Romeo and Juliet: Insight Into Ourselves: Grade 9-12 Language Project
Learners use Romeo and Juliet to look at personal responsibility, an individual's freedom of choice, and the effect of one’s actions on others. You may want to print this page as you view the entire Romeo and Juliet Project Plan.
Focus Question: Does literature help us better understand ourselves?
Before a Project Approach
Before introducing a project approach, Ms. Yost’s high school English learners read Romeo and Juliet, discussed the literary devices and plot development, and then wrote an essay about one of the conflicts from the play that related to their own lives. The essays had to be three to five pages and Ms. Yost assessed them. Learners were tested on their knowledge of the literary devices discussed.
After a Project Approach
After reassessing the project, Ms. Yost decided to have her learners apply the theme and issues of Romeo and Juliet to modern life and work on solutions to age old problems. They would explore the question: Does literature help us better understand ourselves? and consider how this definition may change across time and culture. They would investigate how Shakespeare still speaks to a 21st Century audience. Learners would rank a list of social offenses at the beginning of the project and connect those social offenses with the corresponding conflicts in the play. Next, they would research an age-old problem and present their findings and solutions to an appropriate audience. They would create products such as, a multimedia presentation, brochure, or website to share their message.
In developing the project, Ms. Yost faced two challenges. First, she wanted to make Romeo and Juliet relevant to her learners’ lives. She also wanted to make a real-world connection for her learners, and ensure that her learners saw both the relevancy and the authenticity of the project.
- Relevance. Ms. Yost decided to focus the project on the themes and issues of the play that relate to modern life. She developed a Focus Question that the learners could relate to and that would connect the play to their own lives. This allowed for an exploration of how Shakespeare still speaks to a 21st Century audience. She made the content relevant to learners’ lives by having them investigate relevant social issues to those in the play.
- Connection to Real World. Ms. Yost decided to have her learners create oral presentations for an appropriate audience supplemented with multimedia presentations, brochures, or websites. These products identified the current needs and resources of the community and offered acceptable solutions. With this addition, the task transformed into a service-learning project, creating an authentic purpose and making a real- word connection through the community.
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