Finishing Romeo and Juliet

Again, due to chaperoning duties for the next week, you will unfortunately not get a day-by-day account of the exciting conclusion to our study of Romeo and Juliet.  The following is how I envision that the week will go.  My team teacher and I have chatted over next week’s lessons.  He’ll be taking these loose ideas and making them his own.

Day 17: 4.3-4.5

After covering those three short scenes, students will discuss who is most responsible for Juliet’s “death.”  Many actions and reactions have pushed Juliet to make her drastic decision.  We would start with a brainstorm on the board.  Afterwards, each student will “research” the character that he or she believes is the most responsible for Juliet’s predicament.  They would search through the play for words/actions of the character that might have made Juliet feel like she had to take such a drastic course of action.

Day 18: 5.1-5.2

After reading through these two scenes, I would lead students in the five-step rehearsal protocol that I learned from workshop #2.  In pairs, they would choose one of three “scenes”:

  • 5.1a — The conversation between Romeo and Balthazar
  • 5.1b — The conversation between Romeo and the apothecary
  • 5.2 — The conversation between Friar Lawrence and Friar John

In their pairs they would be asked to:

  1. Read through the scene without acting.
  2. Talk through the context, character emotions, character purpose, etc.
  3. Put down the scripts and improvise the scene.
  4. Talk about it: What worked and what didn’t?
  5. Read through the scene one more time, this time acting it out.

I would then have pairs share their scenes.

Afterwards, we would look at Romeo’s drastic decision with Jim Burke’s decision tree (R&J Decision Tree).

Day 19: 5.3

In the morning, we have a guest speaker coming to discuss gangs/gang prevention.  (Remember that the project that they will be completing after our reading revolves around this topic.  They will be drawing comparisons between our modern-day issue of gangs and Romeo and Juliet.  When we teach this next year, I think I’d like to shift the focus to adolescent psychology.  Looking at decisions, why teenage characters act the way they do, etc. would be a better tie in, I think.  More on this later.)

After finishing the play, we had two ideas for activities (depending on time):

  1. A discussion of fate: The stars and fortune are repeatedly discussed in the play.  I’d like students to discuss how much Romeo and Juliet really did have control over what happened to them.  Peter’s idea was to look specifically at how Romeo and Juliet created their own fate using the four points that Joaquin Fabela (our first guest speaker) presented to our students.
  2. Romeo’s Final Words: Students will perform a close-reading of 5.3.74-120.  They would have time to look at the speech in small groups and complete this handout (Romeo’s Final Words).  After discussing as a class, each student would select one component from the handout and draw conclusions about it.  (How does that component reflect Romeo’s mental state?  How does it relate to the larger themes/lessons/ideas of the play?  How does it contribute to the effect of Romeo’s final words?)

Day 19-20: West Side Story

Since we are tying the family feud in Romeo and Juliet to the issue of modern-day gangs, we thought that viewing West Side Story as a class would be a good transition from the reading of the play to the completion of their project (creating PSAs).

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