Using Multiple Intelligences to Teach Megillat Esther

  • 60 minutes plus presentations
  • Grades: 3-6
  • Lesson Plan

by: Semadar Goldstein

In this lesson, students analyze sections of chapter 2 of Megillat Esther in groups and then write a related skit, drama pantomime or illustrate a scene.

Introduction

This multiple intelligences lesson plan can be used as a model for teaching all of Megillat Esther. Students analyze chapter 2 of Megillat Esther in groups and then write a related skit, drama pantomime or illustrate a scene.

Lesson objectives

The student will be able to:
1. Explain why a ‘Beauty Pageant’ was held in Persia during the Achaemenid Dynasty.
2. Describe Mordechai and Esther and their relationship.
3. Explain the process the women underwent after which they were introduced to the king.
4. Relate why Esther did not reveal her identity.
5. Describe how Esther was chosen queen despite her, or perhaps because of, her modesty.
6. Recount how Mordechai overhears Bigtan and Teresh plotting to kill the king.
7. Describe how Mordechai relates these plans to Esther, who reveals them to the king.
8. Explain how the would-be assassins are punished and how Mordechai’s deed is written up in the King’s “Book of Chronicles”.

Skills

The student will:
1. Read and comprehend text in a group setting.
2. Identify main idea in text section and work together to give a title that expresses the main idea.
3. Link the theme to the group’s text.
4. Analyze text further to complete chosen project.
5. Produce an engaging and creative presentation.

Values

The student wil:
1. Appreciate the concept of mitzvah gorret mitzvah (one mitzvah leads to another mitzvah) and middah k’neged middah (measure for measure) that are illustrated in the chapter—Mordechai saves Achashverosh’s life and later his own life is saved later on.
2. Appreciate the self-sacrifice demonstrated by Esther. Esther struggles and sacrifices her own needs for the greater good of her community (a common Biblical theme). This is opposite of today’s “me, me, me” culture.
3. Appreciate Esther’s modesty. Instead of pursuing superficial beauty, she is satisfied with what she has.
4. Understand the disadvantages in ancient royal and public life (i.e. not making your own decisions, being forced to marry someone, women’s rights during the Achaemenid Dynasty).
5. Appreciate that to be a good leader, one needs to have confidence in decision-making.

Terms

מצוה גוררת מצוה

מדה כנגד מדה

Resources & Equipment needed

Copies of Megillat Esther for students.

Procedure

1. Planning the unit: review the perek. Divide the text into sections. The chapter can be divided as follows: 1-4 5-8 9-14 15-18 19-23 Dividing text, especially into thematic units, is subjective.Most perakim can be looked at in a number of ways. The division above is one possibility.

2. Identify main themes that you would like the students to explore. These themes may only appear in chapter two, or they may be prevalent throughout the text. Themes are teacher provided the first few times you run an MI project. After that, in older grades especially, students may suggest their own themes. Public Life – The downside to royalty: Not making your own decisions; being forced to marry (not for love) and worst of all, having to keep your identity a secret! Leadership – Who makes the pageant decree? The Lose Vashti decree? Achashverosh is easily pushed into decisions. This makes him an easy candidate to be pushed around by Haman and then Esther. Individual vs. Collective Interests – Mordechai and Esther’s partnership protects the Jewish people from beginning to end. By putting the Jewish people’s needs come before their own, they save the nation. You never know which good deed will merit another; thanks to Mordechai’s watchfulness, his kindness is repaid later on when we need him the most. Irony – The irony of spending a year in beauty treatments and not wanting one at all. What Esther really wanted was to get married to a Jew and build a house with him! What is the point of external beauty?

3. In class: Divide students into groups and assign each a section of the text.

4. Students should read their section and decide on a title that reflects the main idea. Some student sample titles are listed here: Introducing Esther and Mordechai The Pageant Decree Esther is Taken as Queen Bigtan and Teresh: The Plot Lynched Preparing for Beauty

5. Provide students with the themes and let them match a theme to their text.

6. Groups present their text to the class and link it to their chosen theme.

7. Students can then choose a project: Write a one page skit using one of the titles/themes above. Include a main character (Esther, King Achashverosh, Mordechai), and if you like, make up a minor character. Quote at least one verse from the text. Draw one of the titles/themes above. Include facial expressions and quote at least one verse from the text. Write a drama pantomime. Write a scene with a partner dramatizing one of the events above. One student reads the scene, while the other acts it out. Make sure to quote from the text.

8. Optional: below you will find issues that can be explored within group projects or discussed in class if time permits. Explore examples of irony in the text. Examine Esther’s self sacrifice. Investigate the motive and result of chessed (Mordechai saves Achashverosh. When he is not immediately repaid, does he care? How does this affect him later on?) Analyze how Achashverosh does not create or enforce his own decisions. Compare this to modern and Biblical leaders. To whom do leaders turn to for advice? Compare and contrast ancient Persia and cultural differences (treatment of women, arranged marriages, marriages where only the man chooses, the role of gatekeepers and other royal functionaries, the caste system, the royal vizier, etc.) to modern times. Scenes can be recreated to create a holistic approach. Contrast leadership qualities between Mordechai and Esther to Haman and Achashverosh, and to modern leaders.