Visible Thinking in Romeo and Juliet

In an effort to clearly see how students interact with Shakespeare’s text, our classes do periodic Visible Thinking Exercises so that they can share what they see in the text, wheat they think is going on, and what they wonder about what it happening.  I also give them a specific focus for each exercise to look for in the text and a short writing assignment to allow them an opportunity to explain an idea after we have had some (student led based on their Visible Thinking responses) discussion about it.

These are a couple of the discussions we have had so far:

Act I, scene iii: Characterizing Friar Lawrence

I asked students to carefully read through Friar Lawrence’s opening soliloquy in  Act I, scene iii and look for five things that he says in the speech that say something about his character (that’s the SEE part of the exercise).   They then had to write three things they think about him, and then three things they wonder.  All responses had to be textually based on the soliloquy.  I gave each student a different colored PostIt (one color for See, another for Think, and still another for Wonder) so that each group was sharing about all three topics (the variety of colors in each category See/Think/Wonder show the different class sections that did the exercise).  After sharing and posting their ideas, each had to write a paragraph characterizing Friar Lawrence based on the soliloquy.

R&J Friar Lawrence

Act I, scene iv:  Using Mercutio’s imagery in the Queen Mab monologue to characterize Mercutio

As we did in the exercise above, the students had to closely examine Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech, but this time I asked them to identify ten specific images that Shakespeare put into the speech.  For the “I Think” and “I Wonder” part of the exercise, they had to write three things they thought or wondered about Mercutio’s character based on the imagery in his monologue.  Again, we used multiple colored PostIts, and each classes responses are identifiable by mixing the colors up.  Their paragraphs then were about how Mercutio was characterized in the monologue.

R&J Queen Mab

Act III, scene i:  Identifying the catalyst that led to the climax:

For this exercise, I used a video clip from the 1978 BBC production of Romeo and Juliet.  I specifically chose this clip because many of my students are Harry Potter affectionados, and Alan Rickman plays Tybalt in this production.  If you do not know who Alan Rickman is, get thee to a Blockbuster and rent any of the Harry Potter films!  (Love me that Professor Snape!)

I had students write down ten things they saw in the clip, and then share what they saw with a partner.  They then had to write three things they thought about the action, and then three things they wondered about the scene.  Same deal with the multi-colored PostIts and the sharing.  The writing assignment this time was to identify the catalyst that led to the climax of the play (be discussed both of the terms first), being sure to explain how a certain person/event functioned as the catalyst as well as explaining why a certain event is the turning point of the play.

R&J Catalyst


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Filed under Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 2: Classroom Environment, Domain 3: Instruction, Visible Thinking

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