutting and rearranging lines from the play. They then choreograph, rehearse, and perform the choral reading for the class. This activity engages students in thinking about the relationships among language, character, and theme, and it offers an authentic performance activity different from more traditional speech or scene presentations.

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Studying any work of Shakespeare can be daunting for both teacher and students, so it is important to keep at the foreground advice that Delia DeCourcy, Lyn Fairchild, and Robin Follet share in their NCTE publication Teaching Romeo and Juliet: A Differentiated Approach.  Their principles for teaching Shakespeare effectively remind teachers that a "Shakespearean play should be discussed, analyzed, interpreted, acted, and owned rather than covered.  Learning occurs when the student makes meaning-i.e. constructs rather than receives understanding" (1). This choral reading activity builds from discussion and analysis done during the course of study of Shakespeare's The Tempest and allows students to engage fully in constructing (and re-constructing) meanings and interpretations of the play, with the added benefit of providing the opportunity to see and respond to classmates' varied interpretations as well.

Further Reading

DeCourcey, Deila, Lyn Fairchild, and Robin Follet. 2007. Teaching Romeo and Juliet: A Differentiated Approach. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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