Analyzing and Comparing Ballads

Students read, analyze, and discuss medieval English ballads and then list characteristics of the genre. They then emphasize the narrative characteristics of ballads by choosing a ballad to perform. Using printable strategies included in this lesson plan, students compare medieval ballads with modern ones. After familiarizing themselves with ballad themes and forms, students write their own original ballads, which they will perform in small groups. Finally, students engage in self-reflection on their group performances and on the literary characteristics of their ballads. (Note: Self-reflection handout included.)

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3001.8.2
Understand the characteristics of various literary genres (e.g., poetry, novel, biography, short story, essay, drama).
CLE 3002.8.2
Understand the characteristics of various literary genres (e.g., poetry, novel, biography, short story, essay, drama).
CLE 3005.8.2
Understand the characteristics of various literary genres (e.g., poetry, novel, biography, short story, essay, drama).
 
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Learning objectives: 

Students will:

  • develop deductive analysis skills. 
  • identify genre characteristics of ballads. 
  • use kinesthetic abilities to interpret a ballad in small groups. 
  • compare the genre characteristics using a Venn diagram. 
  • write an original ballad, and present it to the class.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Understanding
Extension suggestions: 
  • The movie Songcatcher, which tells the story of a music professor who collects ballads in the mountains of Appalachia, is a good complement to the English ballads unit. Teachers can preview the movie and decide further activities for students.
  • Because the ballads are narratives, they lend themselves well to the Comic Creator. Students can make comics to summarize the events in their ballads, including dialogue. The resulting comics can be projected or shared during the reading of their ballads. 
  • After students have performed their original ballads, use another session to have other student groups add another stanza, or in some other way add a variation to the ballad, just as many ballads have different versions.
  • Extend the ballad focus with this ArtsEdge lesson, which examines the historical and cultural significance of Mexican ballads known as corridos.

Helpful Hints

Everything needed for this lesson is found on the wesite including links to websites, printouts, and student interactives.

References

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