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Lesson 22: As constant as the Northern Star: Examining Static and Dynamic Characters in Julius Caesar.



Teachers' Rating:
  5 ratings


Geffrey Whitney. A choice of emblemes, and other devises. Leyden, 1586 (Detail)

 
February 2008
 
Cathlin Goulding teaches at Newark Memorial High School, Newark, California.
 

Plays/Scenes Covered
Julius Caesar: This lesson could be a culminating activity to the study of the play.
 
What's On for Today and Why

Students will work in collaborative groups to examine changes a single character undergoes during the course of the play. In addition to identifying the ways in which they believe their character has changed (or not changed), students will stage a dramatic performance of two different scenes which reflect these changes.

 

This lesson will take 5-6 class periods.


 
What You Need

Folger edition of Julius Caesar
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts

Task and Evaluation Handout

Character Change Chart

Final performance Assignment

Final Performance Evaluation Rubrics

Folders


Documents:
Task and Evaluation Handout
Character Change Chart
Final performance Assignment
Final Performance Evaluation Rubrics
 
 
What To Do

Day 1

1. Warm up : Ask students to write for five minutes in response to the following: Write about a person in your life who has changed a great deal while you have known him/her. Then write about a person who has not changed at all.

 

2. Listen to some student responses. How and why did the person they wrote about change? How did it affect their choices and the people around them? What consequences did not changing at all have?

 

3. Character committees: Tell students that they will be focusing on characters in Julius Caesar who have either changed or stayed the same. Divide students into groups of three or four. Each group should assign themselves a Julius Caesar related name (Spontaneous Speech Makers, for example). Distribute folders with the Task Handout stapled inside. Students should designate four "Directors" who will manage the group, collect materials, and evaluate the group at the end of each class period. Tell students they will be graded on the basis of their completion of the day's tasks and their ability to work collaboratively and efficiently.

Assign each group a specific character to examine; if the class is large, two groups may need to examine the same character.

 

3. Brainstorming: Have students brainstorm characteristics, choices, decisions, personality traits of their character (10-12 items). You may wish to discuss a few examples as a class first (for example, Brutus demonstrates "slyness" at the beginning of his role and exits the play with "bravery'" in battle.)

Have students identify moments when their character demonstrates these traits, noting act and scene number and a brief summary of what is happening at this point in the play.

Five minutes before the end of the class, have groups put all written work in their folders. Tell directors to give their group a "grade" for the day's work. You can then scan folders for completion and assign a grade on the Task Handout.

 

4. Homework : Assign students to complete the Character Change Handout. Building on their group's brainstorming session, students will choose three characteristics for their character at the beginning and the end of the play. For each characteristic, students must find supportive evidence in the text.

 

Day Two :

5. Scene Selection: Review the specifics of the Final Performance Handout. Students will select  two passages or scenes from Julius Caesar . One scene will represent a characteristic of their character at the beginning of his/her role in the play, and the other scene will reflect their character at the end. Each scene should last about four minutes.

Have students make copies of their scenes with production notes. Tell students to pay attention to characterization: how can voice, facial expression, pauses be used to show character?

Have directors compare their character charts with the class. What characteristics did characters have at the beginning versus the end of the play? In which scenes were these characteristics represented?

Have students select their chosen scenes and do a read-around of the lines. Have directors time the scenes, making cuts as necessary and discussing delivery and movement options.

 

6. Have directors evaluate their groups work and return folders to you.

 

Days Three and Four

 

7. Staging the Scenes: As a class, suggest three ideas for what makes a strong performance (for example, voice, facial expression). Post these ideas in the classroom so students can refer to them as they block their scenes.

Have students finalize annotating, cutting and blocking their scenes with props and furniture if necessary. After twenty minutes, encourage students to be on their feet, trying out scenes and making notes. Have each group prepare a cast list.

 

8. Homework : Practice performances.

 

Days Five and Six

 

9. Performances: Allow students ten minutes to review and practice their scenes. Have a performance sign up sheet, or randomly assign a performance slot to each group. Ask a student to M.C the event, introducing each of the players and their roles. Encourage uproarious applause after each performance! Consider having an "Academy Awards" in which students vote for Best Voice, Best Dramatic Pauses etc. After each performance, have the directors collect their group's folder containing photocopies of scenes with blocking, notes, and Character Change Handouts.

 

 


 
How Did It Go?
Use the Final Performance Rubric Handout to evaluate each group's performance. Have students write a paragraph in which they identify the character that changed most/least during the play.
 


If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

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1 Comment

Wonderful article. Thanks a lot matefesta star wars
Sheila October 13, 2014 7:35 PM
  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
 
 
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