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Unit Plan for Teaching Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales “General Prologue”

Updated on June 19, 2013

I understand that it can be a challenge to engage high school students with Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. The complaint is always the same: the language is “weird” and the subject matter totally “boring.” While the former may hold weight, the latter couldn’t be further from the truth. As a teacher, I’ve seen that, once hooked, students always enjoy the Chaucer’s bawdy humor. Additionally, they are surprised to discover that Chaucer’s allegory and characters are more relatable than first assumed.

The outline and links that follow detail five The Canterbury Tales lesson plans. This unit is appropriate for high school students, and introduces Geoffrey Chaucer, the medieval period, and The Canterbury Tales “General Prologue.”

Day 1

Students begin with a pre-reading lesson plan. Its objective requires students to be able to describe the tenets of the feudal system, medieval church, as well as the ideals and morals of life in the middle ages.

Day 2

Next, students will apply their newfound knowledge of medieval life with a creative (if a little shocking!) writing assignment.

Day 3

Students will read and then write original ballads on day three of this The Canterbury Tales unit.

Day 4

After reading Chaucer's “General Prologue,” the fourth lesson plan will teach direct and indirect characterization via a fun writing activity.

Day 5

The final lesson plan will engage students by connecting the text of The Canterbury Tales “General Prologue” to their modern lives.


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    • profile image

      Ray Moore 4 years ago

      Please check out my book: "The General Prologue by Geoffrey Chaucer: A Critical Introduction." I think it is the best single-volume work on the Prologue out there. Here is a link to my website:

      Here is a link to the book:

      Thank you, Ray Moore

    • iheartkafka profile image

      iheartkafka 5 years ago

      Thanks, ChristinS!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 5 years ago from Midwest

      I remember reading this in high school. Of all the literature courses I took, this still sticks with me 20 years later. I enjoyed it because our teacher approached it in similar ways to this - by showing us how to relate it to modern day life and it indeed turned out to be very interesting to read, despite the language :) voted up!