The Turning Point of Romeo and Juliet: Comprehending Act III

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SWBAT identify and explain character interactions and development leading up to the turning point of Romeo and Juliet by reading in groups and completing text-dependent questions.

Big Idea

Experiencing the death of Mercutio and other interactions that advance the plot in Act III

Do Now: Organizing Group Reading

5 minutes

For the "Do Now" today, I will give my students the Romeo-Juliet Quiz (Act II portion) that I found here. in order to see whether they have comprehended this chunk of the play.

I am giving them this quiz in order to determine whether they are comprehending the events that are advancing the plot of the play. I chose this quiz for Act II because it asks questions about the Friar's motives and his specific warning that foreshadows something terrible in Romeo's future (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3). This foreshadowing is important to the advancement of the plot, so I need to make sure that students got it when they read it.

Application: Group Reading Time

40 minutes

Last class for homework, I assigned the first part of the Act III study guide up to scene 3. Today, students will read the rest of Act III in groups of 4 or 5 students (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10). Up until now, we have been reading the play as a whole group. This has been effective, but I think it is time that students work more independently with smaller groups to make sense of the play.

The reason I am having them read in groups today is because I want to get more of the class actively involved in reading the play. When we read as a whole class, there are quite a few students that are unable to participate. This way, every student has an opportunity to play a character. I am trusting that actively participating in the reading will be better for comprehension. I will have students count off up to 6 in order to have at least 5 people per group. Then I will tell them where each group will meet to read together.

Application: Completing the study guide

20 minutes

After students have completed Act III, I will have them go back to the study guide to complete the rest of it. I am having  them do it this way because all year, I have been struggling with whether or not we should interrupt reading with graphic organizers and text-dependent questions.  The questions for this part of the text focus on character interactions and conflicts (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3) and citing evidence from the text to support inferences and conclusions (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1). I have been mixing it up a bit to see what works better with students. As of right now, how well students do with either strategy depends on the text. With this text (which may be a bit more difficult than some of the others we have read), I think they will do better with the study questions after reading.

During Act III two people have died (Mercutio and Tybalt), and Romeo is banished.  The study guide will help students think about the sequence of events that have led up to these tragedies and how they mark the turning point of the play and the twists in plot (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5). In fact, one question on the guide asks students how Act III, scene 1 serves as the climax or turning point.

Study guide sample 1 and sample 2 show student responses to the Romeo and Juliet Act III Study Guide.

This resource can be found at

Closure: Study Guide Question Review

15 minutes

We will close out this lesson by grading our study guide questions. I am having students review the answers to these questions because I want to make sure they have full comprehension of the twists in plot (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5) that have occurred so far. This will also prepare them for our Act III quiz next class.

After I review the answers to the study questions, I will ask students to weigh in on who might ultimately be responsible for Romeo's and Juliet's deaths to see if they have changed their minds. I'll have a few students share their thoughts in a brief discussion (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1.a). When I initially asked this question, my students identified Gregory, Sampson, and The Montague and Capulet parents as the people who were most responsible. I wonder if they have changed their minds after reading more than half of the play. We originally approached the reading of this play with the intention of solving this problem by putting someone on trial, so it will be interesting to trace the evolution of suspects.