Speed Dating: The Canterbury Tales Edition

This school year, my focus has been on putting the class more into the hands of the students.  This has been partially accomplished by rejuvenating the idea of classroom blogging, but on an in-class basis, it will take much more than that.  Our first anchor text of the year is Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.”

There are 29 pilgrims and a host, so being able to learn and understand all those characters from the prologue can be quite a daunting task.  In previous years, my initial reaction would be, read the prologue, have students take notes, and most likely have a PowerPoint presentation accompany the lesson.  SNOOZEFEST!  With my new goal of transitioning from my older, staler lesson formats,  I approached this seemingly up-hill battle by switching from teacher-led to student-led instruction.  Last year, I read a wonderful lesson plan online about utilizing the concept of speed dating with “The Canterbury Tales.”

Pre-planning for Speed Dating:

  1. Assign each student one of the pilgrims from the prologue
  2.  Read the Prologue to “The Canterbury” tales and have students take notes on their pilgrim.  I have also encouraged them to do their own research online.  A blog entry was assigned for students to describe their pilgrim in terms of profession, appearance, personality, religious devotion, and how closely they maintain the objectives of their profession.
  3. Get-To-Know-Me Assignment – Like in “olden days” when people went to video match-making services, these pilgrims needed to put together an introductory “video” of themselves introducing who they are, their goals in life, their objectives, their personality traits, hobbies, etc.  These were presented in class.

Speed Dating:

  1. I setup the room so that there were desks in pairs, lined up in rows. Students entered the room and randomly sat down.  Next year, I will probably pre-assign their seating locations to avoid talkative friends from sitting next to each other.
  2. The warm-up question required students to write 7-10 “First Date” questions.  These could be utilized during the speed dating.
  3. A chart was placed on the board that explained the people on the left would remain seated while those on the right would rotate on each 2-minute bell.
  4. I gave students a chart to fill out that made them analyze their dates based upon the following criteria:
    1. First impressions
    2. Level of compatibility
    3. Level of reliablity
    4. Chances of a second date
    5. Overall impression
  5. After the speed dating, students analyzed which pilgrim would be the most compatible with their pilgrim and which was the least.  They would need to analyze this based upon the information that they know about their dates.  Additionally, students will add textual evidence from the prologue to support their answers.  This will go on their WordPress blog.

Characterization Assessment on Pinterest

Good morning, everyone!

I’ve found my way out from under all the layers of fabric and journal covers from my Etsy shop.  Thank you all for visiting, but do continue to check in and see the newest additions =)


In other, classroom news, I wanted to share with you my latest project: Characterization via Pinterest.  My English IV students have recently completed reading “The Knight’s Tale” from The Canterbury Tales and I wanted to assess their true understanding of the characters Arcite, Palamon, Emilie, and Duke Theseus.  I found a printout of a blank Pinterest board on TeachersPayTeachers


Prior to distributing the templates, I displayed the Pinterest website on my smart board, and some very zealous students eagerly volunteered to explain how the website works and why it’s so amazing.  Afterwards, I distributed them to the students with the following instructions:

Students will create a Pinterest board for one of the following characters:

  • Palamon
  • Arcite
  • Emilie
  • Duke Theseus

Students will make posts that address the following topics:

  • Dream Vacation
  • Wedding Location
  • Wardrobe
  • Hobbies or Crafts
  • Jewelry
  • Code of Chivalry

The results were amazing!!!

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 4.11.19 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 4.11.32 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 4.11.50 AM

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The next phase of this project will be the presentation phase.  Students will explain three pins: who is their character, what is the pin, and why is this an appropriate choice for their character.  They are also going to find a piece of textual evidence that supports their decision!

Common Core Standard Alignment

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).


By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.

Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.
Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.