Lesson Plan: No Fear Shakespeare

I used the No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novel to teach Romeo and Juliet to my Grade 8 class. I found this version to be accessible for all of my students – written with more common language, and with pictures. I started my unit with a fun exploration of Shakespeare, plays in general, Romeo and Juliet in particular and Shakespearean language. Parts of this lesson could be used for any of his plays.

Prior Learning required

Students have done  an independent graphic novel study, and have learned about the elements of a graphic novel, how to read them, cite them, and analyze them.

Student’s work will demonstrate knowledge of/ability to

  • Understand Romeo and Juliet, as a play set in the 1500s and as a reflection of society then and today
  • Make connections between the play and themselves, other things they have read/experienced and the world
  • The ability to make connections from different aspects of the course and to communicate these connections
Lesson # 1                           Topic: INTRO TO SHAKESPEARE AND ROMEO AND JULIET
Learning Goals:

The student’s work will demonstrate knowledge of/ability to  

  • Basics of Romeo and Juliet story – characters and plot
  • Understanding of importance of Shakespeare, some Shakespearean Language
  • Understanding of reading comprehension strategies for challenging texts
(Possible) Success Criteria

The student’s/ work demonstrates knowledge of/ability to

  • Understand graphic text
  • Analyze theme and meaning of text
  • Connect themes in text to themselves, other texts and the world around them
  • Understanding of Shakespearean language
Overall Expectations


1. read and demonstrate an understanding of a variety of literary, graphic, and informational texts, using a range of strategies to construct meaning.

2. recognize a variety of text forms, text features, and stylistic elements and demonstrate an understanding of how they help communicate meaning.

Specific Expectations


1.1 read a wide variety of increasingly complex or difficult texts from diverse cultures, including literary texts

1.3 identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during and after reading to understand increasingly complex or difficult texts

1.4 demonstrate understanding of increasingly complex and difficult texts by summarizing important ideas and explaining how the details support the main idea

1.6 extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other texts and to the world around them


Shakespearean Insults – Ted Ed

Romeo and Juliet Movie (1996) Trailer

What Did Shakespeare Call You? – Hand out/On Board

Instructional Strategies: activation > action > consolidation & reflection
Minds On

Whole group discussion: Who is Shakespeare? What do we know about Romeo and Juliet? About Plays? About Shakespeare? – brainstorming ideas on the board, elaborating, asking questions about plot, main characters attributes etc. Leading the discussion towards a brief plot summary, perhaps touching on and introducing main characters, themes and main ideas

Videos: First we will watch the Romeo and Juliet Trailer  – modernized version, discussion of lasting power of the play. Why are people so interested in it? Second we will watch Shakespearean Insults, and talk about some of the language they may encounter in Shakespeare – how can we find meaning with words we have never seen before? Using context, breaking the word into parts, looking up words or phrases?


Students will receive the “What Did Shakespeare Call You?” hand out (or I will put it up on the board) they will figure out their own Shakespearean Insult and illustrate it as a mini poster. They will be asked to provide a “modern translation” on the back, and to explain how they figured out what their insult might mean, or why it would be insulting.

Part of my reason for doing this is to ensure that Shakespeare is not intimidating, the language is silly, can be played with and understood through context and analysis.


Sharing their insults with group – then sharing their favourites with the whole class – how did they figure out what theirs meant?

Homework: Reading Act I, Scene 1 of No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novel

Assessment for/as/of Learning: Strategies/Tools
  • Students will identify words/phrases they did not understand, and identify the strategies they used to understand them (assessment for learning)
  • Conversation and observation will check for evidence of learning (Assessment of learning)
  • “Modern Translation” of Shakespearean Insult (Assessment of Learning)

Chart for Shakespearean Insults:40657874-media_httpsphotosxxfb_gCApu

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