Lesson Plan

Dinner Party of Canterbury Pilgrims with RealtimeBoard

Students explore significant details of Chaucer's characters
Charles Y.
Classroom teacher
Bethel Park High School
Bethel Park, United States
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My Subjects English Language Arts

Students will be able to...

identify significant details* of characters from Chaucer's General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. (

  • *significant details: any detail or trait which contributes to an inference, in this case of character, usually confirmed in tandem with one or more other significant details) 

infer  infer personality traits of the characters from significant details  

create a seating plan for an imaginary dinner based on personality traits

write brief conversational exchanges among characters according their implied personalities

quote a key line of description for each character

discuss the rationale for the seating plan


English Language Arts
Grades 10 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 HOOK-- I lost all my work because this doesn't autosave.

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Prior Setup:  Sign up for a free RealTime Board account. (If you and your students have Gmail accounts, you can simply sign up with your Google account.)  Students, too, must be invited via email to share the board you set up.

Open a RealTime Board account (at realtimeboard.com) and set up a table (rectangle) with 8-10 circles around it, representing seats for each group. (To whiz this: upload a rectangle image of a wooden table top.  As students, will work on assigning seats they can change the colors of the circles to represent class distinctions among the Three Estates: Religion, Nobility, Peasantry.)  Students will add sticky notes in with pulled quotes and use the comment feature to add dialogue between characters. Advanced groups may upload other images befitting the Tabard Inn to decorate the hall and tables, but the required elements are tables, character seats, stick note texts, and dialogue comments. Prepare a separate board for each class.

Prepare an email list of your students to invite. (You’ll probably want to wait until class to send the invitations after you’ve introduced students to RealtimeBoard.)

Finally, be sure that you can show the Youtube video in class through your school’s filter.

Previous lesson activities:  Before the lesson below students will have read the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, received instruction on significant details, and had guided practice on determining personality traits of Chaucer’s pilgrims by inferring character from significant details. Close reading strategies and pulling quotes of evidence to support inferences should be demonstrated somewhat before this lesson.

Introducing this lesson activity:  Announce that students are to take on the role of the Host of the Tabard Inn and plan a dinner party for his guests, the pilgrims.  He wants everything to go well, and so he needs to create a seating plan.  That’s what the students are to do.  A dinner party seating plan is likely to be a new concept for teens.  Use a brief YouTube video to introduce the basic idea and provide some tips.  In the one-minute Chowhound video here, the narrator provides some ideas that students may consider as they plan their Chaucerian dinner party.

After showing the video, discuss the tips and solicit additional ideas students might think the Host would consider.  Remind them of significant detail and its importance in indicating likes, dislikes, opinions, tendencies, habits, and personalities of the pilgrims. Note that students will be tasked not only with seating the guests, about 8 per table, but also speech bubbles indicating lines of conversation between characters, and key quotes from the primary test that the host might use for each character in introductions.

If using all of the characters, divide the class into three groups. For smaller numbers, figure about as many characters as you have students and divide the characters so their are 8-10 per table. Decide on a method of assigning characters to tables; randomly may work as well as any. One consideration is forcing the few female characters to be spread among the tables. You may also want to ensure a mix of church, feudal nobles, and merchant or peasant class characters at each table.

Video Reference:

Chowhound. (2008). How to Plan Dinner Party Seating - CHOW How To. Chowhound Channel. Youtube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_GuIX4HKbs



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If students have never used RealTimeBoard a brief tutorial is helpful. Give them a brief tour, showing them the tool taskbar, zooming capabilities, and arrow pointer.  I

If RealTimeBoard is new to you, check out the RealtimeBoard Channel at Youtube for some brief intros and tutorials. You may find one you want to share with students at this point in the lesson as well. 

Here's one.

Then assign them their characters and table.  It is advisable for each student or pairs students to work on specific characters. Have students label the chairs around their tables with character names. They may move the circle-chairs around as they discuss options.  As part of the process the next step is for students to pull a quote and place it on a sticky note in front of their character.  This helps students focus on character traits.  Instruct them to focus on a salient significant detail and pull from a phrase to not more than two lines-worth of verse for their note.

Next they group should consider the details, discuss seating, and make their decisions, moving the seats on RealtimeBoard. Finally, students will create dialogue scripts and post them between characters, side-by-side or across the table, using the comment feature.  Since the icons will show the student names, students will need to use traditional script format (e.g. KNIGHT to NUN: “Would it please m’lady if I would serve the meat sauce once my son carves the beast?”)  

Video Reference.

RealtimeBoard. (2014). What is RealtimeBoard? The Official Intro Video. RealtimeBoard Channel. Youtube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cy2Mp-qoDK4


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Students can then use RealtimeBoard to share their work. They may present to the whole class with a projector or guide peers online at computers.  

Instruct students to  orally give rationales and answer questions regarding their choices. They should support their ideas with evidence from the text and inferences suggested by significant details. 



Activity: Assessing

Students may be assessed by a rubric which includes:

  • selection of significant details
  • selection of textual quotes relevant to salient personality traits
  • reasoned seating plan based on evidence-based inference
  • appropriate dialogue that is true to characters
  • collaboration skills
  • presentation skills
  • discussion skills