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Lesson Plan

Tragic Love: Introducing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

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Tragic Love: Introducing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Heather Barto Wiley

Greensboro, North Carolina


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



This pre-reading lesson helps students expand their knowledge of Shakespeare and build an understanding of Romeo and Juliet by connecting the summary of the play to their everyday lives as teenagers. Students also explore the definition of tragedy and how "tragic love" is ingrained in the lives of teenagers from all cultures. The lesson helps students build background knowledge of the play, the genre of tragedy, and related terms and concepts, creating a context in which students can better understand and relate to the Shakespearean text.

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Story Map: This interactive is designed to assist students in prewriting and postreading activities by focusing on the key elements of character, setting, conflict, and resolution.

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In her English Journal column "Taking Time: Beyond Memorization: Using Drama to Promote Thinking," Tonya Perry notes that "students in the classroom can participate in the performance of a dramatic text . . . with little understanding of the literature" (121). Because reading and performing drama is inherently interactive, teachers can mistakenly observe that students understand a play, feeling that "the dramatic text [seems] to explain itself" (121). Perry advocates for building prior knowledge and establishing ground for personal connections in drama through drama, as presented in this lesson. Students engage in "explanatory drama" as they use a skit to deepen their understanding of the central concept of tragic love.

Further Reading

Perry, Tonya, ed. "Taking Time: Beyond Memorization: Using Drama to Promote Thinking." English Journal 95:1 (September 2005): 120-123.

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