Author:
MSDE Admin, April Fleming, Kathleen Maher-Baker
Subject:
Literature
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Level:
High School
Grade:
10
Tags:
Julius Caesar Unit, MSDE, MSDE ELA, Maryland State Department of Education, Rhetoric
License:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States
Language:
English
Media Formats:
Video

Education Standards (9)

A World Of Words - Words Matter: Unit Introduction, Day 1 (MDK12 Remix)

A World Of Words - Words Matter: Unit Introduction, Day 1 (MDK12 Remix)

Lesson Overview

This lesson is an introduction to the unit, World of Words, in which students will consider the power of words and the relationship between words and actions in human relations.  Throughout the unit, students will study The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare and other shorter works to examine the effective use of rhetorical strategies authors use and that students have at their disposal to make their communication (both written and spoken) more effective as well.

 

Image source:  "Words Have Power" by geralt on Pixabay.com.

Section 1: World of Words--Do Words Really Matter?

Ask students to raise their hands if they've ever heard the expression "Actions speak louder than words."  Then ask how many have heard the expression "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."  Both of these quotations suggest that our words are either not powerful at all or can be overshadowed by our actions. Two authors, Elie Wisel (Holocause survivor and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize) and Rudyard Kipling seem to firmly believe in the power of words.  Share with students the two quotations below.

"Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds."  Elie Wiesel

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind." Rudyard Kipling

Ask students what they think about the power of words.  Have them take a moment to think, pair and share their opinion about whether or not they agree with these quotations before leading a brief class discussion on their thoughts.

Once they have finished, share with them the movie clips linked in the resource section.  Each one illustrates a different type of power that words can have.  After each clip, ask students to consider the type of power the words in the clip had over others and whether or not they believe words can wield the same power in life as in these movie clips.

Responses may include that words can inspire, anger, endear, delight or entertain others.  Then ask students what make words so powerful.  Clearly, some people are able to speak and create the desired effect in others while other people are not.  What makes our words effective?  Have students share ideas with a classmate or briefly discuss their thoughts on this as a class.  Then explain that throughout this unit, they'll be exploring the topic of the power of words and studying tools that can be used to make them effective.  

As a closing activity have students think of a time in their lives when words had a powerful effect (either positive or negative) on them or someone else. It could be a time when somone shared good news that made others rejoice or a time someone said something that made someone else angry.   Then have them answer the following questions:

1) What was said? Focus on the meaning of the words.

2) How was it said? Think about the tone of voice, the circumstances under which it was  said or the words used to say it.

3) What was the effect on others? How did you or others react, and why did you react this way?

You may collect student responses at the end or ask for volunteers to share their answers.

Have you ever heard these popular expressions?

  • Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.
  • Actions speak louder than words.

Both seem to suggest that words are not powerful or that their power can be far outmatched by our actions.  What do you think?

Consider the video clips provided in the resource section of this lesson and decide the type of power the words had over the characters in the video clip, and whether or not you think words have this power in life (outside of the movie screen).  Follow your teacher's instructions to discuss with your classmates your thoughts.

Then, think of a time when words had some type of power over you or someone you know.  It could be a time when somone shared good news that made others rejoice or a time someone said something that made someone else angry.   Then answer the following questions:

1) What was said? Focus on the meaning of the words.

2) How was it said? Think about the tone of voice, the circumstances under which it was  said or the words used to say it.

3) What was the effect on others? How did you or others react, and why did you react this way?