First Semester Project: From BEOWULF to CANTERBURY TALES

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SWBAT demonstrate comprehension of a major literary work through writing and video production.

Big Idea

"All meanings, we know, depend on the key of interpretation." ---George Eliot

Lesson Overview and Note to Teachers

My classes meet in 100-minute block sessions.  The lesson below outlines activities for the first semester project.  Students can work collaboratively or individually to create a project that shows their mastery of one of the major works we have explored first semester.  


10 minutes

We have explored excerpts from Beowulf, the Iliad, and The Canterbury Tales this semester.  Since our school promotes project-based learning, my instructional team of senior teachers decides to use a project to assess student mastery of one major literary work explored this semester.  

I introduce the project as an opportunity for students to showcase the literacy abilities and content knowledge they have acquired this semester.  We discuss the Big Idea, and I reiterate that their interpretations are valid as long as they are accurate to the text.  When explaining the four project options for the assignment (Assignment: Honors First Semester Project), I point out that students must submit their stories, which is the last project option, through I use turnitin to help students understand the importance of original written work.  It provides an originality report to students prior to submitting their work, and it checks submitted work against the Internet, including work submitted at my high school.  

I allow students to confer with one another on which project they would like to complete.  They may work in groups, but they must sign up for a project and a literary work.  

Project Work

90 minutes

Once students sign up for their projects, I allow them to engage in the following activities:

  • Students can work with their selected group members to discuss, write out, and create their video reenactments.
  • Students can access laptops available in my class today to access graphic novels and comic strips online to get examples of how their projects can look.  I allow them to create their projects electronically or in hard copy.
  • Students can begin writing their stories from the viewpoint of a character other than the main character from their chosen literary selection.


I notice that they use their chosen literary works to verify their interpretations in individual and collaborative work settings.