While reading William Shakespeare's play Richard III, students analyze the protagonist and the causes of his demise. They use the Seeing Reason Tool to understand the events that contributed to Richard III’s dissatisfaction and eventual demise. As a culminating activity, students use the Seeing Reason map to aid in writing a character analysis of Richard III, emphasizing his leadership style.
- Essential Question
How has our world been impacted by abuse of power?
- Unit Questions
How does the desire for power influence the actions of the characters in Richard III?
How does the world Richard creates contribute to his own dissatisfaction and eventual demise?
- Sample Content Questions
Who were the dominant characters that held power in the 15th century?
What were the conflicts during the War of the Roses?
This project idea makes use of the Seeing Reason Tool. Examine the Seeing Reason Web site and familiarize yourself with the tool.
Write the phrase, “Abuse of Power” so it is visible to the students. Give students one minute to brainstorm a list of words or phrases that come to mind when hearing this statement. Have students pair-share their responses. Call on a few students share their response to launch a class discussion. Ask the Essential Question, How has our world been impacted by abuse of power?
To prepare students for the reading of Richard III, have them conduct research on the historical period in which the play is based. Instruct them to construct a timeline and family tree of the kings and queens of the era to visually represent the dominant historical characters. Assess students' understanding of the Civil War (“War of the Roses”) taking place with the Plantagenet Royal House between the House of Lancaster and House of York, and the eventual reign of the House of Tudor. During this research, students should begin reading the play and then should answer the Unit Question, How does the desire for power influence the actions of the characters in Richard III? Have students respond by completing a class chart of scenarios on the left and actions on the right.
Using the Seeing Reason Tool
As students read William Shakespeare's play Richard III, instruct them to keep a Reader’s Response Log in which they reflect on character traits, motives for actions, and historical information following each act.
Assign students to groups of three to work together on the Seeing Reason Tool. Instruct members within a group to share their Reading Response Logs with each other and synthesize information on their map. Using their map, groups answer the question, How does the world Richard creates contribute to his own dissatisfaction and eventual demise? Explain to students that they are to make additions and revisions to their map after the reading of each act. Tell students that they will be assessed based on the differences in the map iterations as the reading of the play unfolds; there should be descriptors in each factor box and relationships between factors that describe how Richard III’s desire for power dictates his actions.
Make anecdotal notes for each group as you observe them working on their maps. Use these notes to make meaningful comments on their maps in the teacher comment section to encourage or redirect the groups. Instruct students to post questions in the comment box for your review. The map is intended to generate discussion as to the nature of this protagonist. The analysis and discussion of Shakespearian protagonists should focus on human archetypes in general and students should be able to visualize and analyze the many factors contributing to Richard’s dissolution. Together, this aids students in finding relevance to the characters and helps lift the characters off the page. As students research human archetypes and the major leaders of the 15th century, students should be able to answer, Who were the dominant characters that held power in the 15th century?
Instruct students to submit their final map to the portfolio for assessment. Explain how the maps can be used to aid students individually in writing a character analysis about Richard III.
Examine the Seeing Reason Activity
The Seeing Reason Tool space below represents one team's investigation in this project. The map you see is functional. You can roll over the arrows to read relationships between factors, and double-click on factors and arrows to read the team's descriptions.
Project Name: Shakespeare Richard III (Click here to set up this project in your workspace)
Question: How does the world Richard creates contribute to his own dissatisfaction and eventual demise?
Explore an interactive demo.
At a Glance
Grade Level: 10-12
Higher-Order Thinking Skills: Compare and Contrast, Cause and Effect
Key Learnings: Character Analysis; Finding Textual Evidence; Historical Fiction
Time Needed: 6 class periods 1 hour long