This is the main themes sheet that I give when studying "The Merchant of Venice"
It's a chart with 5 BIG IDEAS from the play (mercy VS revenge, love and friendship etc.) and they are asked to fill out:
-connections to the characters/plot in the play
-what is Shakespeare trying to teach/tell you about this big idea?
-make a connection (text to self/text to text/text to world)
A lot of students misunderstand theme - they think it's just the "big idea" (love and friendship, for example)....this really gets them to look at what the LESSON behind these big ideas are.
NOTE - at the bottom of the handout, it asks them for the opinion on "TO BAN OR NOT TO BAN" - it's just a fun way to get them talking about the play...because a lot of schools ban "The Merchant of Venice"