Lesson Plan: The Canterbury Tales

      StudySync Lesson Plan The Canterbury Tales   Objectives     1. Engage students in the plot, characters, themes, setting, and language of Ge...
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StudySync Lesson Plan The Canterbury Tales  



Engage students in the plot, characters, themes, setting, and language of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales so that they are prepared to discuss and write about the excerpt and/or the entire novel.

2. Practice and reinforce the following Grade 11-12 ELA Common Core Standards for reading literature, writing, and speaking and listening:

  READING: LITERATURE — RL.11-12.1-6, 10 WRITING — W.11-12.1-10 SPEAKING AND LISTENING — SL.11-12.1-5


125 minutes (with up to an additional 105 minutes of extension possibilities)



SyncTV Premium Lesson on Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales

Overview This excerpt presents the Prologue and The Wife of Bath’s Tale from The Canterbury Tales. As with all the frame stories from the Canterbury Tales collection, it can be read as a stand-alone selection, but it also serves as a captivating introduction to all the Tales. Close examination of this excerpt will prepare students to read the entire collection if desired, and to write thoughtful, informed, and textually-rooted responses, consistent with the ELA Common Core Standards for the grades eleven and twelve.


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Lesson Plan: The Canterbury Tales

Background (10 minutes) 1.

Watch the Preview (SL.11-12.1–2). As a group, watch the video preview of the premium lesson. Use the following questions to spur discussion following the preview: a. Where are these pilgrims going and why? b. The preview identifies people by their professions or station in life. What types of people are mentioned in the preview? c. How might their different professions or stations affect the types of stories the different pilgrims would tell?


Extension (additional 5-10 minutes)


d. Describe (ELL). Ask English Language Learners to write one word to describe each image in the preview or convey a feeling it produces. You may wish to show additional images from England in the Middle Ages. e. Write Creatively (W.11-12.3). After listening to the preview, ask students to write a brief description of the story that they would tell to pass the time with strangers. Give students a prompt such as “I would tell them about the time…” and give them five minutes to write a brief description of their story.


Engaging the Text (130 minutes)  

2. Read the Text (45 minutes) a. Read and Annotate (RL.11-12.1–5, 10). Have students read and annotate the excerpt from The Canterbury Tales. If students are completing as a homework assignment, ask them to write any questions they have into the annotation tool– these questions are visible to you after the students submit their writing assignments or beforehand if you use the “Mimic” function to access the students’ accounts. Extension (additional 35 minutes)


b. Listen and Discuss (SL11-12.1–2). As a class, listen to the audio reading of the text. Ask students whether their understanding of the text changed after they listened to it read aloud, and if so, how. What additional images came to mind? What words to develop the setting stood out for them? Encourage students to write down unfamiliar words or questions they have as they follow along. c. Comprehend (RL.11-12.1–4). Have students complete the multiple-choice questions (in the lesson extension) individually. Collect papers or discuss answers as a class. d. Explain (ELL). Use sentence frames to explain the Wife of Bath’s tale: The Wife of Bath tells about the court of _________________. For his crimes of _________________ the Knight is condemned to ________________ until the Queen ___________________. He has ____________________ to find out_____________________________.


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Lesson Plan: The Canterbury Tales

3. Watch SyncTV (25 minutes) a. Watch. Either watch the SyncTV of The Canterbury Tales excerpts as a class or ask students to watch it on their individual computers. b. Focus (RL.11-12.2). Use the portion of the SyncTV discussion from 2:20-3:11 to demonstrate the difficulty of the task facing the Knight. Point out that the Knight has spent a year seeking the answer. c. Focus (RL.11-12.2–3). Use the segment of the SyncTV episode from 6:59-8:11 to highlight how remarkable the message of this tale is, given the time period in which it was written. What does this say about Chaucer? d. Discuss (SL.11-12.1–5). After watching the model discussion, ask the class about the ideas that stood out the most for them in the SyncTV episode. What new thoughts do they have after hearing the students' discussion? Next, divide students into small groups (3-4 students). Move around the room monitoring the groups as students follow the SyncTV episode as a model to discuss some of the following questions: i. Is the Knight’s punishment really appropriate for his crime? Why or why not? If not, why would Chaucer/the Wife of Bath have chosen it? ii. What does the prologue do for the story? iii. What specific language does the author use to develop the tone, setting, and characters? iv. What can you determine about the Wife of Bath’s life experiences from the story she told? v. How do you feel about the resolution of the story? Extension (additional 60 minutes) e. Research (W.11-12.2, 4, 7–8, 10). Have students work individually or in pairs to complete the following assignment: i. Ask students to gather information about the role and rights of women in England in the Middle Ages. Ask students to summarize their findings in 12 pages and be prepared to discuss their research process and sources.


4. Think (10 minutes) a. Respond (W.11-12.1, 4, 9). Ask students to read the “Think” questions, watch the corresponding video clips, and respond to the questions, either in class or for homework. 5. Write (45 minutes)


a. Discuss (SL.11-12.1). Read the prompt you have chosen for students, and then solicit questions regarding the prompt or the assignment expectations. Whichever prompt you choose, make sure students are clear about the assignment’s expectations and the rubric that will be used to evaluate them.


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Lesson Plan: The Canterbury Tales

b. Organize (RL.11-12.1–5, 10; W.11-12.1–2, 5). Ask students to go back and annotate the text with the prompt in mind. They should be organizing their thoughts and the points they’ll address in their writing as they make annotations. If you’ve worked on outlining or other organizational tools for writing, this is a good place to apply them. c. Write (W.11-12.1–2, 4–6, 9–10). Have students follow the writing process by planning, revising, editing, and publishing their written responses. d. Review (W.11-12.4–6). Use the StudySync “Review” feature to have students complete one to two evaluations of their peers’ work based on the review rubric you chose. Have the students look at and reflect upon the peer evaluations of their own writing. What might they do differently in a revision? How might they strengthen the writing and the ideas?



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Lesson Plan: The Canterbury Tales


Key Vocabulary



Zephyr (n.) – a light or west wind

2. pilgrimage (n.) – a journey, often for religious reasons 3. hostelry (n.) – an inn 4. maidenhead (n.) – virginity 5. peradventure (adv.) – perhaps 6. greensward (n.) – grass covered ground 7. caul (n.) – a cap or hat of netting 8. upbraided (v.) – find fault with or scold 9. niggard (n.) – a stingy person 10. querulous (adj.) - complaining in a petulant or whining manner


Reading Comprehension Questions


What time of year is it, according to the Prologue? a. spring b. summer c. fall d. winter

2. Where do the pilgrims meet? a. on the road b. at an inn c. in many different places d. in Canterbury 3. How many pilgrims are there? a. 9 b. 19 c. 20 d. 29 4. What did the knight do wrong? a. He offended the king. b. He offended the queen. c. He killed a man. d. He raped a woman. 5. What was the original punishment the knight was condemned to receive? a. execution b. a year in prison c. life in prison d. marriage to an ugly, old woman


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Lesson Plan: The Canterbury Tales

6. Who petitioned for the knight’s punishment to be changed? a. the king b. the queen c. the old woman d. all of the above 7. How long does the knight have to complete his quest? a. three days b. three months c. one year and one day d. three years 8. What must the knight do to avoid death? a. find out what women really want b. find out who the old woman really is c. complete a number of tasks for the queen d. rescue the Wife of Bath 9. Who finally helps the knight complete his task? a. a dancer b. the queen c. an old woman d. none of the above 10. What do women really want, according to the story? a. agency—the power to make decisions b. money—enough to do anything c. pretty things—clothes and jewelry d. They all want something different!

  Answer Key

    1. A 2. B 3. D 4. D 5. A 6. B 7. C 8. A 9. C 10. A



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Lesson Plan: The Canterbury Tales

Further Assignments 1.

After students read the complete Canterbury Tales, ask them to look back at the excerpt and discuss the role it plays in the story. How does it relate to the other tales? Is there another that would be a better choice for the one presented as an introduction? Why or why not? Ask students to write a persuasive essay on this topic. (RL.11-12.5)

2. If you had students describe a story they might tell fellow travelers in the Background portion of the lesson (1.e) give them a chance to fully develop that story now, providing not only the story itself but the frame as well. What is the situation of the travelers they are entertaining? Are they stuck on a runway? On a stalled train or broken down bus? Are they hiking? Invite them to also explore the themes of their story. What would they want their fellow travelers to take away from their story? (W.11-12.3–4) 3. Assign students a StudySync “Writing” assignment that asks them to research British culture around the 14th century. (W.11-12.4–7) 4. After students read The Canterbury Tales, ask them to discuss Chaucer’s apparent social views. What would his views be today? In pairs, ask students to script and record an imaginary interview between Chaucer and a reporter on Book TV, YouTube, or another video site. (W.11-12.1–5; SL.11-12.5) 5. Assign students to read the remainder of the Tales or several tales that you select. Ask them to write an essay to compare the themes/morals of at least three of the Tales and take a stand on whether these are relevant today. Ask them to explain why or why not. (RL.11-12.1–6; W.11-12.1–5) 6. Ask students to write out a conversation that the queen and the old woman who marries the knight might have had either before or after the event that ends the story. After students write their dialogues, ask them to read their dialogues with a partner. Then have them work together to correct word choice, punctuation, and syntax. (ELL)


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Lesson Plan: The Canterbury Tales