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Rigorous Resources

Introduction to Shakespeare: Author Biography, Globe Theater, Renaissance Language, Iambic Pentameter, & Shakespearean Insults

Introduction to Shakespeare: Author Biography, Globe Theater, Renaissance Language, Iambic Pentameter, & Shakespearean Insults

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Planning to teach a play by William Shakespeare? This 50-page resource packet has EVERYTHING you could possibly want to introduce ANY play by William Shakespeare....

This comprehensive bundle includes a biography of the Bard, an account of the construction of the Globe Theater, handouts and exercises to help students understand Shakespeare's language, worksheets and quizzes introducing students to iambic pentameter, worksheets on Shakespeare's original idioms and insults, and a lot more.


Here's what you'll find inside this 50-page resource bundle:

 William Shakespeare Biography: This 4-page biography of William Shakespeare explains the conditions of his early life and schooling in Stratford-upon-Avon, how he became involved in the London theater scene, the impact which the death of his son Hamnet had upon his writing career, his gradual transition from comedies to tragedies, and more. Includes a comprehension check with answer key. (5 pages)

 The Globe Theater: A 2-page handout on what inspired Shakespeare's acting company to build the Globe Theater. A dispute with the landlord of their old theater motivated Shakespeare's company to meet with lanterns in the middle of the night, disassemble their old playhouse, and transport the timber across the Thames River to the plot of land where they would build the Globe. How did the construction of the Globe infuse new life into Shakespeare's company? How would Shakespeare make reference to the Globe in plays written after its construction in 1599? Includes a comprehension check with answer key. (4 pages)

 Shakespeare's Language: A 3-page handout on the crucial topic of Shakespeare's language. Literary scholars have pointed out that "the life of Shakespeare's plays is in the language." What's so special about Shakespeare's language? Did he really invent 1,700 new words? What kinds of words did he invent, and how do they contribute to the meaning of his plays? Includes a comprehension check with answer key. (5 pages)

 Renaissance Glossary: This 2-page glossary features 50 words that appear frequently within Shakespeare's plays but are no longer used in modern-day speech: adieu, beseech, ere, fain, naught, prithee, troth, wot, etc. Familiarizing students with this words will make their reading experience much smoother! This glossary includes a definition for each word as well as an example of how it's used in Shakespeare's plays. (2 pages)

 Translation Practice: This 2-page worksheet features 20 brief quotations from a diverse range of Shakespeare's plays. Challenge students to translate each quotation into modern English. This exercise gives students a change to demonstrate their understanding of the words in the Renaissance Glossary. Includes answer key. (4 pages)

 Decode the Idiom: This 1-page worksheet features 12 quotations that feature idioms which Shakespeare invented: wear my heart on my sleeve, all that glitters is not gold, I have a charmed life, as good luck would have it, and more. Challenge students to identify the idiom by filling in the word missing from the quotation. Then have students explain the meaning of the idiom. Includes answer key. (2 pages)

 Blank Verse: A 2-page handout on the when and why Shakespeare employs blank verse (i.e. unrhymed iambic pentameter). This handout explains how blank verse emerged as a popular verse form as well as what distinguished Shakespeare's usage of blank verse. When and why do some of Shakespeare's characters break with the regular rhythms of blank verse? Why might some characters alternate between using verse and prose? (2 pages)

 Scansion Practice: Students learn to identify iambic pentameter by scanning 10 well-known quotations from Shakespeare's plays. Includes answer key. (4 pages)

 Quizzes on Meter (x2): The 2 quizzes on meter are designed to asses whether students are able to accurately scan Shakespearean lines. Each quiz features 10 quotations from Shakespeare's plays. Includes answer keys. (8 pages)

 Shakespearean Insult Generator: Shakespeare's characters are exceptionally creative in their elaboration of insults. Indeed, some scholars have suggested that the insults in Shakespeare's plays amount to their own education in wit. If your students are sufficiently mature, you could use this exercise to invite them to generate their own original Shakespearean insults. (2 pages)


The resource will download as a Zip folder which contains the entire 50-page unit in two different formats: Microsoft Word *and* PDF. The editable Word doc can be customized to suit the skill levels of your students year after year. If you don't have Microsoft Word, you'll still be able to access a PDF version of the full unit. Check out the preview for this resource to view a sampling of what you'll get....

As a high-school teacher who is currently teaching a year-long elective on Shakespeare's plays, I'm eager to do everything I can to ensure that you have an amazing experience with Shakespeare! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch via the email address below. Thank you for choosing Rigorous Resources!


Happy teaching!

Adam Jernigan, Ph.D.

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