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Lesson Plan

Exploring The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales using Wikis

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Exploring The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales using Wikis

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute blocks
Lesson Author

Kathy Stagner Nichols

Marietta, Georgia


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Today's students have changed radically from previous generations. They speak the digital language fluently and process information differently. Traditional teaching alone does not always address their need to customize their learning styles. Teachers need to construct assignments that help students use technology to develop customization skills.† This follow-up assignment to the reading of Chaucer's General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales gives students the opportunity to work in a collaborative setting with a technology that they may be familiar with, but may not know how to use to its best advantage. It shows students how to explicate text and research historical background while creating group wikis. Developing these wikis allows students to become experts and share information while learning to work as part of a team.

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Profile Publisher: Students use this interactive to fill out a group profile for their character in Canterbury Tales.

Canterbury Tales Wiki Worksheet: Students use this worksheet to guide them as they examine the text and the characters.

Criteria for Canterbury Tales Wiki
: Students and Teachers can use this criteria as a guide for the project and to assist with grading.

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In her article "Contemporary Literacy: Essential Skills for the 21st Century," Janet Murray discusses the importance of teaching students the skills they will need to be successful whether they continue with their education or enter the job market. She cites the 21st Century Literacy Summit and the second National Technology Plan (released by the U.S. Department of Education in December 2000) and "the Big 6 Skills. These skills include Task Definition, Information Seeking Strategies, Location and Access, Use of Information, Synthesis, and Evaluation. Murray asserts that to address these skills, teachers can no longer rely on the traditional research paper which is often no more than the cutting and pasting of information. Students must learn to access information with a genuine understanding of how to analyze and evaluate. They must then be able to "construct a personal knowledge base from which to make intelligent decisions." To help students accomplish this goal, teachers must construct assignments that recognize the nature of today's fast-changing knowledge base. They must accept the fact that no traditional curriculum will teach the skills needed to make students life-long, independent learners.

Lorna Collier discusses the need to teach students how to evaluate and analyze information, but she stresses that there are other important skills including producing and publishing information while networking with others online. Donald Leu calls the skills that today's students need "the C's of change": creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, self-control, and comprehension.

The National Council of Teachers of English's 2007 policy brief advocates "an integrated approach" in helping students function in the 21st century. They suggest that using wikis as the technological collaboration tool helps students become active parts of their own research. Instead of studying literature strictly by reading experts, they become the experts while meeting curriculum standards.

Further Reading

Collier, Lorna. "The ĎC's of Change' Students - and Teachers - Learn 21st Century Skills."†† The Council Chronicle November 2008: 6-9.


National Council of of Teachers of English. 2007. 21st Century-Literacies: A Policy Brief. Urbana, IL: NCTE.


Murray, Janet. "Contemporary Literacy: Essential Skills for the 21st Century." Online Educator 10 (2003). Information Today, Inc. Multi Media & Internet Skills. 11 June 2009

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