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Lesson Plan

Analyzing and Comparing Medieval and Modern Ballads

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Analyzing and Comparing Medieval and Modern Ballads

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Susan Spangler

Susan Spangler

Fredonia, New York


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



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 act out. Using the Venn diagram tool, students next 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.

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Interactive Venn Diagram: Use this online tool to organize ideas for a compare and contrast essay, or while reading to compare and contrast two works of literature.

ReadWriteThink Notetaker
: Using this online tool, students can organize, revise, and plan their writing, as well as take notes as they read and research.

Self-Reflection: Taking Part in a Group: Using this sheet, students evaluate how well they have participated in a group activity.

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Students are often asked to study literature from distant time periods. This lesson uses a variety of activities that allow students to use multiple intelligences to relate literature from long ago to their modern experiences. In her article on the problems with tracking in schools, Cynthia Evans discusses the merits of teaching to multiple intelligences: "Howard Gardner's multiple intelligence theory (1983) allows us to celebrate the richness of our students who manifest musical, logical, and spatial gifts. We honor those who are talkers, rhythm-makers, quiet thinkers, actors, and poets." (64)

Further Reading

Gardner, Howard. 1993. Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice. Basic Books.


Evans, Cynthia. "Access, Equity and Intelligence: Another Look at Tracking" English Journal 84.8. (December 1995): 63-65.


Ruggieri, Colleen A. "Multigenre, Multiple Intelligences, and Transcendentalism." English Journal 92.9 (November 2002): 60-68.

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