Twelfth Night Bullying, Deception, & Love | Shakespeare Unit | Editable Handouts

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9th - 12th, Homeschool
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Looking for a complete no-prep unit on Twelfth Night that is both rigorous and fun?

With themes ranging from drunkenness to deception, from bullying to love, and from abuse of power to the pursuit of greatness—this play offers so much to explore.

But if you want your classes to get excited about reading this challenging text, your students will need to be excited to delve into the book and feel empowered to tackle the difficult language on their own.

You’ll also need to help your classes to make connections between their own lives and those of these fictional characters from so long ago.

When you follow the step-by-step methods that I outline here, your students will learn to understand the language and appreciate the artistry of the play and ultimately, to understand their own lives a little bit better.

The variety of materials, real-life connections, and innovative approaches to the essential questions of the text will keep students engaged and excited about learning. Additionally, the concrete text-based questions and unique sources discourage cheating and encourage students to answer for themselves.

The writing prompts, paired texts, and interactive notebook activities that I include in this resource have been honed over years of teaching this classic play. Read on to learn how it will work when you teach Twelfth Night the way that I have taught it for years.

Before they even open their books, your students will start off by getting excited about the bigger themes and issues of the play; they’ll explore contemporary news stories, TED Talks, and poetry, discussing and writing along the way.

Examining essential questions such as why we lie to ourselves and others, what our metaphors of love say about the values of our society, and (coming soon!) why we bully those less powerful than us, the unique introductory units will challenge your students to think critically, question beliefs, and make a difference in their worlds.

Then, they’ll start to grapple with the text by using the no-prep handouts—first with your help, and then more and more on their own—until they are fully confident reading the challenging language independently. I always play a professional recording of the play so that students have the opportunity to hear it performed by real actors. Additionally, I have broken the text into manageable sections—over the years, I have found great success with starting off very slowly and then reading more and more in class.

Once they finish reading the play, you’ll have 4 different options for assessment—from a straightforward test with quote identifications and essay questions to creative cooperative projects as well as different options for writing assignments—so you can truly see how much your students have mastered the play.

In all, there is enough for up to eight weeks of rigorous but accessible reading, analysis, discussion, and writing.

When you teach Twelfth Night with this complete unit you will:

  • Easily plan your unit when you utilize the pacing guide.

  • Engage your classes in a critical thinking and dynamic discussion by examining questions around deception, humor, disguise, power, and love.

  • See a noted improvement in your students’ close reading skills and reading comprehension when they utilize the scaffolded, no-prep questions.

  • Bring your students’ writing to the next level with daily prompts, essay questions, innovative creative writing assignments, and step-by-step writing instructions.

  • Edit the Student Handouts to best fit your needs and the needs of your classes with the fully editable document.

  • Give assessments that you are actually excited to grade such as a point of view creative writing assignment, a creative cooperative play that tasks students to understand and reimagine the play, and a literary analysis essay based on their own ideas.

  • Effortlessly discuss the play with your classes when you utilize the extensive answer keys which quote the important passages, so there is no guessing as to which parts of the text are most important

  • Easily grade cumulative and summative assessments with the multiple rubrics and answer keys.

Additional Texts and Sources Covered in this Resource:

“[When My Love Swears That She is Made of Truth]” by William Shakespeare

“A Certain Lady” by Dorothy Parker

Sonnets 18, 73, & 130 by William Shakespeare

“We Can Be Heroes” excerpt from the film Moulin Rouge

"A Better Way to Talk About Love” TED Talk by Mandy Len Catron

***The following resources are included in this unit, all at a discount when you buy them together***

All-Purpose Handouts and Guides:

Poetic Devices Unit (normally priced at $7.97). When students understand that literary devices are a wonderful way to add meaning, beauty, and pleasure to literature, they’ll improve their reading comprehension as well as their own writing. Honed over sixteen years of teaching, the resources in this unit will help your students to more fully appreciate how literary devices create meaning in texts.

Writing Resources:

48 Bellringer Prompts (normally priced at $1.47). When students write frequently in low-pressure situations, they see writing as less of a big deal, and they feel more comfortable when they do have to write more formal essays. Additionally, when they know that they will be writing every day for a few minutes, they less intimidated or anxious and are more likely to get right to work. And when you have a prompt ready to go at the beginning of class, you’ll get a few calm, quiet minutes to get through any business that you might have like taking attendance, passing back assignments, or checking in with students individually

Reading Response Guide (normally priced at $4.97). This guide to reading response journals based on quote analysis and close reading will get your students reading, analyzing, and writing about literature on their own. I have been teaching with reading responses for eleven years, and this guide includes what you need to teach your students to think independently without having to read and grade every single thing they write.

Modern Play Project (normally priced at $3.97). This fun, challenging, cooperative creative writing activity tasks students to translate a portion of a Shakespeare play into contemporary English and a contemporary situation and then perform their creation for the class. Because this Shakespeare activity involves writing as well as paraphrase and analysis of the text, it is a great project for a summative assessment. Additionally, this assignment encourages cooperative learning and creativity. A bonus for overworked English teachers is that it gets students writing, but there are fewer assignments to grade.

The Villain Tells the Story (normally priced at $1.97). Inspired by “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” by Jon Scieszka, this creative writing assignment will get students thinking about power, bias, and point of view in texts all while they create some fun creative writing of their own.

Supplementary Units

All of the following units include freewrite prompts and questions for close reading and discussion.

Shakespeare Sonnet 18 | Sonnet 130 | Sonnet 73 | Love Metaphor Unit (normally priced at $9.97) How do we talk about love? It’s a question that has been asked for centuries, and it is one that has never been fully answered, even by the greatest poets of all time. And yet, it is an important question to ask, especially for teenagers who are still struggling to define their world. Get your classes to analyze Shakepeare's sonnet 18, sonnet 130, and sonnet 73 while they explore TED Talks, pop culture, and non-fiction primary source documents with this innovative and engaging unit. These powerful lessons will make Shakespeare’s sonnets relevant to your students. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking here.

Love Task Cards: Close Reading Passages & Paired Texts (normally priced at $4.99) All focusing on the question of “What is Love,” the 14 different stations included will get your students excited about learning when they examine diverse sources. From a Ted Talk to the ideas of ancient Greek philosophers, from a column from The New York Times to writing from 12th-century France, this resource will take your students far and wide. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking here.

Love and Lies Poetry: “[When My Love Swears That She is Made of Truth]” by William Shakespeare and “A Certain Lady” by Dorothy Parker (normally priced at $3.97). This short unit pairs a Shakespeare sonnet with a more modern poem. The included questions will get your students thinking about why we lie to ourselves and those we love. The ready-to-go handouts make the poems accessible, and the fun opener features the famous scenes of Lucy, Charley Brown, and the football. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking here.

There are no lectures or power points here—students will do the work themselves, with guidance from their teacher. Rather than telling them what the play means, you will be empowering them with the confidence and skills to tackle a Shakespeare play on their own.

Total Pages
95 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
2 months
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful.
Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.


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