THE CANTERBURY TALES: Wife of Bath Day 3 of 4

5 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT demonstrate understanding of the Wife of Bath's Tale through writing and discussion.

Big Idea

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit” ― E.E. Cummings

Lesson Overview and Note to Teachers

My class periods are held in 100-minute block sessions every other day.  The activities on the Wife of Bath take the better part of six class periods to complete.  

Two classes prior to this one, we read and discussed (1) the excerpt from the Wife of Bath's Prologue and (2) the entire The Wife of Bath's Tale in its entirety from our textbook The Language of Literature. For homework,  I had students complete an assignment (Homework: Wife of Bath's Tale) involving text-dependent questions (Comprehension Questions: Wife of Bath's Tale) and a response (Student Work: Wife of Bath Homework - Sample One) to the text. 

The lesson plan below outlines day three on the Wife of Bath, including, but not limited to, the following activities:

  • Rotation response: students exchange papers with different partners in five rotations, writing substantive comments on each other's responses
  • Reflection: students write to reflect on activities and interpretations
  • Small-group collaboration: students review their answers to text-dependent questions and write an objective summary of the Wife of Bath's Tale


Starting the Conversation

14 minutes

When students come in, we visit the "Connect to Your Life" section of the literature book, which teachers and students are intended to explore before reading the Wife of Bath's Prologue excerpt and Tale. However, I decide to visit the topic after students have read the text so that students can draw on their background knowledge and experiences, including their reading of the Wife of Bath's Tale: 

You are probably familiar with the phrase "the battle of the sexes." This expression suggests that romantic relationships have an aspect of conflict, in which one party attempts to gain the upper hand. What are your own opinions on the subject? Would you say that a good marriage is basically an equal partnership, or do you think that one person needs to be the decision maker? Explain your opinions in a class discussion.

I give students time to discuss the questions with a partner. Then, we debrief as a class.  Some student impressions are as follows:

  • In a relationship, partners should be on equal footing and make decisions together.
  • The partner who earns the most money should be the decision maker.
  • Partners should make decisions together after listening to one another's opinions.
  • The partner with the most life experience should have more weight in decision making.

Rotation Response

43 minutes

I ask students to consider their opinions on relationships today as we explore our interpretations of the Wife of Bath's Tale.  I ask students to take out their responses on the Wife of Bath's Tale, noting that today we will engage in Rotation Response.  I explain the assignment procedures (Assignment: Rotation Response) and then ask students to do a Gallery Walk at the back of my room to see models of work from a Rotation Response done in my Advanced Placement Literature and Composition class; I point out that some students highlight portions of their classmates' text that they would like to comment on, or agree with in particular (Models for Gallery Walk: Rotation Response). I ask students to exchange papers with people they may not know as well as they would like.

We complete five, five-minute rotations. I use a timer to keep students on task.  I give students some time to read the comments on their papers (Student Work: Wife of Bath Rotation Response) after all rotations (Student Work: Rotation Response 2) (Student Work: Rotation Response 3) are complete.  

You're Gonna Hear Me RoRR

5 minutes

I ask students to complete a RoRR: Reflection on Rotation Response by answering two questions: (1) What did you learn from this activity? (2) Did this activity affect your interpretation of the Wife of Bath's Tale? Explain. 

Students were forthcoming in their RoRRs (Student Work: Reflection on Rotation Response).  

In fact, one student responded to question one: I learned that I have to start putting more of my own opinions into my responses instead of just summing up the text.

Another student responded to question two: This activity did affect my interpretation on the Wife of Bath because as I was reading my partners' responses, I saw different things about her tale and the type of person she is.  She tells a tale having to do with a woman who has some sort of power.  I didn't even think about it that way until I read another student's response.

Students believed the activity was valuable in expanding their awareness of textual interpretations beyond a small-group setting.


Ticket Out

13 minutes

Since they have examined and reflected upon their interpretations, I give students time to review the comprehension questions (Comprehension Questions: Wife of Bath's Tale)(Student Work: Wife of Bath's Tale Questions) and write a five-item summary of the Wife of Bath's Tale with a partner.

I allow them to use their questions and responses as a vehicle to revisit the text to review what they know about it: (1) to bridge the gaps among our 100-minute class sessions every other day and (2) refresh their recollections and interpretations about thee text.

Their summaries reflect the important parts of the Wife of Bath's Tale that they identify.

 One summary reads as follows:

  • A knight rapes an innocent maiden by a lake.
  • His punishment from the queen is to find out the answer to what women most desire in life; he is given a time span of a year and a day.
  • On the last day, an old woman in a forest tells him she will give him the answer under one condition.
  • The knight saves his life with her answer and is forced to marry the old woman.
  • He constantly degrades her, but at the end he realizes what makes her happy will make him happy.