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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


Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two

Sessions Three and Four


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • define tragedy and give examples from media and popular culture.

  • evaluate the relevance of the theme "tragic love" in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to the lives of teenagers.

  • become familiar with the themes and characters in Romeo and Juliet prior to reading the play.

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Session One

  1. Pre-assess students' knowledge and opinions of Romeo and Juliet using the Assessment Questionnaire.

  2. Review the answers students gave for the questionnaire by having two or three students share their responses for each question. Explain that you will discuss the ideas from the questionnaire as you view a PowerPoint presentation about the play.

  3. Hand out the cloze notes for the Tragic Love: An Introduction to Romeo and Juliet PowerPoint Presentation and the Romeo and Juliet Major Character List. Students should use the cloze notes handout to take notes during the presentation. 
  4. View and discuss the Tragic Love: An Introduction to Romeo and Juliet PowerPoint Presentation. Note that detailed information for the characters and plot summary slides are included in the notes section under each slide.

    • View the setting and list of characters on slides 2 and 3.

    • Read aloud the names of the characters, and have the students repeat the names to help them get used to reading and saying the names aloud.

    • View Part I of the PowerPoint: the summary of Romeo and Juliet. Pause frequently to check for understanding and to allow students to ask questions.

    • You may wish to explain that audiences in the Shakespearean era typically came to plays already knowing the plot; knowing the plot ahead of time is not a "spolier" as we consider it today.

    • Point out that Slide 8 poses the questions: "Why do we read Romeo and Juliet today?" and "How does the story connect to the lives of teenagers today?" Discuss these questions as a class, using the following prompts if needed:

      1. Have you ever had an experience like Romeo's or Juliet's?

      2. Have you ever been in love?

      3. Do you think teenagers fall in love easily? Why or why not?

      4. What might happen when teenagers fall in love?
  5. Have students use the last few minutes of class to write down their individual responses to the questions "Why do we read Romeo and Juliet today?" and "How does the story connect to the lives of teenagers today?" If necessary, have students complete the assignment for homework.

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Session Two

  1. Review and discuss the summary of Romeo and Juliet from the Tragic Love: An Introduction to Romeo and Juliet PowerPoint Presentation.

  2. Discuss students' responses to the questions: "Why do we read Romeo and Juliet today?" and "How does the story connect to the lives of teenagers today?"

  3. Continue viewing the PowerPoint presentation, starting with Part II: TRAGEDY (slide 9).

  4. As you go through the slides in this section, facilitate a short, student-led discussion of everyday tragedies people experience. Examples may include natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornadoes, car accidents, natural deaths, tragic deaths such as that of Latina pop singer Selena, and so on (slide 10). You can also read and discuss the article about a local tragedy that you printed.

  5. As a class, discuss the question: How does tragedy affect people's lives?

  6. When you come to the final slide (titled: Tragic Love?), have students take a few minutes to define tragic love and write down the responses in their notes.

  7. As a class, create a list to define "tragic love," giving contemporary examples from the media and pop culture. Consider showing excerpts from various media to spark interest and discussion. Some useful media include the following:

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Sessions Three and Four

  1. Have students take the Tragic Love: An Introduction to Romeo and Juliet Assessment Questionnaire again to assess how much their background knowledge and opinions of the play have improved and changed.

  2. Place students in pairs, and hand out the Tragic Love Dialogue Assignment to each pair. Explain that they will work together, following the instructions on the assignment sheet, to create a dialogue that demonstrates their understanding of tragic love. Encourage pairs to be creative with their characters and scenario; in other words, they should not rewrite Romeo and Juliet. Go over the rubric at the bottom of the page so they are aware of the criteria on which they will be assessed. Review the Tragic Love: A Tale of Litigious Woe dialogue sample with students and give them time to ask any questions they may have about the assignment.

  3. Allow students to work on their dialogues for the remainder of the session and the beginning of the next session, using the Story Map interactive if you prefer. You may give students additional time if needed.

  4. After students have completed their dialogues, have each pair present its dialogue to the class.

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  • Ask students to compare their knowledge of the play as demonstrated on the pre- and post- assessments.

  • Use the rubric included in the Tragic Love Dialogue Assignment to assess students’ understanding of the concept of tragic love.

  • Throughout the reading of the play, ask students to reflect and reconnect to the work in this lesson to guide and clarify their responses to the text.

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