English Language Arts, Reading Literature
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Characters
  • Grade 11 ELA
  • Innocence
  • Reputation
  • Shakespeare
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Character Development

    Character Development


    In this lesson, students will come to see how the concept of deception can be looked at in more than one way and how this factors into Much Ado About Nothing ’s character development.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • Watch the videos. Choose and prepare the clips that you will use from each version. Decide whether you will pause for note taking, show it twice, or make other modifications.
    • Assign small groups for the reading of act 2, scene 3. There are four parts to read: Hero, her gentlewomen Margaret and Ursula, and Beatrice.

    Deception Quick Write

    • Establish a time limit for writing to the Quick Write prompt.
    • You might begin by saying how deception in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing: for example, if you are the recipient of a surprise birthday party, you have been deceived, but it was in fun and because people cared about you. That’s a very different sort of deception from being taken in a scam.
      • ELL: “Deception” is a word that usually has a negative connotation in English, especially when compared to other words ELLs may be more familiar with, like “tease” or “trick.” Clarify the meaning of “deception” and help students understand how it is similar to and different from other words they may know.


    Spend a few minutes writing about a time you were deceived by someone.

    • Was this deception done in a playful sort of way? Or was it done to be cruel?
    • When you found out that you had been deceived, how did you feel?

    Open Notebook

    Share your Quick Write response with a partner.

    Much Ado About Deception

    • Allow students a few minutes to share with partners and check for understanding while they discuss. At the least, they should be identifying both Don John’s deception concerning Hero and the prince’s deception concerning Beatrice and Benedick. If they identify other examples, however, encourage them to share those with the class.
    • Facilitate a brief discussion of deception based on what the partner groups presented.

    Work Time

    With your partner, discuss the two major deceptions in the play and how they have been presented so far.

    These two deceptions will play out throughout the play.

    One is of a playful nature and is in good fun; the other is meant to cause harm.

    • Identify these two deceptions and explain how they relate to the characters involved.

    When you’re finished, share your thoughts with the class.

    Act 3, Scene 1 Introduction

    • In preparation for act 3, share the summary of what happens in act 3, scene 1.
    • Explain how act 3, scene 1 mirrors a previous scene in which Benedick is being conned into believing that Beatrice is in love with him.
      • ELL: Help students unpack the derivation of “conned,” from the original idiom “confidence game.”
    • Ask students to consider, as they listen, how realistic this scene is. Do we really alter our evaluations of others on the basis of what we hear they think about us?

    Work Time

    Read along with your teacher as he or she introduces the next scene. This scene mirrors a previous one in which Benedick is conned into believing that Beatrice is in love with him.

    As you listen, here are a few things to think about.

    • How realistic are these two scenes?
    • Is it realistic to think that people change their minds about others when they hear that they are liked and appreciated by them?
    • Can you remember a situation similar to this in your own life or the life of one of your friends?

    Act 3, Scene 1 Read Aloud

    • Help groups cast the play for today from those students willing to participate.
    • Before you begin the small group reading, review the scene summary for act 3, scene 1.
    • Circulate through the room and assist groups that are struggling with lines. Remind them to use the notes provided in the text.
      • ELL: Post difficult words or phrases that students identify in the reading to support other students who may struggle with those same words.

    Work Time

    Read act 3, scene 1 aloud with your small group.

    • There are four parts in this scene. Assign parts within your group. You might give each part to one person.
    • You may also choose to take turns, changing readers on each page. Maybe your group has one or two able readers who can read for your group.
    • Pause your reading after each page to discuss what happened and make sure everyone understands.
    • Keep your voices soft so as not to bother the other groups.

    Act 3, Scene 1 Review

    • Facilitate a brief discussion of act 3, scene 1.
    • Facilitate a discussion of the third section of the arc of the five-act Shakespearean play. This act will be the climax, or turning point.
    • Have students guess and predict some of the situations that might occur in the climax of the play.

    Work Time

    With your class, review the action in act 3, scene 1.

    • What happens in this scene? Does your group have any unanswered questions?
    • On the basis of the five-act structure Shakespeare often used and what you’ve read so far in act 3, what do you think might happen in the climax? What are your predictions?

    Two Versions of Act 3, Scene 1

    • Show snippets from act 2, scene 3 and act 3, scene 1 in the Much Ado About Nothing film versions (where friends of Beatrice and Benedick deceive each of them into believing that the other is in love with him or her).
      • SWD: Humor is very subjective. If students say that they don’t find the play funny, or if they are interpreting the scene very literally, point out the writer’s strategies for creating irony. You can also invite them to share what strikes them as the funniest part of this scene, even if that’s a different part than the majority of the class.
      • ELL: Humor can be culturally specific, and it can require direct instruction to “get” the joke. If students struggle to explain why certain scenes are funny, walk through a specific exchange that illustrates the use of irony and explain how irony can be humorous.
    • In preparation for the students reading act 3, scene 2 for homework, read aloud the synopsis of what happens in the scene from your source for the scene summaries.


    Your teacher will show brief excerpts of two parallel scenes.

    After you watch, complete a Quick Write in response to these questions.

    • How alike are Beatrice and Benedick in their reactions?
    • Why are these scenes funny? How do you see Shakespeare using elements of humor here?

    Open Notebook

    Act 3, Scene 2

    • Remind students to keep up with their Dialectical Journal entries as they read.
    • Address any remaining questions before class ends.


    Read and annotate act 3, scene 2 for homework.

    • This is a pivotal scene in the play. Pay special attention to the character development of Claudio.
    • Why on earth would he believe Don John?
    • Don’t forget to add to your Much Ado About Nothing Dialectical Journal and write down any questions you have so that you can get answers in class.