Grade 8: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Comedy of Control


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Reading Literature

RL.8.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.

RL.8.3 Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.

RL.8.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.

RL.8.6 Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

RL.8.7Analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production of a story or drama stays faithful to or departs from the text or script, evaluating the choices made by the director or actors.

Reading Informational Text

RI.8.1 Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI.8.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.

RI.8.5 Analyze in detail the structure of a specific paragraph in a text, including the role of particular sentences in developing and refining a key concept.

RI.8.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.

RI.8.7 Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.

RI.8.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced.


This Grade 8 ELA/Literacy unit titled “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and the Comedy of Control” developed by EL Education Inc. is the first unit in a three-unit module. It has an estimated instructional time of eighteen 45-minute sessions. At the beginning of this unit, instruction centers around building background knowledge and exploring the appeal and authorship of Shakespeare. Students read informational texts and analyze them for the author’s craft of forming and supporting an argument, as well as how the author structured the text. Then, students read Acts 1, 2, and some of Act 3 of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, frequently rereading key passages to deepen their understanding of this complex text. In addition, students support and enhance their reading of the play by analyzing several film clips of the play. As a culminating performance task, students independently: summarize “the gist” of a short selection from the play; answer a combination of six constructed/short answer questions; and view a filmed scene from the play in order to write an analysis of the differences between a film version of the play and Shakespeare’s original script.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that teacher notes and preparation materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively. Due to the rigor required for student success, additional time, modifications, and supports for students who are ELL, have disabilities, or read well below the grade level text band will be required. The unit plan does not list any writing standards or speaking and listening standards, although many of these standards are repeatedly addressed (and assessed) throughout the unit and should be added.  While specific assessment guidelines are included, there are no CCSS-aligned scoring rubrics to provide specific guidance for interpreting the degree to which a student can independently demonstrate the major targeted grade-level standards. Most of the unit materials required for instruction are included; however individual student copies of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will need to be secured.


This unit is a good example of how to include a clear and explicit purpose for daily rigorous instruction.  It focuses on complex text(s) and engages students in a productive struggle through discussion questions and other supports that build toward independence. It also focuses on building students’ academic vocabulary in context. The unit includes a Teacher’s Guide to use to guide instruction of lessons that involve reading for comprehension, close reading, and text-dependent questions. The guide includes not only the questions to ask students, but how to pace, when to probe, and where to provide some additional scaffolding. The concepts and resources in this unit can be adapted to any complex literary work with richly developed characters.