After reading Romeo & Juliet, an engaging way to check for understanding of the play while also stressing the importance of textual evidence is to consider how certain characters led to the untimely deaths of the titular characters. In this activity, students will be assigned a certain character from the play and then analyze how they impact the plot. First, students will work individually, and then they will form groups to find textual evidence.
Part 1: Individual Work
To begin the lesson, students should each be given a Character Slip at random (be sure to have the slips in sequential order to ensure that your groups are even). The slips include Romeo, Juliet, Friar Laurence, Mercutio, Tybalt, and Lord Capulet, but slips for other characters can also be created. Next, each student should receive a Blame Game worksheet and fill in the box labeled "Assigned Character."
After recording his/her character, each student should answer the questions on the front of the worksheet: the first asks how the character is involved in the ending in general, and the second asks for a specific event with Act and Scene. Students can find a quote if desired, but textual evidence is required for the second section. This individual section ensures that each student is held accountable for their work and it also allows students to bring events into the group setting for Part 2.
Part 2: Group Collaboration
After being given time to complete Part 1, students should get into groups based on their assigned character. Signs around the room helps this transition. It is a good idea to give students the group instructions before they move to their groups so that they can get right to work. Once in groups, students should share their event from the front of the sheet, and the group should agree on two events to focus on. After the events are selected, the group should find a quote for each event and record them on the back of the sheet. Prompt students to delegate the tasks of the group; have half of the group each focus on an event, have one person look through the text while the other writes the explanation, etc.
After each group has ample time, each group can present their findings. The formality of these presentations are at your discretion; they can range from formal discussions from their seats to a full-blown presentation.