Reflection: Organizational Systems Introduction to Chaucer and the Middle Ages - Section 5: What to Expect


I like to spend time on these Old and Middle English units providing students with cultural context because the world we are reading about is so far removed from our own.  Especially with The Canterbury Tales because there are complex social structures in place and Chaucer's description's are so firmly rooted in his own time. 

Having students write about their own anticipations and fears about the text can help orient me toward the different strategies I will need to employ when teaching the material.  Sometimes it's a matter of close readings of difficult vocabulary, sometimes it's a matter of delving deeper into irony, connotation and denotation.  The students' reflections suggest a common anticipation, the language will be dense, the plot complicated. So I plan to focus on vocabulary phrases, and decoding language to understand plot. 

When I start teaching Chaucer, and really, all the way through Shakespeare I take a New Historicism approach, grounding students in the place and time, and stimulating them to think about the way Chaucer's time still influences our own, and why we think the way we do about the time he lived in. Quite often the students find themselves in the characters and places because they are reading about them this way.


  Organizational Systems: Pre-Reading
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Introduction to Chaucer and the Middle Ages

Unit 8: Canterbury Tales - A Knight's Tale
Lesson 1 of 8

Objective: SWBAT identify the characteristics of an author as well as the cultural context of The Canterbury Tales

Big Idea: Students will notice a marked difference between Old English and Middle English, but will still be surprised by the pronunciations.

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12 teachers like this lesson
English / Language Arts, Geoffrey Chaucer, narrative voice, literary technique, Canterbury Tales, Middle English, Cultural Context, irony
  52 minutes
free use geoffrey chaucer
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