Students will understand the following:
For this lesson, you will need:
Of the dramatic monologues cited in the Procedures, probably only the poems by Edgar Lee Masters will be sufficiently accessible to middle school students, so use only them as exemplars for this age group.
Given the difficulties of evaluating students' creative writing, use a pass/fail grading system for this assignment, passing those students who show effort during brainstorming and freewriting, who apply themselves to writing a poem, and who cooperate in performing their poem for classmates.
The Age of Camelot
Remind students of the name of King Arthur's palace and court—Camelot. Tell students that after the death of John F. Kennedy in 1963, the Kennedys' time in the White House was referred to as Camelot. Ask students to figure out why observers gave the Kennedy era that name. Students may conduct research as necessary.
A Medieval Day in the Life of . . .
Ask the class to do research on what daily life in a medieval castle was like. Students can tell their stories as "A Day in the Life of . . ."; some should write about a knight, some about a lady of the court, and some, a knave. Remind students that their reports should describe their subject's dress, food, responsibilities, luxuries, or hardships; the reports should also explain how their subject celebrated a festival or other occasion.
The Search for King Arthur
David Day. Facts on File, 1995.
Who was King Arthur? Read this beautifully illustrated book and trace the earliest historical, mythical, and literary origins of Arthur as well as those of Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin, Camelot, Excalibur, and the Holy Grail.
The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Arthurian Legends
Ronan Coghlan. Element Books Limited, 1993.
This easy-to-use encyclopedia has information on all the themes, heroes, heroines, and myths of Arthurian legend. It also has descriptions, illustrations, and drawings of the Grail Quest, the Lady of the Lake, and Merlin, as well as the castles, forests, weapons, and horses associated with King Arthur.
Le Morte d'Arthur by Project Gutenberg
A public domain copy of the e-text of Le Morte d'Arthur is available for downloading.
The Camelot Project
This site has Arthurian texts, images, bibliographies, and links for the study of King Arthur.
ORB - On Line Reference Book
An online reference of all things medieval. Great resource for a complete Arthurian study.
NetSerf - The Internet Connection to Medieval Studies
Everything for a serious unit on medieval studies, including culture of the times, drama, history, and even clip art!
Medieval Love Songs
A study guide of medieval love songs that will enhance all medieval studies.
The Middle Ages - ART
Middle Ages unit using art as the focus. Great site for incorporating art into the language arts classroom. Includes an online town with interesting characters for students to meet.
Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.
Context: The Romans considered the Celts to be barbarians.
Context: The code of chivalry dictated how knights were to behave.
Context: King Arthur never assumed an imperious manner.
Context: English rulers claimed kinship with King Arthur to legitimize their authority.
Context: A common motif in medieval stories is the quest theme.
Context: The worst scoundrel in the Arthurian legend is Mordred.
Context: Knights were expected to give succor to those in distress.
This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: 6-8, 9-12
Subject area: language arts
Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of literary texts.
(6-8)Knows the defining characteristics of a variety of literary forms and genres (e.g., fiction, nonfiction, myths, poems, fantasies, biographies, autobiographies, science fiction, tall tales, supernatural tales).
(9-12)Applies reading skills and strategies to a variety of literary texts (e.g., fiction, nonfiction, myths, poems, biographies, autobiographies, science fiction, supernatural tales, satires, parodies, plays, American literature, British literature, world and ancient literature).
(9-12)Knows the defining characteristics of a variety of literary forms and genres (e.g., fiction, nonfiction, myths, poems, biographies, autobiographies, science fiction, supernatural tales, satires, parodies, plays, American literature, British literature, world and ancient literature, the Bible).
(9-12)Identifies the simple and complex actions (e.g., internal/external conflicts) between main and subordinate characters in texts containing complex character structures.
(9-12)Makes abstract connections between his or her own life and the characters, events, motives, and causes of conflict in texts.
(9-12)Understands historical and cultural influences on literary works.
Benchmark: Analyzes the effectiveness of complex elements of a plot (e.g., time frame, cause-and-effect relationships, conflicts, resolutions).
Benchmark: Identifies the simple and complex actions (e.g., internal/external conflicts) between main and subordinate characters in texts containing complex character structures.
Benchmark: Recognizes archetypes and symbols across literary texts (e.g., heroes, beneficence of nature, "dawn").
Benchmark: Understands the effects of complex literary devices and techniques on the overall quality of a work (e.g., tone, irony, mood, figurative language, allusion, diction, dialogue, symbolism, point of view, style).
Benchmark: Understands historical and cultural influences on literary works.
Benchmark: Makes abstract connections between his or her own life and the characters, events, motives, and causes of conflict in texts.
Benchmark: Knows how to evaluate the credibility and authenticity of historical sources.
Alisa Soderquist, English teacher, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia.