Holly Rodgers teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) at White Oaks Elementary School in Fairfax County, VA.
Romeo and Juliet, Prologue and 2.2
What's On for Today and Why
Students will explore the idea of star-crossed lovers and create their own unique combinations of star-crossed pairs to enhance their understanding of Romeo and Juliet. This activity will allow students to better understand the nature of the relationship between the Montagues and the Capulets while exploring the roles of Romeo and Juliet in an assortment of interpretations.
The objective of the lesson is for students to contemplate and explore the plight of star-crossed lovers in a meaningful context while retaining the language from Shakespeare's text. Since the complexity and nature of Romeo and Juliet's feelings for one another may be difficult for some elementary students to understand, this activity allows them to comprehend the overall themes of the play. While this activity was designed for elementary students, it could be adapted and used in the secondary classroom. This lesson has intrinsic value for use in working with English language learners (ELLs) of any age. This activity reduces the linguistic demands and complexity of Shakespeare's language while scaffolding instruction by providing visual aids and graphic support. Students will be engaged in a performance-based study of Romeo and Juliet through this activity while also having the opportunity to add their own inventive words to Shakespeare's text and explore improvisatory acting skills.
This lesson will take 1 ninety minute class period or may be divided up into several shorter sessions.
What You Need
Folger edition of Romeo and Juliet, copies of the Prologue and 2.2
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
In Character Chart
In Character Dialogue
In Character Chart
In Character Dialogue
What To Do
1. Distribute a copy of the Prologue and 2.2 from Romeo and Juliet to all students.
2. Read the Prologue as a class and engage students in a discussion about the meaning of star-crossed lovers. Encourage students to come up with ideas of natural enemies today that would make interesting star-crossed pairs. (See In Character Chart for suggestions-fox and chicken, cat and mouse etc).
3. Read 2.2 as a class or divide students into pairs. (To reduce linguistic demands or to accommodate time constraints, teachers may wish to select portions of text from this scene)
4. Once students understand the context and setting of the balcony scene, encourage students to think of natural settings for the star-crossed pairs (as in step 2) to create their own dialogue
e.g if a fox and a chicken were star-crossed lovers, they might meet in a chicken coop instead of on a balcony)
5. Divide students into pairs, with each student playing either Romeo or Juliet.
6. Distribute a copy of the In Character and In Character 2.2 Dialogue handouts. These handouts may also be pre-cut into strips and placed in a container for random selection by the students. Teachers and students may also create their own pairings as an extension to create even further variations.
7. From the chart, have students select a pair of star-crossed lovers they would like to perform. Once students have made their selection(s), give them time to get into character by pantomiming or discussing how their characters would act as Romeo and Juliet.
8. Once students have a firm grasp on their selected characters, encourage them to choose appropriate words specific to their context to insert into the scene. Teachers may provide suggestions or specifications regarding rhyme scheme, parts of speech, etc.
9. Allow students time to practice their dialogue in pairs.
10. Have pairs perform their scene in front of the class. Encourage movement and fun.
How Did It Go?
Did students thoroughly understand the concept of star-crossed lovers? Were they able to make connections between the characters of Romeo and Juliet and the star-crossed pairs they selected? Did students reflect upon the natural constraints that act upon their star-crossed pairs as the Montagues and the Capulets do in Romeo and Juliet?
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.