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.
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.
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.
KWHL chart, questioning techniques, peer observation and assessment, cooperative learning – ICT’s (wikis; Visual Ranking Tool, Seeing Reason Tool, Showing Evidence Tool)
Introduction to Romeo & Juliet: (3 x 50 minute lessons. Internet access will be needed for activity no. 3)
Romeo & Juliet - Theme exploration: (4 x 50 minute lessons)
Romeo & Juliet - The Text: (10 x 50 minute periods)
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?
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.
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.
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
KWHL Chart – Questioning Techniques – Peer Observation and Assessment – Cooperative learning – ICT (wikis; Visual Ranking Tool; Seeing Reason Tool, Showing Evidence Tool)
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.
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.
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.
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