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Romeo and Juliet

A story for all time

Romeo and Juliet

Unit Summary

Through Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, students investigate the author’s approach to illustrating many of society’s ongoing issues. They analyse the characters, themes, social issues and their impact on the story line. The students will be expected to maintain a regular entry/report/reflection on a class wiki about their studies.  Students reflect on the timeless, universal relevance of the story, and how literature can improve their understanding of themselves and people around them.

Curriculum-Framing Questions

  • Essential Question
    How can I better understand myself and my world?
  • Unit Questions
    How do writers create different worlds?
    How is literature relevant to the way I live/think/act?   
  • Content Questions
    What are some important things to know about Shakespeare’s time period?
    Who are the characters in Romeo and Juliet? How do they change during the course of the play?
    What are the main ideas/themes/issues raised by the play?
    What is imagery? How does imagery contribute to our understanding of the play?
    What is a metaphor? How do the metaphors help to paint a picture of characters’ states of mind?
    What is figurative language? How does imagery and figurative language affect how we judge the intentions or motives of characters?
    How does the use of imagery add to the mood of the scene? How does the imagery affect the way we respond to the scene?
    What is a soliloquy? What is its purpose?
    What is a literary technique? How do literary techniques assist our understanding of the play?

Assessment Processes

View how assessment is used in this unit plan.  These assessments help students and teachers set understandable goals, monitor student progress, provide feedback, assess thinking, performance and products, and reflect on learning throughout the activities.

Prerequisite Skills

Students Prior Knowledge
Students are from various ethnic backgrounds which should stimulate discussion when exploring ‘social norms/values’. They have not studied Shakespeare in the past and need to be 'drawn' to the text through our familiarisation activities. 
 
Teachers Professional Learning
Setting up and using wikis/Intel thinking tool projects.
Create the wiki that students will use. Load the student support documents and assessment tools.

Note: Teachers delivering this unit of work may need professional learning in using the thinking tools: Visual Ranking, Seeing Reason and Showing Evidence, if they have not already participated in an Intel Teach Thinking with Technology Course, or used these tools before. Tutorials and demonstrations, as well as advice and strategies about use of the tools also exist on the website alternatively check if you are able to participate in a Thinking with Technology Course in your region.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

KWHL chart, questioning techniques, peer observation and assessment, cooperative learning – ICT’s (wikis; Visual Ranking Tool, Seeing Reason Tool, Showing Evidence Tool)

Teaching and Learning Activities

Introduction to Romeo & Juliet: (3 x 50 minute lessons. Internet access will be needed for activity no. 3)

  • As an introduction to the language of the text, the teacher selects 2 - 3 passages from the text and asks students to work in groups (students will be group according to their literary skills; each group will explore a different version of these scenes: text, podcast, film) to determine what these passages are about; to interpret the meaning behind the words. This immersion activity will ‘demystify’ the text and lead to the completion of a K-W-H-L Chart.
  • K-W-H-L Chart: As a class we explore the students’ knowledge of Shakespeare, his works and his style of writing, pointing out the number of his plays that have been made into film, such as ‘Ten Things I Hate about you’ and ‘She’s the Man’.
  • Brainstorm the Essential Question: How can I better understand myself and my world?
  • Using the Visual Ranking Tool students are asked to rank a list of social offences in order of seriousness, with the most serious first (this activity leads to a discussion of the play’s themes and helps to build anticipation for the forthcoming activities and study):
    • Being in a gang
    • Calling someone names
    • Changing boyfriend/girlfriends
    • Committing suicide
    • Crashing a party
    • Hating someone due to background 
    • Intentionally deceiving someone
    • Killing someone by mistake
    • Killing someone for revenge
    • Lying to parents
    • Marrying against parents' wishes
    • Marrying someone for money
    • Picking a fight
    • Selling drugs

Romeo & Juliet - Theme exploration:  (4 x 50 minute lessons)

  • To develop initial understanding of plot/characters/setting, have the class watch the Baz Luhrmann (or alternate) film (to overcome issues regarding the film’s rating, teachers need to ensure parents sign a permission form.) Students are asked to write a newspaper report of the final scene, the discovery of the bodies. The prepared Essay Rubric (doc) can be used to also assess news report.
  • Teacher prepares a series of statements/events about the plotline of the play which are out of order; in pairs, students organise Jumbled Plotline (doc) in correct chronological order.


Romeo & Juliet - The Text: (10 x 50 minute periods)

  • To share the reading of the text students are asked to work with a partner on a particular scene and answer the questions for that scene listed in the Scene Prompts (doc) support document. They are then asked to present their answers orally to the class: video presentation, personal oral presentation, podcasts, news reporter, radio announcer, a phone conversation. This activity ensures the main points of the text are covered and that all students are given the opportunity to look closely at a scene and share their understanding of that scene. Students are also asked to consider our Essential Question: How can I better understand myself and my world? and consider how it is addressed in the part of the text they are working with.
  • As they work through these oral presentations students are directed to update the class wiki.  Students adopt the persona of one of the main characters and write an entry in response to certain events from the point of view of that character. Entries for example can be written at the start of the play, after Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting, when Juliet hears of her intended marriage to Paris, after Mercutio and Tybalt’s deaths and after the final scene. Students are encouraged to remain true to the ‘spirit’ of the text as well as exercise ‘poetic license’ in guessing what may have happened.


Metaphoric/imagery/figurative text
Teacher leads a discussion/exploration of puns, imagery, figurative text. How has Shakespeare used these and to what effect?
Refer to Content Questions:
What is imagery? How does imagery contribute to our understanding of the play?
What is a metaphor? How do the metaphors help to paint a picture of characters’ states of mind?
What is figurative language? How does imagery and figurative language affect how we judge the intentions or motives of characters?
How does the use of imagery add to the mood of the scene? How does the imagery affect the way we respond to the scene?
What is a soliloquy? What is its purpose?
What is a literary technique? How do literary techniques assist our understanding of the play?

Student task:
Shakespeare has utilised authors ‘tools’ such as figurative, imagery & metaphors to illustrate his work. Students identify 4 of these examples (at least 1 of passage of each)and explain how they have ‘coloured’ the characters &/or plot. Students use image editing software to create a visual representation of these text examples to support their explanations, and share them via the wiki.

Did it have to end this way?: (4 x 50 minute periods)
Students work in groups of 3 – 4 to examine the different forces at work in how the story of Romeo and Juliet plays out.  In groups of 3 – 4 students consider the question: Who is responsible for Romeo and Juliet’s death? and use the Visual Ranking Tool to rank who they think has the most responsibility. The Seeing Reason Tool is used to analyse the factors which contributed to the deaths. See Thinking Tool projects later in this unit plan, or in the Thinking Tools (doc)document. 
Students then complete an open-book, in class essay for assessment. Topic: “Who is/are responsible for Romeo and Juliet’s deaths?”.  Criteria in the Essay Rubric (doc) should be reviewed prior to task.

Moving beyond the text – project/presentation.
As a culminating activity and to explore beyond the text, students either work in groups and choose a scenario for a dramatic finale OR students may work individually. All students maintain their wiki entries whilst working on these projects.

Student group project options (mock trial or acting out/animating a scene)
Student groups negotiate and complete an action plan, including the tasks required to prepare and implement the activity, the timeline & the group members’ individual responsibilities.

As a group organise a mock trial to determine the degree of accountability / responsibility the following characters carry: Romeo and Juliet themselves /The Montague and Capulet families / Friar Laurence / Fate. Students would use the Showing Evidence Tool so support their research.

OR

Students (group activity) act out or animate one of the scenes as it may happen in a school setting.

Individual student project options (coroner’s inquest or debate/presentation)

Coroner’s Inquest – student takes on perspective of a coroner holding an inquest into the deaths of Romeo and Juliet to decide:
• That a person has died
• The identity of the person
• When, where and how the death happened
• If anyone should be charged with a criminal offence in relation to the deaths

Students should use the Showing Evidence Tool (see thinking tool project later in this unit plan) so support their research, and come to a conclusion.

OR

Debate or presentation to class
Students (individual activity) conducting their own research and present a debate or a 3 minute talk to the class, exploring one of the themes in Romeo and Juliet as it applies to our lives, our world. Students would use the Showing Evidence Tool (see thinking tool project later in this unit plan) so support their research. Possible topics: The Generation Gap: How to Communicate with Parents /Teenagers / Peer Pressure / Dealing with Conflict / Making Good Decisions / The Attraction of Gangs

Strategies
KWHL Chart – Questioning Techniques – Peer Observation and Assessment – Cooperative learning – ICT (wikis; Visual Ranking Tool; Seeing Reason Tool, Showing Evidence Tool)

Accommodations for Diverse Needs

Students with Special Needs
• Provide templates for some of the associated products, such as essay plan template
• Provide fill-in-the-blank plot worksheets to help the student simplify and identify the characters and action
• Allow the student to choose the method and tools for assessment that draw upon on the student’s strengths i.e oral rather than written; power point presentation
• Tailor the tasks to target the abilities of the student.
• Utilise teacher-aide support
• Provision of podcasts, DVDs, etc of the play.
• Develop a ‘word wall’ in classroom or a blog to explore terms used and the style of writing.

English as a Second Language (ESL) Students
Provision of podcasts, DVDs, etc of the play.
Develop a ‘word wall’ in classroom or a blog to explore terms used and the style of writing.

Gifted Students
Encourage the student to look beyond the obvious and come up with creative solutions for difficult problems. i.e:  ‘What would have happened if Romeo and Juliet had been using text messaging for communication and did not have to rely on others?’ ‘What other plan could Friar Lawrence have devised that may have had more favourable outcomes?’ ‘What if Juliet’s mother had been more supportive?’ ‘What if the Prince had not banished Romeo?’ Students could also be encouraged to rewrite the story giving it a 21st Century perspective.

Indigenous Groups
Discussion of the universal relevance of Romeo and Juliet as a story and the perspective of ‘different worlds, same people’ can lead to a focus on aboriginal dreamtime stories and the aboriginal culture. This will give the text extra relevance and depth. If needed, some of the scaffolds suggested for the ‘special needs’ student can be used here as well.  

© State of Victoria 2009  
This unit is based on the US unit portfolio,” Romeo and Juliet: insight into ourselves”.  A team of teachers in Victoria adapted this unit for Australia.
Copyright is owned by the Crown in right of the State of Victoria.  It may be reproduced in whole or in part for study or training purposes, subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source and no commercial usage or sale.  Reproduction for the purposes other than those indicated above requires the written permission of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Requests and enquiries concerning reproduction and copyright should be addressed to the Liability Management Manager, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2 Treasury Place, Melbourne, VIC, 3002
The State of Victoria accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any part of this material and bears no responsibility for any modifications made. 

* Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Romeo and Juliet

At a Glance

Year: 9


Subject: English, Communication, Thinking


Time Needed: 20 - 25 x 50 minute class periods