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Introduction to the Canterbury Tales

Last Updated: Jan-14-2010

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Developed By

  Carrie Wozniak
Sue Hardin

Lesson Title

  Introduction to the Canterbury Tales

Length of Lesson

  2-3 (50 minute class periods)

Lesson Unit

  The Power of Language to Transform Lives (MDE 11.1)






  Literature and Culture

Michigan Content Expectations

  CE 2.1.3 , CE 2.1.4 , CE 2.1.7 , CE 3.1.4 , CE 3.2.2 , CE 3.3.1 , CE 3.3.2


  Chaucer, Middle English, Canterbury Tales, Poetry




Internet Access









The following lesson is a part of a unit found in the Grade 11 -  Michigan Merit Curriculum. It is based up the theme:  
In the transformation from oral language to the written word, universal truths of human nature were formalized.
The unit would begin with activities regarding the process of transformation and the reading of the anchor texts Beowulf and the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales. The following lessons are the first few days of The Pardoner’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Big Idea(s)


In the transformation from oral language to the written word, universal truths of human nature were formalized.

Language is powerful.

Storytelling is a tradition still found in our culture.

Essential Questions


Where will I find wisdom?

How do I demonstrate that I am open-minded enough to learn from my experiences? 

How do the heroes of literature reflect the values of the time?
 How is storytelling important to culture?

Learning Objectives


Students will be able to: 

Determine end rhyme and internal rhyme.

Identify different types of poetry and explain how specific features influence meaning and story.

Analyze Chaucer’s work, his significance to literature, and the transformation of language.

Identify and interpret a song or poem using end rhyme.


Summative Assessment


Students will:

Find another artist who uses similar rhyme schemes and reflect on the message/universal truth of the artist. 

Include the following:
- Name of the artist
- Name of the song
- Sample lines of the song illustrating both an end rhyme and an internal rhyme.

- Message/Universal Truth

Artist: Notorious B.I.G.
Song: Mo Money More Problems

Ten years from now we'll still be on top
Yo, I thought I told you that we won't stop
Message: Greed is the root of evil.
Students can either blog or write out their post.

Resource(s) available for this section

Lesson Opening


Students will listen to the song "Mo Money More Problems" by P Diddy.

They will take a moment and respond to the following Quick Write.

"The love of money is the root of all evil," the Bible tells us. 

Write down your thoughts about the desire for money and the  ways in which it influences human behavior.  In what  situations is the desire for money evil or harmful?  When does the desire seem normal or legitimate to you?

Share Out:

In what situations is the desire for money evil or harmful? When does the desire seem normal or legitmate to you? What does the song and pictures represent? What do you notice from these images and words?

Resource(s) available for this section

Lesson Opening Co-teaching Plan


Co-teacher will connect to big ideas and examples of the modern day storyteller.

If needed, co-teacher will chart out the ideas generated from the quick-write.




Through class discussion, students will then think about why we rhyme words. When do we rhyme?   What are some of the kinds of rhyming that we do?

Lead students to a discussion on the following vocabulary:

End Rhyme: rhymed words at the ends of lines

Internal Rhyme: rhymed words in the middle of the lines.

Students will listen and follow along to the Rap Version of the Pardoner's Tale by Baba Brinkman.  (Play audio to the class). Preview and explore Baba's site with the class. As they listen to Baba's rap, they will identify (internal and end rhyme).  See Handouts.


With your partner, share examples of internal and end rhyme you identified in the rap version of The Pardoner's Tale.

Share with the group.

Resource(s) available for this section

Exploration Co-teaching Plan


Using Chart paper, the co-teacher will write down examples the class discussion on end and internal rhyme.

During the think-pair-share, the co-teacher will mark and lift the text with examples of end and internal rhyme (This can be done using an elmo).


Check for Understanding


Quick check for understanding of end and internal rhyme using the Classroom Response System.

(See power point/clicker slides).

Resource(s) available for this section

Check for Understanding Co-teaching Plan


Co-teacher will help clarify any misunderstandings.




Students will read and review Handout: The Transformation of Language and the Pardoner's Tale (See attached).

This handout will provide a summary of the tale, explanation of Baba's Brinkman's work, and a table of the passage from the original Middle English version of the Pardoner's Tale contrasted with the rap that adapted from it.

Students will be asked: What do you notice about the rhyme scheme in these two pieces? What do you notice about vocabulary?

Students should highlight similar words between the two pieces.


Resource(s) available for this section

Explanation Co-teaching Plan


Co-teacher will provide clarification on how Chaucer used the same kind of language as Baba Brinkman.

Point out other similar examples of rhyming:  rapping, conversations, jingles, etc.


Check for Understanding (2)


Have students complete a ticket out the door which reflects on the following questions:

How has the oral tradition of Chaucers' time remained the same? How has language changed since the time of Chaucer?


Check for Understanding Co-teaching Plan (2)


Co-teacher will share out a few random selected tickets to the class.


Extended Practice


Students will have an opportunity to explore Baba Brinkman's website for additional tales and visual pictures to learn about Chaucer's time period and stories.

Resource(s) available for this section



For closing, the teacher will share past student examples of music that has been collected for this assignment.

They will use this as an opportunity to model the summative assessment.


Closing Co-teach Plan


The co-teacher will summarize the big ideas and recap the objectives of the extended practice on the blog/podcast site.