K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Learn more

Related pages

  • Romeo! Why do you have to be a doggone Montague?: Students will interpret and comprehend Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," Act 2, Scene 2 (the balcony scene) through translating the original text and preparing a dramatic presentation of the scene for the class.
  • Writing and English as a Second Language: Strategies for helping English Language Learners throughout the writing process.
  • The Trial of Hamlet: In this lesson students have the chance to research courtroom procedure to try Hamlet for the murder of Polonius. Then, with some students in the roles of characters from the play, the class will conduct the trial of Shakespeare's most famous anti-hero.

Related topics


Please read our disclaimer for lesson plans.


The text of this page is copyright ©2008. See terms of use. Images and other media may be licensed separately; see captions for more information and read the fine print.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • identify and interpret figurative language.
  • compare and contrast text with scenes from two clips of two different adaptations.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 days


Technology resources

  • Overhead Projector
  • Access to TV and VCR/DVD player
  • Possible need for cassette for Novice Low LEP student.


  • Background information on Shakespeare
  • Background information on the Montague/Capulet battle
  • Reading/discussion of Act 1, Scene 1 - Act 2, Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet


  1. I always begin class with a journal entry. Give them ten to fifteen minutes to come up with a half-page response. Before the big balcony scene, there are a number of topics that will work to set the scene.
    • Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not?
    • What do you think the difference is between love and lust? Where does “love at first sight” usually fit into this question?
    • Would you defy your parents to marry someone you love? Why or why not?
    • Can people fall in love in less than a day? Explain your answer.
    • Describe your ideal mate. What qualities would you be looking for when choosing a partner?
  2. I suggest doing one of the following after students are allowed to work on journals:
    • Put people into small groups based on who chose which journal entry. Allow them to discuss amongst themselves and in their groups their answers (5-10 minutes). After they discuss amongst themselves, discuss as a class with the teacher guiding instruction.
    • OR discuss answers as a whole group. Go through each possible topic and call on students who wrote on that particular prompt. Encourage even those who didn’t respond to that particular prompt to contribute. Do this for all five choices.
  3. Review Romeo and Juliet from prior day (brief review) for 5-10 minutes. You should read a question out loud then call on students who volunteer OR call on a child to let him/her know the question is his/hers then ask the question.
  4. Read and somewhat interpret Act 2, Scene 2 together (time will vary based on your readers-- at least 30-45 minutes should be allowed). I usually like to take the part of Juliet and stand on a desk to play up the scene. I usually stand on a chair or desk and get a stronger reader to play the part of Romeo. It’s best to exaggerate. Remember that there are very few stage directions. You have to jazz it up in order to maintain the attention of your students. At this point, you’re not really analyzing text so much as explaining what’s going on as you read. In other words, sometimes you just have to stop where you are and talk about what’s going on.
  5. At this point, the students have a general idea of what’s going on. The two are in love and planning to get married. Now it’s time to look at specific literary devices. Focus on figurative language (similes, metaphors, personification). I suggest and have included a Textual Analysis Worksheet to look at specific lines and lead discussion on intended meanings (15-20 minutes). You may choose to do worksheet together as teacher directed, individually, or in small groups. You may choose to do all three-- the students can work individually first, in small groups assigned by teacher second, and as a class with teacher guiding last.
  6. Now they have the gist AND know a couple metaphors and similes. It’s time to give them a visual or two. Some teachers loathe the newest version of Romeo and Juliet. I happen to like it and choose to use it hand in hand with the older version. As students view each version, have them look for similarities to the text and to each other. Also have them look for differences and place those in areas around the diagram. I have included a Venn Diagram Worksheet so they can watch and note these things as they watch each video (Note: This will take some time). Determine a number of each (differences/similarities) that you expect. Note: each version of the video uses language that’s true to text. You should pause periodically to discuss what’s going on just as you did during the reading.
  7. Create an overhead from the Venn Diagram Worksheet. As a class, discuss and fill out sheet (about 15 minutes). You may choose to be the scribe, or you may want to let students put their ideas on the overhead individually (they seem to enjoy that aspect).


  • Take up the Venn-Diagram sheets. Based on your stated expectations, this can be a grade in and of itself. Remember that you went over it on the overhead, so most students should have a pretty complete sheet.
  • Writing response. Your students have now been exposed to three different depictions of Romeo and Juliet-- the balcony scene- the text, the 1968 video and the 1996 video. Ask them to rank the depictions in order from one to three with one being the depiction he/she enjoyed most and three being his or her least favorite. Have them write the first choice on a sheet of paper, skip half the page, write the second choice, and on the back write the third choice. After ranking, each student needs to answer the following two questions about each:
    • Why was your number one depiction your number one (do for two and three also)? In other words, why do you like the one you like and dislike the ones you dislike?
    • Why do you think the author or director chose to present the depiction in the manner that he chose? In other words, who was the intended audience, and how did the author/director reach that audience?

    Grade based on effort, understanding, or rubric (site attached for quickly generating a rubric to evaluate writing).

  • You may also choose to assign Act 2, scene 2 review (attached as same) as a homework assignment or as a quiz or review the following day.

Supplemental information


  • Basic Vocabulary Activities
  • Allow students to respond to written prompts in own language and then translate a small portion into English
  • Have text available in learner’s language when possible (see supplemental resources section below).
  • Compare only the two movies on Venn Diagram rather than comparing movies and text.
  • Step-by-Step Modifications
  • use a Spanish version of Romeo and Juliet, available online

Alternative assessments

  • Vocabulary assessment on attached document (last page of Vocabulary Activities).
  • Evaluate only two parts of Venn diagram.


This lesson plan was developed during the English Language Development Standard Course of Study lesson planning institutes hosted by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and LEARN NC, June and July, 2004. It includes specific strategies, instructional modifications, and alternative assessments which make this lesson accessible to limited English proficient students. Please note that this lesson has been aligned with the goals and objectives of the N.C. English Language Development standards.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Language

        • Grade 8
          • 8.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. 8.L.5.1 Interpret figures of speech (e.g. verbal irony, puns) in context. 8.L.5.2 Use the relationship between particular words to better understand each...
        • Grade 9-10
          • 9-10.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. 9-10.L.5.1 Interpret figures of speech (e.g., euphemism, oxymoron) in context and analyze their role in the text. 9-10.L.5.2 Analyze nuances in the...
      • Reading: Literature

        • Grade 8
          • 8.RL.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
          • 8.RL.7 Analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production of a story or drama stays faithful to or departs from the text or script, evaluating the choices made by the director or actors.
        • Grade 9-10
          • 9-10.RL.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and...
          • 9-10.RL.6 Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.
          • 9-10.RL.7 Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (e.g., Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts” and Breughel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus).

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 9

  • Goal 5: The learner will demonstrate understanding of various literary genres, concepts, elements, and terms.
    • Objective 5.01: Read and analyze various literary works by:
      • using effective reading strategies for preparation, engagement, reflection.
      • recognizing and analyzing the characteristics of literary genres, including fiction (e.g., myths, legends, short stories, novels), non-fiction (e.g., essays, biographies, autobiographies, historical documents), poetry (e.g., epics, sonnets, lyric poetry, ballads) and drama (e.g., tragedy, comedy).
      • interpreting literary devices such as allusion, symbolism, figurative language, flashback, dramatic irony, dialogue, diction, and imagery.
      • understanding the importance of tone, mood, diction, and style.
      • explaining and interpreting archetypal characters, themes, settings.
      • explaining how point of view is developed and its effect on literary texts.
      • determining a character's traits from his/her actions, speech, appearance, or what others say about him or her.
      • explaining how the writer creates character, setting, motif, theme, and other elements.
      • making thematic connections among literary texts and media and contemporary issues.
      • understanding the importance of cultural and historical impact on literary texts.
      • producing creative responses that follow the conventions of a specific genre and using appropriate literary devices for that genre.

English Language Development (2005)

Grade 9–12

  • Goal 0:
    • Objective 0.03: Repeat spoken words and phrases correctly.
    • Objective 0.04: Develop awareness of basic sentence styles using previously learned simple vocabulary.
    • Objective 0.05: Develop basic and academic vocabulary based on familiar topics. (e.g., high-frequency words, Dolch words).
    • Objective 0.05: Understand and follow simple instructions and directions.
    • Objective 0.05: Write with guidance following a model on personal and familiar topics.
    • Objective 0.06: Respond to familiar questions spoken very slowly and distinctly using one-word responses, physical actions, and other non-verbal communication.
    • Objective 0.07: Demonstrate recognition of high frequency words.
    • Objective 0.07: Use basic conventions (e.g., punctuation, spelling, mechanics).
    • Objective 0.10: Begin to comprehend basic academic vocabulary through visuals or realia (authentic objects).
    • Objective 0.11: Use prior knowledge to facilitate comprehension.
    • Objective 0.13: Begin to recognize characteristics of American high schools (e.g., routines, social, academic discourse).
    • Objective 0.13: Recognize concept of synonyms and antonyms.