9th Grade Shakespeare: Day One

After reviewing our remaining six weeks of school, my students and I calculated that we only have 16 actual days of instruction time together.  In addition to End of Course exams (EOCs) for Algebra and Biology, AP tests, field trips, Career Day, the Talent Show, there are two half days and Memorial Day that play with the consistency of face-to-face time.  It should make the remainder of the year fly by, but I can’t help but wish for a few more weeks of school.


I know, I know.  Who is this woman who would utter such a thing???

Anyways, with that being said, I know that I have to make the most of the precious time I have with my students.  Yesterday, we kicked off our official first day of Shakespeare’s  Romeo and Juliet.  I gave the students a brief history of William Shakespeare, the Globe Theater, and the differences between plays performed in the late 1500s and today.  They got a real kick out of the fact that you could still see a play performed at the Globe, but nothing compares to the reaction of the 14/15 year olds when they find out that boys played the female roles.

Me: It was considered to be indecent for women to be seen on the stage, so young boys would play the roles instead.

Student A: And they would wear dresses and stuff?

Me: Yes.  They used boys because their voices were still high and could pull of the physical size of a woman.

Student B: What about the kissing parts of Romeo and Juliet?

Me: They would have to do the one kissing scene.

Student A: And they didn’t think THAT was indecent????

Me: I suppose not since it was so common.

Student B: Only one kissing scene?!?!  I thought this was supposed to be the most romantic story in all of history!

Me: Imagine that – Romeo and Juliet actually talked to each other.  Weird concept, I know.

Day One Activity: Deciphering the Prologue


We will be using the No Fear Shakespeare version of Romeo and Juliet, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be challenging my students with the traditional Shakespearean language.  I gave the students a copy of the Prologue and asked them to give it their best shot (AKA no internet of cell phones) to rewrite the text in modern English.  I am really excited to hear what they have come up with.

The Prologue:



Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

4 thoughts on “9th Grade Shakespeare: Day One

  1. I just started following your blog last week after I saw your post on Nerdy Book Club. We have so many aligned interests – I’m a teacher-librarian and avid consumer of YA Lit, plus I’m about to start Romeo and Juliet with my Grade 9s! I look forward to hearing more about your unit.

    • It’s always so good to connect with another lit lover and educator! I have to admit that I am not able to put my complete Romeo and Juliet unit into effect, but it’s absolutely one of my favorites. The students are loving it, and appreciate Shakespeare’s humor, almost as if they didn’t realize that someone 400+ years old could be relevant in 2013. I’d love to hear how your unit goes!

  2. Pingback: Goodies and Shakespeare Day Two | Forever Within the Numbered Pages

  3. Pingback: The Kingmaker’s Daughter Review | Forever Within the Numbered Pages

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