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Language Arts, Social Studies
Lesson Plan 6 – Grade 8
Topic: Shakespeare goes to the Show
Subjects: English, Drama/Theater, Language Arts, Music, Social Studies
Type of Lesson: Introductory, Reinforcement, and Evaluation
1. To read and discuss the theme of “Romantic Love” in literary form by William Shakespeare.
2. To read, discuss and retell the plot of “Romeo & Juliet.”
3. To compare, contrast and critique a Shakespearean play with modern stage (film) adaptations through an oral presentation.
4. To read and discuss the concept of repeating themes in literature and theater.
5. To read, view and discuss settings and social conditions of 16th century Italy.
6. To read, discuss and identify examples of irony.
7. To promote cooperative learning between students.
1. After viewing the film “Romeo & Juliet” and reading the play as arranged for modern reading, students will analyze and retell the story in short answers on a test and evaluated with a rubric. (Cognitive: Comprehension/Application/Analysis)
2. After viewing the films “Romeo & Juliet” and “West Side Story,” students will compare and contrast both films through a “Siskel & Ebert/Lyons & Medved” review of no more than five minutes, evaluated with a rubric. (Cognitive-Application/Analysis/Synthesis/Evaluation; Affective-Valuing/Organizing; Psychomotor-Communicating)
3. After class discussion and comparison outline, students will work in cooperative pairs and be evaluated with a peer critique rubric, to research, design, display and describe a poster featuring two corresponding themes between a modern theater and/or film production, a book and/or story, or a book/story and movie/theater production. (Cognitive-application/Analysis/synthesis; Affective-Responding; Psychomotor-Communicating)
The class will view and take notes on the A&E Biography series video on the life and works of William Shakespeare, and discuss his plays and works with the focus on romantic themes. Afterward, the class will review the topic of chivalry and romantic love from previous discussions and notes. The class will discuss and offer comparisons to similar stories and concepts that precede Shakespeare or are contemporaries, and review and compare plots to find parallels. This will serve as background for the movie critique and poster presentation.
The teacher will introduce the story of “Romeo & Juliet” as one of Shakespeare’s most enduring pieces on the topic of romantic love and tragedy. Notes will be taken during class reading and discussion for test on the plot. The class will view MGM’s Romeo & Juliet and West Side Story, and identify in writing the similarities and contrasts in story line and themes that were used in Shakespeare’s original play as the basis for a theater critic’s review to be presented before the class.
Student’s notes on the Renaissance
William Shakespeare – Life of Drama. A&E Biography series
“Romeo & Juliet” – MGM Films
“West Side Story”- MGM Films
Video and sound bites: “Siskel & Ebert”; “Lyons & Medved”
Handouts on Hamilton’s Mythology
VCR & TV monitor
1. The class will view the Shakespeare biography over a two-day period and discuss specific individuals or events in Shakespeare’s life and Renaissance history which may have influenced his views on romance and courtship.
2. The concepts of chivalry, romantic love and adoration as a medieval source of gallantry and inspiration for courageous acts, crimes of passion, sacrifice and renunciation will be discussed:
- It described a code of civil conduct and customs of behavior toward women as an object of dedicated worship by men.
- It existed during a time when women were granted few or no privileges and rights regarding their property by marriage or inheritance, and were generally considered by religious heretics to be potential allies of Satan.
3. The class will read “Romeo & Juliet,” take notes and discuss Shakespeare’s portrayal of the social differences and irony that existed in the name of chivalry and romantic love. Key points will be:
- Why are the citizens of Verona angry at the two families over their fighting?
- What is Romeo’s problem when he is first introduced to the reader? Why?
- Considering the risks he takes, why does Friar Lawrence agree to help Romeo?
- Why does Paris try to compete with Romeo in matters of courtship? Who is more effective, and why?
- Why does Capulet agree to his daughter’s wedding to Paris?
- What is Juliet’s main concern when she speaks to Romeo from the balcony? Is she reasonable?
- How do the motives of Friar Lawrence and the Nurse compare? Can they be blamed for the outcome of the story?
- Who dies first, and what does this create as a major issue? What would happen if his death was not avenged?
- At the end of the play, the Prince says that there shall be pardoning and punishment. Who should receive this? Why or why not.?
- Based on your previous reading on ancient Greece and Homer, what is ironic about the name “Paris” in a romantic story?
4. The class will discuss and compare stories and plots that precede Shakespeare that may be in written or oral tradition, or are contemporaries, and review and compare them to find parallels. The following may be used, and the class will be encouraged to think of others (keeping them in appropriate Shakespearean timeframe):
a. The Legends of King Arthur
b. Odysseus & Penelope; Paris & Helen
c. Dante & Beatrice
d. Chaucer’s Troilus & Criseyde
e. Aeneas & Dido of Carthage
f. Aphrodite & Adonis, Pyramus & Thisbe, Orpheus & Eurydice, Pygmalion & Galatea
g. Other myths, fairy tales, legends or other oral and written legacies
5. The class will view “West Side Story” over a two-day period, take notes and discuss Bernstein’s portrayal of the cultural and social differences and irony that existed in the New York City Puerto Rican community of the 1950′s, and how the story compared to the themes of chivalry, romantic love and adoration. The class will also take notes on the similarities and differences in story line to “Romeo & Juliet.”
6. Students will be matched in pairs to prepare a critical analyses to be presented to the class for critique.
7. Students will work on a poster that portrays a parallel or contrasting theme between two stories, movies, or a movie and story.
8. Projected time for movie viewing, research and wrap-up will be 30 days.
1. What role do stories of human behavior play in our lives? What kinds of vehicles do we use to narrate or portray these stories?
2. Name five (5) types of stories and their genres.
3. What was Shakespeare trying to say about the customs and social habits of his time? Was there anything about his own life that made him write much of his work in an ironic form, pointing out the follies of humanity?
1. The A&E video biography of Lucrezia Borgia will be viewed and discussed. Has she been treated fairly by history? In what ways was her life similar to Juliet’s? (Possible answer: one allegedly administered poison to others, one allegedly took it herself.)
2. The A&E video biography Elizabeth I: The Virgin Queen will be viewed and discussed. Were there any career or life development options available for women in the Renaissance and during Shakespeare’s time? There were monarchs who were women–why didn’t they change things, according to their privilege as ruler?
3. Introduce the class to the story of Hamlet as the next Shakespearean work to be read and discussed. What Disney cartoon movie portrays themes from the story of Hamlet? (The Lion King.)
4. What kind of behavioral science today is very much involved in the study of human thinking and personality? Would you say that Shakespeare very much understood the nature of mankind?
5. Have things changed very much or stayed the same regarding relationships and social views toward women since his time in the Renaissance? If he were to travel forward in time to our era and view the 20th century, what might he say? For example: what might his comments be about President Clinton?
6. Write a brief letter, poem, or sonnet to an anonymous person of your choice in the dialect of Shakespearean England. Creativity, good taste and humor are to be modeled. For example:
“Forsooth, ‘tho I must carry upon my shoulders the pressing matters of estate, shire and dedication to my king (or queen), there is nothing better that binds my wounds, soothes my weary body or brings the warmth of sun than the sweet gaze you direct toward me.”
Adaptations for Special Purposes:
If the student is emotionally disturbed or neurologically impaired, they will have a chance to work with an in-class support teacher or have the help of the classroom teacher. They will be given extra time for the assignment and have the teacher work on the writing process and research with them. If the student has trouble comprehending the assignment, a high level learner or older peer tutor may assist them or be assigned. If the student is deaf, or interpreter work with them, or close-captioned video will be ordered. In addition, they will have the directions written on ditto sheets.
1. The following rubric will be used on the test:
· Students answered all questions in a clear, concise manner and showed significant detail: (A)
· Students answered eight of the questions in a clear, concise manner and showed significant detail: (B)
· Students answered five of the questions in a clear, concise manner and showed either significant or reasonable detail: (C)
· Students answered approximately three of the questions in a clear, concise or general manner and showed either significant or reasonable detail: (D)
2. The following rubric will apply to the film critique presentation:
· Both students spoke in specific detail about the movies and offered at least five clear, concise examples for their reasoning: (A)
· Both students spoke with moderate detail about the movies and offered five clear, concise examples for their reasoning: (B)
· Both students spoke in general terms about the movies and offered no more than three clear, concise examples for their reasoning: (C)
· Both students were unable to speak about any parts of the movie in general terms and could not offer more than two clear, concise examples for their reasoning: (D)
· Both students or one did not participate to any degree: (F)
3. The following rubric will apply to the poster:
· Both students spoke in specific detail about their choices, style of books, stories or movies and offered at least five clear, concise examples for their reasoning: (A)
· Both students spoke with moderate detail about their choices, style of books, stories or movies and offered five clear, concise examples for their reasoning: (B)
· Both students spoke in general terms about the their choices, style of books, stories or movies and offered no more than three clear, concise examples for their reasoning: (C)
· Both students were unable to speak about any parts of their choices, style of books, stories or movies in general terms and could not offer more than two clear, concise examples for their reasoning: (D)
· Both students or one did not participate to any degree: (F)
NJ Core Curriculum Standards:
1.4-All students will demonstrate knowledge of the process of critique.
1.4.2- All students will offer constructive critique in the evaluation of their own and others’ work in dance, music, theater, or visual arts.
1.5-All students will identify the various historical, social, and cultural influences and traditions which have generated artistic accomplishments throughout the ages and which continue to shape contemporary arts.
3.1-All students will speak for a variety of real purposes and audiences.
3.2-All students will listen actively in a variety of situations to information from a variety
3.3-All students will write in a clear, concise organized language that varies in content and form for different audiences and purposes.
3.4-All students will read various materials and texts with comprehension and critical analysis.
3.5-All students will view, understand, and use nontextual visual information.
6.4-All students will acquire historical understanding of societal ideas and forces throughout the history of New Jersey, the United States, and the world.
6.5-All students will acquire historical understanding of varying cultures throughout the history of New Jersey, the United States, and the world.
Browning, D.C. (1993). The Complete Dictionary of Shakespeare Quotations. New York: Barnes & Noble Books.
Boorstin, Daniel J. (1983). The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself. New York: Random House.
Downs, Robert B. (1961). Famous Books Since 1492. New York: Barnes & Noble
Cady, Frank W. & Cartmell, Van H. (1946). Shakespeare Arranged for Modern Reading. New York: Doubleday and Company.
Emerson, Kathy Lynn. (1996). The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Renaissance England. New York: Writer’s Digest Books.
Fonte, Moderata & Cox, Virginia (Editor). (1997). The Worth of Women : Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men (Other Voice in Early Modern Europe). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Hamilton, Edith. (1942). Mythology – Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. New York: The New American Library.
Elizabeth I: The Virgin Queen. A&E Biography series
Lucrezia Borgia – Pretty Poison. A&E Biography series.
Romeo & Juliet. MGM, 1968.
William Shakespeare – Life of Drama. A&E Biography series.
West Side Story. MGM, 1961.