This editable close reading exercise features 9 text-dependent, higher-order questions, helping students improve reading comprehension of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet (Act 1 Prologue). By engaging in this exercise, students will analyze the author’s choices related to text structure, use context to define vocabulary and discern meaning in unfamiliar phrases, and more. An answer key is included. The item is delivered in Word Document and Google Document formats.
More specifically, this item covers the following:
- Discern meaning: “Two households, both alike in dignity…”
- Defining vocabulary in context: mutiny.
- Discerning meaning: “Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”
- Identifying historical context: the public’s perception of astrology and Shakespeare’s use of the phrase “star-crossed lovers.”
- Defining vocabulary in context: strife.
- Discerning meaning: “What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.”
- Analyzing author’s choice: the purpose of a chorus.
- Drawing inferences: the effect of knowing the outcome on the audience.
- Characterizing relationships: “From ancient grudge break to new mutiny…”
This resource aligns well to Adolescent Literacy Project teaching principles. I recommend using these worksheets as the basis for small-group discussions. Through these discussions, students decode Shakespeare’s language and pose/respond to questions relating to plot, broad topics, and character development, demonstrating an ability to analyze how complex characters transform and advance the plot and themes by applying logic and citing compelling, meaningful textual evidence. They will also evaluate their peers’ reasoning and use of rhetoric to advance claims, clarifying or challenging unclear ideas. Using this resource for structured guidance, students, ultimately, will present information, conclusions, and supporting textual evidence clearly, concisely, and appropriately, thereby helping their peers – and teacher – comprehend their thinking. In the role of facilitator, I observe my students becoming more consistently engaged with the novel and taking greater ownership of their learning.
In addition to helping students gain deeper understanding of the material and greater confidence in their ability to read harder texts, this resource was designed to prepare students for ACT-style questioning.