Rachel Bear
English 12
Boise High School
November 6, 2008
Hamlet Soliloquy
“To Be or Not to Be”
1. My Teaching Goals:
a. To help students to personally connect to the text
b. To guide students through reading of difficult Shakespearean language
c. To use context clues and punctuation aid in understanding a difficult text
d. To explore how watching dramatic texts being performed contributes to meaning
2. My Frontloading Activities:
a. Students respond to following prompt in journal: Think of a time when you faced a
difficult decision. Describe what the decision was and why it was so difficult. What
thought process did you go through in making the decision? Why did you ultimately
decide what you did? Given Hamlet’s current situation what decision do you think he
faces right now? What do you think he will decide to do?
b. Think-Pair-Share
c. Class discussion—how does this concept relate to our essential question “What is the
value of studying tragedy?”
3. My Previewing and Purpose Setting:
a. Look at length of piece, note that Hamlet is alone, define soliloquy
b. Read 1st few lines and “think aloud”
i. Vocabulary
ii. Note familiar phrase “To Be or Not to Be”
iii. Punctuation cues (colon, dashes)
c. As a class, discuss what he might be struggling with about being vs. not being
d. As you read—pay close attention to how he characterizes life and death and his ultimate
4. During Reading Responses (on DRTA Form):
a. Initial Responses—as I read aloud students are directed to make about:
i. Personal responses
ii. Questions
iii. Vocab. Words
iv. Key ideas
5. After Reading
a. Watch 2 film versions and make notes on right side of DRTA Form:
i. Notes on directorial decisions
ii. Ah ha! Moments
iii. Remaining questions
b. As a class, discuss Hamlet’s dilemma (as revealed in the films) and what things people
consider when deciding whether or not to commit suicide
c. In Small Groups
i. Clarify any remaining questions
ii. Highlight (in 2 different colors) things and emotions he associates with being
alive and things and emotions he associates with being dead. What students will
end up with is a visual representation of this thought process.
iii. As a group, identify what final decision he makes and discuss why he makes that
d. As a Class, go through highlights (on Smartboard) and discuss Hamlet’s final decision
6. Follow Up—Students will finish the unit with culminating projects that address the question of
the value of studying tragedy, with a sub-question that deals with what we can learn from
observing how others deal with tragedy. This specific soliloquy relates to both inquiry projects.
a. Create a fever chart (visual representation) that tracks the ways that Hamlet deals with
tragedy in his life. This soliloquy is an example of his response, thought process and
decision regarding the best way to deal with the news of his father’s death at the hand of
his uncle (who has married his mother).
b. Students will write a literary analysis essay that addresses the different ways each
character deals with tragedy and what we can learn from those responses.