By Deborah Gascon
I set a goal this school year to include several, less time-consuming (but equally as meaningful), mini-research projects into my teaching of literature. Enter resident experts!
This quick strategy to get students researching more frequently scaffolds the skills they need to complete the big, scary research paper we assign in the spring.
The research also provided another opportunity to delve deeply into the text and study Shakespeare’s language. I started using resident experts with Othello, but this project is universal to anything you teach.
I provided my students with a list of possible research topics regarding Othello and Shakespeare and the time period.
Topics included, but were not limited to, Moors, Cyprus, Venice, maps, naval officers, interracial marriage laws of the time period, rights of women, love tokens, willow trees/the willow song, sumptuary laws–the list goes on.
Some students added topics while we read: one student researched the psychology behind jealousy (after reading Iago ironically boast “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey’d monster”) and another student asked to research the symbolism behind strawberries. The topics were vast and self-selected.
After students chose a topic, they were given time to research during our reading of Othello. I told my students to find the five most interesting points about that topic related to the reading and then to back up those research topics with evidence from the text, combining Shakespeare’s language with their research. (more…)