Our Class Pilgrimage: A Framed Narrative Project for The Canterbury Tales

Our Class Pilgrimage: A Framed Narrative Project for The Canterbury Tales
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Suggested Teacher Instructions:
I designed this project as a culminating, summative assessment after reading Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales for English 4; however, the project is adaptable for a journey-themed unit or a poetry unit.

Anticipatory Set: I begin by showing students the Canterbury Pilgrim’s journey map from London to the Canterbury Cathedral, and I find a local historical landmark that is approximately the same distance from our school. Using Google Maps, I show them the journey we will take under the same premise as the Canterbury Pilgrims.

Preparation: I print the Modern Pilgrim cards on cardstock paper, and each student (or partner group) draws an occupation to begin. I distribute copies of the assignment sheet/rubric and writing guidelines.

Instruction: Characterization—Then I use the student sample to model how to create a characterization for their modern pilgrims, written in first or third person point of view and rhymed couplets. Students brainstorm their pilgrims’ characterization using the graphic organizer and in their journals by freewriting before attempting the verse form. We use rhyming dictionaries and RhymeZone (http://www.rhymezone.com/) to help with the rhymed couplets. By having students count syllables in each line, they establish a consistent rhythm for their poetry. We use student revision groups to edit the pilgrim characterizations before beginning their tales.

Instruction: The Tales—While I encourage all students to write their tales as ballads (from the same unit), I have allowed students who struggle with writing poetry to write the pilgrim’s tale in prose. I determine this during student writing conferences throughout the project. Again, I use the student-written ballad to show how a modern thief tells a tale from long ago that teaches about the universal theme of vanity or self-centeredness. The student sample is longer than required, but we analyze the ballad for all of the requirements and evaluate its effectiveness using the scoring rubric. We use student revision groups to edit the ballads/tales before preparing their presentations. After completing both the characterization and the tale, students rehearse for the performance. Some students choose to videorecord their project to view/show in the classroom.

Pilgrimage—On the final due date, students present their pilgrims and tales to the class. Apart from showing video-recorded projects, we sometimes move around the school, stopping to tell our tales outside or in the cafeteria in order to go on a pilgrimage for their presentations. Once students complete their presentations, they vote on the best tale, and I award the winner a small prize.

Teacher Notes:
The student handouts and modern pilgrim cards are separate files that YOU CAN EDIT for your students’ needs or interests. The instructions above and the template files are suggestions from my use of this project in my classroom; I revise it each year for different student populations. Feel free to do the same! I hope you and your students enjoy your pilgrimage!

Students typically enjoy this project and giving them the option of working with a partner engages them as well.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions or questions.

Thank you,
~Melinda, Literacy Cookbook
Total Pages
21 pages
Answer Key
Rubric only
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