Series Educate Texas Professional Development Network: Analyzing Shakespeare Through Questioning

Analyzing Shakespeare Through Questioning

Lesson Objective: Connect Aristotle's definition of tragedy to "Romeo and Juliet"
Grades 9-12 / ELA / Scaffolding


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. Why does Ms. Baines anchor this lesson around Aristotle's definition of tragedy?
  2. How do students incorporate discussion into their presentations?
  3. What can you learn from Ms. Baines about scaffolding?


  • Private message to Doris Dabney
This is great. I am a resource teacher (special education) I may take the lead in teaching Romeo and Juliet but instruction is my weakness and I am having a challenge finding my voice in the classroom. Ms. Baines any suggestions? or
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  • Private message to Ashley Vining
Can we get more supporting materials for this lesson? I'd love to see a lesson plan or some more details.
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  • Private message to Michelle Brown
This is amazing! For more resources, check out Romeo & Juliet at
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  • Private message to Catrice Shivers
Love this lesson!
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  • Private message to Nancy Kidd
Awesome lesson! Thank you!
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  • Analyzing Shakespeare Through Questioning Transcript
    Instructor: Monica Baines

    Monica Baines: Good morning.
    Students: Good morning.
    Card: Monica Baines 9th

    Analyzing Shakespeare Through Questioning Transcript
    Instructor: Monica Baines

    Monica Baines: Good morning.
    Students: Good morning.
    Card: Monica Baines 9th Grade English Teacher Alief College High School, Houston, Texas
    Monica Baines: My name is Monica Baines. I teach English at Alief Early College High School in Houston Texas.
    Monica Baines: And what this activity is going to ask you to do is to continue proving that tragedy does exist in the play up to this point.
    Monica Baines: The lesson today is a continuation of our study of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” specifically how Aristotle’s take on tragedy relates to Shakespeare’s story.
    Card: Aristotle Says that a true tragedy depicts the downfall ofa basically good person through some fatal error or misjudgment.

    +++ 00:00:55 +++
    Monica Baines: Aristotle said in his definition that a true tragedy it depicts the downfall of a basically good person.

    +++ 00:01:02 +++
    Monica Baines: The introductory activity, the actual hook was actually scaffolding.
    Card: Scaffolding
    Monica Baines: I was relying on what we’ve all ready talked about, what we’ve all ready learned about what Aristotle says that tragedy is. What we’ll do is start breaking apart that definition and seeing how much of that definition we see evidence of in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” up to where we are in our reading, which is Act III.

    +++ 00:01:23 +++
    Monica Baines: So for group one, their job is to prove that Romeo is a basically good person. That’s the part of the definition that they’re going to prove, okay. Another group they’re going to prove that Romeo experiences a downfall. So every group in here has a different part of the definition. And what you guys are doing is simply providing that this stuff exists. I need two pieces of evidence, okay. I need two pieces. Is it great to just throw your evidence down and then piece out we’re out.

    +++ 00:01:51 +++
    Students: No.
    Monica Baines: Heck no. so what do you have to do?
    Students: Explain it.
    Monica Baines: You’ve got to explain that. Okay. I need it explained.
    Monica Baines: The continued inclusion of the in common instructional framework only makes their success with studying Shakespeare grand.
    Monica Baines: Questions, comments, concerns, issues? No, work together. Talk it up.
    Card: Classroom Talk
    Man 1: I guess the downfall was whenever-- remember when Benvolio was trying to cheer him up, but like before what happened to him was like I don’t know he got sad or something.
    Woman 1: This says really he’s responsible for stuff.
    Man 2: Being responsible is a factor of being a good person.
    Woman 1: Okay.

    +++ 00:02:26 +++
    Monica Baines: Most of my kids are English-language learner. Most of my kids learned English a year ago, two years ago, three years ago.
    Man 3: Romeo is a good person because he is responsible by telling Juliet that he loves her and he wants to marry her.
    Monica Baines: Not only are these kids just learning the basics of English language, but now I’ve given them as complex as Shakespeare that’s written in Elizabethan language. And I’m asking them to dissect it and make sense of it.
    Woman 1: Give me a kiss and hold my hands also, which they had done-- they were hidden and Tybalt had all ready exited from that.
    Card: Questioning: Teacher to Student

    +++ 00:03:01 +++
    Monica Baines: Yes. How is that an error? How is that a tragic error? How is that a huge misjudgment?
    Woman 1: They are both enemies. An enemy with an enemy is not right for them to be together if the families are going to keep fighting.
    Monica Baines: Give them a round of applause. Excellent.
    Monica Baines: Then you’ll see some group presentations.
    Monica Baines: The purpose of this group, they are going to talk to you some more about how tragedy does, in fact, exist through their understanding and comprehension of Act III.

    +++ 00:03:29 +++
    Woman 2: This is “Romeo and Juliet” and we’re going to go through the character’s profiles. First we have Romeo. He is Lord Montague’s son.
    Monica Baines: Where they talk to us and they teach us about the main points, the what’s happening in this act.
    Man 4: Mercutio and Tybalt they start arguing because they are enemies and Romeo tried to stop the fight but he failed and that’s where Mercutio dies. And then Romeo kills Tybalt in vengeance.

    +++ 00:03:55 +++
    Woman 2: In the story, Romeo talks about suicide because he kills Juliet’s cousin.
    Card: Questioning: Student to Student
    Woman 2: So how does Romeo’s thoughts of suicide reflect on his age?
    Man 4: Romeo is impulsive and irrational to suicide himself especially because he’s young. Like he hasn’t lived his whole live yet.
    Monica Baines: When it was their time to teach, they knew I can’t get away with this unless I’m able to question, unless I’m able to inquire about what I think that I know that I really don’t know anything.

    +++ 00:04:27 +++
    Woman 3: So this is Bingo. Anybody forgot how to play it? This person tried to keep piece and is also Romeo’s good friend. This is the one that Juliet did not want to marry. Moving on, this is the scene where the wedding between Paris and Juliet is being arranged. Nobody got a Bingo yet? Now, this person was like a counselor to Juliet.
    Woman 4: Bingo.

    +++ 00:04:58 +++
    Woman 3: Did you say Bingo? We got a Bingo there? We’ve got to make sure it’s right.
    Monica Baines: Then you’ll also see group four get up and present Act IV.
    Man 5: But Juliet refuses to get married with Paris.
    Man 6: The nurse found Juliet laying in her bed and with a bloody knife next to her and the thought that Juliet had killed herself.

    +++ 00:05:19 +++
    Man 6: So what we did is we mixed the questions together with the game. So this is how we’re going to play it. We’re going to ask the question and then you guys can think of a good answer and what you have to is knock twice on your table. Anyone can do it. In your opinion, do you think it is better for Juliet to tell Romeo herself or send the letter? Sara.
    Sara: I think it’s better to send the letter because I think it’s all ready dangerous enough for her to go meet Romeo.

    +++ 00:05:44 +++
    Monica Baines: To see them take such great ownership, and to see them be excited to teach and to share what they know that just worked wonders.
    Man 6: Do you think it is fair to Juliet’s parents for her to fake death.
    Woman 5: I think it wasn’t fair for Juliet’s parents, for Juliet to fake her death because although she loved Romeo a lot, to do anything she still has to regard her parents just as much as she would regard Romeo.
    Monica Baines: You all did a remarkable job today. I’m very proud of you guys.

    +++ 00:06:20 +++
    Monica Baines: I believe they got it. I think I did a pretty good job in making certain that they got it. And I knew that they had it when they were able to take ownership of it, to take ownership of that lesson, to take ownership of learning about tragedy and then teaching that to their peers.
    Monica Baines: Katelyn, you all did it girl. Excellent, world. Drew, you are a natural.
    Drew: Really?
    Monica Baines: Seriously, you’re a great actor.
    Drew: Thank you.
    #### End of ####

School Details

Alief Early College High School
2811 Hayes Road
Houston TX 77082
Population: 432

Data Provided By:



Monica N Baines


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