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Much Ado About Something
teachers guide

  • A Note to Teachers

  • Pre-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • Pre-Viewing Discussion Questions
  • Preparation for Viewing

  • Post-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • Debriefing Discussion
  • Help with Reading Poetry
  • Which Text Should We Read?
  • Parodies of Shakespeare
  • Further Activities with Language

  • Internet Resources

    Student Assignment Sheets
  • Shakespeare's Language (with answers)
  • Viewing Worksheet
  • How to Read a Poem
  • Some Sonnets by Shakespeare
  • To Be or Not To Be -- Three Versions
  • A Note to Teachers:

    Much Ado About Something offers a different kind of resource for high school English and social studies teachers who teach Shakespeare and/or his era. This documentary, presented as a kind of mystery story, will draw your students both into Shakespeare's plays and language and into a study of the English Renaissance through a dramatic presentation of the controversy surrounding the question: "Who wrote Shakespeare's plays?"

    Traditionally, English teachers ask students to read and speak and act out the lines of Shakespeare's plays. The question of authorship rarely comes up. But the documentary offers a series of rich speculations about the political forces of the English Renaissance and the flowering of language and poetry during this era.

    This guide to the documentary Much Ado About Something invites teachers and students to think about both the political and literary ramifications of the authorship question and about the nature of Shakespeare's language. The guide assumes that teachers and students have read some of Shakespeare's works -- at least a play and/or sonnets. The two major strands in the guide are:

    • Why it is important for people to know who wrote the plays? What does authorship mean? Is it the same as having a voice? Is it possible to be a successful writer without a formal education? How does social class influence success? What is the nature of genius? Is there such a thing as genius?

    • What are the hallmarks of the language Shakespeare uses? How do teachers and students in the 21st century gain access to the language of the sonnets and plays?


    This teacher guide was developed by Simone Bloom Nathan of Media Education Consultants. It was written by Ellen Greenblatt of University High School in San Francisco. Advisers were Patricia Grimmer of Carbondale Community High School (Ill.) and Faith Rogow of Insighters Educational Consulting.

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