Lesson Plan

Deconstructing Mark Antony's "Friends, Romans, countrymen" Speech

A close (and fun!) reading of one of Shakespeare's most famous speeches.
Shelly B.
Classroom teacher
Cabell Midland High School
Ona, United States
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My Grades 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts

Students will be able to...

read and understand a monologue from one of Shakepeare's classic tragedies, Julius Caesar

do a close reading of the speech and express their findings in writing

complete the five-step writing process to complete a literary analysis essay

English Language Arts
letter or word recognition
reading comprehension
text analysis
using supporting evidence
writing clearly
Grades 10
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Activity: Broadcasting

*Note: This activity is to be completed once students have read the material.

 To begin, I show several film versions of the "Friends, Romans, countrymen" speech given by Mark Antony in Act III, Scene II of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. These can easily found on YouTube.

2 Direct Instruction

Activity: Presenting

At the point in the year when this lesson is being implemented, I have already covered the definition and application of close reading. If you have yet to do this, this section of the lesson would be used to teach the students what close reading is. (I highly recommend using the SOAPSTone model, however, many others can be found by completing a search on Google.)

3 Guided Practice

Activity: Reading

I create a powerpoint slide containing the speech (you could also bring up a copy online). I project the speech onto my white board (NOT my Smartboard). Now, as a group, my students and I do a class close reading of the speech. We go line by line, even word by word, pointing out an number of literary points (connotation, diction, imagery, metaphor, allusion, etc.) I have the students come to the board and use colored markers to circle, underline, box words and phrases that go with our conversation. Since I use SOAPSTone, we usually follow that template, however, I allow the discussion to flow in the direction the students take it. This can be done to the depth you wish for it to go within the time frame you wish to dedicate to it. The bottom line is to demonstrate in this guided forum, how close reading is applied to text.

4 Independent Practice

Google Drive
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Using the five-step writing process, I have my students write a literary analysis essay utilizing new criticism (close reading). I emphasize that the students follow the prompt provided as this is paramount to successfully completing a proper analytical essay. They can utilize Google docs as they work through the writing process.

5 Wrap-Up

Activity: Creating

At the end of the unit, I have the students complete a MadLib of the speech. I take the same powerpoint slide I used from the guided practice section and I delete key words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.) from the slide. In their place, I put a line and label it as the part of speech the removed word was. I set up the animations on the slide so that only the lines with the labels show. I project the blank lines onto the white board again (NOT the Smartboard) and have the students take turns filling in the blanks. Once they are all filled, I click through so that the lines of Shakespeare's speech return, but now with the students chosen words in the places where I deleted his words. We read through the speech and, usually, have a few laughs at its "modern" upgrade.

***Modifications - you can do this in partners so that there will be several different versions of the altered speech and have the students read their version out loud.