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Julius Caesar Pre-Reading Informal Debate Activity (Common Core Aligned)

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Get your students moving with this engaging pre-reading activity that introduces some of the key themes of Julius Caesar while having students taking a stand (literally!) and presenting arguments on the fly.

Students will first complete an anticipation guide, taking a stance on controversial statements related to the play’s themes--for instance, whether or not violence is sometimes necessary. Then they will show their level of agreement for each statement by moving to an area of a room with a sign indicating AGREE, STRONGLY AGREE, DISAGREE, STRONGLY DISAGREE or UNDECIDED. Students will then be called upon to defend their stance, providing their reasoning and support. Finally, they will be given an opportunity to change their position after listening to all the arguments, moving to another area of the room, and discussing which were the most persuasive arguments and why.

This is an activity I have done in my own classroom that leaves my students begging to do it again!

Great for a pre-unit activity or post-unit review, this resource includes:

• Detailed 1-2 day Lesson Plan—with step-by-step instructions for success
• Anticipation Guide—in which students take a stand on a list of debatable statements and do a quick-write on each
• Five Corners Activity Posters—so that students can “vote with their feet” to show their level of agreement with each statement
• Written Reflection Worksheet—so that students can reflect upon their learning
• Learning Scale and Self-Assessment—so that students clearly understand the learning goal and can monitor their progress

This lesson, aligned to the Common Core State Standards, will enable students to hone their speaking, listening and argumentation skills—all while having fun along the way.

Common Core State Standards Covered:

Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.

Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.

Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.

Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.

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Keywords: Julius Caesar, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Shakespeare, anticipation guide, Julius Caesar pre-reading, four corners, five corners, argument, debate, vote with your feet, theme, Shakespeare, learning scales
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Carla McLeod




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