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Roots of Terrorism
teachers guide

Pre-Viewing Lesson Plans

Preparation For Viewing

  • 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
  • Lesson Objectives

    In this discussion-based lesson, students will:

    • To provide students with background information to help with viewing the film
    • To encourage students to use media literacy skills when viewing
    • To introduce students to Shakespeare's language

    Materials Needed


    Time needed: 20 minutes for preparation, 80 minutes for viewing

    Just before watching the documentary, tell students that they will be seeing some passionate and perhaps even eccentric people -- people who have devoted their lives to the Shakespeare authorship controversy.

    Discuss the following questions briefly:

    • What kinds of people are you accustomed to seeing as experts in documentaries?
    • How do you decide whether the experts you see or hear are credible?

    Introduce students to some of the elements of Shakespeare's language -- puns, oxymorons, using nouns as verbs, the changing meaning of words -- through discussion of the handout An Introduction to Shakespeare's Language.

    Distribute the authors handout. This handout comes from the point of view of a Stratfordian, which is the term assigned to those who support Shakespeare as the author of the plays. The handout introduces the three major contenders that the documentary names as possible "Shakespeare" authors: Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford; Sir Francis Bacon; and Christopher Marlowe.

    Ask for three student volunteers. Each should read aloud to the class the capsule biography of one of these major contenders.

    Remind students that the documentary is constructed as a detective story and has a decided point of view. Michael Rubbo, the filmmaker and first-person narrator of Much Ado About Something, believes that Christopher Marlowe, who was born the same year as Shakespeare, is the author of much of the work attributed to Shakespeare. Marlowe was, according to records, murdered in a tavern brawl (perhaps as a result of Elizabethan political intrigue) in 1593, but Rubbo speculates that he actually escaped to Italy and wrote the plays from there.

    Tell the students that, as they are watching, they should write down two lines or observations or questions from each half of the documentary. One of the observations/questions should relate directly to the different "contenders" in the Shakespeare authorship controversy. You can also distribute the Viewing Worksheet to students to guide their viewing observations.

    Note: The documentary is 80 minutes long. If you are watching the documentary in one period, remind students when 40 minutes have passed.

    Method of Evaluation

    Participation in classroom discussion

    Completion of viewing observations.

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