"Two houses, both alike...": Becoming Pros at Prologue Analysis and Book Jacket Work Time

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SWBAT determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in context by analyzing the words and structure of the prologue of Romeo and Juliet; SWBAT summarize the events in a text by creating a summary panel for the SSR project.

Big Idea

Students become "pros" at prologue analysis of Romeo and Juliet. Then they continue their work on the SSR project.

Introduction to Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Today we begin reading Romeo and Juliet. This will be the last longer text that we read this year. We are reading this text because it fits in with our unit theme, Crossing Boundaries. We will also be reading it with a critical eye because our goal is to put someone on trial for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet at the end of the text. Before we begin reading today, I will tell students that while we are reading the text, they should be considering who is responsible for the tragedy that happens at the end of the play.

Do Now

10 minutes

For the "Do Now" today, I will ask my students to define literary terms and find supporting examples from the play on a vocabulary grid that we will use to capture notes on Romeo and Juliet.  The grid can be found on pg. 26 of the unit (I don't use the rest of the unit, but there are additional interesting ideas in it). Students can use their glossary of literary terms in their English anthologies, dictionaries, dictionary.com, or their prior knowledge to define the words (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4.c). I am using the vocabulary grid because it is an easy way to keep track of literary terms and examples that appear in the play. These notes will be useful in our discussions of the text and for the mock trial that we will have as the culminating activity.

Building Knowledge; Shakespearean Sonnets

15 minutes

For this part of the lesson, I will ask my students to read the Prologue of Act I of Romeo and Juliet silently to themselves. I am having them read silently for comprehension before we read more closely. As they read, I will ask them to determine what Shakespeare is saying and why he is saying it.

After they read, I will give them several characteristics of this Shakespearean Sonnet:

  • 14 lines
  • 3 quatrains
  • 1 couplet
  • rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
  • written in iambic pentameter

As I am explaining and showing them examples of these characteristics in the prologue, I will have them include this sonnet in the "example column" of the vocabulary grid. I will remind them that we will complete the example section of the grid throughout our reading of the play.

After we have discussed the characteristics of the sonnet, we will read try to figure out what Shakespeare is saying in this prologue by reading it more closely. We will go line by line to do this, and I will call on students to explain what they think the line is saying (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4). I think it is important to do this in order to practice close reading to identify the meaning of words and phrases with students because they will do this on their own many times as we are reading the play. This will also help us summarize what the Chorus is saying in each line (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2).

Finally, we will have a brief discussion (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1.c) of why Shakespeare begins Act I with a prologue/poem and why he gives away the ending of the play before it begins. I will have them spend time considering possible reasons for this because I want them to continue to develop the habit of mind to always question the author's purpose.

Application: Reading Act I

10 minutes

Today, we will read (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10) just a few pages of Act I of the play. I am choosing to assign parts and have students read the play aloud, because let's face it, plays are meant to be acted out! I'll even assign someone to read the stage directions because they give valuable information about the character's feelings, thoughts, movement, etc.

Although we will read the older version of the Prologue, we will be reading the modern version of the rest of the play. I am using a side by side version of the play, Shakespeare Made Easy: Romeo and Juliet edited by Alan Durband (this can be purchased here). because the language is less challenging than the original text but still challenging enough for my students. Using this version, we can focus more closely on the characters, plot, themes, etc. but I can also refer them back to the older version to experience more of Shakespeare's language at specific parts of the text. We'll probably read only about 3 pages of the play today, and I will encourage (but not require) students to read Act I for homework. I will read the first three pages of the text to introduce characters, set the scene and generate a "buzz" in the class. My students are still finishing up their SSR Book jacket projects, so I don't want to assign any homework until they are complete.

Before we close out our reading today, I will tell students that we will keep the same character parts and read the rest of Act I together next class as we complete an Act I study guide to help us with comprehension.

Application: Project Work Time

40 minutes

For the second half of the class, we will transition from reading Romeo and Juliet to working on our SSR Book Jacket Project. Today, I will give students time to work on the summary panel of the SSR project. On this panel, students have to summarize the beginning, middle, and end of the book they have chosen (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2).

The purpose of this project is to assess students' ability to analyze a text by summarizing and explaining a theme (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2), identifying conflicts and analyzing characters (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3), defining vocabulary (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4.c), and writing about the author (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2). They have been working on this project for about a month, and we are nearing the due date. The in-class work time has been invaluable to me because I have been able to track student progress and answer individual questions about the project.

Here's a sample panel from ABC Murders, by Agatha Christie and a summary of Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan, and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.

Closure: What's Left?

5 minutes

At the end of work time today, students will determine what is left for their completion of the project that will be due the next time we meet. I am doing this because it is important for their planning purposes. It sets them up to complete the rest of the project ON TIME. Students have the option of writing their remaining tasks in their planners or writing it on another sheet, putting it in their phones, etc.

Lesson Image Attribution

By NeoRetro (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons