How does literature reflect a culture’s religious, political, and social beliefs? How do authors critique societal dimensions through character portrayals and narratives?
Day 1 – SEED 1
Day 2 – SEED 2
Day 3 – SEED 3
Day 4-5 – PLAN 1
Day 6-10 – PLAN 2
Day 11-15 – SEED 4
Day 16-20 – SEED 5
Day 21-23 – PLAN 3
Day 24-25 – SEED 6
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CCSS Standards for this Unit
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Chaucer was the first author to embrace Middle English as a language of literature in an era when most communicated in French or Latin.
This lesson seed is an opportunity for students to experience language in its infancy. The first three lesson seeds of the unit examine
the inconsistencies in meaning that arise from translation of original Middle English text into modern English. They also build
students’ decoding skills and comprehension of the nuance of language through memorization and performance of Prologue passages. In
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the Prologue provides the frame for the tale and introduces the reader to the dynamic and static
characters on the journey. While the narrator describes each member of the pilgrimage, his overt and subtle character descriptions
offer critique of their personality, religious devotion, and social beliefs. Students first encounter his critique of societal
dimensions through a close reading of the Prologue.
After reading the Prologue, students meet in their assigned inquiry groups to analyze the significance of their character’s place in
Chaucer’s order of introduction, their rank in medieval society, and the career opportunities and limitations. Students will jigsaw to
share the discovered information. Using the Reflections of Theology power point, video extensions, and short focused research online at
the Metropolitan Museum of Art, teachers can then help students’ build background knowledge of the Canterbury Cathedral, the medieval
time period, and medieval pilgrimages.
For The Wife of Bath’s Tale, after reading the text, students are introduced to the historical debate among literary critics
as to whether Geoffrey Chaucer was a feminist or a misogynist in his portrayal of the Wife of Bath and her narrative. Students conduct
short focused research on the author, Geoffrey Chaucer, the contemporary society, and literary criticism about The Wife of Bath’s Tale in order to compose an argument essay to assert which conclusion is accurate.
For The Pardoner’s Tale, students begin with a multiple text comparison of contemporary Medieval satire: The Farce of Master Pierre Pathelin (Anonomous) and Don Juan or The Feast with the Statue by Jean-Baptiste
Poquelin. Through a Socratic seminar, students explore how each author crafted their satire. Students then write their own narrative
satirizing an element of contemporary society.
While the Canterbury Tales, as a whole are excellent satire, in Chaucer’s The Pardoner’s Tale, there is a
particularly unique element which is also common in other medieval literature and art: death is personified. Lesson Plan 3 begins with
a deductive art analysis in order to determine Medieval perceptions of mortality. Students discover that the Medieval void of
scientific knowledge about germs, viruses, and bacteria was filled with a fantastical understanding of The Black Death. Without
information about how the plague was spread, people of the time period personified Death because it was omnipresent and terrifying. The
lesson continues with a deductive map activity from the National Endowment for the Humanities website, to identify the scope and
severity of the plague. As homework, students read Giovanni Boccaccio’s (1313-1375) first-hand account of the plague in the
introduction of The Decameron and take critical notes. In order to gain insight into the societal, political and
religious reactions to the plague, students read Medieval statutes and ordinances from Fordham University and determine which
influenced the spread or containment of the disease.
The final lesson seed for the unit incorporates Maryland’s Practices Science Engineering Technology and Mathematics (STEM) as well as
the Crosscutting Concepts of STEM in cross-disciplinary short focused research. Using appropriate informational text resources,
students examine the environmental factors that helped or hindered the spread of the Black Death in Geoffrey Chaucer’s decade and then
for a contemporary virus or bacteria. Students will synthesize their findings in a research paper and present their findings to the
class after a review of technical writing and technical presentations from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
TEXT MODELS FOR LESSONS AND LESSON SEEDS
Reading History/ Social Studies
informational text study of ordinances and statues from the Medieval time period.
short focused research on the effect of environmental, social, political, and religious factors on epidemiology.